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Ben Simmons withdraws from Australia’s Tokyo Olympics basketball squad

Matt Logue, June 29, 2021 7:00PM News Corp Australia Network

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After a beleaguered season with the Philadelphia 76ers, Ben Simmons will not be donning the green and gold with the Boomers bound for Tokyo. He is pictured driving between John Collins and Clint Capela during the first half of game six, June 18. Picture: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images/AFP. media_cameraAfter a beleaguered season with the Philadelphia 76ers, Ben Simmons will not be donning the green and gold with the Boomers bound for Tokyo. He is pictured driving between John Collins and Clint Capela during the first half of game six, June 18. Picture: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images/AFP.

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The Boomers’ medal dream has suffered a major blow with the news that Ben Simmons has withdrawn from the Tokyo Olympics.

Reports started after his NBA team the Philadelphia 76ers exited* the playoffs* on June 20 following a disappointing performance against the Atlanta Hawks. The verdict* on Simmons’ own game was universally* harsh and word began circulating that the Aussie star would skip the Olympics, which the Boomers confirmed on June 29.

Atlanta Hawks v Philadelphia 76ers - Game Seven media_cameraThis slam dunk by Ben Simmons during the third quarter of game seven was not enough for the Philadelphia 76ers to turn the tide and the Atlanta Hawks won the game. Picture: Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images.

Boomers coach Brian Goorjian said Simmons would instead focus on skill development.

“I have spoken with Ben and whilst we wanted him to be a part of our team, we understand and support his decision and he has made it clear that this is something that he wants to be a part of in the future,” Goorjian said.

“It is a pretty rough time for him right now and I know it is something that he wanted to do, but the timing just hasn’t worked.

“The best thing for everybody right now is for him to go on and develop that skill package and improve in a couple of areas for his next season in the NBA, but the Boomers are always here for him. We wanted him to know that in his time of need, the culture and the guys here are behind him and support him.”

Atlanta Hawks v Philadelphia 76ers - Game Seven media_cameraBen Simmons in number 25 for the Philadelphia 76ers, dribbling past Clint Capela, wearing number 15 for the Atlanta Hawks during the first quarter of game seven on June 20. The Hawks defeated the 76ers, ending their playoff hopes. Picture: Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images/AFP.

Simmons’ NBA season was tough in general, generating plenty of criticism from commentators and fans. Philadelphia’s failure to make the playoffs last week only increased the pressure on the 24-year-old.

Boomer Patty Mills – a fellow Aussie in the NBA, currently a San Antonio Spurs point guard – sent a strong message of solidarity*, support and friendship following the announcement.

“As a teammate, as a fan and as a supporter, we all want to see our best players putting on the green and gold and for me in particular, having that thought even to be able to share the court with Benny at some stage in the green and gold, is something I am always going to look forward to and unfortunately now is not going to be the time and that is OK,” Mills said.

Basketball Boomer Olympic Shoot media_cameraBoomer Patty Mills has delivered a strong message of support to Ben Simmons ahead of the Tokyo Olympics after confirmation that Simmons has bowed out of the Australian squad. Picture: Tim Carrafa.

“This place right here, and the program we have developed, and how strong our culture is, this is one place for him that is always going to be here with open arms because we are mates. We are teammates, we are a brotherhood and to be able to represent the green and gold, that is the culture that we have.

“The number one fact and characteristic* of our group is how we support each other through the good, bad and ugly, whatever it may be, and Ben isn’t an exception to that. No matter what he does, myself and the team will continue to support him because this is a safe place – everyone needs to know and understand that now more than ever, we need to support Ben on his journey.”

GLOSSARY

  • exited: left, departed, went out
  • playoffs: additional match or matches to decide the outcome of a competition
  • verdict: judgment, decision
  • universally: by everyone, unanimous
  • solidarity: unity or agreement of feeling or action
  • characteristic: typical of a particular person, place or thing

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QUICK QUIZ

  1. Which NBA team does Ben Simmons play for?
  2. Which team knocked Simmons out of the playoffs?
  3. What will Simmons be working on instead of playing at the Tokyo Olympics?
  4. Boomer Patty Mills also plays in the NBA – for which team?
  5. How old is Ben Simmons?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Olympic Decision
Whether or not to play for Australia at the Tokyo Olympics would have been a huge decision for Ben Simmons to make. Create a table and divide it into four parts. Under each of the headings below, try to put yourself in his shoes when weighing up all the factors about whether to play or not.

  • Health factors: what does he need to consider to stay healthy and well?
  • Travel factors: how will the travel affect him and how will Covid restrictions impact?
  • Philadelphia 76ers commitment: what would the Philadelphia team managers expect from him?
  • Boomers basketball team commitment: how much might he want to play for the Boomers and Australia in the Olympics?

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Critical and Creative Thinking, Personal and Social

2. Extension
Another Australian NBA player Patty Mills is quoted as saying this in the article: “The number one fact and characteristic of our group is how we support each other through the good, bad and ugly, whatever it may be, and Ben isn’t an exception to that. No matter what he does, myself and the team will continue to support him because this is a safe place – everyone needs to know and understand that now more than ever, we need to support Ben on his journey.”

Ben has recently received a lot of criticism regarding his performance in the NBA semi-finals. What does Patty mean that the team is a “safe” place? Why is it important that the Australian team support and not criticise his decision not to play?

Time: allow 10 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Personal and Social

VCOP ACTIVITY
1. Adjectives
An adjective is a describing word. They are often found describing a noun. To start with, look at the words before the nouns. Search for all the adjectives you can find in the article. Did you find any repeat adjectives or are they all different?

2. Extension
Pick three of your favourite adjectives from the text and put them in your own sentences to show other ways to use them. Have you used any in your writing?

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