What is it about Luka and all the buzz around his name? Because the first time you played the Mavericks this season, you kinda had him in jail.
People are coming out to get your number. They want to be able to say they dominate you or whatever the case is with that. For me, I take pride in my defense. I want to let guys know I’m out there. Let them feel me. On defense. I’m a bigger guy, I like to take some hits like that on defense.
The playoffs are coming up and the Sixers might be the best team in the world. What are you looking forward to about the playoffs? It’s obviously been a trek to get over this hump for the last few years, what’s going to be a shift this season?
If we get that No. 1 seed, we keep our hopes up in terms of the energy. Knowing we’d have home court advantage would be big for us, especially if we get the fans all back. Our record at home has been pretty good, it’s always been good the last few years being able to be home. I think this is the year for us to do it, honestly
To do what? Y’all gonna win the championship?
Win the championship. I genuinely believe that. I feel like there’s been years where guys would’ve said it on the Sixers, but I don’t think we really believed it. But, I genuinely think this is the year.
How do you go about saying you’re going to win a championship without believing you’re going to win a championship? How does that work? How does that work?
Exactly. You’re trying to trick yourself. Guys would be like, “yeahhh we could win.” An example would be, and I won’t say the team, a guy said to me, “damn, we just tryin’ to make the playoffs.” If you don’t even believe you’re going to make the playoffs, how you gonna win a championship? I feel like we genuinely believe we are here to win a championship. That’s the only reason we come in. That’s why we wanna dominate games. We wanna be the best team.
Convince me y’all can beat Brooklyn. I believe you! But convince me.
Convince me in, like, five seconds.
We played ‘em last night…
Y’all fell down, down the stretch [The Sixers won 123-117, but lost a big lead in the fourth and had to put their starters back in]
[Simmons stares at me]
I mean, y’all won! Y’all definitely won! But—-
At the end of the day, what are you looking at?
I suppose wins.
Yessir! I believe you!
Like, you feel me? [Laughs] That’s like saying, “Yo! I had 100 points.” But did y’all win? Nah. At the end of the day, nobody’s going to look at that. Yeah, Brooklyn came back at the last minute. Well, the starters were sitting down for a minute. You could also say KD, James [Harden] weren’t playing. But that wasn’t the game we played last night. So.
Is that how you explain your approach to the season, Ben? Has that mindset changed in terms of your overall numbers? Is it just doing whatever it takes to get wins from now on?
It’s do whatever it takes. If we win a championship, that’s our goal, nobody’s worried about numbers. Nobody is worried about numbers. In past years guys have been worried about certain numbers and stats, things like that. But, if I’m able to make game-winning plays, diving on a loose ball, getting deflections, being where my teammates need me to be, I feel like that’s how you win championships. If you are an individual and you are worried about stats? You are in the wrong place. And that tends to be teams that aren’t doing that well.
What about the in between? Because an easy criticism of that is saying that you can want both. You’ve scored around 10 points a game this month. But, y’all are winning. What if you were scoring 18 and you were winning?
What if I’m scoring 20 and we’re losing? You can look at it both ways. You can look at it both ways, but we are winning. If we’re winning, you really can’t say anything. As long as I’m doing my job….
Okay, let’s close out by talking about fashion for a second. One of the newest things in fashion is, they say skinny suits are over. It’s bigger pants, bigger suits now. You into that?
Not like too oversized, not like lookin’ crazy.
What qualifies as looking crazy?
Like LeBron and his draft suits.
Well! Kyle Kuzma had on that jacket with the mirrors on it!
That’s Kuz, man. I mean, I wouldn’t look at anything he wears and be like “I wanna wear that.” I’m my own man.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.