NEW YORK – Don’t let Ben Simmons’ good looks fool you. The 76ers’ point guard can get as gritty as they come.
He let that be known Sunday night when asked if there’s Australian vibe to his game.
“Probably my physicality,” said the Australia native. “That’s why I play when I get hit; I’m going to hit somebody back hard.”
Australian players are known for playing with grit. They set hard screens, get physical and never back down on the court.
Simmons displayed such toughness on Jan. 15 against the Toronto Raptors at the Wells Fargo Center when the 21-year-old and Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry were both ejected with 6.5 seconds remaining after an altercation.
Lowry appeared to get frustrated with Simmons, who bumped him while reaching between the North Philly native’s legs to retrieve the ball with 7.1 seconds left.
He yapped at Simmons while the two walked down the court as Dario Saric was set to attempt foul shots with 6.5 seconds left. The former Cardinal Dougherty High and Villanova standout kept mouthing off while Saric made both foul shots.
Simmons appeared to get annoyed with Toronto’s Jakob Poeltl on the box-out of Saric’s second foul shot. Simmons bumped up against the Raptors reserve center as they headed up the court. That led to Simmons and Lowry exchanging more words and each receiving a technical.
Then Simmons motioned to Lowry to meet him in the hallway for a fight after both were ejected. But nothing happened. The incident with Toronto came five days after Simmons and Boston Celtics forward Marcus Morris, another North Philly native, had to be separated during their game in London.
“I think they were just trying to test me,” Simmons said of the veterans after the Lowry altercation. “I don’t know if they are trying to test me or see how I am on the court. But I don’t play around. I’m not going to take no [stuff] from anybody.”