CHARLOTTE – Ben Simmons arrived in Charlotte ready to make his NBA All-Star debut on Sunday night.
Before Simmons becomes the first Australian Boomer to participate in the NBA’s showcase event, he will first play in the NBA Rising Stars Challenge.
Simmons, along with all NBA rookies and sophomores who will participate in tonight’s game, practiced and spoke to the media in Charlotte. Sporting a pair of green and gold sneakers, Simmons was unmistakable while shooting around with some of the brightest young names in the NBA.
Here are some highlights from Simmons’ first media availability from the weekend.
On growing up overseas and whether that played a factor in him becoming an elite passer
Simmons: Growing up and playing internationally, you just read the game differently. Different things are thrown at you on the floor.
On the status of the Philadelphia 76ers after the trade deadline:
Simmons: I think we are in a good position. I am looking forward to building more chemistry with these guys. We have just recently made the trades, so I think for us it is going to take a little bit of time.
Feelings heading into his first NBA All-Star game?
Simmons: I just want to come in and learn as much as I can. Being on team LeBron with so many different, talented guys. For me, trying to pick up some things and learn from them.
On playing in the NBA All-Star game:
Simmons: It’s exciting. I love playing at a high level and competing against the best players so I am looking forward to the game.
On the Sixers' struggles against the Boston Celtics:
Simmons: We have lost games to them. It happens. Hopefully this time around in the playoffs it gets to a point where we are winning like we need.
On learning about the business of the NBA and the world of endorsements:
Simmons: It is very important. I try to carry myself the right way and make the right decisions. Not everybody is perfect, but it’s a learning process.
Is it fun to pick what companies you want to endorse?
Simmons: Definitely. I don’t think I would ever represent or go into business with someone or some brand that I didn’t feel comfortable with or find myself using.
On whether he would make a good cricket player?
Simmons: I don’t think I have ever seen a 6’10” cricket player.
On childhood friend D’Angelo Russell joining him and making the NBA All-Star game:
Simmons: I am excited. We went to high school together so it’s amazing to see in a few years that we are both in the NBA All-Star game.
The Pick and Roll also asked a bunch of Simmons’ fellow participants in the Rising Stars Challenge whether they draw inspiration from Simmons being selected as an NBA All-Star in just his second season and what makes the Australian so special on the basketball court.
Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks: Ben has been great. As far as leading his team to wins, him and Joel and all those guys in Philly. With him and Joel at the head of it, leading them to a high seed in the Eastern Conference is the reason he is an All-Star. Winning takes care of a lot of things and he is definitely doing a good job of winning. It is definitely motivation.
John Collins, Atlanta Hawks:For me, it definitely is inspirational. I’m definitely one of the guys who feels that I should be in the conversation for All-Star and next year I feel I should be knocking right on the door.
Kevin Knox, New York Knicks: He’s a great player. Just to make that transition from the rookie game to the All-Star game in the matter of one year, it’s a great thing.
Jarrett Allen, Brooklyn Nets: He had the talent from the beginning. He’s 6’10”. An amazing passer and amazing finisher. All he needs to do is improve his jumpshot and he’s going to be an All-Star for the rest of his life. Just seeing the jump he’s made, the improvement he’s made, it gives me a lot of confidence in myself.
De'Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings: For myself, just seeing him in his second year being an All-Star, of course it is inspiring. It just makes myself want to develop even more. I know that it’s another level I need to continue trying to reach.
Simmons will take the floor in the NBA Rising Stars Challenge at 12pm (AEDT) Saturday morning.