The general belief is that one of the main reasons behind Ben Simmons’ unwillingness to play for the Philadelphia 76ers earlier in the season stemmed from how he was treated as the scapegoat in the Sixers’ Game 7 loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the second round of the playoffs last season. Many believed that Simmons felt betrayed by the comments made by both Sixers head coach Doc Rivers and superstar teammate Joel Embiid in the aftermath of their season-ending loss.

Embiid has now broken his silence about his role in all this. Speaking on The Draymond Green Show, Embiid shared his side of the story. According to the Sixers big man, he is adamant that he never said anything wrong towards Simmons:

“I don’t think it did, but this is why with, you know, you’re a member the media and all that stuff, but this is what you just mentioned, that they always gonna try to pick up little stuff just to make them look right or just to cause controversy and all that stuff,” Embiid said, vi Ky Carlin of Sixers Wire. “If you look at the whole press conference, they asked me a question. What happened? What happened? Like, what caused this loss? And then I literally mentioned a bunch of events that happened. I mentioned where it really started and I was being honest. I say what I want to say and I’m not gonna just hold myself just because I got to make people feel better and I feel like I didn’t hurt anybody’s feelings.”

For those that require context, this is the particular play that Embiid was talking about here. With time winding down in the fourth quarter and the Sixers behind by two points, Simmons appeared to have passed up an open dunk:

This turned out to be one of the most controversial moments in the series and unfortunately for Simmons, in spite of all the great things he did during his time with the Sixers, this is the play that he is going to be remembered by for many Philly supporters.

During the post-game press conference, an utterly disappointed Doc Rivers admitted that he wasn’t sure if Simmons still fit the mold as this team’s point guard of the future:

“I don’t know the answer to that right now,” Rivers said when asked if he thought Simmons could be the point guard for a championship team.

Embiid added more fire to the flame when he spoke to reporters after the gutting defeat. At that time, Embiid said that he believed it was a turning point in the game:

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“I’ll be honest, I thought the turning point was when… I don’t know how to say it,” Embiid said back in June. “I thought the turning point was when we had an open shot, made one free throw, and missed the other, then they came down and scored.”

Embiid was not specific about his comments and he obviously did not drop Simmons’ name in his message. However, Ben’s passed-up dunk was the biggest talking point of that game and it was easy to assume that Embiid was referring to that crucial play when he said that they “had an open shot.”

Embiid remains adamant to this day, however, that he never pinned the blame on his ex-teammate. In his recent interview with Draymond Green, Embiid reiterated how he never singled out Simmons for being the reason behind their season-ending loss to Atlanta:

“I mentioned I was like, obviously, the passed up dunk,” Embiid said. “I didn’t even mention that. I said we missed an opportunity and then and actually I called on Matisse for missing the free throw and the I didn’t call out by name. I was like, we missed a free-throw and then I called out a bunch of events that happened after we fouled a 3-point shooter, and then I mentioned me turning the ball over when we were down four at that point. They ended up scoring on the fast break, which pushed the lead up to six points.”

Embiid even pointed out that he took some of the blame in the aftermath of the loss. In his mind, the media took his statement out of context and blew it out of proportion in order to create a narrative against Ben Simmons:

“I mentioned a bunch of other events where we made a mistake. I mentioned myself, but the media is gonna be the media,” Embiid continued. “They all took that one part where I said, we passed up a layup and we missed the free-throw and all that which doesn’t make sense. I didn’t call out anybody specifically. I just listed a bunch of events that happened that led to us—because at that point, the score was tied or we were down by one at that point when we missed the free-throw, and then I called out a bunch of events that happened after, but that just had to pick that one part where it seemed like I was calling someone out when I wasn’t really and I was talking about like the sequence of events that happened.”

Embiid does have a point here. He never said it was Simmons’ fault that they lost. He’s in the clear in that respect. His lengthy explanation above will hold out in court, so to speak.

However, you also have to note that Embiid also didn’t do anything to appease the situation. He could have done or said something to show his support for his embattled teammate during an extremely difficult time. He never did that. He may have not pushed Simmons out the door but he was delighted to see him leave. Let’s not forget about how he trolled his ex-teammate on Twitter right after the Nets trade was official.

What I can say for sure is that we’re all glad this saga is finally over. All parties involved can now move on. For Embiid and the Sixers, they now have a great opportunity to win a championship this year. With James Harden now in the mix, this team has become a real threat in the NBA. There’s no better way of putting all the drama to bed than by bringing home a title to Philly.