It was the afternoon before one of the most important nights of his life, and Ben Simmons’ biggest worry was his outfit.
“I’m more stressed about my suit than anything,” he said. “A lot goes into it; (it’s) the hardest part of the draft.”
Blame it on the Sixers’ Twitter, blame it on Jimmy Fallon’s cheesesteak gesture, or blame it on the 19-year-old’s own unadulterated confidence, but Simmons seemed as secure and relaxed as ever about his probable new home in Philadelphia.
In somewhat of a switch from Wednesday’s early afternoon press showcase, Simmons was surrounded by children and other NBA prospects later in the day at the NBA Cares event at Basketball City in lower Manhattan. Here NBA draftees packed care bags for local hospitals and lead drills for basketball players even younger than themselves. Like most good sport spots, Basketball City sits in an otherwise vacant area. The seven court complex looks like a warehouse from the outside, mostly because it pretty much is a warehouse nestled next to the FDR Drive. But despite its otherwise bleak outward appearance, inside the facility held 20 young adults who would be hearing their name called by NBA commissioner Adam Silver within the next 24 hours , shaping not only their future, but the future of the teams they’re about to become an integral part of.
I mean I’m scoring? It’d be different If i wasn't. People are funny.
And while Simmons may have technically denied he knows he’s headed to Philly when directly asked, he was ready to defend himself and his skills when any questions on his fit in the City of Brotherly Love came up. When asked about the notoriously critical fans and Philadelphia’s rough reputation, Simmons said, “I feel fine, I mean I’m pretty harsh on players.”
And when asked about his reluctance to shoot three’s during his short career as a college player, he answered with a rhetorical question.
“I mean I’m scoring? It’d be different if I wasn’t,” he said. “People are funny.”
Earlier in the week, Simmons put up his generation’s online equivalent of a signed contract when he Instagrammed a picture of himself in full Sixers garb with the caption, “Trust the Process.” And Ben Simmons knows damn well that he is the both answer and the end to The Process that Philadelphia fans have been “trusting” skeptically for three painful seasons. The use of the word “answer” is deliberate, as Simmons is the city’s first No. 1 selection since the original Answer, Allen Iverson.
The presumed No. 2 selection Brandon Ingrams was also in lower Manhattan Wednesday, and is as lanky in person as he is on television. While the projected degree of separation between Simmons and Ingram is miniscule, the vibe with Ingram was noticeably different. He seemed simply happy to be in New York and part of it all.
“I’ve been waiting for this time for a long time now. Just to fulfill the dream tomorrow is gonna be a very emotional time for me and my family,” he said. “I’ll be happy anywhere...when I hear my name called I’m gonna be ecstatic.”
Ingram’s excitement seemed more fitting of someone under 20 years old. Often compared to Kevin Durant, he addressed the concerns about his frail frame, saying he’s working on “definitely getting stronger.”
But as far as the all the rumors fans love to talk about and speculate, Ingram said he and his fellow draftees weren’t the gossiping type. Wherever they land, they land.
“We’re all friends; we don’t talk about that stuff that much,” he said.