Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I'm sorry I've said many times that Bill knows the NBA, I was completely wrong (part 2)

Warning: shit gets heavy somewhere near the end of this post.  Usually I enjoy picking apart Simmons, like "ha ha this guy is dumb, I'm having fun with this, tee hee."  Near the end of this post I got legitimately annoyed.  I think it comes through in the writing (I'm adding this intro after I finished the rest of it).  Enjoy!

Unfortunately, we need to compare Carmelo to a better player to prove that point.

That's a great indication that you won't be able to make that point.  This is like saying "I know where there's a million dollars in buried treasure.  Unfortunately, I need to go grab a million dollars and bury it before we go dig up that treasure."
The 2011 Mavericks won the title

Indeed they did.  Let's see how.

with a veteran team 

Average age of the eight guys who played the most minutes was 31, a bit upwardly skewed by 37 year old Jason Kidd.

built around a spectacular coach (Rick Carlisle), 

Definitely a good coach--career .588 winning percentage in the regular season, and .509 in the postseason.

an elite rim protector (Tyson Chandler), 

He definitely is, although he doesn't bring much offense.

an elite perimeter defender (Shawn Marion), 


an elite heat-check guy (Jason Terry), 

Idiotic terminology, and overstate's Terry's abilities--I'm not saying he's never hit a series of big shots, because he certainly did against the Heat in the 2011 Finals, but his career 3FG% is just just .379 and his career 2FG% is just .484.  (In 2010-2011, those numbers were .362 and .493 respectively.)  Anyways, Terry is a great 7th man, but not really a great 6th man.  Yes, I know he won the 6th man of the year award in 2008-2009, but he was playing 34 minutes a game.  NAWT A TRUE 6TH MAN.  HE IS THE CHANNING TATUM OF 6TH MEN.

quality 3-point shooting (39.4 percent and 184 made 3s in 21 playoff games), 

Agree, that is quality, although any playoff run is such a small sample as to be negligibly useful in judging whether the team was actually a good shooting team, or just happened to get hot at the right time.  The Mavs shot 36.5% during the 2010-2011 season.

savvy team defense 

Hooray for stupid bullshit (not even really anecdotal bullshit--this is somehow less useful than that would be) that can't be disproven!

and one historically good scorer with crunch-time chops (Dirk Nowitzki). 


If you believe Carmelo can lead a championship team, you’re leaning heavily on that 2011 Mavs playbook — you’d need all the elements we just covered, and you’d need Carmelo to unleash a damned good Dirk impression.

Yes, except for the fact that Dirk is better than Carmelo.

Only one problem: Dirk was better than Carmelo is.

Great, so there goes your whole point.  This has been productive.

Dirk is one of the 20 best basketball players of all time by any calculation. He’s the best foreign player ever not named Hakeem. Of the 10 best forwards ever, he’s behind Bird, LeBron and Duncan, right there with Doc, Elgin and Pettit, and ahead of Malone, Barkley and Rick Barry.  He won an MVP and a Finals MVP. He made four first-team All-NBA’s and five second-team All-NBA’s. He won 50-plus games for 11 straight years, topped 60 wins three times, made two Finals, beat LeBron and Wade in the Finals, and won a Game 7 in San Antonio during Duncan’s prime.

I'm not going to be so Simmonsy as to claim I know exactly where Carmelo stands among everyone all time, but suffice it to say that his resume does not stack up to Dirk's.  He's never finished higher than 3rd in MVP voting (in 2012-2013, mostly because he led the league in scoring) and has only been in the top 10 twice.  He hasn't won a Finals MVP, because, as we've discussed, he's only ever come remotely close to sniffing the Finals once in his eleven year career.  He's never been first team All NBA and has been second team just twice.  His teams have won 50 games just four times and have never topped 54 wins.  Basketballreference has something called the "Elo Player Rater," which, fuck if I really know how it works, but it appears to be a crowd-sourced set of rankings.  They currently have Dirk as the 3rd best active player and 22nd best all time.  Melo is younger, so he's had less time to cement a legacy, but he's just 16th best active and 67th best overall.  This "let's build a case for Melo as a guy who can win a Finals without other superstar help on the fact that Dirk did the same" attempt is falling to pieces.

And it’s not like he had a ton of help. In 15 years, he played with only four All-Stars: Jason Kidd (2010), Josh Howard (2007), Steve Nash (2002 and 2003) and Michael Finley (2000 and 2001). Amazing but true: Dirk never played with a Hall of Famer in that Hall of Famer’s prime.

Roughly the same for Melo, certainly the same on the HOFer in his prime front.  Dirk got Kidd and Nash, but Melo got two years with Iverson (even if that experiment didn't really work out).  Melo also has played with several Michael Finley/Josh Howard type players, including Billups, Marcus Camby, NeNe, and Ty Lawson.

During Dirk’s decade-long peak (2002 through 2011), he averaged 24.5 points and 8.8 rebounds and came damned close to creating the 10-Year 50-40-90 Club (48% FG, 39% 3FG, 89% FT). 

Melo can't come close to touching those shooting numbers--for his eleven year career, he's at 45-35-81.

His career PER (23.48) ranks 19th all time, just behind Doc (23.58) and Bird (23.5) and just ahead of Kobe (23.36). 

Melo's career PER is 21.17, 42nd all time, sandwiched between Alonzo Mourning and Clyde Drexler.

And he was an absolutely phenomenal playoff performer: 25.6 PPG (12th all time), 24.2 PER (12th), 22.6 win shares (16th), stellar 46-37-89% splits in 135 games, and a couple of epic multigame hot streaks in 2006 and 2011. 

I described Melo's playoff mediocrity last post, but let's add in here that his career playoff PER is 19.94, 44th overall.

Along with Pettit, Hakeem and Elgin, he’s one of four players in the shot-clock era who averaged 25 and 10 in the playoffs. 

Melo has averaged 26 and 7, but he's need to shoot a shitload to get those 26.

And he’s an underrated leader, 

Lol Melo

a famously fantastic locker-room guy, 

Lol Melo

an insanely hard worker and someone who, by all accounts, everyone loved playing with at every point of his career.

I've never heard anything to the contrary about Melo, but I've never really heard anything similar either.

That’s why I dislike comparing Carmelo and Dirk. 

You should, because Melo isn't Dirk, and on the scale of superstars, he's not even close.

