While we all enjoy seeing our favorite Sixers in action with “Phila” across the chest, one of the cool things about the global reach of today’s game is also seeing NBA stars representing their countries. At the moment, Philadelphia doesn’t have anyone in the pipeline to represent the stars and stripes down the road (remember when Michael Carter-Williams received a Team USA mini-camp invite?), but with plenty of international players on the roster, we’ve gotten to see Dario Saric in the Olympics, Furkan Korkmaz in EuroBasket, and more. Still, one of the most intriguing things I’ve longed to witness is Ben Simmons leading Team Australia in an upset bid against the star-laden American squad.
However, when asked yesterday at his annual basketball camp in Australia about his future participation with the national club, Simmons was non-committal. Here was the 22-year-old’s response as to whether he was looking forward to playing in two games against Team USA in Melbourne next August, before the Boomers leave for the FIBA World Cup:
“Day by day, honestly, I’m getting ready for the [NBA] season - and then whatever happens, happens. I definitely want to represent Australia in the Olympics, in the future.”
Parsing through that statement, it seems as though Simmons may not be interested in playing in the 2019 FIBA World Cup, but wants to play in the 2020 Olympics. It’s a path often taken by the biggest NBA stars, eschewing national team competition until the time rolls around to earn a gold medal.
Thanks to the Sixers’ rookie curse, the beginning of Simmons’ NBA career was derailed by injury. Maybe his hesitancy in committing to the Australian national team stems from not wanting to think too far ahead and tempt the injury gods. Or maybe he intends to be playing late into June and isn’t sure whether it would be wise to jump back into game action so shortly after. Certainly, Simmons should do whatever is best for his long-term career, regardless of whatever national responsibilities folks might perceive him to have.
We’ll see what happens with Simmons and Team Australia next summer. How about you? Would you be disappointed if Ben doesn’t take the court with the Boomers in 2019? Or do you not care about anything other than the young star figuring out what hand he should be using to shoot jumpers? Let us know in the comments below.