Jason Kelce on the Ben Simmons saga

October 21, 2021

PHILADELPHIA – Eagles center Jason Kelce has some advice for 76ers point guard Ben Simmons: “Just play better, man.”

Speaking about the relationship between Philadelphia fans and their professional athletes on Thursday, Kelce directed the conversation toward Simmons, saying his problems boil down to a lack of responsibility.

“I tell the guys, you guys write your own narrative. I don’t want to crush any other player, but what’s going on with the 76ers, Ben Simmons, stuff like that, it’s all due to a lack of responsibility, a lack of acknowledgment. mistakes and failure to correct things, “Kelce said. “If all that was corrected, if he’s fixing free kicks, if he’s improving as a player, none of this is happening. So everyone can complain about how difficult it is to play in this city. Just play better, man. This city will love you. “.

Coach Doc Rivers pulled Simmons out of practice Tuesday after he repeatedly refused to perform a drill, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The 76ers suspended Simmons for Wednesday’s 117-97 win over the New Orleans Pelicans for conduct detrimental to the team.

Wednesday marked the four-month anniversary of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, when Simmons passed an open dunk that would have tied the game with less than four minutes remaining. The Sixers lost to the Atlanta Hawks and their season ended.

Soon after, Simmons called for a trade and then kept the first two weeks of training camp in an attempt to force the 76ers to make a deal. He reported to the 76ers last week, and after going through several days of re-entry protocols, Simmons practiced with the team on Sunday and Monday before being kicked out of practice Tuesday.

The 76ers have fined Simmons more than $ 1.4 million for his absence in four preseason games ($ 360,000 each) and have imposed numerous fines for missed practices, on-court training and meetings, sources told Wojnarowski.

Kelce said she has nothing personal against Simmons, but called the situation “a sham, whatever you say.”

“All these guys were brought here, very talented, and it hasn’t worked for them for some reason,” Kelce said. “But it’s a good example of how not to handle the Philadelphia media, at least.”

Kelce, 33, is one of Philadelphia’s most beloved modern sports figures. An 11-year veteran, he endeared himself to the fan base by helping deliver the first Super Bowl championship in the city’s history, a feat he capped off at the title parade by giving a passionate speech while wearing a costume. of Mummers at the top of the steps. from the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

He noted that being a good player helps, but the key to being accepted in Philadelphia is largely being responsible and invested.

“There are a lot of people who say it’s a difficult place to play. I think it’s pretty easy, to be honest with you,” Kelce said. “Just get out there and play hard. Do you want to be loved in this town as a baseball player? Run to first base. They’ll love you. That comes down to it. If you come here and make up a bunch of excuses, you come here and try to lying to them and acting like they don’t know what they’re talking about, what they sometimes don’t know, when you act that way or aren’t responsible, you’re making mistakes, or you’re not getting better, they’re going to crush you.

“Everyone is going to be crushed at some point, everyone is going to go through a recession and fight, and at all times this city will hold you accountable for doing your job and performance. But if you stand firm and fight.” through it and you get better, they will respect you like hell. Even if you are fighting and you are fighting and you are trying, they will still respect you. That’s what I think most guys miss. I really don’t think this is a difficult place to play. I think a difficult place to play is … I think it would be miserable to play in a place like Jacksonville, where nobody cares. “

ESPN’s Tim Bontemps contributed to this report.