But I keep coming back to these two playoff lines:

2011 Dirk (21 games): 27.7 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.5 apg, 49-46-94%, 8.9 FTA, 25.2 PER
2009 Melo (16 games): 27.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 4.1 apg, 45-36-83%, 9.0 FTA, 24.3 PER

It’s not THAT far off, right? 

And this, ladies and germs, is all the proof you need that Bill Simmons's writing method is pretty much "Come up with idea (usually one that adheres to my already existing beliefs about the subject matter in question), write column, ignore evidence that contradicts idea, find shreds of evidence that kind of sort of make idea look non-horrible, pimp them with idiotic rhetorical questions, profit."  Seriously, we've just run down how much better (especially in the playoffs) Dirk is than Melo.  And then, in an effort to get this train wreck back on the tracks, he throws out Melo's best playoff performance (both in terms of how far his team went, and in PER), runs it up against Dirk's performance during the Mavs' title run (which is not Dirk's best playoff performance; that came in 2010 (28.4 PER in 10 games) or if you want a larger set of games, 2006 (26.8 in 23 games), and then moves on.  Fucking unbelievable, this guy.  What a fucking chode.

The 2009 Nuggets were Carmelo’s best team; they fell to Kobe’s Lakers in Round 3 with a poor man’s version of the 2011 Mavs. 

And this is where it gets pretty fucking good.  Yes, yes please.  Let's do a rundown of the 2008-2009 Nuggets (54-28) against the 2010-2011 Mavericks (57-25).  Let's look at all those items he listed at the beginning of this post and see how they stack up.

George Karl wasn’t Carlisle. 

Oh, the George Karl with a longer track record than Carlisle, a better regular season winning percentage, and a slightly worse playoff winning percentage?  Carlisle is "spectacular" but a guy with 1100+ career wins, who's never coached anyone better than young Gary Payton, young Ray Allen or young Carmelo doesn't stack up?  Cool.

Nene and Kenyon Martin couldn’t protect the rim like Chandler. 

This is very true, but what they brought in offense probably makes up for what they didn't have in terms of rim protection.

They didn’t have a perimeter defender anywhere close to Marion’s caliber. 

First of all, this isn't true, as Dahntay Jones is a different kind of perimeter defender but probably on balance about as good as Marion.  Second of all, the defense (both individual defense, and the ability to coordinate team defense) brought by Billups to that 2009 Nuggets team puts what 37 year old Jason Kidd was doing on the defensive end for the 2011 Mavericks to shame.

They couldn’t shoot 3s nearly as well (only 31 percent for that Lakers series). 

Good try, doofus.  Enough with your shitspeck-sized samples.  The 2008-2009 Nuggets were a better regular season 3FG% team than the 2010-2011 Mavericks (roughly 36% to 34%) and even with that shitty performance against the Lakers, shot 38.3% for the playoffs.  The Mavs shot 39.4% during their title run.  This is 100% wrong.  The Nuggets were a BETTER 3FG% team than the Mavs.  

They relied way too heavily on J.R. Smith, who imploded against Kobe and got outscored 204 points to 76 points. 

OK, for this one, I have no counterargument, other than to say Smith was the Nuggets' version of Terry, just not as good.  He averaged 14/3/3 while shooting 44%; Terry went for 17/2/3 while shooting 48%.  And yes, Kobe went off against the Nuggets.  He's Kobe.  

Their bench consisted of Dahntay Jones, Linas Kleiza, Chris Andersen and Anthony Carter, or, as it’s better known, the Pu Pu Platter Deluxe. 

OH GOD ANOTHER PU PU PLATTER JOKE.  NEVER GETS OLD.  Their bench also included JR Smith, who you'd think Bill wouldn't be able to completely forget about in the span of one sentence, but here we are.  Meanwhile, beyond Terry, the 2011 Mavericks playoff bench featured Jose Barea, "the corpse of" (LOLOLOL!!!!) Peja Stojakovic, and Brendan Haywood, which is pretty fucking pu pu platterish itself.  But why let facts get in the way of a narrative.  Full speed ahead!!!

And Melo’s best teammate, Chauncey Billups, played two great rounds before turning into a human icicle against the Lakers (39.7% FG, 33.3% 3FG).

Meanwhile, Melo shot 48% overall and 45% (!) from three during the first two rounds of the playoffs, then turned into a human icicle against the Lakers (40.8% FG, 25% 3FG).  You know, you'd think that if you were trying to figure out why the 2009 Nuggets didn't get past the Lakers, you'd want to see how their best player played in that series.  But I guess since we started with the thesis that Melo got let down by his teammates, we don't have time to do that.  Too bad.



More later.

Monday, July 28, 2014

I'm sorry I've said many times that Bill knows the NBA, I was completely wrong (part 1)

Here's Bill's ode to Carmelo Anthony, penned shortly after Melo re-upped with the Knicks. Full disclosure: I am a Nuggets fan, and definitely hold a small grudge against Carmelo for the way he demanded the trade that sent him out of town. (I say small grudge, because three years later, the anger I initially felt is heavily tempered by the fact that the Nuggets probably won that trade.  At the very least it's quasi-semi-even-ish.)  Anyways, in case you didn't know it, Bill is a big Carmelo fan.  I'm not sure why--maybe he saw Darko and Melo walking down a hallway a few months before the 2003 draft, decided Darko was a sure bust and Melo was a sure 25,000+ point scorer, and is still riding high on that prediction.  If you have a brain, you can look at what Melo has accomplished in the NBA: tons of points, not enough anything else (although to his credit, his assist and rebounding percentages have improved ever so slightly in New York; he's also maintained his true shooting percentage despite an increased usage rate), and probably most importantly, a terrible playoff record.  You can then conclude that Melo is a good player who isn't capable of winning a championship without help from some other stars.  Bill, unsurprisingly, does not take this route.

I'm not trying to spout lava-hot taeks along the lines of WINNING IS ALL THAT MATTERS IN THE NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION JUST ASK MIKEL JORDAN QED.  But moreso than in the NFL, NHL or MLB, a star player needs to prove his worth by doing well in the postseason.  It's up to him to carry his team, because he can carry it, in a way that no other major sport athlete can.  Quarterbacks and goalies CAN have huge impacts, but those don't measure up to the impact an NBA star SHOULD have on nearly every playoff series in which they participate.  Sure, a goalie can steal a couple game or even a series; but no goalie, not even the best of the best, is going to be able to do that year in and year out for the entire playoff stretch.  Same for QBs.  But an NBA superstar who is capable of leading a team to a championship should almost always be "on" in the playoffs.

