The Friday meeting between Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and the rest of the Philadelphia 76ers may have been the turning point for the organization. Embiid expressed support for Simmons prior to Friday's home opener, telling fans to stand by Simmons.
— Jeff Skversky (@JeffSkversky) October 22, 2021
Prior to his pregame speech, Embiid said the meeting with Simmons, "Helped us as a team."
Joel Embiid told me the meeting with Ben Simmons today “helped us as a team.”
He also told me “we are a way better team with Ben and hopefully it ends up that he sticks around… we all love him, I love plying with him.”
— Cassidy Hubbarth (@CassidyHubbarth) October 22, 2021
That's quite the turnaround from Embiid, who appeared frustrated with Simmons as recently as Tuesday. Simmons was kicked out of practice that day after reportedly refusing to enter a drill. Simmons was suspended for a game for his actions, and missed the team's season opener.
Embiid was also critical of Simmons following the team's loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the playoffs last season. Embiid criticized Simmons for passing up easy shots and missing free throws. Those comments may have fueled Simmons' offseason frustration with the organization.
Ben Simmons told team he's not ready to play in games
With frustrations running high, Simmons met with Embiid, Rivers and the rest of the 76ers on Friday morning. He reportedly told the team he was "not mentally ready" to play in games yet.
Embiid is not the only player who expressed support for Simmons following that meeting. Tobias Harris said the team will respect Simmons' privacy for now, and embrace him when he's ready to come back.
And we’ll respect his privacy and space during this time. When he’s ready, we will embrace our brother with love and handle our business on the court. That's it, that's all. https://t.co/eardjmQbz8
— Tobias Harris (@tobias31) October 22, 2021
Simmons previously faced fines after not reporting to the team on time and getting suspended for the team's season opener. It's unclear whether the 76ers will — or can — continue to fine Simmons as he prepares to get himself ready to play again.
If Friday's comments are any indication, his Sixers teammates are supportive of Simmons taking care of his mental health before playing in games.