The Truth About Ben Simmons And LeBron James' Relationship

The relationship between Ben Simmons and LeBron James was fostered well before Simmons even put an NBA jersey on. Comparisons between the two All-Stars were rampant while Simmons was still at Louisiana State University. "Someone's going to be compared to someone all the time, and I don't mind him being compared to me," James told ESPN in 2015 when asked about the similarities in their games. Not only did James praise the younger player's talents, but he also gushed over Simmons as a person. The then-LSU Tiger had been on the All-NBA player's radar for quite some time. "I've watched him a lot, but I've watched him way before he showed up at Baton Rouge," James said.

In fact, when Simmons was 17-years-old, he had a chance to train with James and Dwyane Wade while attending the LeBron James Skills Academy which was filled with other high school stars. A teenage Simmons was elated to workout with the future Hall Of Famers, and James imparted knowledge on him. "You have an opportunity to be better than me. But you can't skip steps. You have to do the work," James told Simmons, as revealed by Sports Illustrated in 2017. The Australian-born talent was impressed by the generosity. "Part of his greatness is that he wants others to be just as great," Simmons said about James.

Once Simmons was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers he signed with Klutch Sports — the agency run by James's long-time business partner. Their relationship blossomed from there.

LeBron James and Ben Simmons' friendship grew over the years

Over the course of Ben Simmons's NBA career, LeBron James has repeatedly given him shout outs. In 2017, when Simmons finally turned old enough to legally drink alcohol, The King ribbed the younger player online. "Happy Bday to my lil bro @BenSimmons25!!! That boi 21 now. Uh-Oh!! Let's go have a Shirley temple with a twist," James tweeted. Even though the two played on separate teams, James opted to play "NBA 2K" with Simmons's Philadelphia 76ers in 2018. "I mean it's real life right?!?! Triple Dub with lil bro @bensimmons in the W," the four-time league MVP wrote while posting a screenshot of his "2K" boxscore to his Instagram Story.

Simmons has also used social media to communicate with his basketball mentor. In February 2018, the 76er posted a group shot of his Klutch Sports family to Instagram which included James alongside Tristan Thompson and John Wall. Later that year, Simmons playfully trolled James on Instagram when the Los Angeles Laker posted a snap sitting on a bike. "Pop a wheelie," Simmons wrote.

That same year, James produced a television show that was loosely based on Simmons's life called "Brotherly Love." The show was focused on "a unique sibling relationship within a multi-ethnic family," per Deadline. Similar to the All-Star's career, it was based in Philadelphia, but the pilot was never picked up to series. Throughout the years, the dynamic between James and Simmons evolved.

Ben Simmons and LeBron James are now 'brothers'

LeBron James went above and beyond to nurture the on-court relationship with Ben Simmons before the younger star turned pro, and the duo continued to hone their skills together as competing NBA players. In June 2020, James and Simmons hit the court amidst the COVID-19 pandemic to prepare for the 2019-2020 NBA season in the "NBA Bubble," per Bleacher Report.

The NBA legend had grown fond of his young mentee. For the 2019 NBA All-Star Game, James traded former MVP Russell Westbrook to have Simmons join his team. "I see a lot of great things out of Ben every single night," James told Southern California News Group. Two years later, the duo re-teamed in the All-Star game when James once again selected Simmons to his squad in 2021, per All 76ers.

Simmons was no longer just a promising young talent, but one who James considered a peer. "We're definitely brothers," Simmons said about James on "Reel Talk" in 2020. "I got a lot of respect for him, just coming through college, high school. Looking up to him and then being able to compete against somebody like that," he added. Years after The King mentored him, Simmons was able to return the favor as both players took young Philadelphia 76er, Tyrese Maxey, under their wing. "Those guys are very inspirational, they're like big brothers to me, and now being on the team with Ben is really cool," Maxey told SixersWire in 2020.