The Sixers have moved on from the never-quite-smooth Ben Simmons era, but Philadelphia clearly still has a few bones to pick with the enigmatic All-Star.
On Wednesday night, nearly two weeks after Simmons was traded to Brooklyn in the James Harden mega-deal, Philly college hoops legend Herb Magee coached the final regular season game of his illustrious coaching career at Jefferson University, a run that began in 1967 and featured 1,123 wins.
Magee is renowned as a 'Shot Doctor' around these parts for his shooting acumen, so perhaps unsurprisingly Simmons' name was brought up during Magee's post-game press conference by Inquirer columnist Mike Sielski, who prodded Magee for an answer on whether he'd be willing to unlock Simmons' jumper now that he's sunsetting his coaching career.
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Magee was ready for the question, and didn't pull any punches. You can watch his answer in the video player above; here's his answer transcribed:
"SIELSKI: When are you taking the train up to Brooklyn to work with Ben Simmons?
"MAGEE: That's not going to happen. My wife and I, Geri, when we go out to dinner, we go shopping I'll get pulled aside, 'Coach, can I ask you a question?' I said sure. 'When are you going to work with Ben Simmons?' I said, that's not going to happen. I said the same answer all the time. Brett Brown, who I became friends with, he asked me to do it one day and I said, 'I will, but you've got to ask Ben Simmons.' And he never got back to me. So obviously Ben is the type of guy who doesn't really want to improve. Could I help him? Of course. But let's be honest - I've never seen you play, Mike - but you could help him, too. Because he really needs it. It's a shame."
Don't do it to 'em, Herb!
Just a perfect answer. A ton of basketball fans have criticized Simmons over the years for appearing unwilling to grow his game - and that numbers bear that analysis out - but Magee has a cold, hard example of that being true: he offered his services up and Simmons clearly wasn't interested.
Why would Simmons, a young prodigy who could become borderline unguardable with a serviceable jumper, want to work with a man who is known across the city where Simmons plays for being a whiz at fixing jump shots? He must already have basketball completely figured out. (Or, as Magee suggests, he simply doesn't care about getting better.)
It might feel like sour grapes to those on the outside looking in, but it's this kind of stuff that frustrated everyone in Philly during Simmons' time here. Sixers fans aren't going to roast you for being bad at something; they're going to roast you if it becomes clear you don't give a damn about getting better.
What a lame way to approach such a special skillset. And good on Magee for not being afraid to call Simmons out.