A day after signing the richest contract in Australia sporting history, Ben Simmons has revealed to the world that when you agree to let a team pay you in excess of $240 million, that comes with a few added provisos. Namely, you can’t just sod off and run around in national colours for free on a whim.
Simmons confirmed recent rumours by announcing he would not be suiting up for Australia in the upcoming FIBA World Cup, which is a significant blow to the Boomers chances in the tournament.
That’s the bad news.
The good news, however, is that Simmons will still travel home to Melbourne next month and suit up for Australia in the much-hyped exhibition games against what’s likely to be a star-studded Team USA lineup.
Better still, Simmons declared himself a walk-up start for the Boomers squad at next year’s Tokyo Olympic Games. Which, if true, would mean Australia will field its strongest men’s basketball lineup in history.
Simmons confirmed all of this, as well as his intention to return to Philadelphia to prepare for the upcoming NBA season after the Melbourne games, in a statement on Twitter a short time ago.
— Ben Simmons (@BenSimmons25) July 16, 2019
First and foremost, I want to say thank you to everyone who reached out to congratulate me on the extension with the 76ers. Philly means so much to me and I’m already excited for next season.
I wanted to let everyone know that after consulting with my representation, I’ve made the difficult decision to forego playing in the World Cup in China this summer.
I will still be heading back home to Australia to host my camps as well as train and play with the Boomers in the upcoming Exhibition Games. I’m really excited about the talent we have on the Boomers squad, especially moving closer to 2020 where I will be honoured and humbled to represent my country on the world’s biggest sporting stage at the Olympics in Tokyo.
Ultimately, we decided it was best that I use the time in September to return to Philadelphia to acquaint myself with my new teammates and prepare for the upcoming NBA season.
I appreciate Basketball Australia for their support and understanding. I look forward to working with my Boomers coaches and teammates over the next few weeks to start working towards our ultimate team goal of winning a medal at the Olympics.
Simmons’ World Cup withdrawal comes a day after Anthony Davis ruled himself out of contention for Team USA for the tournament. Interestingly enough, the duo share the same player agent in Klutch Sports head honcho Rich Paul.
Food for thought there.
The Australia vs Team USA exhibition games go down on August 22 and 24 from Marvel Stadium in Melbourne.Image: Getty Images / Mitchell Leff