Ben Simmons has been public enemy number one in Philadelphia ever since he went AWOL on the Sixers following their playoff exit a season ago. He’s been the target of live TV callouts, talking head slander, and daily Twitter shade that ultimately culminated in his first visit back as a member of the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night.
At least one former Sixers teammate in Robert Covington came to the defense of Ben Simmons as he was seen commenting on a video of Kyrie Irving clapping back at a fan.
“Philly at its finest. 🤷🏻♂️ now you see why he wanted out,” said the ex-Sixers small forward.
Part time basketball player Kyrie Irving telling people to have an open mind pic.twitter.com/boVpc9kTVC
— Crossing Broad (@CrossingBroad) March 11, 2022
Robert Covington (atf_33) comments on Ben Simmons chants and fans pic.twitter.com/wYt1hraDUr
— Brooklyn Netcast (@BrooklynNetcast) March 12, 2022
Robert Covington spent five seasons with the Sixers. It was in Philadelphia that he got his first real opportunity right in the early portion of The Process. He was one of the lone bright spots on a team mostly devoid of talent and he parlayed that success on a bad team into a well-traveled career as a valued veteran.
He played parts of three seasons with Ben Simmons around, leaving the team during the 2017-18 season in the trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves that brought back Jimmy Butler. Based on his comment, Covington probably faced his fair share of home-crowd hostility during his time there.
Sixers fans aren’t exactly classified as the most friendly of fan bases, but that’s driven by their passion for their ball club. It’s not as if Ben Simmons was completely innocent in muddying up his relationship with the Philly faithful.
At the same time, there comes a certain point where hurling vitriol at players crosses the line. With Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant leading the charge in a Nets blowout of the Sixers, fans weren’t as rabid as they could be given the lopsided score. But if the tables were turned, perhaps things might have gotten a little testier in Philly.