Over the last few days, one of the dumbest story lines of the Sixers’ season has emerged: according to ESPN, in November, somehow, someway, someone close to Ben Simmons (apparently his brother) thought it would be a good idea for Simmons to work with Magic Johnson, President of Basketball Operations for the Los Angeles Lakers, during the off-season and that person (and maybe Ben himself) encouraged a representative of the Sixers to contact the Lakers about linking up Simmons and Magic. The aforementioned representative went ahead and fulfilled that request, emailing the Lakers about establishing a working relationship between Simmons and Magic. Rob Pelinka, General Manager of the Lakers, got a hold of the email and contacted Elton Brand essentially saying something along the lines of ‘Sure, just make sure the league knows you’ve approved this.’
As dumb as all of that sounds — Why would a Sixers rep email the Lakers about such a thing? Why would someone in the Sixers organization think it’s a good idea that Ben works with the most notorious tamper-er in the NBA? Why does Ben’s brother have any influence within the Sixers organization? Why can’t Ben just watch the endless amount of film available on Magic Johnson to learn from his game? — it is even dumber considering how this story surfaced in the first place.
Magic Johnson himself revealed this past attempt at first contact during media availability before the Sixers/Lakers game on Sunday, but did not provide much context. Then Elton Brand proceeded to do the media rounds portraying himself as Big Balls Elton, claiming to have given Magic a stern “OH NO YOU DON’T!” But of course, we know that’s not really how things happened because Magic didn’t do much other than, it sounds like, get a secondhand email about Simmons wanting to learn from him.
So to recap, Magic dropped the info that there was some sort of effort to get he and Simmons working together. This sounded like an attempt at tampering, and Elton Brand sort of allowed people to believe it was, hopping on the radio to talk about how he shot the meeting down but leaving out the crucial part of the story that it was a Sixers rep who put all of this in motion. Now that all of this is public knowledge, Elton Brand has reached out to Magic Johnson to apologize for omitting the details about Philly spurring the operation, according to the ESPN story linked above. From Ramona Shelburne:
Philadelphia 76ers general manager Elton Brand called Los Angeles Lakerspresident of basketball operations Magic Johnson on Monday afternoon to apologize for insinuating in a radio interview that the Lakers had called -- unprompted -- to ask permission for Johnson to speak with Sixers forward Ben Simmons, league sources told ESPN.
This is all very, very dumb. Shame on me for allowing myself to be roped into it yesterday. Shame on whichever Sixers personnel thought it was smart to help Simmons work intimately with Magic Johnson. Shame on Magic Johnson for even mentioning anything about the attempt to link the two four months after it happened. But Elton gets a pass from me on this. Even though he was misleading in his handling of this situation, he got the Lakers to draw heat from the league for something they did not even do. Kudos.