The Sixers Settling with Ben Simmons is Truly an Embarrassment and Sets a Poor Precedent

practice video screen grab

Woj broke this story Monday night and then wrote this at ESPN a short time later:

Brooklyn Nets All-Star guard Ben Simmons and his former team, the Philadelphia 76ers, reached a settlement agreement on the grievance Simmons filed to recoup a portion of the nearly $20 million withheld from him as a result of his failure to play games in the 2021-22 season, sources told ESPN on Monday.

Philadelphia had repeatedly insisted that Simmons was in breach of his contract under the collective bargaining agreement between the NBA and NBPA and had the right to recoup the money advanced to him before the season. After Simmons made a trade request, the 76ers maintained Simmons breached his player contract upon failing to show up for the start of training camp and refusing to play during the preseason and regular season.

Simmons arrived in Philadelphia near the end of preseason but cited his mental health as the reason his participation in team activities was so limited. The 76ers and Simmons disagreed over the degrees of access that the team and its doctors were allotted to Simmons to diagnose and affirm his mental health, sources said.

Alright listen, we’ve been over this a hundred times before, but it bears repeating once again:

  1. Ben was under contract and decided not to show up for media day and camp in Philly
  2. the Sixers justifiably began to withhold his money
  3. Ben came back, half-assed his way through practice with his phone in his pocket, and got kicked out of the gym
  4. ONLY THEN did we hear about mental health issues
  5. he sits until the trade deadline and is finally moved
  6. grievance is later filed

Ben Simmons played zero games for the Sixers and therefore deserves a grand total of zero dollars.

The thing that everybody MUST understand here is that we didn’t hear a single thing about mental health until Ben’s money was escrowed and he bullshitted his way through practice before Doc sent him packing. If the timeline was reversed, and Ben didn’t show up at all, informed the Sixers about mental health issues, and then an amicable, two-way relationship developed between the Sixers + doctors and Ben’s camp + doctors, then he would have much more empathy from fans and media. This is not a Lane Johnson or Brandon Brooks situation, right? Philly sports fans and media WILL be empathetic if they feel like the claim is genuine.

We’ve conceded that the pressure of playing pro sports, plus the situation involving his sister weighed on Simmons heavily, but nonetheless, a lot of people believed Ben was faking it because of the way the timeline shakes out, and a subset of fans further believe a disingenuous claim mocks people who have real mental health struggles.

Think about it, though. Apply this to your own job. Imagine you’re a bathroom remodeler. You don’t show up to the remodeling job, so VOLPE enterprises says “okay, we’re not gonna pay you.” Then you begrudgingly show up to the bathroom site, half-ass your way through the shower installation, and the foreman says “get the fuck out of here, go home.” Then you say you’re having mental health issues and refuse to do a single remodeling job for VOLPE until you wind up with another bathroom remodeler. Later, you file a grievance to get your money back for the remodeling jobs that you had no part in doing. Maybe you truly did have some mental struggles, but your boss and co-workers don’t believe you because you weren’t upfront with them and honest about it.

It’s all ridiculous, and it sets a really poor precedent moving forward. This guy got money despite refusing to play and forcing his way out. They’re gonna have to address this in the next collective bargaining agreement, because other NBA players are looking at this situation and realizing they can do the same exact thing. This should have gone to arbitration, instead we ended up feeding the already-bloated player empowerment era.

EDIT – one thing I forgot to mention in original post: if there was some procedural error here, and the Sixers felt like they would have lost this case, then I understand the settlement, but regardless, the crap precedent is still set 

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