Friday, April 5, 2013

And this is why I should never credit Simmons for his NBA analysis, part 1

I used the word analysis, not knowledge--he unquestionably has a lot of NBA knowledge.  (Contrast this with the amount of MLB or NFL knowledge he has, which is for all intents and purposes FUCKING NONE.)  So this post isn't going to resemble the ones I just wrote about that tire fire of a Hall of Fame article.  That was mostly "Holy shit, you know absofuckinglutely nothing about any of this."  This will be mostly "It's nice that you know all of this, but you have absofuckinglutely no idea how to present that knowledge."  Also, he's a shitty writer, but we all knew that already.

When I wrote my basketball book four years ago, 

The version published on Grantland contained a link, just in case THIS was the sentence that finally pushed you over the top and made you decide to buy a somewhat outdated book that he references in every damn column.

I included a section about the NBA's 10 most unbreakable records. 

Bill should write for Bleacher Report.

Ranking first: Wilt Chamberlain averaging 50 points per game for an entire season, something we're never seeing again unless (a) some lunatic parent pumps enough HGH into his young son to create an 8-foot-2 basketball player, (b) they make 3-pointers worth six points, 

Joke about North Korea's basketball rules goes here.

or (c) LeBron and Serena Williams decide to start having kids. The rest of my NBA Unbreakables, in order …

2. Wilt's 55-rebound game.
3. Russell's 11 rings.

If the Cavaliers had had the good fortune (and the brains, something their management does not seem to have in abundance) to pair LeBron with another star within the first few seasons of his arrival in 2003-2004, like the kind of good fortune the Celtics stumbled into when they were able to add KG and Allen in the same offseason, he could have four or five rings already.  Look at the rosters he took to the finals in 2006-2007 and to the ECF in 2008-2009.  It's LeBron and no one, unless you think Mo Williams or Zydrunas Ilgauskas are someones, which they are not.  The Cavs were also awesome in 2009-2010, and very good in 2005-2006 and 2007-2008.  Give him two or three rings during that stretch if he has a stronger supporting cast, plus the Heat probably should have beaten the Mavs in 2011.  I'm no LeBron superfan or anything, but just saying, it's not THAT inconceivable that someone could get to 11, even if it is a HALLOWED FACKIN' RECAHD THAT CAN NAWT BE BROKEN.  If Kobe and Shaq could have stayed friends, I bet they'd each have at least two or three more, putting each (especially Kobe) within shouting distance.

4. The '72 Lakers winning 33 straight.
5. George McGinnis's 422 turnovers in one season.

But that's not going to stop Russell Westbrook from trying!

6. Wilt's 100-point game.

Promise you LeBron could do this if he absolutely had to, to save his family from a hostage situation or something.

7. Chicago's 72-win season.
8. Scott Skiles's 30-assist game.
9. Rasheed Wallace earning 41 technicals in one season.

Jermaine O'Neal has 13 this season, while playing just 18 minutes per game.  That's astonishing.  When Sheed got his 41 in 2000-2001, he was averaging 38 mpg.  Rate-wise, O'Neal is within shouting distance.  Good to see he's still got some gas left in the tank.

10. Jose Calderon missing just three free throws in 2009 (for a record 98.1 percentage).

I believed those first five records were unbreakable, while the next five were conceivably breakable (even if it wasn't likely). So yeah, I thought that 33-gamer was lasting for the rest of my life. In nearly seven decades of NBA action, no team had come within two-thirds of approaching it. 

Except that the 2007-2008 Rockets won 22 in a row, which is exactly two thirds of 33.

"That Lakers streak was like Bob Beamon's long jump in Mexico City," I wrote four years ago, "only if he jumped 39 feet instead of 29 feet." Even by falling six victories short of the magical 33, the 2013 Heat made history not just by challenging such hallowed ground, but by making us believe, Wait a second … they might actually DO this.

HOW WILL WE LOOK BACK ON THIS MOMENT?  The question Bill never fails to ask, and which no one who is an interesting sports fan really gives much of a shit about as something awesome is happening.  WHAT DOES IT MEAN?  WHAT WILL IT MEAN?  Bill has the thought patterns of Derek Zoolander.

That's the ultimate legacy of their 27-game winning streak, 

You heard it here first: the legacy of the 27 game streak is that the Heat won 27 straight, and could have won more in a row than that (except that they lost that 28th game).  How insightful.

as well as Miami cementing itself as one of the most frightening teams in modern NBA history. Just for the hell of it, let's break down all the streak-related winners and losers.

A good premise for a column I'd like to read is when you admit that you're a shitty writer who recycles his own ideas at a worse rate than Rick Reilly.

WINNER: Wednesday night

Yes, I agree.  One of the winners was the night on which one of the games that could have been part of the streak was played.  Jesus, this guy is a moron.

Just so you know: I doubled up on my anti-hyperbole medication these past two days. I talked to a few hoops junkies whom I trust completely. 

Good to know that despite what I admit to be a lot of NBA knowledge, you have very little confidence in your analytical abilities.  That's exactly how things should be.

I considered the consequences of falling into the whole "ESPN dude takes an in-the-moment sporting event and blows it out of proportion" trap that tends to happen in this 365/24/7 era of covering sports. 

Ooh, an underhanded shot at his employer.  HOW SCANDALOUS.  

I even gave myself an extra day to chew on the following point (and this column as a whole). And here's where I ultimately arrived: Wednesday night's game was the greatest NBA regular-season game ever played.

