Simmons passes on sweatshirt taunt from Mitchell

Field Level Media/Reuters

Posted at Apr 12 2018 09:59 AM | Updated as of Apr 12 2018 10:04 AM

Bill Streicher and Soobum Im, USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Ben Simmons and Donovan Mitchell are still sparring over who should be the NBA Rookie of the Year.

One day after ESPN published a comment from the Philadelphia 76ers point guard saying "Who would I pick? Me, 100 percent," Jazz rookie guard Mitchell showed up for Tuesday night's game against the Golden State Warriors with a sweatshirt aimed at Simmons' candidacy.

To be specific, the sweatshirt had the word "Rookie" followed by the definition "An athlete, playing his or her first season, as a member of a professional sports team." 

It seems the point of contention is that Simmons didn't play in what would have been his rookie season last year, which some people see as an unfair edge.


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Simmons responded to the inference, but refused to take the bait and escalate the situation.

"If his argument is that I'm not a rookie, if that's the only argument he has, I'm in pretty good shape then," he told reporters after Tuesday night's franchise-record 15th consecutive win over the Atlanta Hawks. "There's a rule in the NBA for a reason. I'm not gonna wear a sweatshirt tomorrow, though."

Mitchell is widely considered Simmons' competition for the award, which will be announced June 25. Mitchell is averaging 20.5 points per game, tops among first-year players, and he needed an NBA-record low of 63 games to hit 150 3-pointers. 

He has 186 3-pointers, breaking the rookie mark set by Damian Lillard (185 in 2012-13).

Mitchell says he's not really all that concerned who wins the award.

"I'm blessed to be in this spot, continue to be in this consideration," he said, per USA Today. "Why not have fun with it as well? ... Like I've said before, we've got the Coach of the Year and the Defensive Player of the Year on our team, so I'm not really worried about this award. ... It's great to be in the conversation like that, but at the same time, I'm cool with where we're at as a team."

Simmons, however, has his own impressive resume. He has 12 triple-doubles, second in league history for a rookie, behind only Oscar Robertson's 26 in 1960-61. Also, Simmons is averaging 15.9 points, 8.2 rebounds and 8.2 assists per game.

"If you look at the numbers, you will see. People who know the game know who the better player is," Simmons said.

On Twitter, Mitchell responded with a bit of an eye roll and the caption, "Okay ..."

Simmons, the NBA's reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week, does not want to hear talk that he is not a true rookie because he was drafted in 2016 but missed last season with a broken foot.

"Coming off a broken foot is definitely not an edge, but people are always going to say what they want to say," Simmons said. "But at the end of the day, this is my first year in the league. If you're a guy coming from overseas, you're still a rookie and you can be 30 years old. So there's a rule there."

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