So how has Melo been in April and May, eleven years into his career?  Well, before looking at that, let's at least give him credit for having BEEN to the playoffs ten of eleven possible times.  And the Knicks missing the party this past season is hardly Melo's fault, after he put up 10.7 win shares and 27/8/3 while shooting 45%/40%/85%.  But that's pretty much where the compliments can stop.  Melo has gotten his teams out of the first round just twice in his ten playoff appearances--to the conference finals on a stacked Denver team in 2009, and to the second round in 2013 on a not particularly stacked Knicks team.  That's not a WINNING WINNER in my book.

Eight out of ten times, it's been one series and done for Melo's teams--and sometimes with him playing like garbage.  Most of his career averages are roughly equivalent in the regular season and in the playoffs, except for one very important one: his FG% drops from 45.5 to 41.7, and his TS% drops from 54.7 to 51.1.  Other stars--both current stars and retired stars he's often compared to, like Bernard King and Alex English--don't have this problem.  As for the good performance/bad performance divide, he was an absolute mess in the 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2011 playoffs.  Three of those were tough matchups (top seeded Timberwolves in 2004 while he was a rookie, eventual champ Spurs in 2005, and eventual conference champ Lakers in 2008), but you'd think he would have shown up for ONE of those series, rather than average 19 points while shooting well under 40% and winning just a single game in all three series combined.  Two more of those bad performances came against less tough matchups (the mediocre 2006 Clippers and aging 2011 Celtics) and he couldn't hit the ocean from the beach against either, shooting 33% and 38% respectively.  Put a different way, in ten career playoff appearances, a guy who is a sure thing to finish his career in the league's all time top 25 in points, and has a good shot at the top 10, has shown up and played well during the playoffs in just half of his career appearances.  In just those five good performances, he has won three total series (two in 2009, one in 2013) and has guided his teams to a 20-24 record.  In the GOOD performances.  In the bad performances, his teams are a combined 2-20.

I think that's more than enough prologue.  I wanted to lay that out there because I'll be referencing those numbers throughout this series of posts.  If you tl;dr'ed over those last three paragraphs, which is fine (you short attention span having cretin), all you need to know is this: Melo is an awesome scorer, but he has a shitty playoff record that does not befit his reputation as a star, and Bill thinks you can win a title if Melo is your best player, which is fucking idiotic. No, really, he thinks that.  Here:

This wasn’t one of our happier years at the “You Can Absolutely Win a Title If Carmelo Anthony Is Your Best Player” Fan Club headquarters. 

Like I said.  With just two exceptions (the 2004 Pistons and the 2011 Mavericks), in order to win a title in the past 20ish (actually 23) years, you've needed to have one of these guys on your team: Jordan, Olajuwon, Duncan, Kobe, Shaq, KG, LeBron.  If you didn't have one of those guys, your title chances were sparse.  They've been hogging all the titles since before the internet existed.  Look at the names who aren't on that list--Malone, Stockton, Ewing, Durant.  But at least each of those I just named have played for a title.  Melo hasn't even done that.  And somehow you "absolutely" can win a title with him as your best player?  Particularly now that he's on the wrong side of 30?  Go fuck yourself.

Our man missed the 2014 playoffs in the rancid Eastern Conference, 

All it took to make the playoffs in the east last season was going 38-44.  In a division where the other four teams besides the Knicks were a combined 76 games below .500, the Knicks couldn't pull that off.

then received a rude comeuppance from his new Knicks boss, Phil Jackson, who lobbied him publicly to stick around at a discount price. 

What does Phil Jackson know about putting together a winning team?  Obviously giving Melo a max extension and continuing to surround him with mediocre teammates is the fast track to titletown.

The Bulls couldn’t carve out enough cap space for him. 

Slash didn't want to.

The Lakers couldn’t offer a good enough supporting cast. 

Fortunately he'll still have Andrea Bargnani and Iman Shumpert around next year!

The Rockets never gained momentum, for whatever reason. 

Because they already have James Harden filling the "scores a lot, not great at anything else, you probably don't want him to be your best player" role, and filling it better than Anthony does in New York.

Carmelo ended up re-signing for $122 million for five years, pretending that was the plan all along … even though it wasn’t.

Based on the circumstances that brought him to NYC, i.e., he demanded a trade there because his wife told him to demand a trade there, I wouldn't be too surprised if that was the plan all along.

You know what really shocked me? Hearing Knicks fans and Lakers fans wonder whether it was a smart idea to splurge on Carmelo at all. Where are you REALLY going if he’s your best player?, they kept asking. 

The answer is in those three paragraphs at the top of the post.  You're going to the second round, if you're really lucky and everything comes together, and otherwise you're going to the golf course.

Take my friend Lewis, a lifelong Southern California guy, one of those complicated superfans who’s nutty enough to grow a beard for the entire NHL playoffs, only he’s rational enough to freak out over Kobe’s cap-crippling two-year extension, but he’s also irrational enough to still believe the Lakers could eventually sign Kevin Love AND Kevin Durant. You can always count on him for a rationally irrational reaction, if that makes sense.

It doesn't, because you're a god-fucking-awful writer who learned from another mostly god-fucking-awful writer (Klosterman) that it's useful to readers to describe people/things with contradicting terms and then just say "if that makes sense" and move on.  Sounds to me like Lewis is a non-complicated fan.  He likes his teams and is optimistic about them, but also acknowledges when they do stupid stuff.

When news broke two weekends ago that the Lakers had become serious Carmelo contenders, I couldn’t wait for Lewis’s reaction. 

We're all just as fascinated by your friends as you are, definitely.

After all, he reacted to last March’s Marian Gaborik trade as if his Kings had just acquired Gretzky again — I figured Carmelo would rank highly on the Gaborik Reaction Scale. 

Turns out, Lewis isn't a fucking dunce.

Instead, here’s the email exchange we had.


Me: Are u officially in Carmelo mode?
Lewis: God no. Hope he goes to the Knicks.

Isn't this what you want from your sportswriters, everyone?  Word for word transcriptions of completely unremarkable emails containing no original or entertaining ideas about stuff happening in the world of sports?

