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.



This article makes Simmons out to be essentially what Gary Payton was on TNT: an uninformed shit talker who genuinely enlivened the proceedings. I don't buy the notion that Simmons should be written off because he's no longer an outsider, but it shocks me that anyone in 2014 would try to portray him as some kind of iconoclast.

Rece said...

Derpsauce is an angry guy who writes here? Since when? I don't remember voting him in.

Anon said...

Raise the FJM signal! Bill Simmons AND Chuck Klosterman was included in a Wiggins for Love roundtable and the results were about as you'd expect. Die Chuck die!!!

Moroni said...

Amen, anon. Klosterman is offensively dumb. Why would Lebron need to carry a team of rookies and pitiful veterans to prove he's the best player alive? That's like asking Tom Cruise to carry a movie filled with Anniston, Alba, and Ryan Renalds. He looks like an athlete until you realize he's 5'7".

Also, the top comment on that article was accurate. I skimmed it to hopefully see Zach Lowe's analysis and left dissatisfied. I didn't bother with it after that.

Anonymous said...

Moroni I am hoping that Tom Cruise comp was a subtle dig at Simmons and his superior knowledge of hollywood -- like this gem, sure to be tackled soon by this blog, from his Carmelo piece recently:

"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? 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."

Carmelo Anthony is NAWT a movie stah!

NBAFanAddict said...

What does it say about me that I enjoy Simmons articles, am an avid reader of Grantland, yet also regularly come to this blog and enjoy reading articles like this on Simmons? Does that make me insane?Yeah, I'm gonna go with insane...

(P.s. You make some really good points on here)

jacktotherack said...

"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? 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."

When I read shit like this and realize how much $$ Simmons gets paid I want to fucking puke.

Anon said...

He's not a good writer but he knows what the people want. He's not Steven Spielberg or Martin Scorcese - he's never winning Best Director. He's more like Michael Bay or, well, Michael Bay - he can pander to dipshit fanboys and make a ton of money while doing it. There's a big difference.