Philadelphia 76ers fans remember the play quite well.
With three and a half minutes remaining in Game 7 against the Atlanta Hawks, Ben Simmons ran over his defender in the lane and inexplicably passed the ball to Matisse Thybulle instead of finishing the easy dunk. The Sixers lost the game and the series, and Simmons never dressed for the team again.
Now with the Brooklyn Nets, Simmons has finally reflected on the infamous play more than a year later, but his explanation won’t make Sixers fans feel any better.
Ben Simmons’ forgotten dunk marked the beginning of the end
Simmons’ enduring image as a ’76 player will always be the wide-open dunk he let go in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Hawks in 2021.
With the Sixers down two points and time running out in the fourth quarter, Simmons worked his way into the paint for what should have been an easy dunk to tie the game. Instead, he didn’t even look at the rim and threw the ball to a cutting Thybulle.
It wasn’t just the two-point loss that rankled Sixers fans at the time. It was the fact that Simmons had become so shy as a shooter that he wouldn’t even look at the rim when he had the ball in his hands. After the series loss, fans began criticizing Simmons saying that he can’t be a part of Philadelphia’s future if he doesn’t change his timid offensive approach.
Simmons’ relationship with the team and fan base deteriorated after that, and he eventually left town.
Simmons’ excuse for past dunk won’t help 76ers fans cope
It’s been more than a year since the infamous no-dunk that led to Simmons’ departure, but he finally spoke about the play. However, his explanation won’t help Sixers fans forgive him.
“The moment I just turned around and assumed that Bring [Young] it’s going to get there quicker,” Simmons explained on the most recent episode of JJ Redick’s The old man and the three podcast. “So I’m thinking he’s going to come full-blown and I see Matisse going, you know, Matisse is athletic, he can get up. So I’m thinking fast pass, he’s going to throw it away, not knowing how much room there was.
“It happened so fast, you just do one reading. And in the playoffs, you have to make the right decisions most of the time. It happened and I was like, ‘Okay. F***. Now we have to go make another play. That’s what I’m thinking. So I didn’t realize how, you know, everyone was posting like: was it that big?
But he didn’t stop without one more excuse.
“Plus, I’m protecting the other team’s fucking best player for the whole game.”
Well, that explains it.
Simmons refused to own up to his mistakes at the time, and he still sticks to that strategy today.
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