After a tumultuous past year, Ben Simmons opened up about his mental health and what went wrong with the Philadelphia 76ers when he joined JJ Redick’s The Old Man and the Three podcast in an episode released Thursday.
Simmons, who began his career with the 76ers after the club drafted him No. 1 overall in 2016, refused to play for the team last season and requested a trade, citing mental health concerns.
Ultimately, he said he didn’t feel he was getting the support he needed.
“Obviously I didn’t handle things the right way, but also the team didn’t either,” Simmons said. “I was in such a bad place where I was like, f—, I’m trying to get here and you guys are, like, throwing all these other things at me to where you’re not helping. And that’s all I wanted, was help.
“I didn’t feel like I got it from coaches, teammates — I won’t say all teammates, because there’s great guys on that team that did reach out and are still my friends — but I didn’t feel like I got that, and it was just a tough place for me.”
Simmons was eventually dealt to the Brooklyn Nets in February in a blockbuster trade for James Harden, but he was bothered by his back while trying to rebuild his conditioning.
The Nets originally said the forward had back spasms but later stated the problem was a herniated disk. Simmons eventually resumed workouts and hoped to make his debut during the playoffs against the Boston Celtics, however, that plan was scrapped when he experienced additional pain.
In May, the Nets announced Simmons underwent back surgery, and he’s expected to be ready for the start of training camp.
“It’s going to be sick. I can’t wait,” Simmons said. “I’m so excited. Got a new number, new jersey. I’m just looking forward to it. I think we have a special team. I think if we get it all together, we’re going to be the champions. That’s the end goal.”