As you probably know by now, Ben Simmons has been without a functioning knee for over a year, and it doesn’t look like he will be returning any time soon—if ever. Even though he can play, and even though the 76ers have to be thrilled with the way he has performed, there’s no guarantee that he can ever be a full-time contributor to what has been a very good NBA team.
On Tuesday, Julius Erving—one of the greatest players of all time and a Hall of Famer—joined the ranks of those asking the Philadelphia 76ers to give Ben Simmons more time to develop. Simmons has been a tremendous talent since entering the NBA as the No. 1 overall pick in 2016, and has shown flashes of brilliance as a rookie. However, he has also struggled to find consistency; he’s averaging just 11.4 points and 5.7 rebounds per game—and those numbers are down from last year. His inability to score and rebound at a high level certainly makes him a candidate to be shipped out of Philly as the 76ers work to shed as much salary as possible, but he’s still only 20 years old.
Since he was drafted in 2015, Ben Simmons has become one of the most polarizing players in Philadelphia. The Sixers’ All-Star has lived up to his billing as a potential superstar, but after being so thoroughly dominated in his rookie season, some have begun to question whether he needs more time to develop. Simmons was the only rookie to play in all 82 games last season. He’s also the youngest player in the NBA, having turned 21 less than two months ago.
In the 1970s, Julius Erving was a generational talent. Erving was an All-Star in each of his 16 professional seasons and a four-time MVP in the ABA and NBA. He could leap out of the gym and handle the ball in his enormous hands. Dr. J, on the other hand, was a player who struggled with consistency with his jump jumper, so he understands some of the problems that young Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons is facing.
Erving was also at the crossroads of pro basketball’s old and new eras, when players started to enjoy luxuries like private aircraft and first-class lodgings while on the road. As a result, he realizes that today’s athletes have it easier than his generation. Taking all of this into consideration, Erving thinks that rather than moving Simmons, the 76ers should give him more time and space to work through his issues.
In a fading league, Julius Erving became a cult hero.
Look no farther than the ABA’s handling of Julius Erving’s ascent to superstardom for an object lesson in how the NBA learnt to promote its players. After his junior year, Erving dropped out of the University of Massachusetts.
Despite being ineligible for the NBA Draft in 1971, he signed a four-year deal with the ABA’s Virginia Squires and dominated the upstart league. When Virginia’s finances collapsed, as they often did, Erving was traded to the New York Nets, where he played three seasons in the league’s most populous market.
Following the merger, Erving’s demands for a new deal forced the cash-strapped Nets to trade the franchise’s most outstanding player to the 76ers. That’s where his connection to Ben Simmons comes in.
Erving has faith in Ben Simmons.
Julius Erving has never shied away from praising Ben Simmons. Erving told ESPN in 2018 how amazing he thought the kid was.
Simmons struggled mightily in the playoffs, especially during Philadelphia’s stunning seven-game defeat in the Eastern Conference semifinals to the fifth-seeded Atlanta Hawks. In the last five games of the series, he did not attempt a fourth-quarter shot. Simmons has long been chastised for his unwillingness to shoot from more than a foot out from the basket.
Erving is urging patience with a player who has been booed off the Philadelphia squad by fans. The Doctor is well aware that the 76ers haven’t won an NBA title in a long time; he was a member of the last squad to accomplish so in 1983. On the podcast Nothing Personal with David Samson, he discussed the Simmons issue.
“In Philadelphia, we’ve had a lengthy drought, and our supporters are ready for the club to break through. The Ben Simmons issue has sparked a lot of debate, but it seems that the club is sticking with its big three of Joel (Embiid), Ben, and Tobias Harris (Harris). I believe that if they add components, they should give Doc Rivers another year since last year was his first year on the job with the Sixers. Sometimes spending time with individuals is necessary to really understand how to bring out the best in them.”
At the very least, a little more patience with Simmons is consistent with trusting the process. In Philadelphia, it is still a thing.
Today’s players, according to Julius Erving, are “softer.”
The Philadelphia 76ers, according to Julius Erving (L), must be patient with Ben Simmons. During his Hall of Fame career, Erving, like Simmons, failed to develop a reliable jumper. | Getty Images/Focus on Sport | Getty Images/Michael Reaves
Julius Erving was a part of teams that traveled commercial, played three or four nights in a row, and didn’t have many luxuries. The players of today are vastly different.
“Those were the good old days; it preserved one’s modesty. You felt both proud and fortunate to be a professional athlete because there were certain things you had to swallow and go on with. We didn’t have many of the modern amenities, but that was OK. I believe it has softened some of the players compared to the players of the 1970s, 1980s, 1960s, and 1950s, but there is fan admiration for the softness and delicacy, so it is what it is.”
Julius Erving deserves credit for not criticizing today’s players as having it too easy. He also makes the argument that the 76ers have put too much faith in Ben Simmons to fire him without giving Rivers a chance to turn things around.
On Facebook, follow Sportscasting. @sportscasting19 is our Twitter handle.
RELATED: Ben Simmons’ Next Move Could Force the Sixers’ Hand
After the way the 2017-18 season ended, the Philadelphia 76ers have a lot of work to do. Their franchise cornerstone, Joel Embiid, is injured and their All-Star center is not expected to return until December at the earliest. With Embiid out, Ben Simmons will get plenty of time to prove he’s ready for an expanded role and the Sixers will also get to see more of what they have in their other promising young players. Which makes it all the more puzzling that they’re not giving the club’s best player any time to play, and that’s likely to continue if Jerry Colangelo keeps his seat at the front of the room.. Read more about lakers and let us know what you think.
This article broadly covered the following related topics:
- sixers schedule
- nba news
- philadelphia 76ers