It’s been over a decade now since the NBA implemented it’s one and done rule, yet the debate rages on. Opinions vary on how to fix this obviously broken system where ultra talented high school ballers who want to enter the NBA draft aren’t eligible to do so until one year after graduating from high school. A 2016 Showtime documentary chronicled this phenomenon through the journey of the #1 overall pick of last years draft, Ben Simmons. Simmons looks like he currently has the inside track to win the NBA ROY award but what was his life like before the NBA?
One & Done follows Ben Simmons primarily during his final season in high school at the venerable Montverde Academy in Florida and during his days as a freshman at LSU. Ben Simmons is the son of a American basketball player who played professional ball in Australia for thirteen years. It was during that time that David Simmons met Julie who was a divorced mother of four kids. They ended up getting married and having Ben who was raised in Australia.
As Ben began to grow up, his obvious basketball talent began to outsize the competition he was playing against. By the age of fifteen everyone knew that in order to fulfill his potential he had to move and play for one of the prestigious basketball programs in the US. And that is exactly what he did. As a fifteen year old kid, Ben moved by himself to a boarding school and began playing ball for the basketball powerhouse Monteverde Academy. Though extremely close to his family, they all felt this was the right move for Ben to make.
By the time Ben’s senior year rolled around the national spotlight had begun to shine brighter and brighter, so his parents and one of his sisters moved over to the US to help Ben navigate all of this new found media attention. And this is where the doc. gets really interesting. The filmmakers go on to follow Ben to LSU. They explore the various dynamics of what a one and done system means for a player who really wants to go straight to the NBA. During this year another drama ensues. It is the drama of how sudden fame and soon to be fortune affects an entire family unit, especially when an immature 18 year old kid is the one about to become a multimillionaire.
The mesmerizing tug of war power dynamics that begin to take place between various family members all vying for Ben’s attention and affection is riveting drama. Don’t get me wrong, Ben’s family seems like a grounded bunch but the enormity of everything that accompanies becoming the inevitable #1 overall draft pick is eye opening to witness firsthand even though we have all heard stories of how it all works. Seeing it play out through the real life dynamics of Ben Simmons is an education that any and every true NBA draftnik would find fascinating.
If you are passionate about basketball prospects, the NBA draft or just a good old fashion drama that involves the malleable nature of humanity when encountering extreme life altering circumstances, then this is a must watch for you. One & Done is much more than just a social commentary on the current collegiate to pro transition, it cuts the core of one of humanity’s oldest paradoxes, navigating the precarious power dynamics between the ones we the love the most.