Showing posts with label die in a fire. Show all posts
Showing posts with label die in a fire. Show all posts

Monday, August 18, 2014

I'm sorry I've said many times that Bill knows the NBA, I was completely wrong (part 3)


I blacked out for a minute there.  What happened?  Did I miss anything?  Better get back to it, because this is one of Bill's worst articles since Grantland started.

So could Carmelo morph into 2011 Dirk if you gave him the right situation? We don’t know because he’s never been in the right situation

Emphasis Bill's.  Holy shit, this man has the logical powers of a goldfish.  Having done an absolutely piss poor job of convincing anyone with a brain that the 2011 Mavericks had a way better supporting cast than the 2009 Nuggets, and conveniently ignoring Melo's many many playoff failures, he is doubling down.  Why wouldn't he?  He gets six emails a day from people in Wisconsin who want him to GM their team!

Why do you think his agents frantically tried to shoehorn him into Chicago’s cap these last few weeks? 

Because people in New York are starting to realize he's a ball stopping shoot first do nothing else later volume scorer, and you're not going to sniff a championship while he's your best player?

The money couldn’t work unless the Knicks agreed to a sign-and-trade with Carlos Boozer’s expiring deal (no thanks!) and some future picks (thanks anyway!). As a last gasp, they used the Lakers as negotiating leverage (you better sign-and-trade Melo to Chicago or you’ll lose him for nothing!), only Jackson smartly sniffed it out. That left Carmelo with three choices:

THREE AND ONLY THREE CHOICES.  IF YOU THINK THERE WERE TWO OR FOUR YOU PROBABLY KEEP PLAYING BLACKJACK WHEN THE TABLE IS HOT AND THEN THE STUPID PIT BOSS CALLS IN A SCARY ASIAN DEALER.

Choice No. 1: Grab $122 million over five years from New York, play with another inferior team, miss the Finals for his 12th straight season, 

Excellent framing there--Bill may be auditioning to be Melo's agent/spokesman.  Miss the Finals for the 12th straight season?  Oh, that's a given.  The real question is if he'll miss the second round for the tenth time in twelve seasons, or if he'll miss the playoffs in a pathetically terrible conference for the second straight season?

and pin the rest of his prime — which he’s never getting back, by the way — 

Wait, you're telling me there's no way to reverse the aging process?  How smugly witty of you.  

on Jackson’s promise that “We’ll Have Gobs of Cap Space in the Summer of 2015!!!”

Which they will.  And they probably won't be able to spend it on anyone better than Rajon Rondo or Al Jefferson.  But still.

Choice No. 2: Grab $97 million over four years from the Lakers, become the new face of the second-greatest NBA franchise ever, 

FACK YOU LAWS ANGELUS!  WE AHHHHHH BETTAH!  THIS IS AN IMPORTANT DEBATE IF YOU ARE 9 YEARS OLD AND LIKE ONE OF THESE TEAMS, OR NAMED BILL SIMMONS!  6 FOR 24!

move to Southern California, dabble in the whole Hollywood thing (yes, his wife is an actress), 

"Actress."  Not the most robust resume.

pick his own head coach, convince Pau Gasol to re-sign there, 

ANTHONY WOULD HAVE MADE ALL THE DIFFERENCE!  KOBE WASN'T ABLE TO DO IT, BUT GASOL DEFINITELY WOULD HAVE WANTED TO STAY AND PLAY FOR A TEAM FEATURING TWO BALL STOPPING SHOOT FIRST GUYS INSTEAD OF JUST ONE!

hope Kobe spent the summer training with Barry Bonds, Lance Armstrong and A-Rod, 

Nice setup here.  If Kobe is bad in 2014-15, HAW HAW FACK YOU KOBE.  If he's good, AWBVIOUSLY STAHHHHROIDS!  BOOOOO!

hope they can flip Nash’s expiring contract into one more asset, make some noise next spring and hope the Kevins join him in 2015 and 2016. That’s a lot of hoping, by the way.

Just like the Knicks are doing a lot of hoping that they can build a championship team around Melo.

Choice No. 3: Sign a four-year deal in Chicago for less money (starting around $14-15 million), become the crunch-time guy for an absolutely loaded Bulls team, and answer every question anyone ever asked about him.

Except for the one about whether he can win a title on his own, which is still asked by dunces like Bill Simmons.  However, I do agree with what Bill is about to say--it would have been fun to have Melo go to Chicago, have Rose get hurt again, then watch the Bulls limp to the 8th seed as Melo scores 27 a game on 25 FG attempts.

I wanted him to sign with Chicago for less money — a wildly unrealistic outcome that was never going to happen. 


Even typing the sentence “For God’s sake, Carmelo, you’ve made over $135 million in salary already, not counting endorsements and whatever this next deal pays you, so it’s not like you’re a candidate for Broke II — 

Awesome reference!  If you're a fucking loser who thinks bad movies are good!

why wasn’t it worth giving up some dough to play for the right team???” looks dumb and naive. I don’t blame him for grabbing the money. He can always force a trade if he’s not happy, right?

Oh, indeed he can.  Indeed he can.  He can do it if his wife is unhappy too.

At the same time, I wanted to know once and for all. I wanted to know how good Carmelo Anthony is. Because, right now, I believe the following things:
1. He’s one of the best natural scorers I’ve ever seen.

And Bill has seen every natural scorer who's ever played for the Celtics!

2. He’s one of the NBA’s eight or nine best players and has been for some time.

LeBron Durant Davis Aldridge Dirk Westbrook Cousins Noah Griffin Curry.  Nope.

3. He could win you a title on his version of the 2011 Mavs.

Good try.

Again, those are just opinions. But what am I about to present to you? All facts.

You only have to wait until fact #1 to find something that's not a fact.

1. His best team ever was the 2009 Nuggets. (Covered above.)

Perhaps true, but I like that this college-educated man does not know what a fact is.  Anyways, I'll stop splitting hairs on this since most of the rest of these are also not actual facts.  What's important is that the 2009 Nuggets minus Melo are more or less equal to the 2011 Mavs without Dirk, and meanwhile, let's not forget that the 2010 Nuggets were essentially the same team as the 2009 Nuggets, and that 2010 version didn't get out of the first round.

2. His best teammates ever: Chauncey Billups (post-Detroit version), Allen Iverson (post-Philly version), Andre Miller, Marcus Camby, Amar’e Stoudemire (post-Phoenix version, right as his knees were going), Tyson Chandler (post-Dallas version), Kenyon Martin (post-Nets version), Nene (never an All-Star — not once) and the one and only J.R. Smith.

