Outside of Ben Simmons' future, one of the Sixers' biggest questions this offseason centers on whether or not Danny Green will return after a strong first year in Philadelphia.
Green becomes a free agent this summer, and on the newest episode of the Takeoff with John Clark podcast, Green sat down to talk about his experiences in Philly - which inevitably turned into a conversation about Simmons, and also about Sixers fans' treatment of Simmons.
Green, who has basically accomplished it all across his career and is now a veteran with very little to lose by speaking from the heart, spoke openly and honestly about how he sees Sixers fans and their relationship with Simmons - or, really, any player on the team:
"CLARK: Do you think the crowd, and Philly, can have an effect on someone like Ben in those moments?
"GREEN: For sure. It has an effect on everybody, and I think that's something that needs to change in the city. I love our fans, but when things aren't going well, they can't turn on you. That's the one thing I would disagree with or dislike. Some guys use it as motivation, some guys have a chip on their shoulder, but I think that needs to change. They need to be riding with us, regardless of how things are going.
"We're the No. 1 team in the East, still playing well, and in some games they'll boo us - that's part of the culture here, part of their way of showing they love us - but with a guy like Ben, and other guys, I think they need to stick behind them and stick by them as long as they can, until the horn blows. And even then, he's here. He's given so much to the organization and the city, on and off the court, that he deserves that respect and that support.
"I hope that thing turns for him and the city of Philly, so where they don't have that mantra as fans of being cold, rough, and one of the worst in the league, because we had a great time this year, we had a great outing. When they came and allowed fans back into the building it was amazing, they had amazing energy, which we needed and I loved. I hope that changes for him, and for the city.
"Lot of frustration over the years, I understand it. We had a golden opportunity this year, and there will be plenty for years to come with the guys you have here. But just enjoy it, love them. [...] I love our fans, but I try to throw things out there to let them know, 'Protect us, encourage us, stand by us like we stand by you, regardless of wins and losses.' We are humans and people, too. We're not zoo animals where you can throw things or be on our side when it's convenient. I love the city of Philly, and I love the fans. It's been quite an experience for me for the one year I've been here."
There's a lot to unpack here, but it's notable that Green is saying a lot of similar things to Dwight Howard's rant on Instagram Live last month, when he went off on Sixers fans for being so hard on Simmons as the All-Star struggled with confidence and his shooting touch in the playoffs.
It's interesting to watch guys like Green and Howard, who have played so many places across their respective careers, join the Sixers and watch Philly fans on a nightly basis and then have this reaction to the fanbase.
You can argue that Howard and Green saw Philly fans reacting to a particularly unique set of circumstances - a city returning to arenas after a year away; a No. 1 seed team blowing an ideal path to the Conference Finals; an All-Star seemingly losing his confidence in real time - and so the reaction might've been a little outsized.
But you can also argue that Howard and Green have seen environments all over the league, from good to bad, and so maybe there's some validity to what they're saying. If Sixers fans want veteran free agents and valuable role players like these two guys to keep flocking to Philly to flesh out the roster alongside their core superstars, you want Philly to be an inviting place to play and not somewhere that players consider "one of the worst in the league".
Of course, when you tell Philly fans to do one thing, they often do the opposite. And there's also an easy salve for the tension between fans and players: winning.
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