IT IS OFFICIALLY the NBA off-season. We know this not only because the Denver Nuggets just claimed the NBA title, beating the Miami Heat in five games, but because over the weekend, pictures of maligned Aussie point-guard Ben Simmons looking jacked emerged. 

Right. On. Cue.

For Simmons experts – which seems to include a not insignificant contingent of the internet – tracking the enigmatic point guard’s off-season social media output has become a regular past-time. As surely as Jokić will find an open man with a sweet dime when faced with a double team, each June, footage will emerge of Simmons draining clean jumpers or working on his rig.


The image will be captioned thus: “Ben Simmons getting shots off”, or “Ben Simmons back in the lab”, or, a la the star’s most recent post, “Just chumming the water.” Accompanied by a fishing rod emoji, the intention of the post is, we imagine, to prepare fans for a new, revitalised Simmons. A Simmons who fearlessly launches 28-footers. A Simmons that doesn’t warm the bench in drippy designer clothes. A Simmons who may or may not exist.

As expected, the comments section remains divided. “Off season ben Simmons greatest of all time,” wrote one punter on the Aussie’s most recent carousel. “Please bro….. please…… just play,” pleaded another.

This season, the focus has been on how jacked Simmons looks — possibly an opening shot across the bow by Simmons’ camp to counter criticisms that as well as being viewed by critics as mentally anaemic, his many injuries over the last few years are leading some to conclude that he is also physically suspect.


For Simmons fans (guilty as charged) what these posts really do is lure us into thinking that finally, at 26, the Aussie is ready to realise his immense physical gifts, put his troubled past behind him and become the player we know (or hope) he can be.

By now we’ve been disappointed too many times to allow ourselves to get too invested. Yet in the same way I hope each new report of a military UFO sighting might not feature grainy footage (just me?), we Simmons supporters live in hope that this time, he’ll prove his fans right and his many critics wrong. 

And so we click on the link or punch out a like. It’s our off-season ritual.

Ben Jhoty covers sport and wellness for Esquire Australia.

Related: Can we finally give Nikola Jokić and the Denver Nuggets the respect they deserve?