Leading up to the 2018 NBA Awards, basketball star Donovan Mitchell rocked a hoodie with the definition of “rookie” on the front, a jab at Ben Simmons, a second-year player who was in the running for the Rookie of the Year award. But last night, Simmons — and Nike — had the last laugh.
Nike-sponsored Simmons beat out Mitchell, who is backed by Adidas, for the award. Although Simmons was drafted No. 1 overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2016 NBA Draft, he didn’t play a game his first season in the league, making him eligible to win this year.
For Simmons’ achievement — and in response to Adidas, the Swoosh released an ad with an image of the baller with a clear message: “Not a rookie. The rookie.”
During the regular season, the 6-foot-10 guard from Australia averaged 15.8 points, 8.2 assists and 8.1 rebounds per game. And in the postseason, Simmons posted similar numbers, averaging 16.3 points, 9.4 rebounds and 7.7 assists.
Simmons hit the court throughout the season Nike Hyperdunk 2017, which features React foam cushioning and a half inner sleeve to keep one’s foot snug in the shoe.
Mitchell averaged 20.5 points, 3.7 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game in his rookie campaign with the Jazz.
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