I caught some of Philly Sports Talk last night. Why? I don’t know. I think it was PST. I fell asleep on the couch and woke up to Michael Barkann, Dei Lynam and Bob Cooney breaking down Ben Simmons’ media availability. I can’t find video of the discussion because it’s 2017 and, as best as I can tell, CSN still doesn’t make their original programming fully available on-demand (with FIOS) or online… so, I shall recount to your their reaction to Simmons’ responses to questions about his recovery and the possibility of him playing in the Summer League.
Barkann, Dei and Bob laid the snark on thick over Simmons’ lukewarm receptiveness to being asked, well, anything. Dei rolled her eyes at his green checkmark Tweet – the latest example of an athlete breaking news on their own – as if some cardinal rule of press releases was violated by Simmons daring to tell his followers with an Emoji that his bone scan was OK.
And then after playing one clip, Barkann commented something to the effect of, “if that clip bothered you, wait until you see this one” (I’m paraphrasing because, again, CSN doesn’t make the full show available online). This is the next clip they played:
OH THE HORROR. Sure, Simmons was maybe a bit needlessly standoffish here. But it looked to me more like a 20-year-old struggling to find a way to soften a “fuck no!” than anything else (why would he play in the Summer League again?).
The bottom line is that Simmons, who hasn’t played a game yet(!), has spoken to the local media, like, twice – literally twice – and he’s already catching flak for being an aloof superstar as he dodges dumbass questions about what he’s learned about the city.
I wrote about this last year. He’s different. The legacy media is going to hate him. The Howard Eskins of the world will attempt to run him out of town the first time he’s out late with a pop star and misses two free throws the next night. Michael Barkann’s head might actually explode. Simmons is a brand. It’s not Ben Simmons– it’s Team Simmons. Hockey and baseball don’t really have guys like that (except for the A-Rods of the world), and there are few in football. Not since AI have we had a player like this, and even then, Iverson just couldn’t help but to keep it real, so we loved him. Simmons and Embiid are polar opposites. Embiid, at least for a while, will dodge this sort of stuff because he’s affable, accessible and likable. Simmons, for lack of a better word, isn’t. And this theory isn’t a bad one:
Driving a wedge between the two stars, what a perfect narrative for the media to chew on. So Philly lol
— Brandon Frm NJ (@BrandonfrmNJ) April 14, 2017
Yep. Ben is the Lindros to your Brind’Amour. The Mitch to your Dutch. The Carter to your Richards. The McNabb to your Westbrook. The Iguodala to your… quick, name someone who played with Iguodala? You get the point. The jury has already ruled on Embiid– HE LIVES. We don’t even know Simmons yet, but I promise you the media, and the old school, rub-some-dirt-on-it fans are going to hate him. He’s a superstar.