Love the recognition for Camby here (assuming these are in order), who was always underrated.  Anyways, this is true, so good for Bill.  Doesn't change Melo's career long string of playoff failures, or his inexcusable failure to get the Knicks into the playoffs last season.

3. He never played with anyone who made an All-NBA team except for Billups (third team, 2009), Chandler (third team, 2012) and Amar’e (second team, 2011).

Hey look!  A fact fact!

4. He had only four teammates make an All-Star Game: Iverson (2007, 2008), Billups (2009, 2010), Amar’e (2011) and Chandler (2013).

Wow!

5. He had five head coaches in 11 years: Jeff Bzdelik (never coached again), Michael Cooper (became a WNBA coach), George Karl (coached 1,887 games, only won two Finals games), 

HAHAHAHAHAHA.  Go fuck yourself, you fucking asshole.  

Mike D’Antoni (sadly, he coached again) and Mike Woodson (now a career assistant). Meanwhile, Dirk had three coaches in 15 years: Don Nelson (Hall of Famer), Avery Johnson (made a Finals and also won 67 games in a season) 

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.  Yes, that was all Avery!  Definitely not him inheriting a loaded team at just the right time!  That's why he's currently very very available to any NBA team that wants to hire him.

and Rick Carlisle (future Hall of Famer).

If Carlisle is a HOFer, so is Karl.  We covered this already.  But let me reiterate, just to be crystal clear: for saying George Karl "coached 1,887 games, only won two Finals games," he can go die in a fire.

6. Dirk has spent his entire career with the same owner — the lovable and influential Mark Cuban, who didn’t always make the right moves, but built a state-of-the-art organization and spent as much money as anyone. Carmelo spent seven years in Denver enduring multiple front-office power struggles, 

Source?  Citation?  Where is one of those cheeky little Grantland footnotes when you really need one?  The reason there isn't one here (I usually delete them, btw, but I didn't do that here) is because this is patently false.  But don't let facts get in the way of your narrative, asshole.  Full speed ahead.

then had multiple Knicks GMs in four years (not counting CAA’s brief takeover last season). Oh, and he had James Dolan calling the shots.

And he had the chance to get away from Dolan... and didn't take it.  

(The real irony here: Carmelo had only one truly competent front-office mind in 11 years. Who was it? Masai Ujiri … who traded Carmelo to New York in 2011 once Carmelo made it clear he was signing there anyway. Carmelo = not blameless. By any means.)

That's not irony.  Ujiri trading him to New York and him now playing in New York because he wanted to be traded there so he could play there is... pretty unironic.

7. He suffered bad luck two different times — when an already loaded Pistons team unbelievably picked Darko over him in 2003, 

Yeah, had he played on that 2003-2004 Pistons team that knocked off the Lakers in the Finals, the question would finally have been answered: can you win an NBA title if Carmelo Anthony is your 8th man, playing 12 minutes a game?

Yes.

Yes you can.

and when his agent didn’t follow LeBron’s and Wade’s lead by putting a three-year out into Melo’s first contract extension (with Denver). 

That's because Melo signed his extension almost a week before LeBron and Wade did, you fucking fuckhole.  Try doing some fucking research you horsefucker.

In the summer of 2010, Melo could have stolen Bosh’s spot in Miami or jumped to the up-and-coming Bulls, only he couldn’t get out of his deal for another year. Those were his two best chances to find a true contender. 0-for-2.

One inconsequential to the current argument, the other never actually existed.

8. Here’s how much Carmelo’s teams have relied on him since 2003 — right now, he owns the fifth-highest career usage rate ever (31.7 percent), 

Chicken/egg--yes, his teams have relied on him, and yes, he's a ball stopper who loves to take long twos and other ill-advised shots.

trailing only Jordan (33.2 percent), Wade (31.9 percent), Iverson (31.8 percent) and Kobe (31.8 percent). In the playoffs, he has the fourth-highest career usage rate ever (32.6 percent), trailing only Jordan (35.6 percent), Iverson 34.3 percent and T-Mac (33.5 percent). 

And nearly a .350 winning percentage!

On the other hand, he has played with only two 20-point scorers (Iverson in 2007 and 2008, Amar’e in 2011) and three guys who averaged more than 15 points (Billups in 2009 and 2010, Amar’e in 2012, and J.R. in 2013). I mean, didn’t someone have to shoot?

You know nothing about basketball.  Fucking... nothing.

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), 

Sure.

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). 

Indeed.  

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.

Again, in all caps … THAT’S THE MOST TALENTED PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL TEAM THAT CARMELO ANTHONY EVER PLAYED ON.

GOOD JOB PUTTING YOUR COMPLETELY UNINFORMED OPINION IN ALL CAPS, TO MAKE IT THAT MUCH DUMBER!  BLOW IT OUT YOUR ASS!  BLOW IT OUT YOUR ASS!  YOU FUCKING NIMROD!  YOU ARE TRULY A GODDAMN IDIOT!

More later.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

I hope you remember game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals (part 3)


The 2014 Finals ended like two weeks ago.  Probably time for me to finish this article up.  God, it's so horrible.  I'm not even enjoying picking it apart.  This is the thankless job of a blogger.

I knew that shot was going in.

I already did this last post, but let me translate for Bill: because the shot went in, he wants you to think that he knew it was going in, even though he had no more idea than anyone else watching that game.

I would have wagered anything. Even with a 102-degree temperature, even with dried contacts, even with a lump of phlegm wedged in my throat, even with everything feeling vaguely white and hazy — 

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

the same way you feel right before you die, I’m guessing — 

Holy Jesus, you had a head cold.  Get over yourself.  You're an embarrassment.  NO ONE HAS SUFFAHED LIKE I HAVE SUFFAHED!  I WAS DRINKING COUGH SYRUP FROM THE BOTTLE, PEOPLE!

I saw the future once Ray started moving backward. I had watched him nail those shots too many times. Nobody had been better in those moments. Nobody. I remember yelping when the shot went through. I remember the fans losing their minds. I remember thinking, There’s no way he didn’t step on a line; it’s impossible, even for Ray, there’s just no way.

This is melodramatic writing, and the person who wrote it should be either heavily edited or fired.

They started reviewing the play. We whirled around and studied replays on our undersized monitor. Unbelievable. Never touched either line. You could compare it to only one other NBA shot: Kareem’s walk-off sky hook in Game 6 of the 1974 Finals, which saved Milwaukee at the buzzer in double overtime. If Kareem missed it, Boston took the title. If he made it, Milwaukee hosted Game 7. He made it. One problem: The Celtics flew to Milwaukee and won the title there, anyway.

