I hate Bill Simmons, the Celtics, the Lakers, and Kobe Bryant. (I also hate Nebraska, the hipster music scene, and grapefruits, but I have separate blogs which address those topics more directly.) So it sometimes feels counterproductive to rip on one of those things because it might make it seem to some that I support the others. Hate on a Simmons anti-Laker article, now it looks like I'm a Laker fan. Write about what a piece of shit Bryant is, now I'm agreeing with Simmons. But sometimes you've just got to tuck your nuts back, damn the torpedoes, and do something that scares you. This is one of those times.
The way Simmons writes about the Lakers is infuriating. You'll never see a better collection of backhanded compliments, inconsistent analysis, absolute and total hypocrisy, and flat-out atrocious writing that is so rife with favoritism and bias that it makes you want to write an anti sports media blog just so you can tell the world how you feel about it. The thing is, Simmons writes about the Lakers like this all time time. Constantly. Presumably because they're his favorite team's rival- but I have a different theory. You know those Congressmen who are constantly pushing anti-gay legislation, but are allegedly gay themselves? So it's like they're doing a self-loathing kind of thing (if it turns out that they actually are gay)? Yeah, I'm going to guess that Bill is the same way with the Lakers.
Don't get me wrong, the Celtics are still his favorite team- but he doesn't mind kicking back and watching the gold and purple every once in a while either. After all, he is a huge fucking front runner. No way (especially considering he lives in LA) he isn't intrigued by the idea of cheering for a championship team. I mean, what do you want him to do, suffer through a whole calendar year without a Boston championship to soothe his insecurities? If you're about my age (24), this comparison should work: Bill is the kid who was a Cowboys fan in elementary school, a Packers fan in middle school, a Patriots fan in high school and college, and has since discovered that his great aunt used to live in Pennsylvania so naturally he's become a huge Steelers fan. You know the type. Anyways that's my Simmons/Lakers theory. I'll bet the motherfucker even has a Lakers car window flag thingy. And that brings us to his latest turdclump of an article, currently on the front page of ESPN. I don't have time to address the whole thing, so I'll just pick out some lowlights. The thesis is: sure, the Lakers deserved to win their title. BUT JUST SO YOU KNOW THEY REALLY AREN'T THAT GOOD. AND NEITHER IS KOBE. I MEAN, HE KIND OF IS REALLY GOOD BUT I JUST DON'T LIKE HIM.
In Kobe's case, we already knew we were following one of the better basketball careers of all time.
And we're off to the races with the backhanded compliments. Yeah, Kobe is having one of the "better" careers of all time. If you want to compare across different sports, he's probably in the same league as your John Elways, your Mickey Mantles. You know- guys that definitely stood out as being better than most. Bill's thoughts on Paul Pierce's career: easily the greatest of all time in any sport or other profession.
Jon Barry told us after Sunday night's game that Kobe is the closest thing to Michael Jordan that any of us will ever see.
Ever?I haven't even turned 40 years old. I have half my life left, if not more. You're telling me I won't see another hyper-competitive, super-athletic 2-guard average 30-plus a game and win an NBA title? (Hell, I just saw it three years ago with Dwyane Wade -- a performance that, by the way, surpassed Kobe's effort this month.)
It's pretty fucking obvious that Barry was talking about Kobe's entire career, not just this season. So one title from Wade doesn't really qualify as the same thing. That's a quick insult to Kobe that, by the way, really shows the reader that Bill is a mental midget.
I found the constant stream of Kobe-related hyperbole to be a little off-putting; it was like hearing a buddy self-consciously mention how cool his girlfriend was so many times that it made you wonder, "Wait, is something going on here? It's almost like he's trying to convince himself every time he brings it up."
When a Boston fan and MSM member who can't go three weeks without writing something about how Larry Bird cured cancer while saving the NBA and juggling chainsaws writes something like this, all you can really do is chuckle. Chuckle and start hoping the Red Sox start losing more games, lest we hear more about how Dave Roberts altered the history of humankind when he stole a fucking base. That's really the only possible way to avoid Bill's dumbfuckery- hope Boston's teams don't play well. He often then starts ignoring them pretty quickly.