Wait a second … my rationally irrational Lakers buddy didn’t want Carmelo?

SURE LOOKS THAT WAY.  Holy shit, this is horrendous and we're not even halfway through my first post about it, which will probably be one of four or five by the time I'm done.

Me: You don’t mean that.
Lewis: It’s a bandaid on a broken arm. It locks them up with no flexibility for two years until Kobe goes.

Why is Lewis friends with Bill?  He's too smart for that.

He didn’t want Carmelo Anthony??? On the Lakers???


I surfed a few Lakers blogs and message boards and found similar ambivalence. Some fans wanted him, others didn’t understand the point. Many felt like the rationally irrational Lewis — they wanted the Lakers to land a top-five lottery pick (if it’s lower than that, it goes to Phoenix), wipe Nash’s expiring contract off their cap, then make a run at the Kevins (Love in 2015, Durant in 2016). 

They'd rather take that very sensible path, than sign a guy who hasn't won shit in his career, plays the same kind of game Kobe does, and is on the wrong side of 30?  Those lunatics!

That’s a smart plan, except (a) they could easily stink and STILL lose that 2015 lottery pick, 

Definitely a reason not to tank.  Like Bill always says: you never want to tank in the NBA, you always want to be mediocre.  Definitely don't do what you can to win the lottery, because it's way too risky to try that.

(b) Love will probably get traded this season (and might like his new team), 

I "love" (lol!) the spin here.  Love is a free agent after this season, which is why Laker fans are hoping their team can sign him.  Bill's counterargument: 1) Love will probably get traded this season, which has nearly fuck-all to do with his impending offseason, and 2) assuming he does get traded, which isn't a certainty, he might want to sign an extension with his new team.  GAME, SET, MATCH.  NICE TRY, DUMMIES.  YOUR PLAN HAS BEEN POTENTIALLY MAYBE RUINED.

(c) nobody knows what Durant wants to do, 

Somehow dumber than the Love analysis.

and (d) nobody knows if the post–Dr. Buss Lakers are still a destination franchise.

Yeah, who would want to go play for the Lakers anymore?  Now that they've moved to Fargo, forfeited all their championships and history, and are owned by a mill worker who is forced to pay them their salaries in grain rather than dollars, let's face facts: it's over for that so-called "franchise."

What a fucking diptard.

And it’s not like the Lakers are loaded with assets; they have Julius Randle, the promise of future cap space, the allure of Los Angeles and that’s about it. 


They’re owned by Jimmy Boy Buss. They owe Kobe $23.5 million this season and $25 million next season — nearly 40 percent of their cap — without even knowing if he can play at a high level anymore. 

Say he can't.  What's the consequence to a 2015 free agent?  You spend one season on a team that features an HOFer in his final season, and then you free up some cap room to go after more good players in the summer of 2016.  What a frightening prospect.  Clearly, signing 30 year old Carmelo is a much better idea.

The best asset on that side of Staples Center is probably Ramona Shelburne’s reporting for; she’s better than anyone on their actual team. The Lakers may have switched bodies with the Clippers two years ago and we just haven’t realized it yet.

Seems unlikely.

Knowing that, how could any Lakers fan not want one of the best scoring forwards in NBA history? 

For all the fifty reasons we've been over so far?

Why weren’t Knicks fans freaking out that they might lose their franchise player for nothing? 

Because they've watched him do a whole lot of scoring and a whole lot of nothing else in three seasons, including going 7-14 in the playoffs in the much weaker of the two conferences?

Why were so many Bulls fans (and I know three of them) 


saying things like “I’d love to get Melo, but I hate the thought of giving up Taj [Gibson] for him”?

Because Gibson is 3/4ths the player Melo is for 1/3rd the price, and the Bulls already added a scorer in Paul Gasol?

How did Carmelo Anthony, only 30 years old and still in his prime, 

We don't need to split hairs here, but at best, I would argue that he's "very late" in his prime.

become the NBA’s most underappreciated and misunderstood player?

Probably by being an incomplete player who has won three playoff series in eleven years.

The problems start here: Carmelo Anthony is definitely better than your typical All-Star, but he’s not quite a superstar. You know what that makes him? 

What direction do you think Bill is going to take this?  If you had to guess, what kind of analogy is he going to construct?

An almost-but-not-quite-superstar. He’s not Leo DiCaprio or Will Smith — he can’t open a movie by himself. He’s more like Seth Rogen or Channing Tatum — he can open the right movie by himself. There’s a big difference.

Please stop banging your head on your keyboard/tablet.  I'm just as embarrassed for Bill as you are, but we need to finish this.

Here’s something I wrote on July 8, 2010, the day that LeBron took his talents to South Beach.

I need my NBA superstar to sell tickets, generate interest locally and nationally, single-handedly guarantee an average supporting cast 45-50 wins, and potentially be the best player on a Finals team if the other pieces are in place, which means only LeBron, Wade, Howard, Durant and Kobe qualify. There’s a level just a shade below (the Almost-But-Not-Quite-Superstar) with Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Carmelo Anthony, Brandon Roy, Chris Paul and Deron Williams. (Note: I think Derrick Rose gets there next season.) Then you have elite guys like Bosh, Pau Gasol and Amar’e Stoudemire who need good teammates to help them thrive … and if they don’t have them, you’re heading to the lottery. You know what we call these people? All-Stars.

Sorry, Portland fans — I made a mistake not telling you to take a deep breath before you read that paragraph. My bad. 

Oh man, the guy who was their team's best player back then ended up getting hurt and retiring!  I bet that was really hard for them to read about!

But exactly four years later, those levels look like this.

Superstars: LeBron, Durant.

Almost-But-Not-Quite-Superstars: Blake Griffin, Dwight Howard, Anthony Davis, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Paul George.

Watch out: super hot Paul George taeks can be read here.  REALLY, HE'S MORE LIKE JEREMY RENNER THAN CHANNING TATUM.  I'M SURE WE CAN AGREE ON THAT.

All-Stars: Stephen Curry, James Harden, LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard, Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, Joakim Noah, Chris Bosh, Derrick Rose (if healthy), Rajon Rondo (if healthy), Kobe Bryant (???).

A few semi-stunned notes about that revised list. 


First, two true superstars 

Are those like True Yankees?

is the NBA’s lowest number since 1979, the season before Bird and Magic showed up. 

