Kobe Bryant was never afraid to coach up the next generation of NBA superstars. The young kids looked up to him in much the same way the Los Angeles Lakers legend revered Michael Jordan. So why didn’t Ben Simmons listen to Bryant in 2019?
The Philadelphia 76ers point guard has long been criticized for refusing to develop a jumper. His flaws were on full display during the Sixers’ early playoff exit, leading to a viral clip of Bryant to resurface where he instructs the Aussie star to get in the gym. In it, the Philly native tells Simmons that he’ll regret not having a jump shot. Bryant suggested Simmons set his alarm clock for 1 a.m. every single day.
Well, he gotta get a jump shot. Listen, it sounds humorous and all that, but I’m dead-a** serious. Because if not he’ll regret it when his career is over. And you look at what he is doing now without that and it is astonishing. Now imagine you can shoot the ball, what does that open up for you? You don’t want to retire and look back and go ‘Man, if I just had a jump shot, what would I have done?’
You don’t want that. You don’t want that. So I don’t care if you have to lock yourself in the gym for 10 hours a day. If this kid gets a jump shot, it’s a serious, serious problem. I mean a serious, serious problem. So to answer your question, the sky’s the limit for him. He can be as good as he wants to be.
Bryant was notorious for waking up at 3:30 a.m. for insane workouts. When the reporter asked him if Simmons should set his alarm clock for 3:30 a.m., Bryant laughed and replied: “He better set it for 1 a.m.”
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Magic Johnson Says Simmons Finished in Philly
Another Lakers legend has been a vocal critic of Simmons’ lack of a jumper, too. Hall of Famer Magic Johnson appeared on ESPN and took aim at the Sixers All-Star guard by saying the kid’s confidence is shot. Simmons needs to find a shooting coach and get in the gym this summer, then Johnson added: “Ben, it’s time for a change.”
“It’s time for a change because he can’t recover from this,” Johnson said. “The locker room won’t recover from it. Yeah, he’s got to be somewhere else. Locker room, and the fans. It’s over, it’s over. You can’t recover from this.”
Sixers President Expects ‘Whatever is Necessary’
Sixers president Daryl Morey wouldn’t fuel the trade rumors, but he did give some honest answers about Simmons’ future in Philly during his end-of-year media availability. The savvy front-office executive plans to do whatever it takes to improve the roster. Nothing is off the table.
When asked if Simmons needed to hire a shooting coach, Morey deferred to Sixers head coach Doc Rivers. Simmons and Rivers had a sit-down meeting earlier this week to discuss the next steps, including what to work on in the offseason.
“With respect to the fact that I wasn’t in the meeting, my understanding is that Ben is, just like all our players, they are all in on the organization,” Morey said. “The relationship Doc has with the players is extremely strong and his staff as well. I believe and we would expect for the players to be willing to do whatever is necessary.”