Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Maybe You Expected Me To Pick On Chas MacGonaghcle Of The Des Moines Globe

The number of posts I'm able to make is a bit limited these days. As for which writers I should cover in the process of formulating these posts, there's a part of me that says I should use this opportunity to diversify and find real pieces of garbage from lesser-known sources. With two or three days to find something before taking the time to write about it, after all, I should have some sort of "pick" of some sort of "litter" compared to back when I was putting up something new every night. On the other hand, though, there's a part of me that just wants to continue my mindless bitching about Bill Simmons. Let's just say that internal debate was settled easily.

This is the conclusion to a two part column in which Bill ranked a large handful of NBA players in terms of value this season, all the way from Stephon Marbury at No. 450 to, holy fucking shitballs this is a surprise, Kevin Garnett at No. 1. I don't really have huge problems with 90% of the column(s). I know there are plenty of NBA fans out there that are tortured by his often-shitty analysis, but I can't help but consider most of what he says about "The League" to be not that bad when you compare it to his NFL and (particularly) MLB work. So in general, the whole rankings thing comes off OK. Until, of course, we arrive at KG and Bill's reasoning for choosing him as MVP.

This is not journalism. This is horrid, pathetic, and embarrassing. This is an insult to Mike Celzic and anything he could ever write about Derek Jeter. It's an insult to Bill Plaschke and anything he could ever write about Juan Pierre. It's an insult to anything that has ever been written about David Eckstein or Darin Erstad. This is so bad, I honestly don't know how to begin picking it apart. Fortunately, Simmons breaks the ice for me with a hilarious opening clause.

1. Kevin Garnett

Let's get the bad stuff out of the way so you don't think this is a homer vote:

Oh. Ahhhhh. OK, so it's not a homer vote. Say no more. I was thinking to myself, "During a year in which pretty much everyone and his parole officer has agreed that Kobe is the MVP pick, if a huge Celtics fan makes a case for Garnett it's probably because he's being a homer." But then you come along and tell me that that's not the case at all! I really appreciate the clarification.

This is like your friend trying to convince you that his bitch of a girlfriend is actually a nice person. "Dude, I know you're going to think I'm only saying this because I'm dating her, but hear me out." Of course, when you're in a situation like that, your friend eventually breaks up with the girl and admits she was a cunt. Bill will take his blind and clueless homerism to his grave.

I don't think Garnett is the most talented player in the league;

No one has thought this since 2005.

I don't trust him at the end of games because he gets too wound up; it drives me crazy that he relies on his fall-away so much (especially in fourth quarters);

Fair enough.

and I'd rather have Tim Duncan for a playoff series if my life depended on it.

I like how this is phrased as a reluctant concession to Duncan fans. One of those players has four motherfucking rings (all but one obtained as the best player on his team). The other has one has two motherfucking playoff series wins. If your life really depended on it, and you racked your brain for hours over the decision, you might decide that Duncan is the better bet? Good.

Of course, none of that stuff matters in an MVP discussion.

The first and last items on that list do not. The second and third though, about late game performance? Well, two of Bill's own criteria for picking an MVP (which I don't necessarily agree with, but I'm willing to consider as starting points) are:

Question No. 2: In a giant pickup game with every NBA player waiting to play, and two fans forced to pick sides with their lives depending on the outcome of the game (I think this is how the annual Rucker League tournament works, by the way), who would be the first player picked based on the way everyone played that season? Question No. 3: If you replaced every MVP candidate with a decent player at their position for the entire season, what would be the effect on their teams' records?

If only Bill weren't so popular, and such a catastrophic pile of asshole, I bet he would take the time to answer an email inquiring as to how this list and the above claim about late game performance are compatible. Alas, since he'd obviously never reply to that email, you'll have to try to quilt an answer together on your own. Good luck. I got nothin'.

He's the one guy everyone will remember from this regular season (sorry, Kobe);

"Everyone" in this case meaning, of course, Celtics fans. Don't get me wrong; plenty of people will remember Garnett changing teams, because that's a cool and relevant story. But the actual performance on the court is a different story, in this non-Celtic non-Laker fan's opinion. There's a chance it's only because my favorite team is in the West, but I would definitely say that Kobe's overall performance was more "rememberable" this year.

and he was worth a 30-win swing to the Celtics this season.

Interesting. My paperwork here says he was only worth 26 wins, but I guess you could be right. That would mean the combined sum of adding Ray Allen and James Posey and having several young contributors (Rondo, Perkins, Powe) get another season under their belts was worth 11 wins. As in, this Celtics team minus Garnett and plus Al Jefferson wins 35 games and misses the playoffs. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmbullshit.