That bullshit list, and Bill's serious analysis of the bullshit list that he just bullshitted out, is even more bullshitty than bullshit.  Anyone who dares repeat this analysis in conversation with you ("Hey, did you know the NBA only has two True Superstars right now, its lowest number since 1979?") should be immediately kicked in the balls.

Second, Anthony Davis is our only superstar in waiting right now … well, unless you feel like bending the rules and counting Joel Embiid If He Stays Healthy or my illegitimate Australian son, Ben Simmons (a frighteningly gifted high schooler who looks likeBenji Wilson 2.0).

You like Anthony Davis.  We get it.  I hope you (the readers this time, not Bill) realize that if Davis continues to get better and becomes an All Star for years to come, which seems pretty likely at this point, Bill is going to talk about how he knew Davis would be good in every fucking column for the next decade?  So fun.  I'm really looking forward to it.  Only a basketball savant like Bill could tell that a five star recruit, turned NCAA tournament Most Outstanding Player, turned #1 overall draft pick would be a star.  Good for Bill.  Someone give him a condescending pat on the head for me.

Third, we’re in the middle of an under-30 talent boom that’s as loaded as any run since the early ’90s, and yet we dipped from 11 superstars and almost-but-not-quite-superstars in 2010 to 10 of those guys in 2014.


Six dropped out and five jumped in, not including Rose, who briefly careered into the superstar group in 2011 and 2012. 


(You also could have talked me into putting Curry, Harden and Aldridge on the Almost-But-Not-Quite-Superstar list after enough drinks.) 

But only then!  Unless you pump him full of Mike's Hard Lemonade, Bill's analysis of the True Superstar tiers remains solid and unimpeachable.

I didn’t expect that much turnover. 

Neither did anyone, because no one gives a flying donkey cunt about your list.

Four years doesn’t seem like that long of a time, right?

In the context of writing this blog and watching bad sportswriting stay bad sportswriting, let me assure you: it feels like fucking eons.

And fourth, Carmelo’s 2014 level was a tougher call than everyone else’s combined. After all, he’s made one conference finals and zero Finals. He’s never won more than 54 regular-season games or made an All-NBA first team, although he did finish third in 2013’s MVP voting (no small feat). 


He’s made only seven All-Star teams in 11 years (two fewer than Chris Bosh). Most damning, Carmelo has lost nearly twice as many playoff games as he has won: 23 wins, 44 losses. 

It's 22 wins, 44 losses.  Really not that hard to check the "GP" column on and see whether your numbers add up.

You can’t even use the whole “Look, Carmelo can drag any mediocre team to 44 wins and the playoffs!” argument anymore — not after last season.

Exactly.  Although he was very awesome last year, it wasn't even enough to MAKE the playoffs in a putrid division in a putrid conference--and you think that with the right team, that includes no one who's better than him, you're winning a title?  Keep fucking dreaming.

So what’s left? Can’t we downgrade him to All-Star and be done with it? Isn’t 11 years enough time to know — to truly, unequivocally know — whether it’s with television shows, music groups, girlfriends, quarterbacks or basketball players?

The first two: who the fuck knows, and why are we talking about them?  The third: I certainly hope so.  The fourth: eh, probably, although there is Kurt Warner.  The fifth: fucking DEFINITELY.

For me, it keeps coming back to one question: Can you win the NBA championship if Carmelo Anthony is your best player?

The short answer: Yes.

You can.

One sentence paragraphs.

No one does them quite like Bill Plaschke.

Who is a fucking moron.

Like Bill.

More later.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Counterpoint: Bill Simmons is an unprofessional dumbass who doesn't belong on TV

As promised last week, this is a post in which I directly address a Bill supporter's praise of Bill.  Is this article fruit that hangs as low as Bill's own work hangs?  Of course.  Chris Chase writes "For the Win," (I know...) a blog on USA Today's site (I know, I know...), which upon its launch was publicized as follows:

For The Win wants to take a BuzzFeed-style viral media approach to sports media. The new site, which will compete with rivals like Deadspin, will focus on finding “shareable” content that will be appealing even to people who don’t follow sports.

I KNOW.  I KNOW.  It's not like this is a graduate thesis that can only be ripped apart with careful and incisive analysis.  But the point is this: there really are hundreds of thousands (millions?) of assholes out there who think this stuff about Bill.  This guy is at least good enough at expressing such thoughts to get a job with a major media outlet (even if that outlet is America's foremost source of charts, infographs, and other news fit for consumption in the breakfast room of a Best Western).  To Chris Chase, I say this: your opinion about Bill Simmons is most definitely not FTW.  More like FTL lololol GOT HIM.

Bill Simmons is the best thing about ESPN's NBA Draft broadcast
By: Chris Chase

Judging by chatter on Twitter, this is going to be an unpopular opinion, but here goes: Bill Simmons was the best thing about ESPN’s NBA draft coverage on Thursday night. 

Obviously at this point I have no way of tracking what was said about Bill the night of the draft.  There may have been a lot of negative tweeting about him, but I'd be surprised if more than 25% of all fans serious enough about the NBA to watch the draft dislike him.  It's more of a vocal minority thing.  Or so I'd suppose.  I cannot validate this with anything but anecdotes and vague estimates of the number of people I know who like Bill as compared to the number I know who hate him.  What do you want me to do, put work into this blog?  Get fucking real.

The whole team was great, 

Sort of.

but particularly Simmons, 


whose NBA fanboy routine plays best during the league’s annual selection show.

His NBA fanboy routine, which is really a Celtics and himself fanboy routine, never plays well.  He's awful.  Compare him to his closest analogue, Sir Charlies.  (Not that they're exactly the same, but they have the same roles on their respective NBA shows: deep "real talk" color commentary.)  Now it's tough for anyone to stack up next to Barkley, who is a national treasure, but just look at their respective levels of professionalism.  Barkley is occasionally cutting and dark with his commentary, but when he is it's always well-supported with analysis that's not just self-promotion and snarky rhetorical questions.  Meanwhile, he never 1) cheerleads for teams he played for or likes or 2) says ridiculous bullshit like whine "DO I GET TO TALK NOW????" when he's not the center of attention or drag his feuds out into the spotlight which then affects whatever broadcast he's on.  Bill Simmons doesn't belong on TV any more than I do, and my voice is nearly as annoying as his.