How surprising!  I am truly shocked that this column about how the 2013 Heat beat the 2013 Spurs has turned into a reminder of a Celtics title from decades earlier.  Never saw it coming, not even when we were reminded that even though Allen plays for the Heat, Bill knows more about him than any of us dumb readers, because only Bill studied Allen's every move while he was in Boston.

This time around, Ray Allen saved Miami’s season and swung the title. 

Take that, Kareem!  Loser!

There’s never been a greater NBA shot. 

I hate Robert Horry (and the Lakers) and the legend surrounding him, but he's hit several shots as great as that one, with similar degree of difficulty.  Speaking of the Lakers, Derek Fisher hit a huge shot that had such an insane degree of difficulty that it contributed to the NBA changing the rules about whether such shots were physically possible in the amount of time Fisher had.  That's pretty cool.  

God I hate the Lakers.

With all due respect to Jordan’s iconic jumper against the ’98 Jazz, Allen’s shot had similar clutchness, bigger stakes and a higher degree of difficulty. If you or I caught that pass as we were backpedaling, then launched a desperation 3 with someone running at us, we’d screw up every time. Only a few players could dream of making that shot with that footwork — Kobe, Durant, Bird, T-Mac, Reggie Miller, maybe Jamal Crawford with lower stakes — but the moment itself made it a different animal. You wouldn’t want anyone else shooting that shot other than Ray Allen. His whole career led to those three seconds. It really did.

Shut the fuck up.  Really, that's what I could write as a consistent response throughout this whole mess of an article.

I love so many things about the NBA, but over everything else, it’s those moments when you know you’re seeing something special — something that will get replayed forever, something that lets you say, “Yeah, I was there,” 

On the ESPN set!  Next to Jalen Rose!  More quasi-semi-Peter King-ian unsubtle bragging.

and someone else turns into Will Hunting and screams, “Really? You were there? YOU WERE FUCKING THERE?” 

These moments happen in literally every professional sport.

I was there for Gar Heard’s miracle heave in Boston, Bird’s steal from Isiah and Magic’s baby sky hook over McHale and Parish. Now, I was there for Ray’s 3. That’s four all-timers. 

All for Boston!  Or basically for Boston!  When Allen hit that shot, he was really doing it for Big Papi Nation!

Only Ray’s moment remains hazy. 

You just spent four paragraphs talking about how well you remember it.

Everything was white and blurry, and then, there was Ray, and everything got clear for a second. Yeah, I was there.

Super compelling writing.

And here’s what happens when you’re there: You’re crammed around a basketball court watching these physical freaks bring out the best in each other, and occasionally, something unbelievable happens, and it creates this sound that can’t even really be described. It’s the single best sound, actually. 

This isn't at all repetitive.  Say what you will about Simmons, and I always do, but man--I'll never accuse him of using too few words.

When Bird dueled Dominique in 1988, Game 7, we made that sound for most of the fourth quarter. We knew something magical was happening. 

FACK YOU!  WE AHHHHHHH SPECIAL!

You attend hundreds and hundreds of games waiting for that sound to happen. In Game 6, it happened. Ray’s 3 swung the title and preserved a small chunk of LeBron’s legacy. It shattered a magnificent San Antonio team and kept Miami’s three-peat alive. 

OK.  We got it.  Thanks.  Move on.

And it guaranteed that Ray Allen would make the Hall of Fame on the first ballot.

He was already going to make the HOF on the first ballot (he's 26th all time in scoring, just behind Ewing and Duncan--he just passed Barkley and Iverson--The More You Know), but actually, that's a non-shitty argument.  There are probably a handful of dumb voters who were won over by that shot.

You know what happened next. 

YOU'D REMEMBER IT IF YOU WERE THERE!  I WAS THERE!  I REMEMBER ALL OF IT!  IT'S SUPER FUZZY AND HAZY, EXCEPT ALL THE PARTS I REMEMBER!  I DON'T REMEMBER ANYTHING!

Parker missed San Antonio’s last shot in regulation, with a little help from a barely perceptible shove by LeBron. Miami prevailed in overtime, escaping after Bosh swallowed up Danny Green’s last-second 3 attempt. Our studio show popped on TV after midnight. Wilbon went first, then Magic, then Jalen, then me. I declared that no NBA team had ever come closer to winning a title without actually winning a title, which I hoped was true. (It was.) We bantered for a few minutes, then returned a few minutes later and did it again. We filmed a couple more segments, then we were done. The whole thing wasn’t nearly as fulfilling as I expected. In retrospect, I would have rather written about it.

TV is NAWT glamorous!  I have an insider's perspective!  You like hearing me tell you about it!  Jalen and I are best friends!  

I'd rather read a description of what it's like to watch paint dry.

Instead, I returned to my hotel room, cranked the thermostat to 80 and crashed. I stayed in bed for the next 36 hours. I lost six pounds. I finished the first half of Season 5 of Breaking Bad. 

Tell me more, please.

I watched the Bruins blow a Stanley Cup game. 

I NEVAH LIKED THEM ANYWAYS!  FACK THE BROONS!  I AM A HAWKEY ORPHAN!  MY HOMETOWN TEAM DIDN'T WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP FOR A WHILE!  WAS I SUPPOSED TO KEEP CARING ABOUT THEM?  WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE?  NOW I CAN DIE IN PEACE!  Bill Simmons is a dicknozzle.

I launched an antibiotics cycle with help from an NBA doctor. 

I HAVE CONNECTIONS!

I ordered room service and barely touched it. I felt like a failure for never writing a Game 6 column. I took hot shower after hot shower, since it was the only thing that made my head feel better. I wondered if I would make it to Game 7. I remember every single thing about that dark room.

This is excruciating.  Find me a more self-obsessed writer and I'll PayPal you a dollar.

Around 4 p.m. the following afternoon, the TV adrenaline started kicking in. We were five hours away from Game 7. I took another hot shower, shaved my face, slipped on a wrinkled suit, knotted a colorful tie, 

Beautiful description.  Feels like I'm there. 

gnawed on another cough drop. Then I pulled open the curtains to my room, the light blinding me from every angle. 

Or just from the window.  One of the two.  Someone get this asshole an editor.

I waited for my eyes to adjust, and when they did, I could see the water and the buildings lurking in front of me. Downtown Miami was waiting. So was Game 7.

Shut the fuck up.  See, told you I'd come back to that.  I don't even know if I'll eventually finish this disaster.  It's truly one of the worst things he's ever written.  Sorry about the only once a week posting, by the way.  It's summer.  I'm often busy during the evenings, when I usually tend to write.  Want to read a 4,000 word piece about the time I played softball with a twisted ankle, and how much I remember about the game, but don't remember?  Didn't think so.  I'll try to post more frequently during July.

