This summer’s latest celebrity romance: Philadelphia 76er Ben Simmons and supermodel Kendall Jenner leaves me flummoxed.
My first reaction is to giggle .
>>READ MORE: Sixers Ben Simmons dating Kendall Jenner
My second is fear for the 6-foot 10-inch point guard. Run, brother run! There hasn’t been an athlete — let alone a black man — alive who has emerged from the clutches of this reality television family’s cray-cray unscathed. Just ask Kanye West and Lamar Odom.
Then there is the part of me that’s ashamed.
Elizabeth, really? How could it be Jenner’s fault if Simmons’ game falls off? That just feeds into the silly, biblical trope of the evil woman — whether it’s Lilith, Eve, or Lady MacBeth — who rips her steady man off his righteous course and distracts him with tainted fruit. This whole concept is why Yoko Ono is still trying to prove to Beatles fans that she’s not the temptress that caused the Fab Four to break up.
Here we are, three days after the Page Six story and in Thursday’s news — Oh Lordy — it was reported that Simmons likely cheated on his most recent ex, Tinashe, The story is still going. and going. and going.
And that is how I figured out the crux of this issue.
We aren’t worried that Simmons will somehow stop hitting free-throws because he’s gagagoogoo over Jenner. He’s a professional. He can handle that. The issue is that Philadelphians like to keep our private business, well, private and we aren’t sure if we can take the barrage of mundane oversharing that makes us very uncomfortable. There is a lot of brouhaha that comes with living one’s private life publicly. We want no part of it. We don’t want our young point guard, Simmons, to be a part of it either. And now that’s bound to happen now because, let’s face it, the Kardashians know no other way.
Oh how salty we will be Simmons shifts attention on the team from straight basketball to let’s call them Ben/Ken. And after an excellent season that made Simmons a contender for NBA’s 2018 Rookie of the Year, we want to keep all of the energy around hardwood about trusting the process, not keeping up with the Kardashians. (Or burner Twitter accounts, for that matter.)
But, honestly, should we really be surprised by that a rich, hot 21-year-old NBA player wants to date a celebrity? Simmons was a tween when social media took off. Who knows if an 11-year-old Simmons, growing up in Australia, was aware of Keeping Up with the Kardashians when it debuted in 2007? But the show did it’s part to wake up our self-obsessed consciousness. So Simmons grew up if not putting his own life on blast, watching others do it. And Jenner’s family was at the forefront of it. My friend, man about town and self-described media junkie, Carl Dash, said it best, referencing Sean “Diddy” Combs: “These folks just think life is to be lived publicly, they are all children of Puffy.”
Now it may seem like a win-win for Simmons. The Page Six mention has already catapulted him beyond the sports pages into realm of celebrity. And if the relationship lasts — gulp — through summer and through the holidays, there’s a very good chance we will see Simmons in “Versace, Versace, Versace” during the red carpet season. But how will he fare in the Kardashian vortex that has proven to be all-consuming.
And above all, how will we feel when the paparazzi starts showing up in droves at Philadelphia International Airport and Sixers games to steal a pic of Jenner? Do we really want our point guard to make cameos on Keeping Up with the Kardashians? What if Simmons is caught cheating? (Clearly, he has a wandering eye.) What if Jenner is caught cheating? (So does she.) What if Kris Jenner doesn’t approve? And we start talking about all of this more than the game? ‘Cause you know we will. Focus. Gone.
This is a year where we’ve been hype about all of our sports teams. Even though the Sixers didn’t take it all the way, we beamed with joy in a way that we hadn’t since the days of Iverson, and we’re not going to stand for the Kardashians to jack it up. It seems as if every man the Kardashians touch get jacked up, as The Family continues to thrive.
So in the interest of saving my city’s sanity. If you, young Ben Simmons, must get entangled in this Kardashian web, keep it to the summer. Don’t let this relationship go beyond Halloween. We won’t be able to handle it. And judging from the Kardashian sisters’ body count, Mr. Simmons, neither will you.