Australian basketball superstar Ben Simmons has once again expressed love for his home country, weeks after sectors of the local media breathlessly hounded the athlete during his trip Down Under.
Speaking on Sunrise this morning from Los Angeles, the 23-year-old gun seemed to reference the vitriol hurled his way when he suggested he was racially profiled at Melbourne’s Crown Casino, and when he didn’t provide autographs to every single kid waiting outside his Castle Hill basketball camp.
“I get a lot of criticism, a lot of love, but at the same time I try to stay grounded with having my family around me,” the Philadelphia 76er told host Samantha Armytage.
Referring to a recent Instagram post featuring the Sydney Opera House and the caption “hate it or love it,” Simmons said “If you hate me, you hate me. If you love me, you love me. I am what I am, I’m from Fitzroy, Melbourne.
“It’s where I’m from, it’s who I am, so you can’t get rid of me,” he added.
That statement comes a couple of weeks after broadcaster Alan Jones called for Simmons to hike back to America and not return. (In the intervening weeks, advertisers have flocked from Jones’ show after he called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to shove a sock down the throat of Kiwi PM Jacinda Ardern, so Simmons is right to ignore basically everything he says.)
After discussing the “uncomfortable situations” he’s recently found himself in (Crown Casino denies racially profiling Simmons, saying security staff eventually permitted him entry), Simmons said it was important for him to speak up for marginalised young people and minority groups.
“You may not have a voice or you may not think you have a voice but everybody does,” he said.
“And if I’m able to do that and show kids, and young kids, and minorities to speak up whenever they feel like they need to, then they should definitely do that.”
To cap it all off, the dude confirmed he’ll be representing Australia at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, despite his high-profile absence from the 2019 FIBA World Cup squad.
It’s almost as if the guy actually does love Australia, and is trying really, really bloody hard to overcome the bullshit hurled his way.
You can peep the full interview below.
— Sunrise (@sunriseon7) August 22, 2019