It was a charged atmosphere for Ben Simmons return to Philadelphia after his trade to the Brooklyn Nets. Even though Simmons didn’t play, 76ers fans showered him with boos, and more, to start the game. Kevin Durant summed up the night perfectly:
“It was a good environment to start,” Nets star Kevin Durant said. “It didn’t finish that way.”
Brooklyn blew out Philadelphia and following the game Durant and star guard Kyrie Irving said they were motived by the hate shown towards Simmons.
“We look at Ben as our brother, so we knew that this was a hostile environment and we knew that he didn’t have the opportunity to play and we wanted to come out there and have them focus on the court, more so than always focusing on him,” Durant said. “So, they focused on the court tonight, and it’s hard for you to chant at Ben Simmons when you’re losing by that much.”
Irving agreed with Durant’s assessment that the Nets played for Simmons.
“When you get traded in this league, it’s not easy to deal with,” Irving said. “And you pick up your stuff that you’ve made a home out of; you’re in one city and then you have to transfer to another city, it’s not always easy, so we’ve tried to welcome him in with open arms.
“So, when we played tonight, we definitely felt like Ben was on our heart. You could see it, he was wearing it, and we just wanted to go out there and play for him and play well. … If you come at Ben, you come at us. You come at anyone else on our team, you come at all of us, and that’s the mentality.”