February 11, 2020
Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons this week became the first NBA player to grace a digital cover of SLAM magazine, the hoops publication known for some iconic photographs.
That Simmons was chosen for this new frontier isn't a coincidence. As an avid gamer, Simmons represents a generation of high-profile athletes who have aspirations in the world of gaming.
An accompanying video segment from SLAM features Simmons and pro-gamer Thomas Oliveira, also known as FaZe Temperrr, whose FaZe Clan organization rose to esports prominence on YouTube over the last decade.
The interview took place at Simmons' home, where he revealed his own gaming room, a fish tank with a poisonous fish and a candy kitchen stocked with all kinds of sweets.
When Simmons is gaming, he goes by the name "Simmo the Savage," which he has written in a custom neon sign outside his gaming room.
Simmons' older brother, Sean Tribe, described an early memory of Simmons getting hooked on video games.
"I knew he took this seriously when he was probably 10 or 11 years old," Tribe said. "I walked in to get a glass of water or something at 2 a.m. in the house, and he was gaming with Dante Exum, just like up and bright-eyed, not going to sleep any time soon. They were playing 'Call of Duty' at the time. They were wired. He did that consistently throughout the years."
Simmons eventually plans to invest in the gaming world in the years to come and, with Comcast Spectacor building a $50 million esports arena near the Wells Fargo Center, he may have an opportunity to get involved here in Philadelphia.