Standing 6-10 and 240 pounds, with court vison and passing as his greatest on-court attributes and fame following him since early in his high-school career, this month’s cover subject Ben Simmons is, indeed, the closest thing we’ve seen to the great LeBron James since Akron’s Finest entered the League 13 (!!) years ago. Oh, and LeBron is Ben’s favorite player and the two pass-friendly forwards share an agent: LeBron’s long-time friend and business partner, Rich Paul. So yeah, the comparisons are obvious. Throw in our love for self-referential covers when appropriate, the cooperation between our own Franklyn Calle and the folks at Klutch Sports and the willingness of our friends at Mitchell & Ness and K1X to provide the right “props” (even if Ben and team ultimately vetoed the headband—sorry Christian!) and all the ingredients were there for a classic cover.
Now, the caveats. As I’ve said in hundreds of interviews, LeBron is a once-in-a-lifetime player. Ben is not as athletic as LeBron and no one is LeBron, athletically or otherwise. A better ceiling, as we discussed in the office, is Magic Johnson: similar build, passing skills and questionable shot (at least at these stages of their respective careers). Ben’s floor is probably a guy like Evan Turner, renowned when he entered the League as the No. 2 pick for his versatility but unable to ever turn it into more than solid role playing.
At this point, we’re aiming for the sky, wishing Ben the absolute best and trying to sell magazines with dope covers. Here’s hoping it all works!
Portrait and cover shot by Tom Medvedich