Post-game Thursday, Nets players spoke to the media about how they had wanted to send a message to Philly fans that they supported Ben Simmons who sat with them on the bench, his debut in black-and-white delayed by back issues and reconditioning.
“It’s not an individual thing for us. We all felt it. We’re all there. If you come at Ben, you come at us,” said Kyrie Irving. “Ben’s safe here, he’s good.”
Kevin Durant told the media much the same thing.
“We look at Ben as our brother ... it’s hard for you to chant at Ben Simmons when you’re losing that much,” said Durant.
But the superstars support didn’t end there. As social media showed, the two engaged in conversations with Sixers fans and defended Simmons.
In the most extensive discussion between Philly fans and Nets players, one of the founders of Philadelphia sports blog, Crossing Broad got close enough to the Nets bench to shout questions to Simmons about a reported plan to file a grievance against the 76ers in hopes of getting his $20 million in fines reversed.
Irving would have none of it...
Kyle Pagan, the fan in question, wrote this about the exchange...
To be honest, I hate this f**king video. It makes me look like I’m daddy’s trust fund kid heckling players just for the fun of it. The exchange with Kyrie was at the end of the game. I was hoping to put a nice bow on the day and see if Ben would still file that grievance to recoup the $20 million he lost in fines. There’s absolutely zero chance Kyrie knew any news about Ben Simmons and Klutch hoping to file a grievance using the events that Ben was going to experience on Thursday.
Well, sometimes you are what your video says you are. But let’s move on.
Another Sixers fan, Jacob Kopelman, recorded this exchange with Kevin Durant...
“I know you miss him,” was KD’s smiling message.
The exchanges of course were the least offensive of the Philly fans “messaging” on Simmons.
In the hours prior to the game, dozens of their fans followed and tried to prod Simmons into responding without luck. As Brian Lewis reported, at one point, it got ugly and another Nets official, security chief Fred Galloway, got physical.
Simmons had started the morning off getting accosted by 76ers fans outside the Nets’ team hotel, cursed at and mocked. One even rushed towards him and had to be stopped by team security.
Galloway, we are told, has a mean forearm.
There was the Brooklyn Brigade. TEN MEMBERS of the Brooklyn Brigade traveled by bus to the Wells Fargo Center and made a LOT of noise as they reveled in the Nets success and even got kudos from Durant.
Here they are...
Of course, this is all part of a nascent rivalry that most fans hope will play out in April or May with a post-season series, this time with Simmons in uniform.