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Message To My Fellow Melburnian Ben Simmons: “You’ll love Portland”

Get ready Ben, Portland will be your new home away from home.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Portland Trail Blazers Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

If Twitter and multiple NBA pundits are to be believed, Ben Simmons has played his last game as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers. After the Sixers lost to the Atlanta Hawks in the second round of the playoffs of Sunday, local pundits were quick to point out that the Portland Trail Blazers are in a prime position to make a deal for the runner up Defensive Player of the Year via CJ McCollum.

A deal involving these two players makes too much sense for Portland and Philadelphia, going some way to address issues holding them both back from greatness. But let’s forget the technical details for now. Today, I just want to reach out to Mr. Simmons as another lover of basketball from Melbourne, Australia.

Here’s a short message to help Ben acclimate to Portland if a trade with the Blazers gets done.

Hey Ben. I know this season didn’t end like you’d hoped but I just want to let you know, Portland is great. I visited just before the pandemic hit and had the best time, you’ll love it. I’ve taken the liberty of jotting down some similarities to help ease the transition.

The Moda Center, your new home court, and the broader Rose Quarter, is akin to Melbourne’s Sporting Precinct — you know, Rod Laver Arena, AAMI Park and the MCG where your beloved Essendon Bombers play every ANZAC Day. If you head south, you’ll hit Ladd’s Addition and Hawthorne. Bohemian fashion, bars, record stores and restaurants, it’s almost identical to Fitzroy — like Brunswick or Smith streets. Downtown Portland is pretty much an amalgamation of Collins and Bourke streets.

And like Melbourne, you’ll only need to travel 20 minutes or so to enjoy the amazing outdoors Oregon and southern Washington have to offer — think Yarra Valley, Kinglake. I also liken Mt Hood to Mt Buller or Mt Hotham.

And then there’s the food, the coffee and culture. If Melbourne is the coffee capital of Australia, then Portland is our sister city. Can you believe they do food trucks outside of Melbourne? Well they do and Portland has a ton of them. I’d try the trucks at SE Hawthorne Boulevard and SE 12th Avenue — just like Welcome to Thornbury back home. You have to visit the Multnomah Whiskey Library, similar to places you might find down Melbourne’s CBD alleyways, like Gin Palace off Little Collins Street.

Last but certainly not least, the people. Portlanders are friendly, welcoming and laid back, just like back home, genuinely nice people, not sure how much of that sincerity you’re getting in Philly, but I digress. There’s also live music, donuts and don’t forget the book stores - what more could a young NBA player want? So, I guess if you’re feeling homesick, Oregon might be your best remedy. I understand you have no choice but please rest assured, you’ll have a ball — pardon the pun — if you land in the Pacific Northwest.

Adrian Bernecich
Lifelong Melburnian and Blazer’s Edge writer