Tamper, tamper: NBA looking at proposed Magic Johnson, Ben Simmons lesson

Tamper, tamper: NBA looking at proposed Magic Johnson, Ben Simmons lesson
The NBA is going to investigate whether league rules were broken when Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons inquired about meeting with Los Angeles Lakers president Magic Johnson for playing tips.

League spokesperson Mike Bass said Monday that the NBA will look at the matter. Johnson revealed over the weekend that Simmons expressed a desire to meet, through an intermediary, and indicated that he would be willing to partake in such a session with the 76ers’ starting point guard if all parties involved granted permission.

Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons, right, wants to improve his game by conferring with Hall-of-Famers, including Magic Johnson.  (Mark J. Terrill / AP)

76ers general manager Elton Brand, however, told Philadelphia radio station WPEN that when the request was made about a month ago, he declined. Brand said it was presented by members of Simmons’ inner circle as a way last season’s rookie of the year could raise his game by learning from various greats, and Johnson’s name was on their list.

Brand also told the radio station that Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka asked if such a meeting could take place.

“Rob Pelinka called me and said, ‘Hey, we’re hearing Ben wants to talk to Hall-of-Famers, championship-level players, and Magic’s on the list. We need authorization for him to meet up,’” Brand told the radio station. “And I said no. This is over a month ago, so I said no. ... We didn’t sign off on whatever they’re talking about.”

Johnson said Sunday that when Simmons reached out in an indirect way about getting together, he responded by saying that the NBA, the 76ers and the Lakers would all have to sign off on such a meeting before one could be scheduled.

“If everybody doesn’t sign off, then we can’t get together,” Johnson said.

Brand told the station that he may be willing to permit the meeting if he was present.

The NBA is taking tampering concerns particularly seriously lately, and the Lakers have been on the league’s radar before. They were fined $50,000 (U.S.) last year when Johnson commented to ESPN about Milwaukee star Giannis Antetokounmpo. And in 2017, the Lakers were fined $500,000 when the league found Pelinka had been communicating with Paul George’s agent while George was with the Indiana Pacers.

Like Simmons, Johnson was bigger-than-most point guard. Johnson is six-foot-nine, Simmons is listed at six-foot-10.

Said Simmons, when asked later Sunday about Johnson: “To learn from somebody like that would be huge.”
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