Monday, June 9, 2014

I hope you remember game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals (Part 1)


Because if you do, you'll certainly agree with me that that game was all about one thing: Bill Simmons.  Yes, that's right, I hope you're ready for yet another post about this self-obsessed blowhard who now seems to spend approximately 20% of each column writing about how he thought about how he would think about considering what he was watching as he witnessed the event in question when he looks back on it in ten years him him him him him.
You know when people are witnessing something historic, then claim they never realized the importance until after the fact? 

No.  What a worthless non-rhetorical rhetorical question to kick off this worthless article.

With Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals, you knew. 

Bill knew.  BILL KNEW.  The rest of you idiots who didn't think a potential championship-clinching game would be that big of a deal as you were watching it are lucky he even bothers to explain to you how much he knew what he knew.

You knew the entire time. The first 47 minutes and 31.8 seconds had already earned Game 6 a lifetime of NBA TV replays.

Holy shit.  It was an NBA Finals game between two really good and evenly-matched teams, each of which featured one of the ten best players ever.  Way to dig deep and come up with analysis that literally no one else could have, Bill.  Bully for you.

But what happened next? That’s what made it stupendous.

Totally radical and tubular!

With Miami trailing by five points, LeBron James launched a desperation 3 from the top of the key, maybe two steps to the left, and sent the ball sailing over the rim. Actually, it was worse than that — it bounced off the bottom of the backboard like a freaking Super Ball. 

The basketball, a ball that is designed to be bouncy, bounced in a way that resembled... a ball that is designed to be bouncy.  Just masterful command of the English language there.

I watched the trajectory from our makeshift television set across the court, crammed behind San Antonio’s basket, so I could tell right away it was off.

ME!  ME ME ME ME ME I WAS THERRRRRRRRE!  I KNEW THE SHOT WAS GOING TO MISS BEFORE THE REST OF YOU MORONS WATCHING AT HOME KNEW!  Bill Simmons has a lot in common with Peter King, except that I'd be willing to say that King is actually a journalist.

That shot couldn’t have been a bigger brick; 

It was such a bad shot that it resembled a crumpled up ball of paper that someone shot towards a trash can but instead missed the trash can entirely.

LeBron should have just fired that thing with a T-shirt cannon. It also couldn’t have been a better break for Miami. One of the most famous sequences in NBA history was officially in motion.

Bill is a small child, who is convinced that the best/most important [X] is the [X] he most recently saw/learned about.  I'm pretty sure that if you had the misfortune of discussing movies with him, he'd insist that Gravity, 12 Years a Slave and Dallas Buyers Club are the three best movies ever made.  Was the end of game 6 crazy and awesome?  Of course.  Do crazy sequences late in NBA Finals elimination games happen pretty frequently?  They sure do, like in 2010 and 2005 and 1994 and 1993 and 1992 and 1988 and....

Waiting for the rebound in front of Miami’s basket, four different Spurs had boxed out three Heat players in a perfect square. Any basketball camp could show their alignment to campers with the note, This is how you box out as a group. If any Spur secured the rebound, San Antonio would bring home the title — the fifth for Duncan and Popovich, and probably the sweetest one too. But none of them expected the basketball to carom that quickly.

Of course it would be the sweetest one.  Of course.  It would be the most recent one, after all.

[a couple paragraphs describing the crazy nature of the rebound deleted]

Duncan and his nearly 16,000 career rebounds watched from afar. His three teammates tipped the ball toward Miami’s bench, right to Ray Allen, who immediately turned into Justin Bieber after five joints and 10 cups of sizzurp. 

It's brilliant and cutting pop culture references like this one that make Bill worth every penny he's paid.

The man lost all of his coordination. He whipped his left arm for the loose basketball, botched the catch and somehow redirected the ball backward toward San Antonio’s bench. LeBron’s brick had morphed into basketball’s version of the magic bullet. The same rebound had changed direction four times. Half the players on the court had already touched it.

This only happens about ten times per game, so give or take like 1200 times per NBA season?  MAGIC BULLET.  TRULY REMARKABLE.

Mike Miller touched it before everyone else — he inbounded the ball to LeBron, then floated toward the foul line for a possible rebound, failed to sneak past the doughier Diaw, watched the basketball get redirected three times, then chased down the loose ball after Allen’s rebounding spasm. Meanwhile, LeBron had remained behind the 3-point line, drifting near Miami’s bench, waiting for a second chance. Miller quickly shoveled the ball his way. LeBron buried it. 

He buried that shot like a hockey player scoring a goal into the back of a hockey net.

Two-point game.

The entire sequence took 8.1 seconds. Seven players touched the ball. Leonard, Miller and LeBron touched it twice. Incredibly, Miami was still alive. Timeout, San Antonio.

You can definitely not feel the drama after that totally overdetailed description of a pretty normal sequence of events.

I don’t remember much about Game 6. 

ME.

But I absolutely remember standing there in a medicated haze, thinking to myself, Wait a second … they aren’t gonna screw this up, are they?”

ME ME ME ME MEMEMEMEMEMEME

After I joined ESPN’s studio crew last season, my biggest fear was getting sick during the Finals. My immune system [rest of paragraph deleted]

No one cares.  We all get sick.  Get over yourself.

You can’t call in sick for television. You don’t have a choice; you have to keep going. Just keep sucking cough drops, popping Advils and staying hydrated and hope you don’t cough up a lung on live TV. 

Wait... he's on TV?  You'd think he would have mentioned this by now.

And so I wore my best suit and one of my favorite ties. 

GRIPPING.

They caked my face with makeup. They used drops to save my reddened eyes. You wouldn’t have known I was ill, even if I felt like I was heading for my own funeral. 

Bigger hero: Bill during this game, or Jordan during the "flu game?"  It's a push, because Jordan failed to be Larry Bird.

Right down to how my body had been prepared. And that’s how I watched one of the greatest basketball games ever — in a foggy haze. I remember Duncan dropped 25 points in the first half, torching Miami like he was 25 years old again. I remember discussing him at halftime, wondering if we’d remember it as the Duncan Game — 

And there it is again.  And had the Spurs won, no, no we would not have remembered it as the Duncan Game, because there isn't a "Magic Game" or a "Bird Game" or even a "Jordan Game," because you don't get games named after you if you have a bunch of rings.  You only get them if you had a one time amazing moment, like Willis Reed.  But don't expect Bill to make that connection--he's only written a best selling book about basketball.

his unexpected last chapter,

Yeah, he only averaged 18 and 10 those playoffs, with career playoff averages of 21 and 12.  Who could have seen him having a really good game that night?

the night that could cement his legacy as his generation’s defining player. 

