With football in the rearview, Sunday afternoons are now reserved for the gems of the NBA’s regular season, marquee matchups that showcase the league’s best teams and most exciting players. This Sunday’s star-packed contest between the Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Lakers was a 143-120 blowout in Philly’s favor, but it produced at least one can-you-believe-it moment that set the crowd abuzz. Early in the third quarter, 76ers point forward Ben Simmons did the unthinkable: He took a 3-pointer.
Listen to the roar of the fans! Those lucky enough to see it in person will cherish the memory of Simmons pulling up from behind the arc and missing a 3 with time left on the shot clock. They were all witnesses to history. Even his teammates were talking about it after the game.
Simmons has taken just 15 3-pointers in his two years as a pro, and he’s missed all of them. For comparison’s sake, James Harden attempted 16 threes in just one game on Saturday. It’s tempting to imagine how dominant Simmons could be if he had a 3-point shot, but he nonetheless makes this basketball thing work despite his glaring on-court limitation.
Simmons is wonderfully unique. At 6-foot-10, the 2017-2018 rookie of the year is a giant of a playmaker, and so much of Philadelphia’s offense revolves around his vision and passing ability. He’s a virtuosic athlete who can throw down monster dunks in traffic, but he also has the elastic handles of a diminutive point guard. The one thing he can’t do is shoot, and watching him you get the sense that he’d rather eat a bowl of wood screws than take a 3-pointer.
Sunday’s long-range effort was just his third attempt this year, and it’s the closest he’s come to converting from downtown during his NBA career. Simmons has made just a single 3-pointer in competition since he made his college debut at LSU. That came in a loss against Charleston on Nov. 30, 2015. Video evidence of this shot is as rare and wobbly as Bigfoot’s highlight reel. (Bigfoot went 4-for-13 from 3 for Canisius in 1982.)
The modern NBA is all about floor spacing, so it’s a near miracle that Simmons has become one of the league’s most effective stars while also being violently allergic to the mere idea of long-range shooting. He’s bound to make a 3-pointer one of these days—let’s hope Philadelphia approves the parade permits for when it happens.