Australia’s latest sporting success story — basketballer Ben Simmons — is expected to become the country’s highest earning athlete and one of our greatest.
But despite global fame and an estimated net worth* of $89 million at the age of 21, Simmons is determined to stay grounded*.
“I have a lot to prove just to myself where I can go,’’ he said.
“But I’m not worried about people trying to boost my head or anything like that.
“For me, I just play the game, and I want to win.’’
The 2.08m tall former Melbourne basketballer is expected to earn about $7.7 million just for playing this National Basketball Association season in the US, with a salary rise to about $13.3 million in 2020-21.
He signed a $25 million Nike sponsorship deal before even being drafted No. 1 into the NBA Philadelphia 76ers team last year.
Endorsed* by basketball heavyweights LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers and retired Los Angeles Laker Magic Johnson, Simmons could earn even more in the league where the best players pocket more than $38 million before endorsements*.
After a dazzling debut in the US last week, he said he wanted to remain true to his roots and keep his feet on the ground.
“I try not to let people get in my head, say certain things or believe the hype,’’ he said.
“There’s a lot of work to be put in. It’s going to take time, but I believe in myself and my teammates.’’
The Aussie contributed 18 points, 10 rebounds and five assists for the Philadelphia 76ers in the five point loss against the Washington Wizards on Thursday.
His performance included a spectacular second quarter steal and fast break slam dunk and two steals, a block and just one turnover.
Philadelphia coach Brett Brown, also a former Australian Boomers and National Basketball League coach, didn’t hold back in his post-match assessment of Simmons’ debut.
“I feel that his first game was really exceptional. Really, really exceptional,” Brown said.
“Physically, we all see what he is as an athlete, and I think that his growth path, his improvement scale, I think it can be off the charts.”
South Australian Joe Ingles is the best paid Aussie in the NBA this year, with a $67 million four-year-deal.
Simmons is tipped to surpass* that and replace golfer Jason Day as Australia’s richest athlete.
But he’s not in it for the cash.
“I’ve been wanting my whole life to play the best players and be one of the best players,’’ he said.
“Now that I have that opportunity, I think as long as I put in the work, the sky’s the limit.’’
Simmons also wants an NBA match brought to Australia.
“I definitely want the NBA to go out to Australia, and definitely the team I’m on, Philadelphia, I want them to go out there and play,’’ he said.
“That would be amazing if we could do that.
“I think it will come, it’s going to be a great time when it happens.’’
endorsed: vouched for
endorsements: payments to promote a product
surpass: go beyond
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Activity 1. NBA debut
Create a player profile for Ben ensuring you include the following information: name, team, number of games played, salary, endorsements, hometown etc
Extension: Post match interview
With a partner, write a script of an interview between a reporter and Ben Simmons.
Think of questions that the reporter could ask and use clues from the article to predict how you think Simmons might answer.
Practice acting out your interview.
Perform your post match interview to the class.
Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Health and Physical Education, The Arts — Drama
Activity 2. Compare and contrast
Ben Simmons said he wanted to remain grounded, despite his success and his earnings.
Draw a Venn diagram (two overlapping circles) and compare and contrast a low earning and less famous athlete with Simmons’ life.
Think about how money and fame could affect his life, relationships and privacy.
Extension: Which would you prefer?
Write a paragraph explaining why you would either prefer to be a low-earning and less famous athlete or a rich and famous athlete like Simmons?
Time: allow 40 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Health and Physical Education.
(Vocabulary, Connectives, Openers, Punctuation)
With a partner, take turns highlighting the VCOP in the article.
Each piece of VCOP is worth:
• Punctuation: one point
• Connectives/Openers: two points
• Vocabulary: three points
How to play:
Player 1 finds an element of VCOP and highlights it.
They then tally their score.
Player 2 then does the same.
The game repeats for one minute.
After one minute, the buzzer sounds to signal the end of the first quarter.
Play for quarters, like a game of basketball.
Player 1 highlights a connective and scores 2 points.
Player 2 highlights a Full Stop and receives 1 point.
Player 1 highlights the word amazing and receives 3 points.
Can you think of a way to modify this game to include the following:
• Technical fouls
• Time outs
Share your ideas in the comments section!
Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Big Write, VCOP