Ingles: It’s okay if Ben wants to stay in L.A.
Australian NBA star Joe Ingles believes the public will be more disappointed than his fellow Boomers players with Ben Simmons' decision to pull out of this year's World Cup in China.
On the day the Philadelphia 76ers confirmed Simmons had signed the richest deal ever by an Australian athlete - a five-year contract extension worth $242m - the 22-year-old confirmed on social media that he would forego the World Cup in China to instead work on his game before the next NBA season.
Simmons did, however, commit to next month's exhibition games against the US and Canada in Melbourne and Perth and also the Boomers' 2020 Olympics campaign in Tokyo.
"I wanted to let everyone know that after consulting with my representation, I've made the difficult decision to forego playing in the World Cup in China this summer," the statement from Simmons read.
"Ultimately, we decided it was best that I use the time in September to return to Philadelphia to acquaint myself with my new teammates and prepare for the upcoming NBA season."
Simmons' World Cup snub, which comes after he committed via social media back in May, has been met with anger from some supporters.
Some talk about Ben Simmons being "unAustralian" for not playing in the World Cup. What could possibly be more Australian than a rich Boomer putting his future earning potential over the good of the country???— Len (@lenphil29) July 17, 2019
Ben Simmons officially making his Boomers debut... pic.twitter.com/gRz2gcebZ9— James McKern (@jLmcKern) July 16, 2019
Ingles understands the fans' frustrations but says they need to realise the motivation behind his choice.
"Your NBA club is your employer," Ingles said.
"The rules are that they can't technically tell you no to international games but they obviously have a strong opinion and they can sit you in a room and say we are paying you this and you are an employee.
"Ben is one of the 76ers' best players - so it puts you in a hard spot.
"There will be frustration from the general public saying 'he thinks he is too good for us' or 'he wants to stay in LA in the off-season'.
"And maybe he does. And if he does, then good on him.
"But I have no doubt he will play for Australia at some point.
"It will be when the time is right.
"I think the general Australian public will be more mad than what we will.
"Obviously we completely understand.
"Thon (Maker) has pulled out as well. It is a big time in his life. Even his story growing up and to end up in the position now where he can set him and his family up."
Fortunately for Ingles, he has never been faced with the difficult decision of putting his NBA franchise before his nation.
"I've been so lucky with the Jazz that they've never questioned me playing for Australia," he said.
"The one year I didn't play in the qualifiers was more of an injury and rehab thing.
"Apart from that I've walked into my exit meeting every year and they say, 'so you are playing national team this year?
"They know how much I love it and I don't think they (Utah) would stop any of our players from playing international basketball because they know how important it is."
Despite rarely missing international duty, Ingles doesn't hold any grudges against Simmons for pulling out of the World Cup.
Instead he couldn't be happier that his fellow Boomer has signed a maximum contract worth a whopping $48 million a year.
"He needs to donate some of that to my charity (for autism)," Ingles said.
"In all seriousness, it is unbelievable and thoroughly deserved as well.
"He has had an unbelievable couple of years."
Update: @BenSimmons25 confirms he won’t play at the World Cup in China to focus on preparations for the 2019\2020 @NBA season but he will don a Boomers singlet in exhibition games against Team USA and Canada in Melbourne and Perth in August. @telegraph_sport. pic.twitter.com/RCQaI4ISeb— Matt Logue (@mattlogue7) July 16, 2019
Simmons may be raking in the big dollars but Ingles says the Melbourne-born guard has earned every cent with his ability to push pressure aside and perform.
"I think the other thing with Ben is that he has been hyped up from a young age," he said.
"But to actually follow through with that and become an All-Star, Rookie of the Year and sign max deal - it is a pretty special thing because a lot of people can't live up to the hype.
"That pressure can get to people and that is why you see a lot of players either not make it or these high draft picks that don't end up signing a second contract.
"So for Ben to be able to live up to the hype and be who he is, he is obviously doing an unbelievable job for his team."
Ingles was in Sydney on Wednesday as part of the Bridgestone Australia 'Chase Your Dream' campaign ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Ingles helped to unveil the newly-refurbished basketball court and mural at Smith Park, East Hills.