Until last week I had no idea who African-American-Australian NBA basketballer Ben Simmons was. Maybe because I neither follow basketball or any American sports league.
But all of Australia now knows who he is after his cries of racism at Melbourne’s Crown Casino last week. Given the public backlash against Simmons’ use of the race card, the publicity stunt has backfired big-time.
Simmons was at Crown Casino with four other friends intending to enter one of the high roller suites. Simmons who is 23-years-old was asked for ID, as it is the legal right of venues to ask anyone who looks under 25 for ID. Simmons does look very young and could pass for being underage.
Simmons in a now deleted Instagram video to his 4.3 million global followers claimed he was racially profiled because he and three of his friends who are also brown were IDed but his one white friend was not. Simmons pans the camera to the two security guards who IDed him, one is white but the other has a brown complexion.
Following this cry of racism, Simmons and his other three friends produced ID and were permitted to enter Crown as they had planned. They were not denied entry because of their skin colour which is how it was spun by some news headlines.
Simmons posted on his twitter the next day how victimized he felt:
As you know an incident happened last night at Crown and my friends and I felt personally singled out, no one likes to feel like this. I am very passionate about equality and I will always speak up even if it means having uncomfortable conversations.
— Ben Simmons (@BenSimmons25) 6 August 2019
Simmons earns $29 million a year with his NBA team the Philadelphia 76ers (not including money earned from endorsements and appearance fees) making him the highest paid Australian athlete in the world. The fact that he then claims to be a victim is seen as a insult to ordinary working Australians.
The truth of the incident was quickly revealed. Even though he had trashed Melbourne’s and by extent Australia’s reputation (his homeland) it emerged that the Victorian Government had paid Ben Simmons to promote Melbourne during his visit. The Victorian taxpayers should be demanding a refund.
Ben Simmons’ sister Olivia came to his defence as the backlash continued. She said he “doesn’t lie” and he is her “best friend” . She then went on to trash Melbourne and Australia as inherently racist.
“I live in Melbourne so I stand by anyone who says they feel as though it was racial. Chances are it was. Australian racism is silent and because we have nobody to represent us (people of colour) on TV, apart from Waleed Aly, when stories break they’re always biased and one sided.”
Olivia then told Ben’s critics to check their privilege “I’m tired of old white Australian men saying things aren’t racist when they are. You don’t know what it feels like to be the only person to have (your) bag checked when leaving a store or being denied entry for the colour of your skin. This country needs a serious change”.
A possible motive for Simmons’ smearing of Australia as racist is the fact he is an Executive Producer of the new Adam Goodes Documentary The Australian Dream. This is a separate documentary to the Final Quarter that aired on Network Ten recently. While the Final Quarter was made without Goodes’ participation the Australia Dream will feature extensive interviews with Goodes.
Simmons is associated with sports multimedia company Uninterrupted founded by fellow NBA basketballer LeBron James. Simmons’ involvement in the documentary will see it have a wider theatrical distribution in the United States. This means more people will see this piece of propaganda which presents as factual how horrible and racist Australians were to boo a national treasurer in Adam Goodes because of his race.
Simmons’ controversial homecoming was not over yet. In Sydney on Sunday Simmons was hosting a one hour $200 per child basketball camp. On his way out of the venue he refused to stop for photos or autographs.
Simmons will also not be representing the Australian Boomers national basketball team when they play Team USA later this month at Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium due to a ‘scheduling conflict’. This was after he originally committed and his participation was promoted to sell tickets to the game, the cheapest are $200.
2GB’s Alan Jones whose commentary covers both politics and sport unloaded on Simmons Monday morning “This bloke has lost a lot of people very quickly” and advised him “Ben Simmons, I know you’re an Australian but go back to America and stay there.”
Ever since US President Donald Trump told members of the progressive Democrat Congressional group the squad to leave America, telling someone to “go back” somewhere is now classified as racist.
The usual race baiters in Australia’s media suggested that because Simmons dared to speak up about Australian racism he was now the newest national punching bag.
There was also the mention of the ‘tall poppy syndrome’ by Fox Sports writer Gadiel Notelovitz. He warned that our treatment of Simmons could drive internationally successful Australian athletes out of Australia for good.
But Australia has plenty of athletes of colour and who are internationally renowned who are beloved. Cathy Freeman continues to be adored to this day, she assists disadvantaged Indigenous youth through her Cathy Freeman Foundation but does it without injecting toxic race politics.
It’s common for super successful athletes to want to engage in philanthropy and give back to the community. But Simmons would have done better not get sucked into believing that progressives patting him on the back for decrying ‘racism’ was the way to do it.
Go away Ben Simmons, we don’t need any more race-baiters in our public discourse. We especially don’t need anyone else spreading the falsehood that Australia is a racist country which incites global hatred against our nation.