Rich and famous often translates into infamous and reviled, as Australian NBA superstar Ben Simmons could attest, were he not able to remain above the fray and the slings of the trolls who resent him.
Even if he had played for the Boomers in the World Cup, even if he had played the exhibitions to which he had committed, only to later decide to abstain, even if his basketball clinics he conducts were free and open to all, some of the social media trolls would simply find other reasons to offer spiteful criticism.
It comes with the territory and it is safe to say that the young Philadelphia 76ers phenom is in line for plenty of the same and worse in the years ahead.
Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis rose to Simmons’ defense.
Now, there is an example of class.
Notoriety is often associated with notorious, to the extent that even an encounter with the security detail at Melbourne’s Crown casino was fodder for shots to be aimed and taken at Simmons.
“That sort of stuff bothers me,” Lemanis said of the negative barrage of comments directed at Simmons. “Ben’s at the high end of that (criticism) because of the superstar status that he carries.”
Perhaps Simmons could benefit from some advice from Andrew Bogut, who experienced much the same, although when Bogut was rising through the ranks, the acrimony had not yet achieved the heights of recent times.
Some of the older basketball fans out there may recall a time when there was a distinction made between amateur and professionals. They may recall when international competitions meant something.
With athletes paid far out of proportion to their contributions to society, a byproduct of the laws of supply and demand, it actually seems moronic to play out of a sense of jingoism.
Simmons seems more conscientious than anything else does. Philadelphia is relying on him to help continue the upward arc of the club and the criticism directed at Simmons seems more an instance of sour grapes than it does deserved.
The Boomers will have five NBA players representing. They are Bogut, Joe Ingles, Patty Mills, Aron Baynes and Matthew Dellavedova.