In other words, he's the first choice for two of my three MVP questions.

In other words, he's the choice for your first MVP question (not listed by me, but it's about that remembrance bullshit) and you offer absolutely no evidence as to how he fulfills the other two.

But that's not why I'm picking him. On May 22, professional basketball was effectively murdered in Boston.

Christ on a crutch. Holy fish sticks. You. Fucking. Crybaby. Someone call the whaaaaaaaaaaaambulance for Bill, because he's got his ovaries all twisted up. The history of the NBA draft is fucking littered with teams that expected to get a top 3 pick and were denied by some cruel bounce of a ping pong ball. It happens all the stinking time. Guess what? It happened to Boston last year. Guess what else? That doesn't mean you can write a sentence like that. Ray Lewis didn't drive up to Boston, find a physical manifestation of the nebulous concept of basketball, and murder it like a Super Bowl partier. A professional sport is "effectively murdered" in a town when a team moves away, a one-of-a-kind-once-in-a-generation superstar leaves as a free agent, or someone prominently involved with a team actually dies. Losing the lottery and picking 5th when your record indicated you should be picking 2nd IS NOT ON THAT LIST OR ANYWHERE NEAR IT.

Sorry about that. Here comes the Ecksteiny part.

Garnett transformed every single facet of the franchise upon his arrival, from playing for the Celtics to coaching them to following them to owning them to working for them. What he did can't be measured by statistics; it can't even be measured in a few paragraphs like the section you're reading right now. It would belittle what he did.


He transformed the culture of the team. He taught everyone to care about defense, to care about practice, to care about being a professional, to care about leaving everything they had on the court, to stop caring about stats and start caring about wins.

More offensive.

He single-handedly transformed the careers of three young players (Rajon Rondo, Leon Powe, and Kendrick Perkins), one veteran (Pierce) and one coach (Doc Rivers), all five of whom could have gone the other way. He played every exhibition game like it was the seventh game of the Finals. During blowouts, he stood on the sidelines and cheered on his teammates like it was a tight game; because of that, the bench guys did the same thing for the starters and basically turned into a bunch of giddy scrubs on a 14-seed in a March Madness upset during every game.

Most offensive. I would also like to take this opportunity to remind everyone: this was not a homer pick. OK? Got it? None of this is being written because Bill loves the Celtics. The analysis is all 100% objective. Just thought I'd keep that in your brain as you wade through this.

The best word for him would either be "contagious" or "selfless." By Thanksgiving, the entire team was emulating him. Every time a young player got carried away with himself during a game -- like the time Perkins started going for his own stats, or the time Rondo snapped at his coach --

Who could forget!

KG was there to set him straight and scare the living hell out him. Every time one of his teammates was intimidated, KG had his back. Every time one of his teammates got knocked down, KG rushed over to pick him up; eventually, four teammates were rushing over to help that fifth guy up, and that's just the way it goes with the team now. Every time an opponent kept going for a shot after a whistle, KG defiantly blocked the shot just out of principle, and eventually, everyone started doing it. No shots after the whistle against the Celtics. That was the rule.

Boy, sounds frightening. They're so badass that they don't let you take shots that don't count. I bet that saves them zero points a game! If I captained a baseball team and wanted to develop a similar rule about how my guys would intimidate opponents, it would be: no running through first base on a groundout. You will be hit by the right fielder, and hit hard.

A couple of umbrella statements, really quickly: first, remember again that this opinion has nothing to do with Bill's Celtic fandom. And also keep in mind that we are being asked to believe that an aircraft carrier full of anecdotal bullshit is why Garnett a) would be picked first if two fans had every player available and wanted to draft teams to get a game going and b) is more irreplaceable than Kobe or LeBron.

It was a series of little things, baby steps if you will, but they added up to something much bigger.

Stolen from a St. Louis Post-Dispatch piece about Eckstein, 10/30/2006. Also, time for another reminder- Bill is not saying any of this because he's a Celtics fan.

You can't measure Garnett's impact with individual statistics, but these numbers seem pretty relevant: 24 (number of '07 Celtics wins); 16 (number of '08 Celtics losses); four (number of useful free agents who signed with Boston after the KG trade);

Apparently P.J. Brown and Scot Pollard are now considered "useful." Also, clearly, those guys (plus Posey and Sam Cassell) came to the Celtics strictly because of KG's "contagious" and "selfless" personality and specifically not because they wanted to be a part of one of the best overall teams in the league. If KG had the same talent but the disposition of Shaq? Forget about it. No Scot Pollard and his 1.8 points per game for you, Boston.

