Monday, June 15, 2009

I'll Bet Bill Simmons Secretly Likes the Lakers

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.


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,


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.


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-

Did the '09 Lakers really like each other, or was it like a Bill-Hillary thing? I don't know. I couldn't tell.


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?


Andy said...

What pisses me off about the "Second Best Center" comment is that he obviously thinks Garnett was better, because "Dwight Howard is just Ben Wallace with a jump hook."

Tonus said...

There is something so satisfying about watching Simmons talk about teams that win when his teams don't. The bitterness just oozes out of every pore.

That's right Bill, Kobe is just as selfish as last year, even though he averaged almost 2.5 more assists this postseason. Got it.

Man, I would've loved to have been in the room with Simmons when the NBA trotted out Bill Russell to give Bryant the MVP trophy.

KentAllard said...

Preach on, brother.

cs said...

I think the fact is, Kevin Garnett purposely got injured so the Celtics wouldn't have to play the Lakers in the Finals and inevitably lose. And I think when the Celtics were playing the Magic, they all got together and just threw in the towel. What was the point of winning the series and moving on when they were so afraid of the Lakers? That's how players think, you know.

In fact, it's the subject of Bill's next book entitled: "Too Scared to Win: The Story of the 1986 Lakers"

KM said...

The best part was BS's butterfly effect reasons why the 2009 Lakers title was a fluke - you know, they only won because of things that happened in 2003 and getting Pau Gasol in a salary dump.

Because nothing like that ever happened to the Celtics in 2008... They earned that title fair and square.

Jeff said...

Andy, he'd have Howard 1. Perkins is the Celtic's center.

I think I've read 50,000 words from Bill Simmons about the '09 Lakers and I can't figure out what his fucking problem is. Is he incapable, for 1 second of thinking "what if I grew up in LA, how would I feel about Kobe Bryant and this team." If he asked himself that question, he's smart enough to write a real, thoughtful analysis. Instead he thinks...."okay they won, what can I write about them that acknowledges they were good enough to win, but makes it clear that they aren't that fucking good". Then we get columns like this.

Christmas Ape said...

This is pretty much what his NFL columns are like on a weekly basis, only substitute the Lakers for any of four other AFC teams the Patriots are typically going up against to contend for the conference.

Anonymous said...

Buried in his column of crapola was perhaps the most lazy paragraph he's ever written:

"Anyway, I could have listened to people explain the Phil-Kobe relationship all day. Frankly, I still don't understand it myself. But if a coach spends enough time with a player, they really do start to feel like a married couple. Russell and Auerbach were like the Cleavers. Havlicek and Heinsohn were the Bunkers. Magic and Riley were the Huxtables. Jordan and Jackson were the Simpsons. Duncan and Popovich were the Barones. Phil and Kobe? They were definitely the Sopranos. And I don't need to tell you who was Tony."

What the hell is he talking about? How are Jordan and Jackson like the Simpsons? Phil Jackson is Carmela Soprano? Huh?

He basically made an observation that the coach/player relationship is like husband/wife. Okay...not really getting it, but just leave it at there. How does randomly assigning coach/players to different tv spouses resemble any sort of point?

Bengoodfella said...

I think we have pretty much decided that Bill Simmons in no way can write with any amount of neutrality or respect for any other team. At some point he always has to state unequivocally that the Celtics would have won the NBA Title if this or that had happened. In his mind, the Celtics are 10 time defending NBA champs and an NBA dynasty.

He always talks about injuries or something impossible to prove theory as to why his teams don't win a championship. As if no other teams in the league have injuries or any other problems during the course of the year.

cs said...

Anon - I was stuck on that too. I did a double take, actually contemplated how Jackson and Jordan could possible be like The Simpsons (is Jordan Bart and Lisa...?) and then quickly moved on before my brain melted. That was one of the dumbest and strangest things he's written. And that from a writer who obsesses over the relationship between Rocky and Apollo Creed.

Martin said...

Strangely enough, he didn't do a half bad job of analysis of Kobe on a podcast. I think Kobe had more "friends" on this team then any other Laker team. He thinks he likes these guys and that they like him. We are talking about a guy who has been raised and lived his life in pretty much isolation. They all seem to get along, enjoy each others company well enough at the "job" without having the pathetic need for "family love" that teams like last years Celtics feel is so necessary to have to win. Here's a clue for Bill...the 80's Celts weren't all best buds, nor were the Pistons. Anybody else remember a lot of Bulls not being all that enamored of Jordan during some of those runs in Chicago?

Guys will deal with a winner long as he isn't a total ass, plays hard and to win himself. People talk about Kobe changing or not changing, but what he did do was not quit on his teammates this year. He brought them along for the ride instead of making them wait in line while he rode the coaster himself like the last few years.

Bengoodfella said...

Martin, is that you? Or did Bill Simmons take over your keyboard?

I am kidding...though I do take exception to the fact the 80's Celtics were not best friends. They loved each other and had sleepover every Friday night, passed notes and talked about girls. Also, if Len Bias had not died he would have been as good as Michael Jordan and the Celtics would have had 10 more championships than they do now.

Alex said...

Jordan and Jackson's odd Simpsons analogy. I vote for Kang and Kodos.