Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons can be hard-hitting off the court as well. Picture: Michael Dwyer/AP
Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons can be hard-hitting off the court as well. Picture: Michael Dwyer/AP

‘Wasn’t a f---ing race’: Simmons goes hard

WHILE we're seeing slightly improved numbers across the board for Ben Simmons this season, perhaps the most notable difference in the Australian is his willingness to open up a bit more.

Simmons won the battle of the young guns in Utah - again - and added insult to injury with a savage serving of trash talk.

The Aussie recorded his fifth triple-double of the season as Philadelphia cruised to a 114-97 win over the Jazz but had to contend with a whole heap of booing every time he got his hands on the ball.

The Utah faithful clearly weren't ready to accept Simmons as a worthy winner of last season's Rookie of the Year award ahead of Jazz star Donovan Mitchell, who came second in the race for the prestigious honour.

The Melbourne-born star finished well clear of Mitchell, receiving 481 votes to 323 and 90 first-place votes to Mitchell's 10. It was one-sided, and Simmons let everyone know about it before the game in Utah.

"It wasn't a f***ing race," Simmons told The Salt Lake Tribune's Eric Walden pre-game, on the Rookie of the Year  "race".

"You saw the votes, right? … Did you see the votes? So what's the question?"

"How do I feel about it? I don't give a (expletive). Honestly, I don't," Simmons said.

"I'm not worried about outside noise, I'm not worried about anything in terms of fans, media, you guys asking these questions; (I don't care what anyone says) besides my teammates and my coaches, everyone in this locker room."

With regard to the match-up, itself, it went just as planned for Simmons; the 76ers point guard finishing with 13 points, 14 rebounds, and 12 assists in a 114-97 win.

It was the Melbourne-native's fifth triple-double of the season, 17th of his career, and makes him 4-0 against the guy many would consider his 'rival'.

In August, Simmons told foxsports.com.au why he thought he was the clear winner of the award over Mitchell, who had attempted to garner traction with his "Not a Rookie" campaign - claiming his Australian counterpart wasn't a real rookie, despite the NBA's rules.

"I think the consistency I had all year, with how I was performing, and the way the team progressed throughout the season," Simmons said.

"In my head I'm always gonna back myself. You read things, and it depends who's voting also. I think the people who voted were right.

"I think (Donovan) is a great player, a great person, from what I've seen of him and what I've been around.

"But, it's the way the cookie crumbles."

From the tip, Simmons earned boos from the Vivint Smart Home Arena crowd, and, naturally, he was happy to silence those jeers with a victory.

"I love being able to come into an arena and hear boos and chants, and see signs, and then come here and win by 20," Simmons said post-game. "There's nothing better really than that.

"They had a long time to prepare to have good things to say to me, and they're still stuck on Rookie of the Year stuff.

"Same old jokes. … It's kind of disappointing. You have that long to prepare and that's all you have to say. Come on."

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