Ben Simmons believes he can be the greatest NBA player ever after becoming the first player in modern history to score from five triple-doubles in his rookie season.
The Australian starred for Philadelphia with 19 points, 17 rebounds and 14 assists as the 76ers crushed Chicago 115-101 at home on Wednesday.
Fellow Australians Patty Mills and Joe Inglis starred for their respective sides, with Mills scoring 15 points as the San Antonio Spurs thrashed the Memphis Grizzlies 108-85.
But Simmons again flew the Australian flag highest just a day after he was overlooked for an All-Star reserve spot.
The 21-year-old, who’s been picked to play for the World against the USA in the All-Star weekend’s Rising Stars Challenge, posted his triple-double inside the first minute of the second half and his 22nd minute on court.
In eclipsing Jason Kidd’s 1994-95 record of four rookie season triple-doubles, Simmons has now scored more than LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and Michael Jordan did together in their respective rookie seasons.
He sits in third position for most triple-doubles of 2017-18 behind Westbrook (14) and James (7).
In a match the Sixers billed as Australian Heritage Night, the Melbourne product’s 11 first-quarter rebounds almost tied a franchise record for rebounds in a quarter, held by Hall of Fame centre Wilt Chamberlain.
But Simmons denied his exceptional performance was motivated by missing out on the rare feat of gaining All-Star honours as a rookie.
He said the message it sent was that his teammates can score.
“They’re great players. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have a triple-double,” he told NBC.
“I want to be the greatest to play the game. It’s going to take a lot of work, but I believe I can get there.”
Philadelphia moved up to seventh in Eastern Conference standings.
Elsewhere, Mills led all San Antonio scorers off the bench as Pau Gasol narrowly missed a triple-double against brother Marc in the Spurs’ win.
Ingles had 13 points and seven assists as the Utah Jazz beat Detroit 98-95.
The small forward made a tying lay-up in the final seconds of regulation, then added two straight three-pointers in overtime to clinch the victory.
Melbourne-born Kyrie Irving collected 20 points and seven assists as the Boston Celtics snapped a four-game losing streak by beating the Los Angeles Clippers 113-102.