Simmons style, which is hit-or-miss on NBA pre-game and post-game coverage, 

Simmons style, which is hit-or-miss on NBA pre-game and post-game coverage for some reason

Fixed that for you.

is perfectly suited for the draft. He gives a fresh perspective. 

Examples?  He's not ignorant about basketball.  He's also not in any way intelligent or interesting.  He doesn't have some kind of smart eye for talent (Jeff Van Gundy), or for X's and O's (Hubie Brown).  He's just a guy who likes the sport and thinks he's always right.  He should join Wilbon and Kornheiser on PTI and make it a triumvirate of insufferable know-it-all dipshits.  Of course, we know what Wilbon thinks about BLOGGERS who write BLOGS.  But you get my point.

He’s passionate. 

Sure.  That doesn't make for especially good TV, though.

He loves the NBA and it comes across on the telecast, which is harder than it sounds. 

I don't need my commentators to love the sports they're talking about.  I just need them to not be bored, by which I mean I need them to not sound like Joe Buck.  Past that "love for the game" threshold, intelligence and insight are about a million times more important than passion.

And, above all, he’s able to convey the importance of picking players for the future while still acknowledging that it’s mostly a crapshoot.

Yeah, that's such a crazy, abstract concept.  Most fans have no idea that that's how the draft works.  Good thing future Bucks GM and Official Vertical Integration Machine of ESPN/ABC/Disney Bill Simmons is here to explain it to us.  Jesus Christ.  That sentence might as well say "I really like Bill Simmons, so let me pat him on the back for knowing what the draft is and how professional sports generally work."

Other than some new bells and whistles, draft coverage hasn’t changed much in 20 years. The first round goes something like this: pick, analysis of the pick, highlight reel, interview (if the player is there), more discussion, commercial, preview of upcoming pick, repeat 32 times. Simmons brings something new. He gives real opinions that don’t feel sanitized for mass consumption.

Yeah, Bill's great at #realtalk.  Remember all that wacky, subversive, off-the-wall analysis he provided in his most notable analytical moment so far?  Who could forget #strongtaeks like "WHOA!" and "I need medical attention!"

One moment summed up all of that. When the Boston Celtics, Simmons’ favorite team, drafted James Young, the cameras caught him doing this.

Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 10.19.32 AM
What a punchable face.  I mean, he's always got a punchable face, but that's an excellent screen cap.  That's his face at its MOST punchable.  Quite a sight.  Also, I'm glad fist pumping now counts as a "real opinion[]" that "[doesn't] feel sanitized for mass consumption."  WATCH OUT AMERICA.  HERE COMES THE JOHNNY ROTTEN OF BASKETBALL ANALYSIS.

A certain segment of the Internet hated it. They called Simmons a biased homer without any professionalism. 

And they were completely right!

Okay, let’s say that’s true. 

It is.

So what?

It makes for shitty TV.  Every fan serious enough about the NBA to watch the draft has a favorite team.  Everyone will have an opinion about what their favorite team did during the draft.  Who gives a flying cunt about this guy's opinion about his team?  How is it any different than what House-O, who was sitting next to you at the bar, had to say about what just happened?  Just because this guy was born on third base, and then caught lightning in a bottle at the onset of the sports blogosphere, it's supposed to be entertaining to see him being excited for his team while wearing a suit and sitting with actual professional sports analysts?  Go fuck yourself.

Give me an actual opinion from someone with a known bias rather than phony opinions from someone with a hidden bias. 

What hidden biases do most commentators have?  The fuck are you talking about?  This is not politics, where you have to be very careful to understand the backgrounds/motivations of the talking heads on TV.  This is sports.  I promise you, Jalen Rose and Doug Collins are not coloring their analysis with carefully chosen positive or negative buzzwords for guys that were drafted by teams they like/dislike.  It's not hard to remain unbiased as a sports commentator.  Sports are fun.  Maybe Jalen hates the Bulls for the way they traded him to Toronto.  You think that's going to affect what he says about a guy the Bulls drafted?  Again, go fuck yourself.

There are conflicts of interest often in sports broadcasting, not just on ESPN. You think Jon Gruden doesn’t pull punches on Monday Night Football so as not to insult a team he might be criticizing? 

You fucking IDIOT.  Have you ever watched a Gruden MNF broadcast?  GRUDEN ADORES EVERY SINGLE PLAYER AND TEAM IN THE LEAGUE!  He won't shut the fuck up about how great everyone is.  He can make Blaine Gabbert sound like Joe Montana.  And this isn't some secret, hidden talent that Gruden spent years honing.  It comes naturally to him, because he's not a dipshit.  Bill IS a dipshit.  That's the whole problem here.  Jesus Christ.  Of ALL the examples you could have chosen to try to prop up your shitty argument that commentators have biases that cause them to "pull punches" or whatever, none of which would be good examples because basically no national commentator does that, you chose the worst possible one.

Or that recently retired players are easier on former teammates because they’re buddies? 

First of all, that doesn't apply during the draft.  Second of all, when it does apply (like if the ESPN Sunday Countdown crew is discussing the Ravens with Ray Lewis on the set or something), nearly always the other analysts will go out of their way to make the situation as unawkward as possible by not forcing the recently retired guy to give an opinion, or by prefacing whatever he's about to say with "Now I know you have some friends on the team."  And even after all that happens, you know what?  Often, the player will give a pretty reasonable and insightful opinion (as much as you can have insightful opinions on telecasts like NFL pregame shows, which is not at all) on the team/player in question.  It's just not that hard to do.  Bill Simmons is not a shining beacon of objectivity in a sea of bullshit.  TV sports analysis is actually pretty much a sea of bullshit, but Simmons isn't just a part of it.  He makes it worse by not even managing to act like an adult on set.  Fuck him and fuck his fans.

Simmons made his career partially built on his ability to be a fan whose passion was relatable.

That was pretty novel in 1998.  It's not novel anymore, and he's gone from a self-deprecating "aw shucks, Boston sports break my heart all the time" guy to a pompous, self-obsessed twat.  Let's stop giving him credit for the original Boston Sports Guy shit he wrote during the Clinton administration.

Simmons loving Larry Bird hardly measures up to that. 

Actually, I'm glad you brought up that point to undermine your own point, because you know what?  Simmons and his love for Bird absolutely DO measure up to the idea (again, not applicable during the NBA draft) that maybe sometimes Bill Cowher goes easy on the Steelers or whatever.

