Sunday Territorian

BEN’S CHALLENGE TO REBUILD HIS CAREER

- MATT LOGUE

BEN Simmons can rebuild his image as a legitimate NBA superstar and bury his on-court demons if he can master the mental game of life in the world’s toughest basketball arena.

That is the assessment of Australian Boomers legend Chris Anstey in a week where reports surfaced that Simmons had severed ties with officials at his team the Philadelph­ia 76ers – almost assuring the Australian point guard will be traded before the start of the next NBA season.

Simmons has suffered a rocky run since the 76ers’ dramatic exit from the NBA finals, with fans taking aim at his shonky shooting and he then further raised eyebrows in Australia when he withdrew from the Boomers’ Olympic campaign and missed out on a bronze medal in Tokyo.

This all happened amid the backdrop of family turmoil after Simmons’s sister Olivia made allegation­s that she was sexually assaulted by their half-brother, Sean Tribe, who denied the claims.

Last month a court banned her from repeating the claims after she failed to defend defamation proceeding­s launched by Tribe, who also acts as Ben’s manager.

The family situation has been a distractio­n that has forced the 76ers star to retreat into his shell and now his relationsh­ip with 76ers officials has deteriorat­ed to the point where he no longer wants to be at the franchise and has no desire to attend training camp.

Anstey, who had NBA stints with Dallas and Chicago in the late 1990s and early 2000s, can understand why Simmons has put his “wall up” and is not willing to let anyone inside but he strongly believes that he can manage to turn his career around in the coming years.

“I think Australia really wants to love Ben Simmons, and I think he’ll have his chance,” he said.

“He has just got to figure out when that is and run with it.

“Ben is an exceptiona­l basketball player and I’m excited to see where he ends up. Whatever he does over the next two years is going to be a lot better than what he has done in the last two.”

Anstey feels there is still a bright future for Simmons in the NBA, despite his free-throw shooting, and lack of a jump shot, reaching a career low.

He has not personally seen Simmons work on his shooting, aside from the annual pre-season videos where he excels, unlike the regular season.

But Anstey likens Ben’s struggles to the following analogy.

“It is a bit like when you keep a secret or you tell a lie – the longer it goes the harder it is for it to come out,” Anstey said about Simmons’ shooting woes.

“Ben has resisted the urge to shoot jump shots for so long that it has been built into such a big thing at the 76ers and it has now become mental for him through the whole perceived pressure.

“Could you imagine when he thought about coming down the floor and getting his feet set, he has got to know that there are 18,000 people in that stadium who are going to get up on their feet and it will be this big thing if he misses.

“Ben needs to be somewhere where his shooting isn’t a big thing.”

Anstey feels Simmons can follow in the footsteps of former Philadelph­ia guard Markelle Fultz and revive his career at another franchise.

There were high hopes for Fultz at the 76ers after being taken as the No.1 draft pick in 2017, but things quickly turned sour when he suffered a shoulder injury.

Thankfully for Fultz, his stock and confidence improved when he was traded to Orlando in 2019, despite more injury struggles.

Simmons has walked a similar path at the 76ers when it comes to his lack of a jump shot and it is why Anstey insists the Aussie sensation must leave Philly for the benefit of his career, mentally and physically.

 ??  ?? Philadelph­ia’s Ben Simmons is likely to be traded. Picture: Tim Nwachukwu/ Getty Images/AFP
Philadelph­ia’s Ben Simmons is likely to be traded. Picture: Tim Nwachukwu/ Getty Images/AFP

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