WATCH: Isiah Thomas Draws Similarities Between Ben Simmons and Magic Johnson

Published 11/13/2021, 9:30 AM EST
May 31, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) reacts after the basket during the first quarter against the Washington Wizards during game four in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports


When Ben Simmons was drafted into the league, many experts felt that he, as a player, would revolutionize the league. A 6 foot 10 inches tall point guard who could defend anybody in the league. That was an exciting prospect for everybody. Many even compared him to Lakers’ legend Magic Johnson.

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And now, despite his decision to not play due to mental health reasons, NBA legend Isiah Thomas feels Ben Simmons is still like Magic Johnson. And more than anything, he should learn from the ways of Magic Johnson to improve his game.

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Even before testing positive for HIV, Magic Johnson’s approach on the court was like he was unstoppable. And even after coming back, he dominated the league as an executive. While HIV and mental health problems are not comparable, fans would expect that Ben Simmons would come back strong as Magic Johnson did.

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While appearing on TNT’s Big Podcast with Shaq, Thomas spoke about his opinions on the Simmons situation. Unlike his host Shaq, Thomas was optimistic about Ben’s future.

“To me, Ben Simmons is not fully… he’s not a broken player. He was their best defender, he was an All-Star, and he led them in assists. Now what Ben Simmons’ problem is, is not that he can’t shoot the basketball, his problem is he can’t make free throws as a point guard.”

Jun 18, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) blocks a shot by Atlanta Hawks center Clint Capela (15) during the second half during game six in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

“If he becomes a better foul shooter, who adds four to five points to his scoring average. And he’ll be inside the post making layups and everything else, going to the foul line, just like another person that Shaq idolized that couldn’t shoot and his name was Magic Johnson.” 

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How should Ben be like Magic Johnson?

Thomas goes on to describe his experience while working out with Magic Johnson one summer. While he practiced all his flashy moves on the court, Magic worked on his basics at the free-throw line.

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When Thomas asked him why he did that, he recalled Magic saying, “Y’all keep doing that sh*t y’all doing. I’m working on my game. And the next season, Magic Johnson is the MVP of the league. Because he got to the foul line eight times a night and went 7 for 8 from the foul line.” 

“If Ben Simmons becomes a better foul shooter, then this story is over.” 

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Therefore, the Pistons legend clearly supports any team’s interest in trading for Ben Simmons. Will Simmons end up rising from the ashes like a Phoenix on a new team? Or is he an over-hyped bust? Let us know what you think.

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Chaitanya Dadhwal

372 articles

Chaitanya Dadhwal is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. Even though his journalism is driven by his desire to understand both sides of an argument and give a neutral perspective, he is biased towards Houston Rockets and Arsenal, and he has shown exactly how loyal he can be through tough times. Currently a Law student at Jindal Global Law School, he aims to have his own sports management firm one day and enjoys rap music during his time off.

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