Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images
While Brooklyn Nets guard Ben Simmons won’t play in Thursday’s road game against the Philadelphia 76ers, he will be with the team and likely hear some taunts from the fans in the City of Brotherly Love.
Kevin Durant was asked if he talked to Simmons about what to expect during the latter’s return to the city that drafted him. Durant explained he hasn’t, and it is something his teammate will just have to experience.
“Some people don’t even enjoy basketball,” he told reporters when discussing hecklers. “Their lives are so sh–ty that they get to just aim it at other people.”
Durant also said Simmons should “embrace it” and added, “All the greats have been through being called the worst names in the history of the book. The good thing about it is that we get a chance to perform and shut the people up.”
Tuesday’s comments from the 12-time All-Star came after Brooklyn defeated the Charlotte Hornets 132-121 to snap a four-game losing streak. While Durant had just 14 points, Kyrie Irving put on a show with 50 points on 15-of-19 shooting from the field and 9-of-12 shooting from three-point range.
Brooklyn moved into eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings with the victory, and Thursday’s contest against the second-seeded 76ers could be a first-round playoff preview.
If the two Eastern Conference contenders do square off in the playoffs, there will be no shortage of storylines.
After all, Simmons came to the Nets in the trade that sent James Harden to Philadelphia. Visions of Simmons and Joel Embiid competing for a championship with the 76ers and the Harden, Durant and Irving trio doing the same with the Nets came to an end with the move and set the stage for a potential playoff matchup down the line.
Simmons still hasn’t played this season after dominating headlines leading up to the campaign when he was still in Philadelphia.
There was a trade request, a team-issued suspension after he was kicked out of practice and an explanation from the LSU product saying he wasn’t mentally prepared to play. The fans in Philadelphia are surely going to let him know what they thought about the entire ordeal even if he isn’t actually taking the court Thursday.
There is something to be said from Brooklyn’s perspective for having him at that portion of the road trip.
All the noise surrounding his first return to Philadelphia following the trade will be over with after the regular-season contest, which means the focus may be more on the basketball aspect of things if they play each other in the postseason.
That could clear the way for Simmons to defend Harden and facilitate for his teammates without having to worry as much about answering questions about the 76ers fans.
Yet to hear Durant tell it, Simmons is just going to have to experience what it is like on Thursday much like he did when he first returned to Oklahoma City to face the Thunder as a member of the Golden State Warriors during the 2016-17 campaign.
original source: Nets’ Kevin Durant on Hecklers: ‘Some People Don’t Even Enjoy Basketball’