Ben Simmons copped a hostile reception on his return to Philadelphia but he would have felt better having Patty Mills with him.
Ben Simmons may have copped a very hostile reception on his return to Philadelphia but at least he had the calming influence of Patty Mills by his side.
Sixers fans ruthlessly trolled Simmons in his first trip back to Philadelphia for the much-anticipated grudge match between Philly and his new team the Brooklyn Nets.
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A loud “f*** Ben Simmons” chant erupted during the game on Friday as the Aussie sat on the bench in street clothes as he continues to work his way back to full physical and mental fitness, but was the centre of attention during the first quarter.
Bloodthirsty 76ers supporters waited outside the hotel the Brooklyn Nets’ were staying at ahead of today’s game in Philly and pounced on the Australian when he walked out to board the team bus.
“Thanks for James,” one yelled, after Simmons was traded to the Nets for James Harden a month ago.
While Simmons didn’t play, there was a heartwarming moment when he emerged out of the tunnel for the warm-up with none other than Mills right by his side.
Mills shadowed Simmons for the entire pre-game shootaround and made sure he was a supportive presence in the hostile atmosphere in Wells Fargo Centre.
Simmons didn’t put up a shot during the warm up and effectively served as Mills’ ballboy, rebounding shots and passing the ball back to him.
Mills has previously said he wished he had more of an influence on Simmons earlier in his career, and his classy act in sticking by his fellow Aussie didn’t go unnoticed by fans.
NBA reporter Nick Friedell: “Patty Mills has said repeatedly he wants to be there to support Simmons in any way he can. It’s no accident that Simmons came out at the same time as Mills and has been rebounding for him and throwing Mills some passes to get him ready for tonight.”
NBA writer Austin Krell: “Simmons has essentially served as a ball boy for Patty Mills in this warm-up.”
Journalist Bilge Ebiri: “Nice to see his Mills walking out there with Simmons, sticking by his countryman & teammate.”
Despite the tense reception he received from Sixers fans, Simmons ultimately had the last laugh as Philadelphia cruised to a dominant 129-100 victory.
His Nets teammates had his back too, smiling and laughing at the chants, including when Simmons touched a ball that went out of bounds in the fourth quarter.
It was a memorable night on the court for Mills, who scored 10 points and notched up his 200th three-pointer for the season as he continues his career-best shooting form.