On Wednesday, after Ben Simmons was kicked out of Philadelphia 76ers practice when he refused to participate in a drill, Joel Embiid pretty emphatically called his teammate out and said it wasn’t his responsibility to babysit him.
“At the end of the day our job is not to babysit somebody,” Embiid said on Wednesday. “We get paid to push us on the court, go out, play hard, win some games. That’s all we get paid for. We don’t get paid to come out here and try to babysit somebody. I’m sure my teammates feel that way.”
“Our job is not to babysit somebody.”
— Kevin Negandhi (@KevinNegandhi) October 19, 2021
Embiid also said that he and Simmons had not spoken since practice started. Ouch.
Then came Thursday and Simmons’ vague back issues, followed by Friday and Simmons telling the team that he wasn’t mentally prepared to play yet, given everything happening. That actually seemed to generate some sympathy from the Sixers, including one of Simmons’ teammates, Tobias Harris.
Embiid seemingly had a change of heart as well, or, at least got a good talking to from someone in the Sixers organization. Because on Friday, it was nothing but love and support for Simmons when he spoke to Sixers fans before Friday night’s game in a very public show of support.
JOEL EMBIID: “A lot has happened in the past few months and I urge you guys to continue to support us and our teammate, Ben, because he’s still our brother.”
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) October 23, 2021
“A lot has happened in the past few months and I urge you guys to continue to support us and our teammate, Ben, because he’s still our brother,” said Embiid.
In a chat with ESPN reporter Cassidy Hubbarth, Embiid went even further in his support for Simmons, saying he hopes that they’ll continue playing together for a while. We are a way better team with Ben and hopefully, it ends up that he sticks around,” Embiid told Hubbarth. “We all love him, I love playing with him.”
Joel Embiid told me the meeting with Ben Simmons today “helped us as a team.”
He also told me “we are a way better team with Ben and hopefully it ends up that he sticks around… we all love him, I love plying with him.”
— Cassidy Hubbarth (@CassidyHubbarth) October 22, 2021
Quite the stark contrast from previous comments. But if the Sixers players are cool with Simmons and truly want him around, then we’ll have to take their word for it that it’s not just lip service. We’ll see if and when Simmons starts playing for the 76ers and, more importantly, we’ll see if the Philly fans are able to put their issues with Ben aside and still support him in the same way.