It’s set to be a fun day tomorrow as the Brooklyn Nets take on the Philadelphia 76ers. Fans will be treated to a spectacle between two title favorites as James Harden and Joel Embiid square off against Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on national television.
Fans across the nation will also be tuning in to watch Sixers fans face off against Ben Simmons. The former Sixer raised eyebrows by commenting ‘Likewise’ on a recent Instagram post announcing that Simmons will be joining the Nets bench for the game.
Many are speculating that Simmons is showing up to Wells Fargo in order to build his case against the Sixers to recoup nearly $20 million in fines. Apparently a harsh reception from the passionate fanbase would support his narrative that the work environment in Philadelphia adversely impacted his mental health.
Though it’s unlikely that fans will be waving “Get Well Soon” placards for Simmons, the Sixers brass may be tempted to roll out the red carpet and play nice. Whatever the Sixers decides to do, you can bet that the fans will have some choice words for their former number one pick.
Here’s what members of both teams are anticipating ahead of Thursday’s game.
Nets head coach Steve Nash:
I don’t think he’s naive (enough) to think he’s not going to get some boos.Steve Nash
It’s great. He’s on our team, he needs to be with his teammates and get the whole Philly thing out of the way a little bit. Maybe it never goes away, but the first time it’s always nice to kind of deal with it and move on.
I don’t think he’s naive (enough) to think he’s not going to get some boos. I hope he enjoys it. It’s a part of the game I miss.
Your first time back in any city after a trade is always a little different and awkward. And obviously there’s a history there, so it is what it is, he’ll be fine. He’s a big boy and he’s excited to join our team and all that stuff. He wants to be there on the bench with his teammates.
I think part of the experience of coming to an NBA game is to heckle. Some people don’t even enjoy basketball, their lives are so shitty that they get to just aim it at other people.Kevin Durant
I can’t go over there and nobody’s going to hold his hand. I’m sure it’s going to be some personal attacks, some words that may trigger you personally, but that’s just how fans are. They’re going to get under our skin. And they’re going to let their voices be heard.
I think part of the experience of coming to an NBA game is to heckle. Some people don’t even enjoy basketball, their lives are so shitty that they get to just aim it at other people. So it’s easy to kind of get that release at a basketball game. Ben understands that, and I’m sure some stuff may be funny. You never know. But at the end of the day you realize that life is amazing, we play the game of basketball for a living and a little bit of trash talk is what it is.
He’s gotta just sit there and just take a bunch of people just being childish throwing insults at his way because he didn’t want to play for them no more. It’s funny when you look at it in the big picture and you see what it really is but that’s just the sport we play that’s the profession we play, we’re in, got guys making $40 million dollars a year. You can take that for a couple hours. I’m sure Ben has that approach.
Philly has some of the best sports fans in the world and its only good that they come and show support to their team.
Ultimately we get paid a lot of money to do this. We have to keep our calm, we have to keep our cool. I want Ben to enjoy it and have fun doing what he loves to do.Kyrie Irving
Going back to Philly, of course it’s going to be crazy. Even for us: I didn’t play (for) Brooklyn my first year, and Boston Celtics fans were still chanting ‘Kyrie sucks’ and I put out an Instagram post about a bunch of things in life meaning more than this game, and those are the moments where you just realize sports has its own political atmosphere, and it has its own rules and you’ve got to adjust to it.
We all react differently, and we all prepare in our own ways, and me as one of the leaders on the team, it’s just to be there for him and support (him) every moment that we’re together out on the floor. Off the floor as well, but it’s never easy to get traded, to leave a team in free agency. We’ve seen people burn jerseys. We’ve seen people throw things from the crowd. We’ve seen fans go on social media, we’ve seen so much of our game be turned into somewhat of a spectacle for people to enjoy and cheer for and the emotions run high.
Everybody reacts differently to it. As long as his focus is on the game: I said when I was here last year in Boston, if you focus on the game, then I don’t think there’s any bad blood, but in terms of the criticism that people like to bring from watching (from) the audience or yelling things from the sideline, and you’re calling somebody out their name, some people react differently.
People call me out my name here in Boston, or they’ve said some over the line things and it’s a natural reaction to be able to go out and respond. But ultimately we get paid a lot of money to do this. We have to keep our calm, we have to keep our cool, and we have the refs out there to protect the game. We have our security and it’s just (that) we want to go out there and enjoy it, and I want Ben to enjoy it and have fun doing what he loves to do.
Nets guard Goran Dragic:
It’s probably not going to be pleasant. The same as in Toronto (for me), but it is what it is. We’re all professional athletes. At the end of the day it’s only boos, so you just go out there and perform and try to do your best. But as long as it’s nothing serious, no throwing things and just be verbal, I don’t care.
Fellow former 76er Andre Drummond:
It will be a playoff-like atmosphere. I think just based off the trade and us playing them again and obviously with the Ben situation it’s just two teams that have a good chance of seeing each other in the Eastern Conference finals. So it’s going to be a good game.
76ers head coach Doc Rivers:
Tomorrow is going to come, and we’re going to play Brooklyn, there will be a lot said about it, then it’s going to go and it’s over. You know? Tomorrow, there’s no trophy given after the game, there’s nothing given except for there’s going to be a game.
It’s obviously a different game with what’s going on, but as far as the basketball part of it, we have to focus on that. We’ve had some interesting games against them before the trade. There’s been a little extra stuff on the floor before the trade. It’ll just be more of that. I think that’s good.
76ers guard Tyrese Maxey:
If I were to say (it’s just another game) I would be lying.
76ers forward Georges Niang:
On Thursday I’ll make sure to have Ben Simmons on my list (to trash talk).
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