Ben Simmons at the NBA Draft in New York. Picture: Getty Images
Philadelphia has had Rocky Balboa, Wilt Chamberlain, Julius Irving and Allen Iverson.Now they have a new hero, Ben Simmons.
The 76ers used the first pick of the NBA Draft on the 19-year-old 208cm, 111kg gazelle who can play any position on a basketball court.He is the franchise player they will look to structure their team rebuild around.
“When we all look at what Ben brings to the table in regards to size, skilland versatility, it is exciting,” coach Brett Brown said.
NBA teams hire investigators to delve into the lives of potential recruits.They have a lot to lose. The 76ers are not only paying Simmons millionsover the next three years but desperately need the right player to revive the once-great franchise.
Brown had an odd advantage because he has known Simmons since he was born.
Brown was an assistant under Lindsay Gaze at the Melbourne Tigers in 1989 when the team took a gamble on 205cm Bronx-born bruiser Dave Simmons as one of its US imports.Dave fell in love with the Tigers’ head cheerleader, Julie, they married, and baby Ben, the 76ers saviour, was born.
Brown eventually moved back to the US asan assistant at San Antonio before taking on the difficult job of reviving the 76ers.Rave reviews about Dave’s kid kept finding their way back to him.
The enviable problem for Brown is to decide how he will use Simmons.Hesaid it would be “borderline cruel” to use him as a guard, a position he rates as the most difficult for an NBA rookie to grasp.Butdon’t count it out.
Simmons has been compared to the greatest big-man point guard, Magic Johnson, and Brown knows one day he may just live up to that comparison.
“Sometimes in my wildest dreams I envisage him as a point guard,” Brown said.