Philadelphia general manager Daryl Morey said to “buckle in” because the Ben Simmons situation could last a while, saying later “this could be four years.” Morey’s message to Simmons and other teams was clear — despite all the drama, he is not backing down and will not make a trade that does not involve a “difference maker” coming back to the 76ers.
Players union executive director Michele Roberts is not a fan of that message, especially in light of Simmons saying he is not mentally ready to play. Here is what she told Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports.
“Really? Is it so hard to believe that Ben’s not mentally at a place to compete? Professional athletes — like the rest of us — have difficult periods in our lives that require time and energy to heal. We have and will continue to provide Ben with the support and resources he needs to work through this. Threatening the prospect of ‘another four years’ serves no one’s interests. Like Tobias [Harris], I say let’s respect Ben’s space and embrace him while allowing him the time to move forward.
“So, take a breath and count to 10: We are all too good to continue to play this perpetual game of chicken.”
It’s not hard to believe the mental strain of this has taken a toll on Simmons and he is not ready to play. His mental health needs to be taken seriously, and the 76ers as an organization did offer any services and help Simmons needs, reports Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
A source told Pompey that Simmons informed the team he was mentally exhausted when he first said he no longer wanted to return to Philly. However, a source with the organization refuted that to Pompey, saying Friday was the first they had heard of his mental condition.
Whatever the truth of that timeline, Simmons’ mental health does need to be taken seriously.
And Roberts is right about one thing: Tobias Harris has come off as the adult in the room, concerned about Simmons the person before Simmons the player. Here were his postgame comments on Simmons, via NBC Sports Philadelphia:
“But, as I said (on Twitter), I think at this time we have to respect his privacy, his space. We’ve got to be there for him throughout what he’s going through and his process. I think it’s easy to look at something on the surface and come to assumptions on a lot of things — especially athletes. In general in this space, you’re depicted as superhumans and not really supposed to have feelings or go through anything. So I think we just really have to understand he’s a human first.
“If he’s going through something, we have to respect that and we have to be there for him a team, as an organization, fans — all the way down the line, because when he’s in here putting on a show and helping us get wins, everybody’s cheering and praising. But we live in a ‘What have you done for me lately?’ type of world. And when that’s not the case, it’s easy to turn around. I think at this time, he needs more support than neglect. I think we’ve just got to be there for him as a team. I relayed that to the group and I hope that message is loud and clear to our fans and everybody around the organization.
“And honestly, you guys as well. As media, you guys have a job as well. And I understand the field that you’re in, but you guys have to understand that we’re talking about a person that has a family, has emotions. He’s a great person as well. So we’ve got to really respect and don’t do everything for the clicks — for the clickbait. Understand that we’re a team — Philadelphia 76ers, you guys, media — we are a team. We win games, it helps your job, makes your job easier. I think we’ve got to look at that as a collective effort as well.”