Thursday was all about returns in Philadelphia sports. Eagles center Jason Kelce announced he will be back for a 12th season after speculation that he might retire. Baseball ended its marathon lockout as the players and owners agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement, ensuring a Phillies summer at the Bank.

Oh, and Ben Simmons returned to the Wells Fargo Center for the first time since he was traded and faced the music, er, boos, from the Sixers faithful. It was a good tune-up for Philly fans ahead of the return of new Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz, who will visit the Linc this season.

— Inquirer Sports Staff, @phillysport

What gives you the most pleasure, the return of baseball, Kelce playing in 2022, or booing Simmons? Tell us at sports.daily@inquirer.com

Off the Dribble

Ben Simmons arrived to the Wells Fargo Center with the Brooklyn Nets for shootaround early Thursday afternoon. The arena was dormant as he went through a workout. While he had a brief encounter with boos as his team left the hotel, that experience was nothing like what he would face hours later.

As expected, it was a different story when Simmons returned. Fans who purchased some of the most expensive tickets in 76ers history were on hand, hoping to get a glimpse of Simmons. They had arrived to boo loudly and give him a piece of their minds. They did just that as soon as he appeared after the starting lineups were announced and followed up in the fourth quarter when he retrieved a loose ball near the Nets bench. Coach Steve Nash advised Simmons to enjoy the boos and it appeared as if he did. The Nets cruised to a 129-100 victory.

Next: The Sixers travel to Orlando and play the Magic at 6 p.m. Sunday (NBCSP+). There, another reunion of sorts will occur as they face Markelle Fultz, another former No. 1 pick of the franchise who has moved on.

Early Birds

Retire? How could Jason Kelce, 34, retire when he’s having this much fun? That’s what the Eagles center said Thursday on Twitter in announcing that he will return for a 12th season. Considered by just about everyone as the Eagles’ emotional leader, Kelce will solidify the offensive line, which features Jordan Mailata at left tackle, Landon Dickerson at left guard, and Lane Johnson at right tackle. The only lingering question is the vacancy at right guard with Brandon Brooks recently announcing his retirement. But Kelce is not going anywhere, at least for one more year.

Extra Innings

Ninety-nine days later, the lockout has been lifted. The daily images of baseball will transition from lawyers walking into meetings to players working out under the Florida and Arizona sun getting ready for the 2022 season. Marcus Hayes writes that nothing heals America like its national pastime, and, after nearly seven years of division, of protest, of pandemic, insurrection, and, now, war, America needs healing like seldom before. We got here after players and owners found enough common ground to salvage a 162-game season with spring training expected to open Sunday. The labor agreement didn’t deter one U.S. senator, who wants to hold a hearing to reexamine baseball’s antitrust exemption.

On the Fly

With two high-profile racist incidents in the past few months, hockey is under the microscope.

Giana Han talked to several players and coaches of color to hear about their experiences with racism is the sport, discussing what steps the league and all its players need to take to make hockey a more inclusive place and really “for everyone,” as the NHL slogan says.

Next: The Flyers will take on Rod Brind‘Amour and his Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday (3 p.m., 6ABC).

Fleet Street

The riot in Queretaro’s stadium in Mexico during a soccer game is a stain on the sport worldwide, which has too often seen violence in the stands. Now in the aftermath, have the authorities done enough to prevent other incidents or did Querataro and Liga MX get off too lightly? Jonathan Tannenwald examines some of the issues involved and the ripple effects for other soccer matches.

Worth a Look

What You’re Saying

We asked you:

Who is the more disappointing Philly athlete, Simmons or Wentz?

You answered:

  • I think Ben is more disappointing, as they were IN the playoffs and he seemed to just give up and stop shooting!! And don’t tell me he can’t learn to shoot free throws any better than that?! Carson, on the other hand, almost tried too hard to make something happen, throwing interceptions and such, but at least he was trying. — Faye S.

  • For me it is a tie. Both decided to leave instead of trying to get better. They got their feelings hurt (poor babies) For what they were being paid I wouldn’t mind getting my feelings hurt. At least I would have my dignity. — Daniel W.

  • Both of them demonstrated special skills, but along the way something went wrong. I am not a psychologist, but both of these guys are truly disappointing. It’s a tie they both are the worst ever to wear Philly uniforms. — Virgil K.

We compiled today’s newsletter using reporting from Gina Mizell, Scott Lauber, Mike Jensen, Jonathan Tannenwald, Josh Tolentino, Manning Snyder, Ellie Rushing, Sam Cohn, Marcus Hayes, Giana Han and Christian Red.