Adidas has recently paid for billboards around Salt Lake City poking fun at the ongoing controversy about whether Sixers guard Ben Simmons should be eligible for Rookie of the Year consideration.
The billboards simply read: “Rookie?”
T-shirts with that message are also available.
Donovan Mitchell’s shoe company, Utah Jazz fans and national pundits who believe the athletic 21-year-old from Louisville deserves the award aren’t the only ones who discredit Simmons’ eligibility because he’s been in the league for two years.
Boston fans made that known loud and clear during Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals between the Celtics and Sixers. While Simmons was at the free-throw line during the C’s 117-101 win, Boston fans chanted together “Not a rookie!” to get under the skin of the 2016 No. 1 overall pick who some refer to as a redshirt rookie.
Mitchell’s response? (Unless it was the biggest coincidence since the last time he humorously reacted to people questioning Simmons’ claim to be a rookie.)
Four laughing-to-tears emojis.
Simmons, considered the ROY front-runner, acted like it didn’t faze him.
“I don't care,” he said. “It doesn't affect me at all.”
Boston fans drove the point home even louder later in the game when their preferred Rookie of the Year candidate, Jayson Tatum, stepped to the line during his career-high 28-point night. Tatum was the third overall pick of the 2017 draft, and the Celtics supporters chanted what that means to mock Simmons even more.
Tatum said he didn’t notice the chant about Simmons, according to ESPN.
"At this point, I'm just focused on winning, not really matchups," Tatum said. "Just win. It's really a team thing right now."
But does he feel like he’s a better rookie than Simmons?
His response after grinning: “No comment.”
Fans from Boston and Utah have some comments if you want to ask them.