One day after Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons essentially dismissed Utah’s Donovan Mitchell candidacy for Kia Rookie of the Year, the Jazz rookie offered a not-so-subtle retort by wearing a pre-game hoodie displaying the definition of the word “rookie.”
The sweatshirt reads, “Rookie (noun): An athlete, playing in his or her first season, as a member of a professional sports team.”
In an interview with ESPN’s Chris Haynes, Simmons was asked who he believes should take home the hardware. “Who would I pick? Me, 100 percent.”
Simmons was taken by the Sixers with the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft but sat out the entire 2016-17 season due to a fracture in his right foot. Because Simmons made his NBA debut this season, he is considered a rookie.
Per Haynes, when asked whether players should be eligible for the award based on their first playing time, or their first contractual year with the league, Mitchell said:
“I’ll put it in perspective for people who obviously don’t play in the NBA and don’t know the life of the NBA. So, let’s say you have an exam to take on June 1 and you have a whole year to study for that exam, you’re going to get a pretty good grade on it, aren’t you? But some people may not have all that time to prepare for that exam. So, that’s how I look at it and I hope that puts it in perspective for people.”
Simmons’ response went exactly as you’d imagine.
“If his argument is ‘I’m not a rookie,’ if that’s the only argument he has, I’m in pretty good shape then.
Ben Simmons fires back after hearing about Donovan Mitchell's hoodie.
He says he won't be wearing a sweatshirt tomorrow. 🍿 pic.twitter.com/tXMmcx73DS
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) April 11, 2018
A huge reason for Philadelphia’s success after years of rebuilding, Simmons is averaging 16.0 points, 8.1 rebounds and 8.2 assists this season with 12 triple-doubles (third-most in the league behind Russell Westbrook and LeBron James).
Mitchell is considered the other rookie in the chase with Simmons for ROY honors. He is averaging a rookie-and team-best 20.5 ppg while leading the Jazz to the playoffs as well.