The Sixers’ biggest problem used to be, they had a guy who wouldn’t take a shot.

Now, their biggest problem is they’ve got a guy who won’t get one.

Gun-shy Ben Simmons will forever be linked to Matisse Thybulle, because it was Thybulle to whom Simmons passed when he should have dunked in the 2021 playoffs. Simmons never played another game for the Sixers.

They now have this in common: They’ve abandoned their teammates, and they’ve abandoned logic.

‘Tisse said Sunday that he got Pfizer Vaccine No. 1 long ago in order to serve the greater good. However, he now refuses to get Pfizer Vaccine No. 2 because, “even while being vaccinated, you could spread the disease.”

What the ... what?

This is like taking a lifesaving course but refusing to learn CPR because you find out that not everyone gets resuscitated.

This situation would be hilarious if we weren’t a few days away seeing the 1 millionth American die from COVID, and if one-third of the United States wasn’t still unvaccinated.

For all you stick-to-sports folks out there, well, this is sports. Thybulle’s semi-vaccinated status will keep him from playing in Toronto during the Sixers’ upcoming playoff series. He will miss Games 3, 4, and, if necessary, Game 6. Canada requires foreign travelers to be fully vaccinated.

Thybulle knew this months ago. He missed the Sixers’ game in Toronto on Thursday, which, by the way, they lost thanks largely to the efforts of Pascal Siakam. Afterward, Sixers players admitted they missed Thybulle’s elite defensive skills. Thybulle remained unmoved.

As for Thybulle’s current concerns regarding transmission, this is not news, no matter how hard the Fox Corporation tries to make it so. Even before COVID vaccines became available, doctors and researchers explained these things: vaccinated individuals would still get COVID, would still die from COVID, and would still spread COVID, but they would be less likely to get it, far less likely to die from it, and significantly less likely to spread it.

Dr. Glenn Rall, a virologist, professor, and chief academic officer at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, explained in plain language via text on Monday:

“Vaccines don’t prevent infections. They do two things: 1) minimize replication in the infected person and therefore reduce disease and 2) because the infected person makes less virus and resolves it more quickly because of their immune response, you are less likely to spread to others.”

This makes Matisse Thybulle the worst sort of teammate: One who refuses to show up for work.

Matisse = Kyrie, Nola & Ben

Lots of people cite the right to choose when discussing vaccination decisions, but in this instance Thybulle is choosing to miss as many as three playoff games to satisfy his misinformed mind. Playoff games. Playoffs. Thirty teams just played 82 games in a pandemic to earn the right to play extra games, and, in the biggest moment of the year, Thybulle has deserted his post.

The teams begin their seven-game series Saturday in Philadelphia, where they will play the first two games, then will head north for the next two in Toronto. Game 6, if necessary, also would be played in Toronto. But not by Thybulle. By choice.

Sadly, this sort of self-absorption has become commonplace, from anti-vaxxers like Carson Wentz to Aaron Rodgers to eccentric Nets guard Kyrie Irving (who, admit it, was always the most likely athlete to refuse a vaccine on his entire flat planet). Irving’s anti-vaxx stance cost him 53 games with the Nets, and while New York City changed its protocols so Aaron Judge could play for the Yankees this season, Irving still could miss playoff games if the Nets eventually face Toronto.

Thybulle is no better than the handful of Phillies who remain unvaccinated, which might still include No. 2 starter Aaron Nola, who was unvaccinated last season. The Phillies visit Toronto in July. Clock’s ticking, fellas.

Closer to home, Thybulle’s decision to miss games puts him in the same boat as Simmons. Simmons demanded a trade, then, incredibly, boycotted the Sixers’ first 54 contests, all because Joel Embiid hurt his feelings.

So, no, Thybulle isn’t alone. But he’s chosen poor company, and he’s chosen it with flawed logic.

Fallacies

If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that all these people doing their own research are really bad at doing research.

Thybulle said Sunday, “Getting vaccinated was not something I needed to do to protect other people, and [not] something I had to do to protect myself.”

Accepted science has disproved both of these assertions, but accepted science has had little to do with Thybulle’s decision.

Thybulle also said, “At the time” he made his decision, Canada did not have a vaccine mandate for foreigners, so “I would be available for my team and I would be available to play and not restricted in any way to do my job.”

This statement shows that Thybulle decided months ago to abandon his team, especially given recent developments in the standings.

Canada announced on Nov. 19 that it was changing its vaccine mandate effective Jan. 15. Thybulle could have received a second shot as late as March 24 to be eligible for the April 7 game in Toronto.

As for playoff implications, a Sixers/Raptors first-round matchup seemed relatively likely since Feb. 3, when the Raptors moved up to the No. 7 seed. As such, Thybulle could have received a second shot as late as April 6 to be available for the two playoff games in Toronto next week. He might still be able to receive a second shot as late as Tuesday — today, April 12 — and be able to play if the Sixers have to return to Canada for Game 6.

Finally, in explaining his vaccine hesitancy Monday, Thybulle referred to his late mother, Dr. Elizabeth Thybulle, who was a naturopathic physician with a degree from the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine. SCNM is a member of the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges. Not only did the AANMC endorse vaccines last year, the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians lobbied for its members to be allowed to administer vaccines.

How do I know all this? Simple.

I did my own research.