Brett Brown spent Ben Simmons' entire missed season teaching him to be a great PG

Brett Brown spent Ben Simmons' entire missed season teaching him to be a great PG

Ben Simmons may have only played his first pro game a couple of short weeks ago, but he's been learning and mastering the NBA game from Professor Brett Brown since the moment he joined the Sixers organization.

Simmons has been so impressive in the first 20 games of his NBA career that he's already getting the Lee Jenkins-Sports Illustrated feature story treatment.

Jenkins makes the obvious comparisons to the great LeBron James given their size and amazing ability to see the game. 

Ben and LeBron described their relationship like that of a little and big brother.

They're not the same player, as Jenkins writes, but there are plenty of similarities and a very interesting mentoring situation exists between an all-time legend and a youngster who hopes to be one and has a legit chance to see it through. There's a ton to digest in the article, like Simmons having the super-quick reflexes of the Karate Kid -- "A fly buzzes by his head and he catches it with a wave of his right hand" -- so the whole piece is worth a read for any basketball fan.

The part that I found most interesting and worth highlighting here was the education Ben went through during his season on the bench. Simmons got his Masters in Running the Point in just one year under Professor Brett Brown's tutelage. 

The debate over Simmons’s position raged inside the 76ers’ offices throughout the summer of 2016. Coaches finally decided on power forward, and for the first three days of training camp, that’s where he stayed. The injury gave Brown time to reconsider. “I want to try something,” Brown told Simmons, shortly after foot surgery. “I want to grow you as a point guard.” Every few days, they met in Brown’s office to watch video of LeBron James, as well as the best oversized ballhandler of all: Magic Johnson. “Here’s the play,” Brown would start. “What do you see? Why do you see that? Well, what read would you make? If they hedge in this pick-and-roll, tell me what’s open. Tell me why.” When they finished talking, Brown sent Simmons to the grease board. “Draw this play,” he’d say clasping his hands. “And this,” brushing his shoulder. They juxtaposed James’s Finals cut-ups with Simmons’s Montverde clips.

Brown had suffered 199 losses in three seasons, and was headed for 50-plus more, yet he invested all his spare time in a rehabbing rookie who wouldn’t touch the floor for a year. Who knew if he’d even be employed then? During road trips, Brown asked Simmons to text him observations at half, and at home games, assistant coach Billy Lange sought him out on the bench for feedback. This was college, for somebody who didn’t think much of college, as the One and Done Showtime documentary illustrated. Simmons still worries that college programs don’t fully prepare their brightest members for the next step. “Getting you ready to live that lifestyle,” Simmons says, “teaching you to take care of your money, take care of your body. If you’re not going to pay them, at least pay them in that way.” 

Just another reason to love Brett Brown. And who better to model Ben's game after than LeBron and Magic?

So when you watch Simmons go out every night and do something amazing, be it a triple double or approach a rare 20-20 night, know that he wasn't simply sitting at home playing video games all of last season while his teammates worked hard in the gym. He was studying the game's all-time greats and getting quizzed by the likes of Brett Brown in real time.

"For a rookie he is extremely poised — way more poised than I ever could have imagined," veteran teammate JJ Redick said of Ben. Now you partly know why.

Strive for greatness and all that. Ben Simmons certainly is.

Do not mess with Chase Utley

SportsNet LA

Do not mess with Chase Utley

Chase Utley is back for yet another baseball season and he's more business than ever.

After re-signing with the Dodgers in February for two more years, the 39-year-old is clearly still having tons of fun playing the game … well, fun in his own way, obviously.

Andrew Toles, a 25-year-old outfielder, gave us a glimpse into Utley's mystique within the Dodgers' clubhouse. We all know how well respected No. 26 is among his teammates, both former and current. In fact, his presence and example are significant reasons why, at his age, he's still playing in Dodgers blue after being acquired in an August 2015 trade with the Phillies.

Utley, in a hilarious segment on SportsNet LA's "Backstage Dodgers," jokingly showed his trademark stoicism with the cameras around and Toles looking to chat.

"That's what you call a role model. A baseball role model," Toles said. "You've got to have those. I wake up in the morning and I'm like, 'How can I be like Chase Utley today?' Because he's that guy. I want to be that guy, too, one day."

When Utley was wearing red pinstripes, just about every youngster playing baseball in the Delaware Valley was probably saying the same thing.

Jake Arrieta's wife solicits advice from Philly fans, gets hilarious responses

AP Images

Jake Arrieta's wife solicits advice from Philly fans, gets hilarious responses

Jake Arrieta is the new guy in town. The mound at the ballpark in South Philadelphia will likely be a very comfortable place for him to go to work. But what about his family up in the stands?

Arrieta's wife Brittany took to Twitter to solicit advice from Phillies fans on what her and their son Cooper will need to know about Citizens Bank Park.

Already leary of the impeding snow in Philly this week, Brittany also asked about games, traditions and food that are important at Phillies games.

Some common themes included crab fries, Graham Slam Ice Cream, cheesesteaks, hot dogs, Bull's BBQ, the Phillie Phanatic, etc. But this wouldn't be Philly without some snarky answers.

Head over to Brittany Arrieta's Twitter acount to see all of the responses and offer some of your own. I recommend a grilled sausage and onions from near Ashburn Alley and a local brew. Enjoy.