Insert boring and played-out article from some dopey analyst about how NO ONE APPRECIATES THE SPURS OR DUNCAN here, even though everyone fully appreciates the Spurs and Duncan.  At the same time, much as Bill would not want to admit it, I think Kobe probably edges out Duncan as the "defining" player of the 00s, even if Duncan wins a title last year or this year, to the extent that title matters, which it does not.

I don’t remember much else.

If only he could have miraculously forgotten all that other shit he just said as well, we might have been spared the horrible experience of reading this article.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Guess who has some bad ideas and unfunny jokes to share? (Part 2)


Since I started this series of mailbag columns, Bill published another mailbag column. The more the merrier, that's what I say. I could do this for a while. It's a lot more fun than Jeter Month. Anyways, I'll pick up where I left off last week, and depending on how comfortable my butt is in this chair, maybe I'll power straight through into the next mailbag. You'll know you're there when you encounter yet another "BILL FOR BUX GM CUZ HE IS SMRT!" email.

Q: I know it’s impossible. But, for argument’s sake, the Knicks grab the 8 seed, and then beat the Heat in the first round, would that be the greatest sports upset ever? Would USA-USSR 1980 finally be outdone?
—Mike, New York, NY


Only took us one question to get to more mindless hyperbole. People are fucking idiots. They really are.

SG: Settle down. Besides, it wouldn’t even be the greatest NBA first-round upset ever.

[Denver-Seattle 1994 video]


And I'm not even sure that's right--the 1994 Sonics won 63 games while the 1994 Nuggets won 42.  That was a five game series, which makes things easier on the underdog.  The Nuggets also had a +1.5 PPG differential over their opponents.  In 2007, the 42 win Warriors beat the 67 win Mavericks in a seven game series, and that Warriors team was outscored by their opponents on the season.

Q: Could you see Kevin Ollie being the next coach of the Thunder if they crash and burn in the playoffs? 

WOULD IT BE THE GREATEST CRASH AND BURN IN THE HISTORY OF PRO SPORTS IF THEY LOST IN THE FIRST ROUND?????

In your podcast with Kevin “The Servant” Durant, he spoke very highly of Ollie as a leader.
—Ricardo, McAllen, TX

I know Ollie finished his playing career in OKC, and I hate Scotty Brooks, but I'm pretty sure Brooks is a good coach.  I'm also pretty sure he's not on the hot seat, despite losing to Memphis in the 2nd round last spring.

SG: Had the same thought as I watched Ollie coach his ass off last weekend, then abandoned that thought last night when I remembered that OKC can still make the 2014 Finals because they’re such a horrendous matchup for the Spurs. 

Spurs in 5, should that matchup occur.  MY NBA PLAYOFF GAMBLING MANIFESTO SAYS SO.  Just kidding, I have no fucking idea what will happen, but I know that Bill isn't the person you want to listen to regarding such things.

(Then again, that’s the coolest thing about the 2014 playoffs — there’s a little rock-paper-scissors action going on. Everyone has someone they don’t want to play.) 

That's probably been the case for 90% of the playoffs held in every professional sport for the last thirty years.  This isn't the pre-expansion era, where you could often safely bet on the Canadiens/Yankees/Celtics to kick the jizz out of everyone else.  Every team has strengths and weaknesses.  Very profound of Bill to point that out.

Anyway, I asked Durant in that podcast if he believed in the whole “veteran leadership thing.” His answer …

“Most definitely. Kevin Ollie, he was a game-changer for us. He changed the whole culture, I think. He might not say it, but he changed the whole culture in Oklahoma City. 

The culture that had been there for all BOTH of the franchise's previous seasons with that nucleus of players.  The Thunder stunk the year before Ollie got there (allowing them to draft James Harden--watch out or Bill will remind you that the Harden trade was not a very good one!) and then made the playoffs during Ollie's only season, but surely that was mostly attributable to Ollies gritty gutty crusty veteranness, and not to the development of Durant and Westbrook and the addition of Harden and Serge Ibaka.  Right.  I think this is just another case of Durant being too damn nice to tell it like it is.

Just his mind-set, his professionalism, every single day. And we all watched that and we wanted to be like that. It rubbed off on Russell, myself, Jeff Green, James Harden — and everyone that comes through now, that’s the standard you got to live up to, as a Thunder player, and it all started with Kevin Ollie.”

Not buying it.

Now, I can’t see the Thunder changing coaches unless they get bounced in Round 1. Not because they’d be unhappy with Scott Brooks, but because they’re too friggin’ cheap to pay two coaches. 

BURNNNNN!!!!!!!!

But Ollie is a super-intriguing name to file away, especially if OKC doesn’t win the title in 2014 or 2015 and wants to avoid “The Decision II” (Durant in 2016). It all started with Kevin Ollie. Hmmmmmmmm.

Obviously Ollie will be coaching in the NBA (or turning down very lucrative offers to do so) within the next 12 to 18 months.  When this happens (regardless of which team hires or pursues him), Bill will be sure to remind everyone about how brilliant he was for publishing this clod's email and pointing out that a 41 year old ex-player who just won an NCAA championship in his second year as HC is a hot commodity.  Shut up, Bill.  I'm telling you in advance.

Q: I’m ready for your annual trade value column. 

This is how you get Bill to publish your email.  Stroke that ego.  Stroke it good and hard.  Put some elbow grease into it.

This is where you’re going to explain why Goran Dragic and his cap friendly salary and slashing style are more valuable than Damian Lillard and his eventual max contract and poor percentage at the rim. I’m going to get mad because Damian is my guy and I’ll think you’re an idiot. 

You'll be right.

Then I’ll come to grips with the fact that you’re right, 

Even if that's the case, you'll still be very right about the whole who's an idiot thing.

I’m a homer, and watching my Blazers crawl to the finish line while the Suns seem to not go away only verifies your point. 

The Suns eventually went away and finished in 9th in the West.  Not that I'm hating on them or anything.  They're good.

I suppose that’s why you’re a necessary evil. I don’t have to like it though.
—Jake, Gold Beach, OR

Oh, Jake, you sly dog!  Look at you--a little false mockery of Bill to round out your written word tonguing of his taint.  Now you're in the mailbag.  Make sure to print out a copy and tape it to your dorm room door.  It'll totally get you laid, according to the many (alleged) women who have written Bill emails about how sexy Bill's fans are.

SG: That was this month’s winner of the Backhanded Compliment Award. 

I'll see your false mockery, and raise some false self-deprecation as I pretend that you really weren't genuflecting before your computer while writing that. 