0 (number of useful free agents who signed with Boston in the 15 years before that);

I don't know or care enough about the Celtics to research that, but I'm going to guess that it's patently false. Particularly if Pollard and Brown are "useful." (He is talking about those two, right? If he's not, feel free to punch me in the face for being an ass next time we see each other in person.)

10.2 (Boston's point differential this season, and by the way, that's a historic number);

Historic how? I guess we'll just have to leave that unqualified. It's just... historic. Hey, Atlanta's differential was a historic -1.8. They've never recorded it before. Therefore, historic.

three (number of Texas teams they beat on the road in a four-day span, as well as their total number of double-digit defeats this season);

Whoop-de-fuck on both counts, especially when trying to determine an MVP.

4,753 (estimated number of Teammate Hugs during games this season, shattering the record of the '84 Lakers); 42 (field-goal percentage for Boston opponents this season); 41 (number of home sellouts this season); and 3-to-2 (their odds to win the 2008 title).


Also consider: sine July 2, 2007, more than 150,000 Garnett jerseys have been sold in Boston.

OK, I made that up.

Look at the Celtics last year and look at them this year. Does any of the good stuff happen without Garnett? Any of it?

Is.... is that rhetorical? You mean, like, if they still traded for Ray Allen, still kept the same core of young players, and added Al Jefferson back into the mix in place of Garnett? Unless "the good stuff" is defined as having a guy that looks like a space alien sign late in the season as a backup point guard and winning 65 games instead of 61, the answer is: yes. All of it.

Maybe his MVP campaign lost some stream when he missed 10 games earlier in the season, and I have to admit, even I shifted my attention toward Kobe, Paul and LeBron these past two months.

Thanks for bringing that up- not only did he miss those games, but he wasn't at 100% for at least 5 games after he made his comeback. So he missed 20% of the season, basically. But hey- he made people care, man. He made them care. He hustled and gristled and scooted and gritted. You can't put a value on that, unless it's a made-up value related to winning an MVP bestowed on a player by a huge fan of his team.

During a conversation with my father last weekend, I mentioned the MVP "argument" and he quickly responded with a fired-up rant that was very unlike my Pops. I'll do my best to paraphrase it:

Here we go. This will finally settle the MVP debate, once and for all. I won't lie- even though Bill promised at the beginning of this segment that he wasn't picking Garnett for homerish reasons, I've been a little unsure as to whether or not that was really the case. But I'm confident that as soon as we add his father's objective opinion to the mix, the doubt will finally leave my mind and I will be sure that these gentlemen are expressing their opinions on this matter without any regard to personal bias. I can't wait.

"Argument? There's no argument, it's Garnett.

Sold. You had me from "no." As in, "no way do this man and his son hold this opinion because they're Celtics fans! That's being a homer, and this choice (it said so at the beginning!) is not a homer choice."

I went to almost every home game. He's standing on the bench screaming for his teammates when we're up 30 points. He's a maniac! A few weeks ago, I couldn't go to a Wednesday night game so I put my tickets online and they sold in four minutes. Four minutes!

Who says the buyer wasn't actually going to see someone else, like Brian Scalabrine? These are Boston fans we're talking about here. What are the odds a black player was directly responsible for their desire to shell out big bucks to attend a sporting event? In other words, how about that Wes Welkah? Fachkin' amazin' what that guy dahs on the fayuld.

Last year, I would have been walking around my office asking if anyone wanted to go, and I would have probably ended up eating the tickets.

Because the Celtics blew last year, stupid. Obviously Garnett is partially responsible for their turnaround and deserves credit for that, but really? All 41 games worth? Or even 30? Dubious.

This year? Four minutes. Who did more for a team in one year? We lost 18 straight games last season. We were nothing. Didn't you watch the games? How could anyone be more valuable than KG was this season?"

Well, if you ask Bill, by 1) being more rememberable, 2) being the first overall pick in an imaginary pick-up game draft, and 3) being less replaceable. For item 1, I'll call it a toss up between Kobe and Garnett. For item 2, I'm going Kobe, then LeBron, then Garnett. For item 3, I'll go LeBron, then Kobe, then Garnett. So although that's a bunch of bullshit, it's based on your son's bullshit and answers your question.

It's a great question, and since I couldn't answer it without sounding like a fool, Kevin Garnett gets my MVP vote for 2008. Just remember, the "V" stands for "valuable."

