Ben Simmons was supposed to be the next LeBron James, or at least the next Magic Johnson.
It is early days in the Australian summer sports mansion, but men’s basketball is shaping as a dark horse to ultimately win our affections.
While basketball has been turning our heads, the sport’s chief love rivals – cricket and football (née soccer) – are on the nose.
In a series first, long-time partner cricket has been allowed on the show and it’s getting ugly.
Of course, the relationship had already grown stale pre-shooting.
Now uber-competitive cricket has alienated all the other housemates.
Constant backchat during rose ceremonies and allegations of one-on-one date envelope swapping have not gone unnoticed by us either.
To be fair, it isn’t like cricket hasn’t tried to make things work.
You listened to us when we called you out as a ‘stage five clinger’ for the whole five-day Test match thing.
But while Twenty20 has helped freshen things up, we’re not sure it’s enough.
And then there is the round ball game.
Crazy, beautiful football.
We know your time in the house has not always been easy.
The other housemates have mentioned to us that you are extremely defensive and that when they have tried to help, you have told them they don’t know anything about you.
You just seem so confused and even angry at times.
The funny thing is, you have so much going for you.
We are always trying to remind you that you are the ‘world game’ and that you can achieve anything you want.
And when things are going well, it’s amazing.
I remember 2006 like it was yesterday.
Fresh off the inaugural A-League season, we were captivated by the Socceroos’ magical World Cup run.
Harry Kewell, Tim Cahill and Mark Viduka headlined a bunch of Australians plying their trade in Europe’s top leagues.
It really did seem like you had finally figured it out, you were happy and so were we.
But you couldn’t keep it together.
There were, of course, your damaging foreign dalliances, Pim Verbeek and Holger Osieck to name a couple.
Then things got so bad that Ange Postecoglou had to leave and FIFA was forced to step in to stop the bloody administrative civil war.
Now you’re telling us it’s all sorted – that Usain Bolt isn’t a cringe-worthy gimmick and a Tim Cahill Socceroos testimonial really is a good idea – and the bad days are behind us.
But we’re not sure we can trust you again.
After all, you’ve said the same thing so many times before.
And the thing is, well… there’s actually someone else.
It’s basketball and we think it could be the one.
The producers are doing their best to keep it a secret, but the truth is we had an affair in the 1990s.
It fizzled out after a few years, but basketball is back on the scene and it’s hard not to be impressed.
On last night’s group date, basketball was the standout in the ‘good news stories’ challenge.
Much of this owes to the wonderful job Andrew Bogut has done artfully spruiking the NBL since his return home.
The recent announcement of a second NBL team in Melbourne and NBL versus NBA exhibition games has only added to the buzz.
Unprecedented levels of homegrown representation in the US – including superstar Ben Simmons – is also enabling the NBL to ride on the wildly popular NBA’s coattails.
If this loaded Boomers squad can somehow break their Olympic medal duck in Tokyo in 2020, that might be the sign.
And then maybe even a proposal…