Sat. Nov 26th, 2022

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NBA teams have more in common with a typical workplace than many of us would like to believe. While the league is full of strong friendships that transcend the game of basketball, many players simply view their teammates as coworkers. That can even apply to the best players on a team. In an interview with ESPN’s Nick Friedell, Ben Simmons revealed that he and former teammate Joel Embiid, the two stars of a fairly successful run for the Philadelphia 76ers, “never really spoke.” 

“I don’t think there was really a relationship there,” Simmons said. “Like in terms of a friendship? You can try as hard as you want to try to be close to somebody, be their friend, whatever it is, but everyone is different as people, so for me, it’s never personal. I don’t have any anger or hate towards him. He is who he is and I am who I am. And we’ve got our personal lives. And work is basketball, so in that moment, my goal is to win and I got to win with Jo. He’s a great player, we just didn’t get it done.”

Embiid was a bit less diplomatic about things last season when he frequently faced the media to discuss Simmons’ absence. “At this point, I don’t care about that man, honestly,” Embiid said of Simmons last October. “He does whatever he wants. That’s not my job.”

Simmons and Embiid are both in better situations today than they were in their time together. Simmons gets to play on a roster loaded with shooters that are uniquely equipped to maximize his rare skillset. Embiid has James Harden as his running mate and doesn’t have to worry about the space he loses next to Simmons. 

While fans would prefer to think of their best players as having strong friendships, the truth is that won’t always be the case. Teams are ultimately comprised largely of players who did not specifically decide to play for them. Players have different personalities and motivations and goals. They have to be able to work well together. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily going to like each other. It’s refreshing to at least see that acknowledged after the fact.

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