Philadelphia 76ers’ Tobias Harris has led the team’s defence of Ben Simmons who addressed the team for the first time since his holdout.
Harris spoke about the situation following his side’s 114-109 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night.
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“I think it’s obviously a good start,” Harris said. “But as I said, at this time we have to respect his privacy, his space, and we’ve got to be there for him, with what he’s going through and this process.
“It’s easy to look at something on the surface and come to assumptions on a lot of things, especially athletes. In general in this space we’re depicted as superhumans, and you’re not really supposed to have feelings or go through anything.
“So I think we just have to really understand he’s a human first, and if he’s going through something at times, we have to respect that and go through that as a team, organisation, fans, all the way down the line.
“Because when he’s in here putting on a show and helping us get wins, everybody is cheering and praising, but we live in a ‘What have you done for me lately?’ type world, but when that’s not the case, it’s easy to turn around.
“So at this time he needs more support. I just think we have to be there for him as a team, and I relayed that to the group. And I hope that message is loud and clear to the fans and everybody around the organisation, and honestly, you guys, as well.”
Simmons met with coach Doc Rivers, medical staff and teammates on Friday morning at the team’s facility and started a process that is expected to continue to keep him from making his season debut, it has been revealed.
After he told the team’s medical staff of his reasons for needing to seek help, the Sixers continued to offer Simmons whatever resources are necessary to assist him, sources said.
The Sixers have been fining Simmons for missing games, practices and team meetings, which right now is adding up to $2 million this season, but there is a provision in the collective bargaining agreement that protects players’ salaries for failing to render services “if such failure has been caused by the player’s mental disability.”
Harris tweeted in support of Simmons, who was ruled out of Friday’s game for personal reasons, saying in part, “When he’s ready, we will embrace our brother with love and handle our business on the court.”