HomeBasketball TodayDoc Rivers doesn't hold back on calling out Ben Simmons after Philly's...

Doc Rivers doesn’t hold back on calling out Ben Simmons after Philly’s playoff collapse against Hawks

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More than two years after publicly throwing Ben Simmons under the bus for the Philadelphia 76ers‘ supremely disappointing playoff loss to the Atlanta Hawks, Doc Rivers has finally admitted fault.

In a feature story published Sunday on the Milwaukee Bucks coach’s failed tenure in the City of Brotherly Love, Rivers acknowledged his “terrible press conference” following the Sixers’ infamous defeat in the 2021 Eastern Conference Semifinals contributed to Simmons’ fraught exit from Philadelphia. Of course, the ever self-serving Rivers couldn’t help but blame Joel Embiid, too.

“I had a terrible press conference after that Game 7,” Rivers told ESPN’s Jamal Collier last summer. “We lost. I said something — I meant something different, but it was taken differently. That started it. Then Joel [Embiid] had a bad press conference.

“I don’t know if the whole Ben thing was going to happen regardless, but I didn’t like me being a part of that. So your first thing is, how can I handle that better? How can I answer that question better?”

Simmons received the brunt of flak for Philly’s upset loss to Trae Young and the Hawks back in 2021, his decision to pass out of a surefire layup in the waning moments of Game 7 serving as the most indelible image of his time with the Sixers. After the game, both Rivers and Embiid hardly shied away from calling out Simmons for their team’s underperformance, the former quipping ‘I don’t know the answer to that’ when asked if the former Rookie of the Year could be the point guard of a championship team.

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Kudos to Rivers for acknowledging his role in Simmons’ layered fall from grace with the Sixers. It’s an especially welcome development because he was singing a much different tune prior to last season.

“That one comment thing had nothing to do with why Ben wanted to leave,” Rivers said in an August 2022 appearance on The VC Show, per Nets Daily. “Alright? Let me just say that. It was a lot of things as Ben told me — and publicly now — that happened long before I got there. What frustrated me was that I still think it shouldn’t have been enough to want to leave. I just didn’t and I told Ben that. I kept telling him that. This is not why you want to leave a team. You work these things out. They didn’t get worked out and so yeah, we’ve had one talk. Not a long, long talk, but we did have one good talk.”

Doc Rivers is back in Philadelphia on Sunday for the first time since getting fired by the Sixers last May. Coming off one of its most impressive wins of the season on Friday over the Minnesota Timberwolves, Milwaukee is up big on the Embiid-less 76ers midway through the third quarter.

Jack Winter_headshot

About the Author

Jack Winter is a veteran NBA writer and editor based on the West Coast. He currently lives in Oakland, covering the last legs of the Golden State Warriors’ dynasty.

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