This is sports. People are supposed to be biased homers. As long as you wear that opinion proudly, who’s it harming? 

Here's a better question: who's it helping?  Who's enjoying it, other than unoriginal waterheads who think Simmons is fantastic?

Wouldn’t you rather hear that diehard Celtics fan Bill Simmons like the James Young pick rather than the usual bland analysis about how James Young could possibly fit into Brad Stevens’ system? 

Not at all!  Not even a little bit!

That fist pump told you more about the Young pick than any commentary could. 

Holy shit.

It doesn’t mean Simmons is right, but at least we know where he actually stands and can form our own opinion based on that. 

No we can't.  No we fucking can't.  We can't form shit based on that, unless for some reason we're dumb enough to think Bill has a better grasp on NBA prospects than actual analysts like Chad Ford.  Who gives a bloody, runny shit about what Bill Simmons thinks?  Again, I mean, other than his fanboys.

Sometimes that may lead to arguments with Doc Rivers, like on last year’s telecast. Again, isn’t that more interesting than the alternative?

That was better than if Simmons gladhanded Rivers, I suppose, but read the Bleacher Report article I linked above--the way Simmons beat up on Rivers for years, and more or less baited him with a series of tweets prior to the draft, was pathetic.  It was more car-crash-can't-look-away interesting than oh-cool-something-real-and-fun interesting.

There are problems, of course. His rants can quickly devolve into whininess, he interrupts way too much and you always get the sense he doesn’t know as much about the college players as he lets on. 

Haha, no way, don't be silly!  You sound like someone who has maybe actually paid attention to stuff Bill has been saying throughout his career and have thus reached the inevitable conclusion that he shouldn't be paid for his opinions or analysis, much less be paid to talk about them on TV.

The last part isn’t his fault. 


Simmons was paying attention to the NBA from October to June. That’s his job. 

Yeah!  Who has time to, like, KNOW stuff about college basketball when they're busy doing a few hours of TV and a couple podcasts a week?  HE'S NOT SUPERMAN, PEOPLE!!! WHAT DO YOU WANT OUT OF HIM???  Well, for one, I'd rather he didn't just make shit up.  But I suppose that's asking a lot from the guy who has successfully completed over 1,000 WHO SAYS NO? trades on the ESPN Trade Machine (TM)(Patent pending).

Even if he locked himself in a room and watched game tape for the 11 days in between the end of the NBA Finals and the start of the NBA draft, he wouldn’t know nearly enough about the draftees. 

Actually, that's not true.  If he did that for 11 days straight, he'd definitely know enough about them to not sound like a diptard on TV.  HOWEVA: there is a prerequisite to that hypothetical coming to pass.  In order for any of this to happen, he'd have to be capable of gleaning knowledge about players by watching tape, something I'm 100% sure he is not able to do.  So this is all ifs and buts and candies and nuts.

But that’s why Jay Bilas is on the set.

Jay Bilas is on the set to know things.  Bill is on the set to pump his fist for the Celtics and pretend to know things.  I wonder which one of them has a higher salary?

Speaking of Bilas, he’s part of a team that helps Simmons thrive. 

I'm so, so, so sorry Jay.  Years and years of hard work, pounding pavement, attending hundreds of NCAA games--all so you could one day serve as Bill's caddy.  Holy dog balls, that's depressing.

You can’t have a bunch of me-first guys on the floor, 

You really shouldn't have ANY me-first guys on the floor.  This is why Shaq doesn't quite fit with Ernie, Kenny and Charles.  Shaq still needs that attention.  The other three don't (nor does Chris Webber for that matter).

so it helps that the always-underrated Rece Davis is there to keep Simmons in check. 

I like Rece Davis.  This blog is often so virulently negative that I felt like throwing that it, with no caveats.  Rece Davis is damn good at his job.  There, I said it.

Bilas is great too; he shows you can combine perspective, a sense of humor and keen knowledge of players. 

Three things Simmons doesn't have!

Jalen Rose is the weak link on the panel. He’s still trying to find his schtick, but he has a good rapport with Simmons and doesn’t immediately make you want to change the channel like half of ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown crew.

NFL Sunday Countdown is terrible.  Rose is pretty OK.  Simmons is terrible.

Richard Deistch of Sports Illustrated says the NBA Countdown team is in flux for next year. Here’s hoping Simmons stays around and continues to breathe some life into a format that desperately needs it.

I'd rather watch the WNBA draft than watch another NBA draft with Simmons on the set.  He sucks.  In conclusion, Chris Chase is a dummy.

Monday, July 14, 2014

It's Home Run Derby night

That means it's time to link to this again.  Never forget, people.  Never forget.

Monday, July 7, 2014

I hope you remember game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals (part 4 of 4)

Jesus, I really took my sweet time with this, huh?  Sorry about that.  Now that the good, fun, hey let's go do something outside because it's nice out part of summer is over, and all that's left is the long, slow, hot march of death towards fall, I will be posting more regularly.  More Simmons-related garbage this week, but not from Simmons himself.  You know how I always point out that most people who defend Simmons are asstards, but I rarely use actual examples to demonstrate said asstardery?  Well, I've got a great example from a mainstream publication.  But first--Bill got a cold.  Then he had to go to work, even though he had a cold.  Then Ray Allen took a shot that Bill doesn't remember, but knew was going in, which he remembers perfectly.  Let's finish up this dumpster fire and put a bow on it.

When the Spurs made the 2014 Finals last weekend, Popovich couldn’t hide his appreciation for his players, marveling at their ability to bury such a catastrophic defeat. 

I agree that that must have been brutal, and it takes guts to get back to the top right afterwards--see: the 2012 and 2013 playoff performances of the Texas Rangers, after their 2011 nightmare World Series finish.

Most franchises would have been broken by Game 6. 

OK, and of course Bill has to take that sentiment eight steps too far.  "Broken" is hardly the right way to describe it.  How about "staggered, and in need of more than one season to get back to winning championships."  Christ, what's the last franchise in any sport to suffer a heartbreaking postseason defeat and then totally disappear for an extended period of time?  The only sortakinda examples I can think of are team that were full of old players making one last run at a championship, like the Blazers after the 2000 Western Conference Finals.  Bill of all people should remember the FACKIN' HAHHHHHT AND FACKIN' GRIT the GREATRIOTS showed by remaining awesome after Super Bowls XLII and XLVI.  They got beaten on the last drive of the Super Bowl by Eli Manning TWICE and they're still ticking.  If they can overcome that, the Spurs can overcome 2013.

