LeBron James downplayed the highly anticipated matchup between himself and Sixers rookie Ben Simmons, but he did not hide his feelings about the other Philadelphia athlete who has taken the sports world by storm.
“My favorite player right now is Carson Wentz,” James said of the Eagles’ quarterback Monday morning. “I just love the way he plays the game.”
James listed Wentz, who has led the Eagles to a 10-1 record, with Tom Brady, Le’Veon Bell, and Antonio Brown as his favorite players to watch, but talked at length about how Wentz has impressed him.
“The way he’s able to get to progressions throughout the course of a three-step drop or a five-step drop and then, if everything breaks down, his ability to run, get outside the pocket, and make passes or get yards with his feet. Just a very smart player,” James said.
Simmons and James share the same agent and have spent time working out together in the off-season. During the season, though, the two are competitors, and Simmons has called James “the enemy” while they are both trying to lead their respective teams.
James said that the two have a great relationship but that the anticipation about a matchup against the rookie point forward is not at the forefront of his mind.
“It’s not about me vs. Ben. It’s about the Cavs vs. 76ers,” he said. “We want to continue playing good ball. They’ve been playing good ball, especially at home, so it’s not about me vs. him, at all.”
The three-time NBA champion and four-time league MVP also downplayed comparisons between himself and Simmons, saying that he is impressed with how the rookie is playing but that they are different people.
“Ben has his own makeup of speed, power, quickness, ability to pass the ball, but have a feel for the game. But Ben is Ben, and I am who I am,” James said.
Impressions of the Sixers
James has preached patience when it comes to Philadelphia fans’ wanting The Process to unfold. He added to that sentiment Monday, saying he’s not surprised by the success of the Sixers in this young season.
James also commended the Sixers organization for keeping Brett Brown as coach through the tanking years and allowing him the time to cultivate a team that now has multiple weapons.
“I think it’s a team that’s trying to take the next step. They’ve given Brett an opportunity to implement his system. I think it’s paying dividends for them now,” he said. “They’ve reshaped their whole roster for the greater good.”
As far as looking at the future of the team now that the Sixers are on the rise, James said he doesn’t worry about that.
“I’m still here,” he said. “I think about what I’m going to do in the future. I’m not thinking about what other teams are doing.”