Repeat: Wednesday night's game was the greatest NBA regular-season game ever played.

No.  Did he even watch it?  No.  It was a very good game.  Relative to all games that could possibly be in the running for greatest regular season game ever, it had a very boring ending.  It was probably one of the ten best games of the 2012-2013 season.  To say more would be really hyperbolic.  But he's assured us that he took his pills or whatever, so... great.

You had the underdog Bulls playing without their two best players against the most famous NBA team since Jordan's Bulls.

Great start.  What made this game so memorable?  Well, the Heat were a part of it, as they have been/will be a part of 81 other games this regular season.

You had the best player in 20 years at the peak of his powers. 

He also played/will play in Miami's other 81 games.

You had a national TV audience

If you include games televised by NBATV, there are like ten nationally televised games every week.

and unparalleled stakes: 

No.  The stakes are much higher when you've got a late season game between two teams fighting for one playoff spot, like, for example, the game between the Lakers and Rockets on 4/17 might end up being.  The stakes don't get much higher than that.  Even if the winner is unlikely to do any damage when they reach the playoffs, getting there is a huge deal to fans and team management.  Coaches get fired/extended and players get cut/re-signed over the difference between making and missing the playoffs.  I would say that if the Heat streak was at 32 when they arrived in Chicago, rather than 27, that would boost Bill's case.

Miami approaching an unapproachable record, the smell of history looming over everything,


real greatness in the air. 


You had an intensely proud Bulls team hoping to turn that game into a street fight (1980s basketball, reincarnated), as well as a genius defensive coach who understood exactly how to beat Miami (or at the very least, make them sweat out no. 28). 

Without Rose, the Bulls are excruciating to watch this year.  Thibodeau is a great coach and all, but he's unlikely to coach any game that makes me say "So glad I saw that!"

And you had Chicago's spectacular crowd, one of the few old-school NBA fan bases left 

The fan bases of every successful team from a large market are pretty much the same.  Chicago's fans were loud and awesome all game, but pretending that they treated the game any differently than Lakers/Knicks/Mavericks/Celtics fans would is dumb.  I've been to Bulls games at United Center.  The crowd is generally very good.  Just like they are anywhere that has a lot of basketball fans and a good team.  If anything, the best crowds are the ones from smaller markets, where 1) you get fewer bandwagon/transplant fans of the visiting teams, and 2) they have a chip on their shoulder because they hate the attention teams like the Heat get.  The smaller market teams' attendance suffers more when they suck, naturally, but when they're good, those crowds are fucking nuts.  You'd better believe Utah or Portland or Milwaukee's fans would have put on a hell of a show if the schedule makers had sent the Heat there last week.

that (a) understood the stakes, 

Pacers and Grizzlies fans just wouldn't have understood the stakes!  They wouldn't have!  Bill's false stratification of things that are relatively uniform is fucking maddening.  I need to point it out more often.

(b) would never sell their tickets on StubHub to Miami fans,

I'm sure that hundreds, and perhaps even a couple thousand of them did this.  It was less noticeable on TV because both teams' apparel are same colors.

and (c) knew from experience exactly how to affect such a game.

Oh my God.  Kill yourself.  Yeah, I'm real sure that a huge chunk of the people at United Center that night were there for many games during the Jordan era, fifteen to twenty-five years ago. Make a list of every single person who attended a Bulls game during the 1997-98 season, Jordan's last.  I bet those people made up less than 10% of the crowd during the Heat game.  Furthermore, say the number was actually 90%--what special fucking knowledge would they have?  Would they say to themselves and everyone else in their section "Hey gang!  Let's cheer when the Bulls do good stuff and boo when the Heat do good stuff!"  Bill Simmons is a fucking idiot of the highest order.

More later.


jacktotherack said...

What makes his stupid little "jab" at ESPN all the more irritating is right after he chastises the World Wide Leader he proceeds to say something as dumb as anything you could see on First Take.

That's what makes Bill so irritating. Guys like Bayless and Stephen A, while completely insufferable, are at least self-aware enough to know that they are a joke. I don't think Simmons gets that.

Anonymous said...

While I do agree with Bill that the fans do have some impact on the game, even the best of the best crowds impact what, 1% of the possible outcome of the game. If that?

So even if this "old school style" basketball crowd were at the top of their game, I wouldn't put it in the top 10 reasons why the Bulls won.

Biggus Rickus said...

According to the freakonomics site, home field advantage comes down to refs getting swept up in the emotion of the crowd and slightly favoring the home team. For what that's worth. It would make sense, as the sport where you would expect fans to influence refs the least (baseball) has the worst home winning percentage while the sport where you'd expect it the most (basketball) has the highest. Of course, this has absolutely nothing to do with fan "experience". It's an unconscious reaction that any motivated crowd will elicit.

Alex Hannum said...

jack makes a good point that I hadn't thought of before. It is really pretty obvious that Skip and Smith both smirk their way through their appearances. Simmons, on the other hand, acts like he is bullshitting everyone and can't believe he is getting away with it.

Larry, how dare you claim LeBron could score a mallard. Wilt was the king, my brother.

confused said...

Holy cow, my other favorite blogger Ben......., just critiqued the same Simmons piece.

Citizen Snips said...

The best fan bases are smaller and have a chip on their shoulder? Would you say they are blue-collar, lunch pail fans that really know how to grind out a game?

Larry B said...

Yes. Yes I would.