I don’t know when we’re seeing the annual Trade Value Column — if I wrote it right now, I’d end up putting Anthony Davis first, second and third. Might be better off waiting until the summer when I can’t overreact to everything. I love overreacting. It’s one of my weaknesses.

That, and being a fucking dunce.

Q: I can’t think of a scenario where Frank Kaminsky isn’t at least useful in the NBA. Seven feet, can shoot it from anywhere, quick, good free throw shooter, good intangibles. I spent 30 minutes trying to find him in the top 100 NBA prospects, but could not. Am I missing something?
—David Moore, Charleston

Plugging a terribly unathletic (on the scale of NBA players) white guy as a legitimate pro prospect?  YOU'VE COME TO THE RIGHT PLACE, DAVID MOORE OF CHARLESTON.

SG: FRANK KAMINSKY SHOULD BE A LOTTERY PICK! WHAT IS EVERYONE MISSING HERE?
(See, I love overreacting. 

OK.  When are you going to start?

But seriously … this guy couldn’t be an effective big off the bench for a contender? 

He couldn't guard anyone on any NBA roster right now, and couldn't create his own shot against any defense employed by any NBA team right now.  Those could be issues.

The Spurs couldn’t figure out how to use a 7-footer who shoots 3s, plays with his back to the basket and doesn’t do anything else? 

Holy shit, you really don't know anything about basketball, do you?  I've often said "Well at least Bill knows the NBA" and then had commenters here say "No he doesn't."  Guess I was wrong for the first time ever in my life.  Good on you, commenters.

Watching Kaminsky dismantle Arizona like he was Pau circa 2006 whupping on Lithuania in the World Basketball Championships or something — that was absolutely delightful. I loved it.)

IT WAS LIKE WATCHING BIRD, COUSY AND MCHALE TAKE DOWN MAGIC, KOBE AND KAREEM!!!

Q: What would be the most IMPROBABLE BUT FUN thing that could happen in the 2014 NBA Playoffs?
1. “The Heat are swept in any round”
2. “Knicks enter as 8 seed and beat Indiana or Miami”
3. “Phoenix goes to the Conference Finals”
4. “It gets leaked that Prokhorov offered 5 hookers to each Net if they won the East.”

What are we missing?
—Mauricio, Santa Monica

Anything that resembles a good joke, for starters.

SG: You missed the comedy of NBA TV getting stuck with every single Indiana-Charlotte game. Has that ever happened before? An entire series getting the NBA TV hammer?

God that would be IMPROBABLE BUT FUN.  I agree 100%.

/Larry B drinks lead paint

Q: I almost died when I read the title of this TED talk: “Dan Gilbert: Why We Make Bad Decisions.” Unfortunately, it’s not the Cavs owner, just a namesake. But imagine if it were!
—Francois Aube, Montreal

Unsurprising to see an overlap between people who write to Bill's mailbag and people who are interested in TED Talks.

Q:
Player A: 21.6 ppg, 6.4 APG, 41.7 fg%, 32.4 3-point%
Player B: 21.3 ppg, 8.9 APG, 42.8 fg%, 33.5 3-point%
Player C: 21.1 ppg, 6.2 APG, 42.8 fg%, 36.6 3-point%

Player A is Steve Francis Year 3.
Player B is Stephon Marbury Year 3.
Player C is Kyrie Irving Year 3.
—Kyle B., Indy

Q: Look at this.
Player A: 20.7 ppg, 6.4 apg, 1.3 spg, 3 tpg, 45.3 fg%, 35.4% 3fg.
Player B: 21.1 ppg, 6.3 apg, 3.6 rpg, 1.4 spg, 2.7 tpg, 42.8 fg%, 36.6 3fg%.

Player A is Isaiah Thomas. Player B is Kyrie Irving.
—Aamir Shakir, San Francisco

SG: My counter to Kyle and Aamir …

Player A: 21.1 ppg, 6.3 apg, 3.6 rpg, 43.1 FG%, 36.6 3FG%, 20.1 PER
Player B: 21.3 ppg, 6.9 apg, 3.3 rpg, 43.8 FG%, 29.1 3FG%, 21.6 PER

Player A? Kyrie. Player B? Devin Harris in 2009.


(YES! I just won the “Who Could Freak Cleveland Fans Out The Most With a Blind Player Comparison To Kyrie Irving” Contest!!!)

First of all, that was Harris's best season by a lot, a complete outlier, and it happened when he was 25.  Irving is 21.  And 21 year old Isiah Thomas (the HOFer who played for the Pistons, not the current Sacramento King) went for 22.9 ppg, 7.8 apg, 4.0 rpg, 47.2 FG%, 28.8 3FG%, and some PER that is probably higher than 21.6 but not significantly, as Thomas average 4.0 turnovers to Irving's 2.7.  From all of this, we have learned... absolutely fuck-all.  What a good use of everyone's time.  And while Isaiah Thomas is nothing special, and Francis definitely washed out well before his time, I love the implication that having a career like Marbury's would somehow be a bad thing for Irving.  Sure, he's not making the HOF, but gee, he was ONLY a top five PG for five more seasons after the one Kyle B. from Indy presented.  What a bum!

Q: What is your opinion on Vivek Ranadive’s “V Plan” to stop tanking?
—Lawrence Faulkner, Sacramento


For those who don't want to click the link, the Kings' owner's idea is to 1) freeze the lottery order at the All Star Break, which, no, and 2) implement the idea Bill has presented many times (but almost surely didn't make up) of the top seven teams in each conference making the playoffs, and then the eighth spot going to the winner of a single elimination tournament among the remaining teams in each conference.  Bill has a name for it--it's too dumb for me to reference it here.  Nevertheless, rest assured that A) these are idiotic ideas and B) Lawrence Faulkner from Sacramento should be kicked in the balls for pandering to Bill like this.  "Hey Bill, this guy likes and idea you like!  What do you think of his thoughts on your idea???"

SG: Put it this way — if I bought a small-market team, gave my polarizing young head case a massive extension, overpaid an injury-prone free agent to become the sixth power forward on my roster, told my local TV cameras to shoot my reactions as much as possible during our home games, then traded for one of the league’s worst contracts who doubled as the least popular player in the advanced metrics community at the time, I would not have the balls to call this “The B.S. Plan.” Just kidding, Vivek. But you might want to check the Internet.

Hey look!  A link to some vintage Bill retardery!  Sadly, that was published six weeks before this blog was started, so we didn't cover it.  Too bad.  I'll have to go back and pick it apart one of these weeks.  Check it out, it's got this line:

In retrospect, though, what’s worse: Tankapalooza 2007 or a young team winning two straight lotteries? Did it negatively impact TV ratings, attendance or general fan interest to have a suddenly stacked Magic team? Were you turning off your TV in the mid-’90s because Shaq and Penny were on? The NBA’s crucial mistake was forgetting that it’s better to have more quality teams, even at the expense of a few extra doormats. This isn’t the NFL; parity can’t work.

