Being Ben Simmons


Touted as a “once-in-a-generation talent”, Melbourne-born basketballer Ben Simmons moved to America, signed a $US170 million contract and even dated a Kardashian. Then he became one of the sport’s most loathed figures. What really went down?


High on a red-brick building in Brooklyn, the considerable frame of Ben Simmons exits a private lift into a members-only New York City social club. Clad completely in black, he slides into the rooftop September sunshine like a wraith, 208 centimetres tall (6 foot 10 inches), looking languid yet swift, just as he does on the basketball court.

Bellying up to the terrace bar, he removes his sunglasses, takes a sip of a San Pellegrino and smiles. Any wonder. Staring down at the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty and the monoliths of lower Manhattan, the young National Basketball Association star from Melbourne whom they once called “The Wizard of Oz” can’t help but note – like Dorothy Gale in black Stussy kicks – that he’s not in Philadelphia any more.

“That’s a blue-collar city. Not too many surprises. Sports, work, Eagles, Sixers, Flyers – that’s Philly,” says Simmons, 26, who was traded away from that pit of parochialism at the start of the year to the Brooklyn Nets, a shift not without controversy. “I had a great time there. I didn’t mind living there … for a while. But I grew out of that.”

This is what’s known as an understatement…

Click here for the full story in Good Weekend from Saturday, November 5, 2022.

Photography by Ben Sklar.