Ben Simmons in action for the 76ers. Picture: AP Photo/Seth Wenig
Ben Simmons in action for the 76ers. Picture: AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Fans fume as Simmons bails on exhibition games

Disgruntled basketball fans are demanding refunds following Ben Simmons' withdrawal from the Boomers' exhibition games against the USA in Melbourne next month.

After signing a $US170 million ($A241.6m) contract with the Philadelphia 76ers, Simmons withdrew from the FIBA World Cup but had planned to play the two games against the USA, as well as another two exhibition games against Canada in Perth.

However, Basketball Australia this morning announced that after discussions with Boomers' coach Andrej Lemanis, the Aussie phenom had pulled the pin on all four exhibition games.

"After talking with coach Andrej, we both agreed it was better for me to not participate in this year's 2019 World Cup and exhibition games," Simmons said.

The number one draft pick and rookie of the year winner said he still plans on representing Australia at the 2020 Olympics.

"With our focus being to win a medal at the 2020 Olympics, the Boomers' preparation in the lead up to the world championships is of the utmost importance and me not playing allows the team to create the chemistry they need to compete at the highest level and qualify for the Olympics," he said.

"I want to thank Basketball Australia for their continued support and I'm committed and excited to compete in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo."

But fans are ropeable with Simmons' decision, some travelling from the other side of the country to see the game's biggest names, leaving a sour taste in their mouth.

NBA and USA stars James Harden and Anthony Davis had already pulled the pin on the exhibition games, while other big names LeBron James, Steph Curry and Kawhi Leonard didn't even consider participating.

"I've bought a $330 ticket to a Melbourne game plus airfares (from Perth) and accommodation and its sounding like a major rip off," Matthew Murphy said.

"It's not at a proper basketball stadium and it is sounding like the D league stars for USA will be here, not the promoted big NBA stars.

"I mean, I can understand with their contracts and stuff but just now it's leaving a sour taste."

Deborah Gladwell, from Perth, said her family has six people flying to Melbourne for the games and her sons feel let down by Simmons and other stars who have withdrawn.

"It's such an opportunity to be a part of something special especially considering we cannot experience the NBA here in Australia, so my sons jumped at the chance to see Ben play here," she said.

"It's very disappointing. We know he has just signed a new contract but he could have told them he wanted to play.

"My sons feel like the promoters have really misled fans. They feel that really it's not going to be as fantastic as it should be."

Ms Gladwell said she had to pay for a house sitter to look after the family's animals while they were away and take time off work.

james.mottershead@news.com.au