"The next LeBron James" is a quote that many top college recruits are referred to as when they are making their way to the NBA. Philadelphia 76ers starting point guard Ben Simmons was no exception as he was compared to the NBA's 'king' while making his way to the NBA after spending a single season at LSU.
Perhaps, it had something to do with Simmons' size, build, and versatility. Or maybe it was the fact that James took Simmons under his wing, starting from his playing days in high school. Possibly, all of the above factors were reasons for the comparisons.
While Simmons still has a long way to go before he catches the Lakers' star, the Sixers' two-time All-Star remains in touch with James. And recently, Simmons discussed the relationship he has with LeBron on an episode of 'Reel Talk' with Brian Seltzer.
"We're definitely brothers," Simmons said in regards to LeBron James. "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 -- and me progressing my game to playing [at] the same level [as LeBron] and compete with the best -- it's an amazing feeling."
Simmons' comment came months after the Sixers defeated LeBron and the Lakers back in January. That game, Simmons clocked in for a game-high of 41 minutes and collected a double-double with 28 points, ten rebounds, and eight assists. His performance got the attention of his mentor opponent. And afterward, LeBron sent massive praise over to the third-year guard.
"When I'm done playing, [I'll be] able to come back and watch this beautiful game, and hopefully there's somebody still playing the game at a high level," James said following the matchup against Simmons and the Sixers months ago. "Like the guy across the hallway, Ben Simmons. I can sit and watch him and see how much he continues to grow and watch him do what he does."
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_