Pop’s team just moved forward. He mentioned being delighted that they didn’t have a “pity party” for themselves. Only Pop would come up with that one.  Pity party. 

Only a true moron would have never heard that figure of speech, or have heard it, but find its application in that situation novel.  True moron.

Meanwhile, Miami needs four victories to become a team for all time. You’d have to go back to 1987 — the rubber match of the Bird-Magic Finals trilogy — for an NBA Finals with more at stake historically for both sides.


Also, try again, dummy: how about Bulls/Jazz in 1998?  You think Jordan wanted to go out with his only Finals loss ever?  There was a labor stoppage looming and uncertainty the next season would happen--you think 35 year old Malone and 36 year old Stockton wanted to lose in back to back Finals, when this was probably their last chance to win a title (as the best players on their team, anyways; obviously both played for several more years and Malone almost got a ring in 2004 with the Lakers; but neither of them ever again got past the conference semis as members of the Jazz)?

The Spurs are favored, barely, thanks to their home-court advantage and a season spent mastering small ball. With Marco Belinelli and a rejuvenated Ginobili, the Spurs are deeper and craftier than ever. And a now-healthy Leonard has blossomed into a fantastic two-way player and a worthy foil for LeBron. The 2014 Spurs are definitely better than the 2013 Spurs. Also helping: The 2014 Heat are slightly worse than last year’s team — Wade isn’t the same anymore, their role players have been increasingly unreliable, and there’s a decent chance that the Eastern Conference was more dreadful than we thought. If you’re picking Miami this series, it’s because of LeBron and LeBron only. He’s at the peak of his powers. That’s an excellent reason, by the way.

Shockingly cogent analysis from the Guy Fieri of sportswriting.  LeBron couldn't carry the Heat (AND HE ALSO COULDN'T HANDLE THE LITERAL HEAT IN THE AT&T CENTER IN GAME ONE BECAUSE HE IS A PUSSY LOLOLOLOLOLOL) and the Spurs walked away with the title thanks to depth.

But there’s a karmic element that normal NBA Finals just don’t have. 

You have no idea what "karmic" means.  Please stick to words you understand or are willing to look up.

San Antonio seeking revenge against the dastardly Heat team that stole their title? San Antonio earning a second chance after failing only because of a mind-blowing series of events? 

Those two are the exact same fucking thing.  If you're going to make an over the top, sweeping pronouncement about the IMPORTANCE of a series, have at least two different examples ready to be used to support your point.

If you played the last 28.2 seconds 100 times, San Antonio would probably win 99 of them. So, why? Why was that the 100th time? 

Let me answer that for you: because shit happens.  This has nothing to do with "karma."

Why did that have to happen to Duncan, of all people?

Yeah, the poor guy who only had four rings at the time!  What's he got to do to catch a break????

You might remember that sadness drifting into the final minute of Game 7, right after Duncan missed what would have been a game-tying bunny over Shane Battier that he’s probably made 24,326 times in his life. Duncan jogged back downcourt in abject disbelief, like someone staggering away from an accident. 

Yeah, kind of how that asshole looks every time he gets called for a foul.  Don't get me wrong, I like him overall and am happy I got to watch his career (DISCLAIMER: LARRY B APPRECIATES THE SPURS!  PLEASE DO NOT TRY TO TELL HIM THAT HE IS AMONG THE ALLEGED MILLIONS OF PEOPLE WHO ALLEGEDLY DON'T APPRECIATE THE SPURS), but he can go fuck himself with this bullshit right here, which he has probably done 24,326 times in his life.

Miami called timeout and Duncan sank into a despondent crouch, remaining that way for a couple of seconds, finally slapping the floor with two open hands.

If only Bill had done that on TV after the 2014 lottery order was revealed.

Everyone in the arena could read Duncan’s mind. How did we blow this? How? How did that happen? The great Tim Duncan thought he had squandered his last chance.

The game was played in Miami.  No one was looking at Duncan.  They probably weren't looking at LeBron or Wade, either.  They were all going apeshit because their team was about to win a championship.

And here’s how fast things can flip. Back in October 2003, the Red Sox choked away Game 7 in Yankee Stadium, 


/Larry B inhales

Sorry about that.  I was going to just cut off the last couple of paragraphs and leave it there, since what remains is so absurdly stupid and navel-gaze-y, but I'll let him finish.  We've come this far and taken this long.

one of the most demoralizing defeats in franchise history. 


It felt like something of a final straw for Boston fans. We’d be thinking about Grady Little’s mistake and Aaron Boone’s homer forever. The Baseball Gods hated us. It was official. We would live our entire lives, then croak, without ever seeing them win the whole thing. Twelve months later, we won the whole thing. Ten years later, the Boone Game doesn’t matter anymore. I never think about it.

Unless I need to portray myself as the survivor of a horrible sports tragedy to my readers, then I'm happy to tell you all about it!

If the Spurs beat Miami, Allen’s 3 stops haunting them — and if that’s not enough, we’ll remember San Antonio as the greatest franchise of the post-Jordan era. 

Very subtle Laker fan trolling.   Spurs since 1999: six Finals appearances, five titles, one mainstay HOF player with a brief appearance by another (Robinson), one all time great coach.  Lakers since 1999: seven Finals appearances, five titles, one mainstay HOF player with part time help from another, one all time great coach.  Conclusion: FACK THE LAKAHHHHHS!

If the Heat prevail, they move into a different category historically: four straight Finals, three straight titles, one of the best teams ever. Those are the stakes. The rematch kicks off Thursday night. Miami and San Antonio, the sequel. You gotta love sports.

I know I always point this out, but it's great how similar he is to Reilly and Easterbrook, two guys he did not/does not get along with.  "You gotta love sports."  Definitely a column-ending sentence from a skilled sportswriter who is not at all in desperate need of an editor.

Bill Simmons sucks butts.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Periodically I have to link to Deadspin for doing something awesome. This is one of those times

The World Wide Leader in sports, everyone.

Edit made ten minutes after the original post: just to be clear about something that shouldn't need clarification, this isn't just a story about ESPN being shitty.  It's also a story about Salisbury and Mariotti being total fuckfaces.  My original comment above was not intended to make it sound like I was sparing them from criticism.  But you probably knew that.