Sixers’ Executive VP of Communications Disputes Report Questioning Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid’s Relationship

Photo credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Do Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons dislike each other? Do they hate each other’s guts? Did Simmons not send Joel’s girlfriend a baby shower gift?

A report from Keith Pompey on the Sixers coaching search is titled “Tyronn Lue must wonder if it’s worth interviewing for a Sixers job that is Mike D’Antoni’s to turn down.” In that story is a nugget reading as follows:

“Lue welcomes the opportunity to coach All-Stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, who haven’t always seen eye-to-eye. He isn’t concerned that Embiid’s close relationship with ownership would have an impact on his authority. Nor is he bothered by Embiid and Simmons being empowered to think they have a hand in the coaching hire.

As a Los Angeles Lakers player, Lue won NBA titles in 2000 and 2001 while playing with Hall of Famers and Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, who like Simmons and Embiid didn’t always get along. As a coach, Lue won the 2016 NBA title with the Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron James, one of the best to play basketball, was the headliner of that squad.”

The relevant part is in bold there – “…who like Simmons and Embiid didn’t always get along.

Dave Sholler, the Sixers Executive Vice President of Communications, says this claim is “false” in a Twitter reply to NBC Sports, who took a portion of the Pompey story and aggregated it into their NBA page:

First, the wonky thing here is that NBC misquoted Pompey’s story. Their article is written by a guy named Dan Feldman, who quoted Pompey as having written this:

“As a Los Angeles Lakers player, Lue won NBA titles in 2000 and 2001 while playing with Hall of Famers and Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, who like Simmons and Embiid didn’t get along.”

That’s not correct. Pompey wrote that Simmons and Embiid “didn’t always get along,” which would leave open the idea that they’ve remedied whatever hurdles may have ALLEGEDLY existed in the past. The omission of one word here actually creates an entirely different narrative.

Second, the article headline of “don’t get along” similarly matches the misquoted body of the story, which furthers the error.

Anyway, Sholler is saying that the notion of Ben and Joel disliking each other is incorrect, which Brett Brown also alluded to in the past. He suggested that the relationship evolved and improved over the years, but never said his star duo were on untenable footing to begin with. Brown noted that Simmons and Embiid do not “have to go have pizza every night or hang out with each other every night” in order to enjoy a serviceable relationship on the floor.

For what it’s worth, communications folks usually never come out and comment on a story one way or another. They very rarely will dispute or confirm something in this manner, but Dave did it last April when he called a Chris Sheridan column an “irresponsible hack job” and “steaming pile of trash.” We were told that the New York Daily News cut ties with Sheridan after the backlash. There’s evidence of Sholler traveling this road before.

Right, so just to recap:

  1. Keith reported, in a story about the coaching search, that Simmons and Embiid “didn’t always get along.”
  2. While aggregating, NBC misquoted him, then wrote their headline as “Report: 76ers stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons don’t get along.
  3. Sholler responded to that story specifically on Twitter, claiming the original Pompey report as false.

We at Crossing Broad have cleared up the confusion and now our job is done.

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