You're a fucking idiot.  A fucking idiot.  A fucking buttfucking idiot.

Q: Could you please make sure that near the end of the NBA season you tease us with a breakdown of what your Entertaining-as-Hell Tournament would look like?
—Scott Scattergood, Korea

I only left this question, with the reference to Bill's atrocious joke name for the "play in tournament," because this is the setup for his essay about how to fix the playoffs.  Take it away, pinhead.

SG: I thought the lopsided 2013-14 NBA season vindicated the Entertaining As Hell Tournament premise. 

"I liked my idea before, and I have the critical thinking skills of a cow, so I still like it."

Right now, we’re headed for a 50-win Western team missing the playoffs (my guess: the Suns) 

Sort of correct, although 1) they won't win more than 48, and 2) as of when this mailbag was published, they were in the 9th spot anyways, so it's not like this was a bold prediction.

as well as the reprehensible 35-win Knicks reprehensibly sneaking into the reprehensible no. 8 seed.

Thankfully for the sake of those of us who don't want to watch bad basketball in the playoffs, they did not.  Although Atlanta sucks too.  But at least they don't suck while being shoved into the viewing public's face every four seconds.  They suck quietly, off to the side, and their series with Indiana won't get the best TV timeslots.  This is a good thing.

When the 2014 Suns can miss the playoffs and the Knicks can make it, we’re fundamentally doing something wrong. 

I would feel bad for the Suns if it weren't already the case that 53% of the teams in the NBA make the playoffs.  This isn't baseball pre-wildcard when you could have a legitimate claim to best team in the league (1993 Giants, e.g.) and miss the playoffs.  The Suns have the 13th best record in the league, and if you stretched it, you could make a case that they are the 10th best team, give or take.  Because of an administrative rule, they won't be able to play for the championship.  Boo fucking hoo.  Maybe if they hadn't lost back to back games to the horrendous Kings in November, or lost two in a row to the Pistons and the Knicks in January, or lost at home to the Cavs last month, they would have made it.  I'm not saying the "cherry picking bad losses" method is the best way to show that a team's playoff resume is insufficient, but Christ.  Sixteen teams make it.  If you can't get in that field, regardless of the power balance between the conferences, it's not exactly a travesty.

When the Sixers can blow 26 straight games, then win at home to break the streak as their mortified fans don’t know whether to cheer or cry, we’re fundamentally doing something wrong. 

The whole point of the lottery is to prevent outright tanking.  If there was no lottery and the NBA used MLB's or the NFL's method for determining draft order, the fans definitely would have had more reason to cry than cheer for that win.  At least under the current system they could enjoy it a little.

When the 2014 Hawks say,We’d rather fall into the lottery than make the playoffs, we’re doing something fundamentally wrong. 

Yeah!  It's not like Bill has stated time and time and time and time again that being mediocre is the worst thing you can be in the NBA.  We need some kind of rule that prevents teams from wanting to stop being mediocre!  We need MORE mediocrity!

Such a frustrating season. I love watching 10 teams, tolerate maybe five others, and don’t want any part of the other 15.

Wait, what did you say in 2007 about that?

In retrospect, though, what’s worse: Tankapalooza 2007 or a young team winning two straight lotteries? Did it negatively impact TV ratings, attendance or general fan interest to have a suddenly stacked Magic team? Were you turning off your TV in the mid-’90s because Shaq and Penny were on? The NBA’s crucial mistake was forgetting that it’s better to have more quality teams, even at the expense of a few extra doormats. This isn’t the NFL; parity can’t work.

Ah right.  Go fuck yourself then.

OK, so here’s how the EAHT would play out if the season ended on Wednesday (before Thursday’s games). Remember, here’s the premise: The top seven seeds in each conference make the playoffs, then it’s a single-elimination tournament for the last two playoff spots.

First-Round Winners: No. 1 Memphis over no. 16 Milwaukee (“Welcome to Tru TV!”) … no. 2 Phoenix over no. 15 Philly (Sam Hinkie: “Hey, Thad and MCW, it’s OK to try in this one”) … no. 3 Minnesota over no. 14 Orlando (yes, ’Sota could absolutely blow this game) … no. 13 Boston over no. 4 Denver (OUR FIRST UPSET! LET’S GO CELTS! HERE WE GO GREEN!!!!!!!) … 

DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE

no. 5 New York over no. 12 Utah (with the Knicks nearly blowing a 22-point lead as every Knicks fan melts down on Twitter) … no. 11 Lakers over no. 6 Atlanta (17 assists for Nash, 35 points for Kobe) … no. 7 New Orleans over no. 10 Detroit (34 points, 19 rebounds and eight blocks for the Brow) … no. 8 Cleveland over no. 9 Sacramento (triple-OT!!!).

Lingering first-round thoughts: Can you really go wrong with a single-elimination tournament featuring 

I'll stop you right now: yes.  Yes you can.  It doesn't matter what you wrote as the rest of that paragraph.  I know it's really fun to come up with an idea, ponder its legitimacy for ten seconds and then scream WHO SAYS NO? as loudly as you can.  But this is a bad idea.  It just is.  Most of the players will not want to be there.  Most of the coaches will not want to be there.  They will just want to go home.  Most of the arenas will be empty.  This is not March Madness.  No one is clamoring for the chance to get curb stomped by San Antonio or Indiana in the first round, especially after having to win three games in three days or four games in four days (assuming we're not trying to fuck over the fourteen playoff teams TOO badly by making them wait for like a fucking week for the playoffs to start).

Second-Round Winners (re-seeding): No. 13 Boston over no. 1 Memphis (MASSIVE UPSET! BRAD STEVENS LOVES TOURNAMENTS!!!!! RONDO WITH A 17-19-16!!!!!!) … just kidding, no. 1 Memphis over no. 13 Boston (golf clap for the C’s) … 

Oh my God.  This guy is proud of his team's imaginary performance in a tournament that doesn't exist.  That's not a tongue-in-cheek "golf clap for the C's" right there.  That's real.  This man should be sealed inside a cave forever.

no. 2 Suns over no. 11 Lakers (final score: 129-125, and I gotta admit, I came damned close to picking Kobe, Nash and Vertigo Pau) … no. 8 Cleveland over no. 3 Minnesota (here’s the textbook 2014 T-Wolves game in which they score 70 points in the first half, then blow a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter, choke the game away on a Dion Waiters Heat Check, then lose in the last 10 seconds because someone other than Kevin Love took the final shot, followed by Love taking his jersey off on the court and angrily flinging it into the stands as Rick Adelman turns maroon) … no. 7 New Orleans over no. 5 New York (38 points, 22 rebounds and eight blocks for the Brow!).

