Ben Simmons is not special in being a Philadelphia pro athlete who has faced adversity.
Beloved Eagles tight end Zach Ertz scored a Super Bowl-winning touchdown and followed that with a record-setting season. Nevertheless, his contract-extension talks with the team fell apart, and there was awkwardness as he aged and twisted in the wind while the team looked to trade him. He even spoke of a need to forgive the front office.
But by the end of his tenure, he scored a touchdown in his final game with the franchise and in The Inquirer on Tuesday thanked the organization — everyone including individual equipment and training-staff members. Philadelphia loved him, and he loved the city back. He appreciated how blunt and honest Philly could be.
“It’s OK to be told that you’re not playing great,” Ertz said last week. “It’s OK to be told that you need to be better, and in reality, no one should have to tell you that as a professional athlete.”
But it appears for Simmons that he can neither take criticism nor behave professionally. In fact, he’s being Baby Ben. And that’s not us saying that. Go ask Joel Embiid.
— Inquirer Sports Staff, @phillysport
Off the Dribble
The day had finally come. Simmons was set to face the music and speak to media members for the first time since his team was defeated in last year’s Eastern Conference semifinals. The expectation was that Tuesday might feature some awkward exchanges and short answers, but what actually transpired was far more dramatic — and predictable.
Before they ever entered the practice gym, media members learned that Doc Rivers had kicked Simmons out of practice and suspended him for one game for conduct detrimental to the team. The Inquirer’s Keith Pompey reported through a source that Simmons had refused to engage at practice and declined to enter a drill.
Simmons, who recently returned from a 14-day holdout that caused him to miss training camp and the preseason, didn’t speak at the scheduled time. In fact, he wasn’t at the Sixers’ practice complex. There was no surprise there. What was different was the hard-line stance being taken with him. Embiid, who had previously defended Simmons, said he hadn’t talked to Simmons since his return and refused to “babysit” his teammate. The Sixers reportedly fined Simmons $1.4 million for missed preseason games and levied more fines for skipped practices and meetings. The tone was different this time, and the Sixers appear to be growing tired of a saga that continues to reach new heights.
Next: The Sixers open the season against the Pelicans tonight at 8 in New Orleans (NBCSP).
On the Fly
Ex-Flyers enforcer Tom Sestito wants his experience with prescription drugs to be a lesson for the NHL’s future generation.
“You can say they’re adults, but some of these guys are 18, 19 years old, and I just want those guys to be aware of what you’re putting into your body because, in the heat of the moment, you’re going to take whatever they tell you to take,” Sestito said.
The former Flyer opened up to our Sam Carchidi on his struggles with Toradol and Ambien during his NHL career.
After the Flyers secured their first win of the season Monday night, Tuesday brought more good news as three players took strides toward putting on an orange-and-black game sweater for the first time this season. Here are the latest updates on Rasmus Ristolainen, Zack MacEwen, and Kevin Hayes.
Next: The Flyers look to make it two in a row tonight at 7:30 at the Wells Fargo Center against the Boston Bruins (TNT).
Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen is saying that the team has to get Miles Sanders going. You think?
Sanders has been underused to the point that Eagles fans are sarcastically cheering when he carries the ball. And it would seem that Sanders can help take some pressure off quarterback Jalen Hurts, who has been inconsistent this season.
Next: We’ll see today if the offensive line gets a boost and Lane Johnson does return to practice.
It’s coming down to the wire for the Union to possibly ensure themselves of the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs of Major League Soccer. The team will have to battle the elements as much as its opponents, and for those who have grown up in Philly playing under adverse weather conditions, it might be the perfect time to shine. These next few games will determine the team’s fate in the playoff seedings.
Next: Join us — it’s the Union against Minnesota on GameDay Central.
Worth a look
From prodigy to veteran: Villanova’s Collin Gillespie is one of the nation’s top point guards, and he also happens to be plenty experienced as a fifth-year player. He was named the Big East’s preseason player of the year, and it can only help coach Jay Wright and the fourth-ranked Wildcats to have essentially another coach on the floor.
Fill-ins fight it out: Penn State’s season has taken a turn with the injury of starting quarterback Sean Clifford, and coach James Franklin discussed how it came to be that the backups to Clifford are inexperienced. The Nittany Lions had been interested in adding some experience via the transfer portal, but Franklin explained that they couldn’t find a good fit.
Kicking out in defeat: Philadelphia’s Kahleah Copper, the WNBA Finals MVP, celebrated the Chicago Sky’s championship with her teammates, a parade, a rally, and yes, a door.