Ben Simmons admits 76ers ‘didn’t help’ with mental health struggles

Brooklyn Nets star Ben Simmons finally spoke about the drama surrounding his final year in Philadelphia before being traded to New York, as he revealed he just wanted ‘help’ from the 76ers organization due to personal struggles with his mental health.

The 26-year-old appeared on former Philly teammate J.J. Redick’s podcast – The Old Man & The Three – on Wednesday. 

He revealed how it felt to not play for the entirety of the 2021-22 season, being on the receiving end of back surgery in May, and how he pushed for the 76ers top brass to trade him at the end of the 2020-21 season.

‘I was in such a bad place where I was like, f***, I’m trying to get here and you guys are, like, throwing all these other things at me to where you’re not helping,’ Simmons said, referring to problems with his mental struggles last season. 

‘And that’s all I wanted, was help,’ he added, suggesting the 76ers left him out in the cold. 

Brooklyn Nets’ Ben Simmons spoke to J.J. Redick on his podcast about last season with 76ers

The point guard said he didn't feel as if he had support from Philly over his mental health issues

The point guard said he didn’t feel as if he had support from Philly over his mental health issues

‘I didn’t feel like I got it from coaches, teammates. I won’t say all teammates, because there’s great guys on that team that did reach out and are still my friends but I didn’t feel like I got that, and it was just a tough place for me,’ the Australia-born basketball player further said. 

In February, Simmons was traded, along with Andre Drummond, Seth Curry and two future first-round picks to the Nets in exchange for James Harden and Paul Millsap. 

Two months later, in April, Nets head coach Steve Nash confirmed Simmons would sit-out for the remainder of the regular season and the play-in tournament. 

The ex-LSU player was then scheduled to make his Brooklyn debut in the first round of the playoffs on April 24 due to the Nets facing a sweep to the Boston Celtics at the time.

He was eventually ruled out of the fixture due to back soreness. The Nets were then eliminated from the playoffs and Simmons proceeded to go under the knife for his back in May. 

The point guard, however, revealed that he faced his toughest time away from the court in February as he didn’t ‘feel like himself’ – a month before the blockbuster trade to the Big Apple that ended his five-year stay in Philadelphia. 

Simmons also told Redick that he tried ‘to do the right thing’ by trying to hoop again prior to the start of last season – after he had threatened the 76ers front office that he would potentially never play for the franchise again. 

Simmons also told Redick (right) about his altercation with 76ers coach Doc Rivers in practice

Simmons also told Redick (right) about his altercation with 76ers coach Doc Rivers in practice

In October, prior to the team’s season opener against the New Orleans Pelicans, 76ers coach Doc Rivers threw Simmons out of practice for being a ‘distraction’ after the three-time All-Star refused to sub in for a drill. 

He was eventually suspended for the October 20th game, which the 76ers eventually won, for conduct detrimental to the team. 

‘I actually spoke to Doc before practice. I was like, ”Doc, I’m not ready. Mentally, I’m not ready. Please just understand that,”’ Simmons told Redick on the 38-year-old’s podcast. 

‘I tried to let him know prior, and he was like, ”Well, I’m going to put you in anyway.” I’m like, ”All right.” He told me to get in. I looked at him. It was like one minute into practice, like, ”Ben, get in.”’

‘I’m like, first of all, no one’s doing that. You’re doing this on purpose. And that’s how I felt, too. It seems like everyone’s trying to f*** with me now. I’m getting fined for not lifting weights, but physically I’m one of the strongest guys on the f***ing team,’ the  2018 NBA Rookie of the Year added. 

‘So now they’re fining me for little things. It was just a buildup. Obviously, I didn’t handle things the right way, but, also, the team didn’t either, and the people who had that power.’

Simmons is now looking forward to finally play with the Nets after not playing all of last season

Simmons is now looking forward to finally play with the Nets after not playing all of last season

Simmons, who No. 1 draft pick in 2016 and who was twice named in the league’s All-Defensive First Team (2020, 2021), no longer holds any grudges against his former team after reaching a settlement with the 76ers to recover a portion of the estimated $20million that he claims the organization owed him, ESPN reported in August. 

‘I don’t care about the money,’ Simmons stressed to Redick. ‘It’s not about the money for me now. I want peace and happiness. I want to be in a good place, and if that costs me whatever it’s going to cost, that’s what it costs. My peace is more valuable than money.’

Now leading a new adventure in Brooklyn, he is expected to link up with Nets stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant this month before potentially making his team debut against the Pelicans on October 19. 

‘It’s going to be sick. I can’t wait,’ Simmons said on the podcast. ‘I’m so excited. Got a new number, new jersey. I’m just looking forward to it. I think we have a special team. I think if we get it all together, we’re going to be the champions. That’s the end goal.’