Ben Simmons: a Novocastrian through and through

Even if you don’t follow the NBA, you’ve probably heard about Ben Simmons. The 21-year-old, 2.08 metre (that is six foot and ten inches by the way) basketballer has been collecting accolades like it’s going out of style. His celebrity, both on and off the court, is gaining momentum - ranging from dating a Kardashian to million-dollar endorsement deals and sponsorships.

In his first year with the NBA, Ben lead his team, the Philadelphia 76ers, to the playoffs and managed to win the league’s Rookie of the Year award, becoming the first Australian to do so. Now, Ben will be featured on the cover of the forthcoming video game NBA 2K19.

The cover of the perennially popular game features an action shot of the former SFX student doing what he does best - driving the ball to the basket, eyes up, looking for opportunities to pass the ball or an open line to the basket. Also featured are adjectives and symbols which have become synonymous with Ben in his NBA career including; a boxing kangaroo, the Australian flag, “triple-double”, and “Melbourne”.

Notably absent from the artwork for an about-to-be-released video game as the Newcastle Herald correctly points out, are the words which have come to define Ben in the eyes of his hometown audience: “Newcastle”, “Hunters” and “Broadmeadow Basketball Stadium” - all names of places which served as the starting point of Ben’s rise to basketball stardom.

As the Herald article points out: “Big Ben learnt everything he knows about basketball in Newcastle, where he played under-18s state league for the Hunters at the age of four. He was only 1.75 metres (five foot nine inches) as that time but boy could he dunk.”

While the artwork for the the forthcoming NBA video game left out Newcastle and large parts of the town that played a starring role in Ben’s upbringing, Newcastle certainly hasn’t forgotten about their homegrown NBA hero.

Nor have we because Ben attended SFX Primary in Belmont.

We therefore share the great pride experienced by many Novocastrians who tuned in to this year’s NBA playoffs and in seeing him win the Rookie of the Year award.

It is with an even greater sense of delight many of us Novocastrians will be paying attention to the 2018/19 NBA season as Big Ben goes for glory once again.

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