Basketball God Jonathon Simmons Almost Quit Basketball To Cut Hair
If bet that the two best highlights from the Spurs-Warriors season opener would come from a D-League graduate, you cashed in last night, because damn, Jonathon Simmons (who?) emasculated Steph Curry with a come-from-behind blocked shot and absolutely neutered JaVale McGee on a dunk. But Simmons didn't just wind up with some choice material for his video resume -- he finished with a career high 20 points on 8 of 14 shooting and a plus/minus of 33.
How many people can say they've been responsible for a 33-point swing against the Golden State Warriors? I'm gonna guess not many.
— NBA (@NBA) October 26, 2016
The best part of Simmons' "breakout" night, however, is that we now get to talk about his unconventional career, which reads more like the story of a struggling actor than a professional basketball player. It begins with a tryout for the San Antonio Spurs' D-League affiliate in Austin, which Simmons paid $150 to attend.
That's right: the hero of Tuesday's Hall-of-Famer-filled 2016-17 NBA season opener literally paid to play.
[ESPN] "After the draft process, I didn't even get invited to a summer league team," Simmons said. "I felt like I had a decent enough of a college season. Of course, it wasn't a good idea to just leave. But I wasn't happy there. So I'd rather take the chance of just going pro instead of having to transfer or sit out. I wasn't happy at U of H with the coaching and all that stuff.
"What was going through my head was really just how I was gonna make it. I was really just worried about how I was going to feed my family. I think that was the main thing going through my head. Should I just go and get a job? Or should I continue to play basketball? Even when it was hard, my mom helped me a lot with the kids. It just made it a lot easier for me to not just give up because I had people that believed in me more than I believed in myself. My mama raised me to be a man. Handle your business. So if you make a decision, deal with your decision. You have to make the best of it."
That led to playing his first professional basketball season with the Sugar Land Legends of the American Basketball League, where he averaged 36.5 points in 16 games.
"I almost quit after that," Simmons said. "Before the first season of D-League, I played in the ABL and was like, 'This can't be what basketball is about.' I really wasn't exposed to overseas [basketball], and I really only watched NBA. In my era, we never really had anybody come and explain anything to us [about the process of making it to the NBA]. I never really met scouts. I just didn't know about any of this type of stuff. All I knew was either you're gonna go to school or just go to work. That's where I was."
A talented barber who cuts his friends' hair on occasion, Simmons considered a career change. His mother told him if he was done with basketball, he should try to get his barber's license and find a real job.
But Simmons decided to give the game one last try, which led to the tryout at Concordia University in Austin, Texas, with San Antonio's D-League affiliate, then nicknamed the Austin Toros. For a $150 tryout registration fee, Simmons got another chance to show the Spurs organization what he could do.
How freakin' awesome is that? It almost seems scripted, right? Oh, and a real quick show of hands: who's in for calling this kid "the barber" from now on?
Watch Jonathon "the barber" Simmons shave some self-respect off the ego of one JaVale McGee, below...
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