Yes. It does. Good. There's nothing clever about that, and everyone already knows it. Being reminded of it does nothing for anyone because it's an incredibly nebulous concept. Thanks for ending your column with something that resembles a poorly conceptualized corporate slogan. ESPN: Just remember, the "P" stands for "programming."

I would like to add that Matt Holliday was fucking robbed of the NL MVP last year, and I'm not at all saying that because I'm a Rockies fan.


Archie Micklewhite said...

Who says the buyer wasn't actually going to see someone else, like Brian Scalabrine?

Heck, what if the dude who bought them was Brian Scalabrine? Seems like the sort of thing he'd do.

Also, no Chris Paul love?

Either way, great post. Simmons vitriol always equals a fun read.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't say that Holliday was robbed. Either Holliday or Wright would have been great choices, and Rollins clearly didn't deserve it. And I'm not saying this because I'm a Mets fan; I'm saying it because of crazy statistics like VORP and Win Shares.

Jeff said...

When wasn't Tim Duncan the best player on their championship teams? Are you just referring to the finals MVP voting?

Here's another case for Garnett, Simmons style:

Every time Rajon Rondo would miss a jump shot Garnett would grab him by the collar and lift him up to his face and scream "knock that shit down little fella - we's need you...we's need you to be a general...we's need you to be a leader...we's need you to hit those jumpers so that you, and I, and Paul, and Ray can take this team to the promise land...and deliver number 17 to the fine people of this land of Boston." Then he would pat him on the butt and play would resume. Like 50% of the time, Rondo would knock down the next jumper he took.

This thing needs an "anecdotal bulllshit" tag.

CitizenX said...

Riddle me this anonymaestro -

If Wright was so much more valuable than Rollins, how come the Phillies won one more game and hence the division?

On another note, the thing that's the most annoying about this article is not the homerism, but that he continually assumes what I, the reader, is going to think. It's like he's so caught up in his position as everyman that he can't imagine that anybody would think differently. You think if CP3 has an amazing career people won't look back to this as a turning point? Or , especially if Kobe wins it all, people won't make a little mental note?

Basically what I'm trying to say is that Bill Simmons may or may not be hiding a slight bias.

CitizenX said...

By the way, pickup basketball is fucking completely different from an NBA game. Even using that as a criterion is stupid. If my life depended on this dumbass pickup game, I would choose players I thought would mesh well, not necessarily the overall MVP. Haven't we seen how stupid the pickup strategy is with the Olympic fiascos?

Tonus said...

You know what's worse than watching an idiot writer follow the cliche "you can't measure this with statistics" by measuring it with statistics? Knowing that it'll keep showing up in other columns and articles.

The same with the stupid "it's not the fact that we got good players that made us better, it's that we got guys who do stuff like cheer for their teammates!" After all, doesn't this mean that the Celtics could've won 60 games and spent a lot less money if they'd signed Richard Simmons for the league minimum?

It's just... sad.

blanco said...

I fucking hate Bill Simmons

Anonymous said...

Matt Holliday robbed? Please. David Wright was robbed. I mean if the number of jerseys sold is a determination of MVP, then Wright who passed Jeter on the most jerseys sold in NY wins hands down.

Anonymous said...

Aside from the Garnett pick, I thought it was a decent column. Its just that the actual pick was so ridiculous thats all anyone will remember. I think there is a case to be made for Garnett, but this isn't it. If Simmons had had focused more on the defensive transformation the Celtics made and less on KG's personality, it would have been less embarrassing. Also if he hadn't included the part about the phone call with his Dad. And the part about May 22 murdering basketball in Boston is so maddening because something like that happens every year. Every year. Its called a lottery you ass. 2 Points for Larry B though: 1st, Kobe isn't a clear front runner. Its a toss up between him and Paul at this point. 2nd, I think the 4th addition Simmons mentioned was Eddie House not Scott Pollard.

cs said...

Yeah, I was scrolling down his column, got to the tens and was like okay, Garnett should be coming up here soon. Kept scrolling, yeah, there's no way this dude puts him top 2 right? I mean, that would be so fucking ridiculous. Got to spot 2, scrolled back up before going to 1, maybe I missed KG... nope, Bill picked him Number 1. Shocker.

And the preface to his reasoning was awesome. I'm not a homer, but...

But in all that horseshit (which we've read in a few other columns before, picking teammates up, cheering during blow outs...) no mention of ubuntu? I feel cheated.

Bengoodfella said...

