Doc Rivers wants to clarify that he wasn’t the reason Ben Simmons took his nice clothes and left Philly.
Current Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers stopped by ESPN’s The VC Show with Vince Carter and revealed that he and Brooklyn Nets guard had a conversation after he was traded from Philly. Rivers also revealed that his comments following the Sixers Game 7 loss during the Sixers-Hawks series in 2021 had nothing to do with Simmons mentally checking out from the Sixers.
“I don’t know the answer to that,” Rivers said when asked if he believed Ben Simmons could be the point guard of a championship team.
“Obviously, he struggled from the free-throw line, and that became a factor in this series,” Rivers added. “There’s no doubt about that. I still believe in him, but we have work to do. We’re going to have to get in the gym, put a lot of work in, and go forward.”
Rivers’ comment was not the only one that raised eyebrows after the game. Sixers superstar Joel Embiid subliminally took a shot at his former point guard for passing on a wide-open layup that would have tied the game at 88.
“I’ll be honest, I thought the turning point was when we—I don’t know how to say it—but I thought the turning point was just we had an open shot, and we made one free throw,” Embiid said, following the game in 2021.
Doc Rivers Had Nothing To Do With Simmons Wanting Out of Philly
Tuesday (Aug.2), Rivers told The VC Show with Vince Carter that his comments had nothing to do with Simmons’ decision to leave the Sixer.
“That one comment thing had nothing to do with why Ben wanted to leave,” Rivers revealed. “Alright? Let me just say that. It was a lot of things as Ben told me — and publicly now — that happened long before I got there. What frustrated me was that I still think it shouldn’t have been enough to want to leave. I just didn’t, and I told Ben that. I kept telling him that. This is not why you want to leave a team. You work these things out. They didn’t get worked out, and so yeah, we’ve had one talk. Not a long, long talk, but we did have one good talk.”
Rivers also revealed that Simmons reached out to him, which he appreciated and that he also spoke with other members of the Sixers organization except for Embiid.
“Ben called me afterwards, which I thought was great, and we had a good talk, but the point was, he was already leaving, and I really believe, even though 99 percent of the people didn’t, that that we could make this work with Ben and Jo and the team because I’m built that way. That’s what coaches have to do.”
Still Rooting For Ben Simmons
The coach also said he wants to see Simmons flourish in Brooklyn.
“I want the kid to do well. I don’t have any, like, bad feelings about him. He didn’t do anything wrong to me. I just want most guys do, I really do. Now I want to kick all their butts when they’re not on my team. That’s the competitive side of me, but as a human being, I think we all should want Ben and all these guys to do well.”
Whether that will be the case remains to be seen, the Brooklyn Nets are currently a mess, Kevin Durant wants out, Kyrie Irving is eager to return, and there is no word on if Simmons will be ready to play when the 2022-23 NBA season begins.
You can peep the entire interview below.
Photo: Tim Nwachukwu / Getty