OAKLAND - Ben Simmons is officially an NBA All-Star.
Simmons was today announced as one of seven Eastern Conference reserve selections for the NBA’s showcase event, which will take place in Charlotte on February 17.
The accolade is a deserving one for Simmons, who is averaging 16.7 points, 9.5 rebounds and 8.2 assists per game this season. Only Russell Westbrook, Magic Johnson, Wilt Chamberlin and Oscar Robertson have ever matched these total over a single NBA season.
Simmons will become the first Australian Boomer to ever play in the NBA’s showcase event. Melbourne born Kyrie Irving will also be in Charlotte, partaking in his sixth All-Star game, although with Irving identifying himself as an American and representing Team USA in FIBA basketball, Simmons is the first Australian player to earn the accolade.
Following the announcement, Simmons’ fellow Australians around the NBA have voiced their congratulations on social media. Speaking with The Pick and Roll last week, Patty Mills said Simmons is deserving of the recognition and that a maiden All-Star appearance is a tremendous boost to basketball in Australia.
“It’s awesome for the sport,” said Mills. "It’s great for Aussies, it’s good recognition and I love it.”
Brett Brown, Simmons’ head coach on the Philadelphia 76ers, had voiced his support for Simmons’ All-Star candidacy over the previous week.
“He has been doing this by historic proportions, said Brett Brown on Tuesday in Los Angeles. “I think he is an NBA All-Star in his second year playing with me in the league. I’m proud of that and I am proud of him. He really can impact the game without somebody force feeding his play-calling and calling his number all the time.”
Brown, of course, has a unique relationship with Simmons and his family having coached Ben’s father, Dave Simmons, in Australia during the 1990’s. A stint with the Boomers earlier this decade gave Brown a further appreciation for Australian basketball and the 57-year-old American native is proud to have played a small role in Simmons’ ascension to the NBA’s elite.
“It is very rewarding,” Brown told The Pick and Roll earlier today. “Australia was a big part of my basketball life and my personal life. To share in whatever way I have, and to help in any way that I may have helped, and to allow him to get to that level, and Australia to claim him as their own, which he is, I am proud to have played a role in that.”
On a gloomy winter’s afternoon in San Francisco, Simmons realised his dream of becoming an NBA All-Star. That accomplishment represents the next step in Simmons’ path to NBA superstardom. It is also a transformative accomplishment for his homeland and the country he represents. Best of all, it’s only the beginning.
Simmons will take on fellow All-Stars Kevin Durant and Steph Curry when the Sixers face off against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland today. Simmons will be speaking to the prior to the Warriors game, between 1:15pm and 1:45pm AEDT in Australia (6:15pm and 6:45pm California time) so stay tuned for live reactions from here at Oracle Arena.