Every year around this time, various fans in various cities complain that they’re favorite player has been left out of the NBA All-Star Game. Typically, however, those fans are not lawmakers in a country 10,000 miles from league offices.
On Wednesday, Australian MP Tim Watts stood in front of his nation’s parliament and argued why Australian-born Philadelphia Sixers rookie Ben Simmons belongs in the All-Star Game. Watts listed off Simmons’ qualifications, then declared that “no one with two brain cells to rub together would want [recently named All-Star] Goran Dragic on their team over Ben.”
Watts then said — probably in jest, though we can’t be sure — that the combination of Simmons’ snub and Joe Ingles’ absence from the 3-point shooting contest suggested “some kind of anti-Australian conspiracy going on at the league head office.”
Here’s the full clip:
A member of the Australian House of Representatives is outraged that Ben Simmons is not an all-star. Here’s his epic rant: pic.twitter.com/PVeoGhILgl
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 7, 2018
You’ll notice that Watts’ goal in his statements to parliament Wednesday extended beyond getting Simmons into the All-Star game. In the second half of his remarks, he used the NBA as an example of multiculturalism and applying the league’s lesson back to Australian politics.
The nine Australian currently flying the flag for our nation in the NBA include an indigenous Australian, four children of immigrants and two refugees.Our representation in the NBA looks like modern Australia, a nation of migrants and the most successful multicultural nation on earth.
We should particularly recognize South-Sudanese Australians Thon Maker and Mangok Mathiang for their extraordinary achievement of not just reaching the pinnacle of their profession, but overcoming the challenges that they needed to confront in arriving in Australia as refugees.
There’s been a lot of nonsense said about Australia’s African-Australians by politicians around the country, but Thon and Mangok show the potential of every member of this community to overcome obstacles and excel at the highest level.
Watts was then cut off, apparently having run out of time to make his point, which remains an important one both Down Under and here in the U.S.
And as for Simmons’ All-Star candidacy, Kristaps Porzingis’ injury opens up another spot for an Eastern Conference player, so maybe the Aussie will get a chance after all.