The complicated answer is that you can't explain all the reasons why the 2009 Lakers were better than the 2008 Lakers in one sentence. Fortunately, that's why I'm here.They had the second-best player in the league (Kobe), the second-best center (Pau Gasol), a talented forward with a unique set of skills (Lamar Odom), a breakout swingman (Trevor Ariza), a terrific leader and character guy at point (Derek Fisher), and that's about it. They caught three breaks from February on -- Kevin Garnett's knee injury killing Boston's season,
WE WAH FACKIN' RAHHHHHHBBED! DE-AH COMISSIONAH STARN, PLEASE DO NOT AWAHD THE LAKE-AHS WITH THEY-AH CHAMPIONSHIP- THEY DIDN'T TRULY EAHRN IT.
Cleveland stupidly opting not to move Wally Szczerbiak's expiring contract for one more piece, and Yao Ming breaking his foot in Round 2 -- and cruised from there.
Bill's analysis as to how the 2007-2008 Celtics won it all- The legendary Boston crowd willed them to victory.
You would not call them great, just very good.
This is a critical distinction which everyone understands and cares about.
I would compare them to the 2003 Spurs, 2005 Spurs or 2006 Heat -- the cream of a flawed crop of contenders.
ONLY BOSTON TEAMS CAN WIN TRUE, PURE CHAMPIONSHIPS! YO-AH CHAMPIONSHIPS AHHHHH FLAWED! OW-UHS AHHHHH REAL!
But wait, you say. Kobe played so much better in the 2009 Finals than the 2008 Finals. Everyone kept saying it so it must be true! Actually, not really.
2008 Kobe (six games): 25.7 pts, 4.7 rebs, 5.0 ast, 3.8 TO, 21.8 FGA, 8.2 FTA, 40.5 FG%, 80 FT%, 32 3FG%, 42.8 MPG.
2009 Kobe: (five games): 32.4 pts, 5.6 reb, 7.4 ast, 3.2 TO, 27.0 FGA, 8.8 FTA, 43.0 FG%, 84 FT%, 36 3FG%, 43.8 MPG.
This is great stuff. "Everyone keeps saying that Sammy Sosa was a much better home run hitter than Tony Gwynn, so it must be true! Actually, not really. And here are the numbers which show that what everyone is saying actually is true, and that I'm a dolt." Only in Bill's world can you score seven more points per game, grab an extra rebound (as a guard), dish out two and a half more assists, cut more than half a turnover, and shoot better from the floor, the line, and from downtown- and not be playing much better.
But if you're selling the "Kobe finally gets it" angle, then why was he gunning for 40 points at the tail end of a Game 1 blowout when he had already taken 30-plus shots?
Because it was a blowout and nobody cared.
In Game 2, why did he go one-on-four for the winning basket (and miss) and ignore three wide-open teammates?
Paul Pierce never does this. Nor do any other players Bill actually looks up to and respects, either.
Why did everyone so willingly gloss over the fact that, from the second quarter of Game 3 through overtime of Game 4, he missed 31 of 46 shots and kept shooting, anyway?
Oh my God, he was in a shooting slump for a whole game and a half? WHY DIDN'T THE MEDIA REPORT THIS? WHERE WAS CNN? WHO WATCHES THE WATCHMEN?
Or that, near the tail end of Game 5, Kobe was so desperate to drain the clinching dagger that he clanged two 27-footers and allowed Orlando to climb within 12?
Boy, how lucky were they to escape with that win after the Magic had made it a four possession game?
Or that he didn't have a single clutch moment in the Finals other than his sweet dish to Gasol during their frantic Game 4 comeback?
You know who had a real clutch moment? Dave Roberts, that's who.
And so on and so forth- this is a very long column and the bullshit I covered here barely spans a third of it. I'm sure you can see why it bothers me to "support" the Lakers like this, but sometimes you've got to do what you've got to do. And what I've got to do hate on Bill. And hope he gets crushed by a meteor. Oh, before I go two last things-
But fuck, man, did you see the 2008 Celtics? Totally different story. Just ask Bill. THEY CHEERED FOR EACH OTHER FROM THE BENCH LIKE NO TEAM EVER HAS BEFORE. UBUNTU, BABY. UBUNTU. NOW THERE WAS A TEAM THAT CLEARLY LOVED EACH OTHER AND STILL HANG OUT AND PLAY BOARD GAMES TOGETHER TO THIS DAY.
As I watched the Lakers celebrating Sunday, I thought it looked like a bunch of actors celebrating the game-winning scene in a sports movie.
Bill knows all about acting and Hollywood- did you know he used to write for Jimmy Kimmel?