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Mark Knight finds the funny side of NBA basketballer Ben Simmons being denied entry at Crown casino

Mark Knight, August 8, 2019 6:40PM Herald Sun

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Ben Simmons surprised Charlie Sweet, 12, in his classroom for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Charlie has been diagnosed with a rare type of cancer and was granted his wish to meet and play one-on-one with his basketball idol at Carey Baptist Grammar School in Kew. Picture: Alex Coppel media_cameraBen Simmons surprised Charlie Sweet, 12, in his classroom for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Charlie has been diagnosed with a rare type of cancer and was granted his wish to meet and play one-on-one with his basketball idol at Carey Baptist Grammar School in Kew. Picture: Alex Coppel

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Australian superstar NBA basketball player Ben Simmons made world headlines this week when he returned to his hometown of Melbourne and was refused entry into Crown Casino.

Casino staff said he was denied entry for not showing his identification and because he was wearing camouflage pants, which are not allowed under the dress code*.

The issue went global when Simmons put a video of himself and his friends on his Instagram page claiming he had been refused entry on the grounds of racism*.

Social media lit up and everyone was having their say about whether he was stopped because of the colour of his skin or his clothes.

Crown eventually allowed Simmons and his friends in after they showed their identification.

Mark Knight’s cartoon. Right click and open image in new tab to see image full screen.

media_cameraMark Knight cartoon about Ben Simmons and Crown Casino

I had never drawn Simmons before and because of all the attention the story was creating I decided it was a good topic for a cartoon.

Simmons is a great person to sketch. He is world famous for his talent and success in America on the national basketball circuit*. And recently he signed a massive $242 million contract with the Philadelphia 76ers, the richest sporting contract ever signed by an Australian sportsman.

One thing that is helpful for my cartoons is that I try to be across lots of news stories and events. This knowledge helps in adding things to your cartoons to make them more interesting.

I was aware that Crown has also been accused recently of trying to attract big spending Chinese gamblers* to Melbourne. Crown would go out of its way to encourage these rich Chinese businessmen to come and gamble and hopefully leave some of their wealth behind at the gambling tables.

Knowing this, I thought it was interesting that Crown had just refused entry to a young man worth a cool couple of hundred million bucks!

I wanted to draw a scene at the casino after the original entry refusal. To add humour regarding the dress code argument, I drew Simmons in his full playing uniform of the 76ers — the baggy singlet and oversized shorts, his chunky gold jewellery and holding a basketball.

media_cameraBen Simmons telling his Instagram followers that he’s been denied entry at Crown Casino.

I wanted him surrounded by Crown security staff, tough-looking dudes bending over backwards being uncharacteristically* nice to make up for their earlier misunderstanding*.

Humour is all about the twist. The first part of the joke is to lead your audience one way and then the punchline is delivered from a completely different direction to surprise them.

And so with this cartoon the first caption I thought should be one of the bouncers apologising to Simmons for the terrible misunderstanding that has occurred.

Of course, the young basketballer and the reader are thinking the apology is to correct the thought that he was refused entry on the grounds of his race, which is wrong. But the second caption delivers the punchline and the real reason for Crown’s regret — ”We had no idea what you were worth”.

And that is the thinking behind my cartoon.

It’s not the colour of your skin at a casino that matters … it’s the colour of your money!

GLOSSARY

  • dress code: rules about what can be worn
  • circuit: an itinerary of events
  • gamblers: someone who risks money to win a lot more
  • uncharacteristically: in a way that is not normal for a person or thing
  • misunderstanding: a disagreement or failure to understand something properly

EXTRA READING

Why Barnaby crying poor was a bit rich

$242m deal makes Ben Simmons our richest sportsman

Why Mack’s small gesture had a big impact

QUICK QUIZ

  1. What is Ben Simmons’ home town?
  2. What were the two opposing reasons given for Simmons being denied entry?
  3. How did Simmons bring attention to the incident?
  4. Which US basketball team does Simmons play for?
  5. What words does Mark Knight use as the punchline? Why?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Caption it!
Cartoonists such as Mark Knight are so skilled they can convey a lot of complex information in one or a series of drawings without the need for many or any words.

However, Mark’s cartoon was drawn with an adult audience in mind and he knows that most people who look at it will also have read and watched a lot of news stories about both Crown’s history and the incident involving Ben Simmons. People look at his cartoon with the help of a lot of background knowledge.

Read Mark’s explanation of what the cartoon means again and write two, three or four short sentences, just to make sure you understand what the cartoon is saying.

Using your sentences to help you, write a new caption for the cartoon or some new thought bubbles or quotes from the people in the cartoon that will make Mark’s meaning clearer for children or people who haven’t been reading the news this week.

Time: allow at least 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Humanities, Visual Arts, Critical and Creative Thinking


2. Extension
Look through the most recent stories on Kids News and choose one to draw a cartoon about.

Use Mark’s three-step process to get started:

1. What is my subject?

2. What do I want to say about this issue?

3. How do I say it? Do I use visual metaphors (an image that the viewer is meant to understand as a symbol for something else.), multiple panels or symbolism (when one idea, feeling or emotion is represented by something else such as a: picture, character, colour or object)?

Time: allow at least 40 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Humanities, Visual Arts, Critical and Creative Thinking

VCOP ACTIVITY
After reading the article, with a partner, highlight as many wow words or ambitious pieces of vocabulary that you can find in yellow. Discuss the meanings of these words and see if you can use them orally in another sentence.

HAVE YOUR SAY: Tell us what you think about Ben Simmons being stopped at Crown Casino.
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will show until approved by editors.

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