I still think Chipper Jones was robbed of the Rookie of the Year award in 1995...and I am not bringing this up 13 years later because I am a Braves fan.

I also would like to think someone would pick LeBron James or Kobe first in the pickup game and not Garnett. Of course, I am not as knowledgeable as Simmons because I have not gotten the chance to watch every Celtics game this year. Which also brings me back to the point, there is no way this is a result of homerism.

eriz said...

hahahahaha, nice to see that people who read this blog are still incapable of deciphering sarcasm from larryb

larry b said...

Yeah, the first anonymous really picked up on the joke about Holliday. I think the second one actually got it, unless his argument about jersey sales is sincere, in which case I hope he gets into a very expensive fender bender tomorrow. As for the third anon's point about Eddie House/Scot Pollard, OK... but P.J. Brown? Finally, like CS said- ubuntu!

Angelo said...

nothing like a simmons to stir up controversy and hate. chris paul is hands down the mvp. I have, no joke, seen Tyson Chandler more than 10 times on sportscenter this year- if that's not enough cause to give the trophy to chris paul, I don't know what is.

Anonymous said...

The sad thing is, KG never would have been traded to the Celtics (T'Wolves had already declined better offers) except that Stern needed something to take attention away from the Ref/Gambling scandal. What did T'Wolves get to make it happen? You read it here first...1st pick in the draft, no lottery this year!

Anonymous said...

"As for the third anon's point about Eddie House/Scot Pollard, OK... but P.J. Brown?"

doesn't matter. i shall quote: "Particularly if Pollard and Brown are "useful." (He is talking about those two, right? If he's not, feel free to punch me in the face for being an ass next time we see each other in person.)"

if you'll excuse me, i need to get a-stalkin' so i can punch you in the face. SAWKS FAWK YEAH

larry b said...

Fair enough, fair enough.

Tonus said...

"Stern needed something to take attention away from the Ref/Gambling scandal. What did T'Wolves get to make it happen? You read it here first...1st pick in the draft, no lottery this year!"

If David Stern decided to take away attention from the referee gambling scandal by fixing the draft...

...that would be awesome.

Andrew said...

Love a good "Simmons be suckin' tits" column, but stop with the Kobe love. He can't carry Lebron's jock.

Richard Dansky said...

You know, most adult males I know don't need to call their dad on a regular basis for help with their jobs.

Is it just me, or is Simmons' continual reliance on his father to prove his points just a little weird?

Anonymous said...

I agree that the column was OK, except for two things. First, he had Kevin Durant way too high (and even more ridiculous, he had Durant much higher than Dwyane Wade and Yao Ming), and of course, the Garnett pick.

Bill is such a hypocrite. Literally, like a week earlier, he said that KG was a distant third in the MVP race on his podcast, as he was making the case for Chris Paul at that point. And then, of course, he found a way to rationalize a ridiculous vote for a Boston player like he did when he argued that David Ortiz should win the MVP despite the fact that he doesn't play any defense (and let's remember, that one of the main reasons he opposed Nash winning his MVPs was because he played awful defense, and I agreed with that point). In fact, the only time I can think of when he could have made a homer pick and didn't was when he acknowledged that C.C. Sabathia deserved the Cy Young last year because he had 41 more innings, even if he had one less win, which had more to do with run support than anything else.

Anyway, Simmons really needs to stop being such a pussy by deferring to his dad (who, by Bill's accounts, may be even more of a homer than Bill is) on these arguments. If he wants some more input, fine, I guess. But he can't be saying that KG is a distant third one wek, and then when his dad says otherwise, he immediately changes his opinion. Like I said, he's such a pussy.

Rich said...

I'm not even surprised at the homerism...I mean I'm a Celtics fan but come on, really? Paul probably should win MVP, Kobe probably will, and both are more deserving than KG. What actually surprised me was his choice of Forced Pop Culture Reference. Instead of the 368th Karate Kid/Rocky reference of the past 12 months, we got only the 84th "Bill didn't like 'The Departed'" reference of the year (that did happen, right? I seem to remember some sort of "MVP isnt a lifetime achievement award" argument against Kobe winning that involved a shot at Scorcese).

Anyhow, I'd have to say that ranks as a solid 7.38 on the Simmons Being Sorta Unpredictable In His Predictability scale, right? I guess you could have it as low as 6.9 or even as high as 7.55, but that's the number me, JD, Soup and my dad agreed upon. (See how much easier it is to make sweeping, rediculous statements when you can completely avoid taking accountability for them by passing them off as someone else's opinions?)