We got our first public appearance of the season by Ben Simmons on Tuesday afternoon as the new Brooklyn Nets guard took the podium to talk about the trade that got him out of Philadelphia. It was as revealing as you'd expect. Anybody hoping for Simmons to go all scorched earth on his former team will be disappointed. Simmons didn't really say anything other than it wasn't working with the Sixers and he is excited to be in Brooklyn.
Stephen A. Smith watched the press conference and discussed it on First Take afterward. He said Simmons looked like a man who was not at all prepared to answer questions from the media and said the All-NBA defender sounded like "an individual who was not telling the truth." Smith then went on for six minutes picking apart Simmons' story about why he needed to leave Philly and how most of the details contradict the reports that came out during his holdout.
It is a bit of a tough discussion to have because this is the first we've heard from Simmons himself, but all the details that were in the open before he spoke came from reputable reporters and very likely came from Simmons' camp. What Simmons said today does, in fact, go against everything we've heard, but it's hard to call him a liar because he technically never said anything to contradict himself. Even if we all know how the game works and where the leaks originally came from that caused this whole ordeal.
It was never going to be easy or clean for Simmons to speak to the media after all this. But it went worse than expected. He opened himself up to exactly the type of criticism Smith is levying out here, and it's hard to feel that it's unjustified. Simmons sat out the first half of the year because he was not mentally ready to return to basketball, yet sits there and claims mental health had nothing to do with why he wanted to leave Philadelphia. It just doesn't make sense. And we aren't going to get any answers-- but Simmons will have to deal with the situation he has created.