Even the most high profile media members get a little nervous in the presence of Ben Simmons, it seems.
Eddie McGuire has basically done it all during his Hall of Fame media career, but he showed serious signs of rust when he rejoined the daily grind of post-match interviewing in a surprise appearance at Wednesday’s 76ers-Lakers game.
In the US with Triple M’s Hot Breakfast team to cover the Super Bowl in Atlanta, McGuire stopped in to the Staples Centre for what ended up being a one-sided 121-105 Philadelphia win in LA.
Simmons played well in front of a star-studded crowd, putting up 19 points, six assists and eight rebounds, before finding himself face-to-face with the Collingwood Football Club president in the locker room afterwards.
Never shy, McGuire took control from the start of the press conference but quickly found himself in trouble.
“Well Ben, congratulations, that first quarter — 11 points and as it turned out that was the winning margin,” McGuire said.
“I went out and had fun,” Simmons replied. “We played the right way. I’m glad we came out with the win.”
“What about yourself?” McGuire continued. “It’s been an exciting day for you being named in the All-Star team and then to come out and explode like you did …”
Simmons immediately spotted the gaffe and interrupted McGuire to let him know he’d been named to the Rising Stars Challenge — not the All-Star game.
“Rising stars? It’s cool,” Simmons said. “I’m grateful to be able to be in that position, to be able to play in that game. Any time you’re offered an opportunity to play in a game on All-Star weekend, it’s great.”
After local reporters asked a couple of questions, McGuire jumped back in and continued the trainwreck as he asked about a sequence in the third quarter where Simmons made back-to-back baskets.
“Ben you scored two points in a row where you did an Aussie rules blind turn to the basket,” McGuire said. “It was fantastic, lit the place up, was that an old football move?”
Simmons, laughing, knew he was talking to and took the opportunity to remind the Magpies diehard who he supports in the AFL. “I got that from Essendon,” Simmons said.
Perhaps McGuire should have handed the microphone over to his son, Joe, who scored a one-on-one interview with Simmons at a training session ahead of the game and passed the test with aplomb.