Lingering second-round thoughts: I really, really, really, really, really enjoyed pretending to watch all of those games. Look at what we accomplished already. We convinced Kobe to come back. 

AND THEN CHOKE AGAIN MUHAHAHAHHAA TAKE THAT IMAGINARY KOBE

We figured out a new and improved way for the Knicks and Timberwolves to torture their fans. 

No one in Minnesota would give a flying fuck about this tournament.  The Wild are in the playoffs.

We rewarded the Brow for turning into a franchise guy — now he has something to play for other than the lottery. 

THANK GOD!  I was worried that imaginary Anthony Davis was feeling unappreciated.

Same for that goofy Cavs team that floundered for four months and needed a mini–Ewing Theory situation with Kyrie Irving to find itself. I like our Final Four. And we ended up with four spectacular second-round games. You’re enjoying this!

I want to jump into an electric fence!

Final Four Winners: no. 1 Memphis over no. 8 Cleveland (too much Big Spain, too much Z-Bo, too much Mike Brown), and no. 7 New Orleans over no. 2 Phoenix (the Brow! The Brow! THE BROW!!!!!!!!!!!).

Excellent fake cheering.  Top notch fake fanboyism.

Lingering Final Four thoughts: This was beautiful. The Grizzlies earned a playoff spot they deserved anyway; they’re 29-12 since January 9. 

You know what they can be happy about?  Having actually earned a playoff spot in real life.  And they can earn the 7 seed by beating the Mavs tomorrow night.  Also, pretty great that his tournament nearly ended with the top two seeds winning anyways.  And pretty great that IT'S AN INJUSTICE THAT PHOENIX CAN'T MAKE THE PLAYOFFS, LOOK AT THEIR RECORD turned into THE 33-48 PELICANS DEFEAT THE 47-34 SUNS TO CLINCH A PLAYOFF SPOT HOW AWESOME IS THIS!  And pretty great that even with this system, the 42-39 Bobcats are still in the playoffs, because life isn't fair. 

The Brow pulled a 1988 Danny Manning and single-handedly dragged his boys to glory. And we ended up with a better no. 8 seed than the freaking Knicks. The only downer: Phoenix got bumped from The Show. But hey, if you can’t fake-beat New Orleans at fake-home, then you don’t fake-deserve to make the fake-playoffs.

DIE

All right, so we found our last two playoff teams. Now what? The more I think about it, the more I think (a) the EAHT should end after three rounds (it doesn’t make sense to have a championship game), 

Oh, you think?  And you think maybe the teams that qualified for the playoffs might be a little annoyed that the season ended on Wednesday, and now it's Sunday (at the earliest) and they're waiting around?  And the two winners of the EAHT just played four games in four days, including Wednesday's regular season finale (if it's Sunday), so it really wouldn't be fair to make them play again until at least Tuesday, forcing at least two of the top fourteen teams to wait on ice for nearly a week between games?  None of this resonates with you?

and (b) we should just dump conferences and go with an NBA Sweet 16 for the actual playoffs.

Yeah!  The idea of a California team being able to play three straight seven game series with teams from the east coast in a 2-2-1-1-1 series just to make the finals sounds awesome!  That won't lead to sloppy basketball.  No way.  Look below: most matchups work out to be non-horrible this year, but of course mileage would vary by year.  And that Clippers/Nets series should be a fun one.  If it goes seven, I'm sure the winner will be nice and fresh and ready to play the Pacers or Bulls.



So, why not? Why wouldn’t we want an extra week of rest for the best playoff teams? 

Because no team wants to rest for a fucking week right before the playoffs?

What’s wrong with 14 single-elimination playoff games over one action-packed week? 

Most players and coach won't want to be there?  The stands will be empty in many arenas, leading to embarrassment for the league?

Why not open the door for a late-peaking team? 

Because they had 82 games to be in the top 53% of the league and they couldn't do it?

Why avoid a scenario in which someone like Kobe says, “You know what? I’m coming back,” instead of, “There’s no reason for me to come back”?

Because the league doesn't exist to make sure Kobe comes back?

And doesn’t re-seeding 1-through-16 for the actual playoffs, NCAA-style, make more sense than what we’re doing now? You’d still have your best team in each conference on opposite sides of the bracket

No the fuck you wouldn't, not if the top three teams were all in one conference and the fourth was in the other conference.  

only someone like Indiana couldn’t be rewarded for hiccuping down the stretch. Instead of getting gift-wrapped the below-.500 Bobcats in Round 1, the Pacers now get Noah, Thibs and the Bulls. Good luck going on cruise control in THAT series.

Oh snap!  Take that, imaginary Pacers!

How would the EAHT affect tanking? 

I don't know, but I'm sure you have more runny dogshit ideas up your sleeve.

I’m throwing out my fourth different idea for this one … what if we blew up the lottery format and reinvented it with three tiers:

Worst Six Teams: 9 percent chance of winning
Worst Teams 7 through 12: 4 percent chance of winning
Worst Teams 13 through 16: 2 percent chance of winning


Wait, that’s only 86 percent. Hmmmmmmm … let’s give each of the 14 playoff teams 1 percent odds. That’s right, we’re putting everyone in! TRY TANKING NOW!!! 

OK.  Bad teams will still do it, because it gives them a better chance at winning the lottery than not tanking.  You got anything else?

We run the lottery for the first four picks, then the draft goes in reverse order of record from the fifth pick on. You really think Philly is casually blowing 26 straight under this revamped system?

Yyyup.

Oh, and Adam Silver? You’re shopping your next slew of media rights packages right now to ESPN/ABC, Turner, Fox and everyone else, right? And you’re thinking about adding a third package that includes a Saturday-night regular-season bundle, right? Wouldn’t it make the most sense to combine that bundle with the Entertaining As Hell Tournament into a third, mack-daddy package? 

No.  The Entertaining As Hell Tournament is basketball ebola.  It's a terrible idea and the world is a worse place for it having been conceived.

Conceivably, Disney would pay more for the same deal it already has; same for Turner and its current deal; then a third party comes in (Fox Sports? NBC? Maybe even … gulp … Google or Apple TV?) 

MALCOLM GLADWELL TOLD ME TO PUT THOSE LAST TWO IN!!!!

and grabs those Saturday-night games and the Entertaining As Hell Tournament? Thank you and please drive through.

I am at a loss for words.  May this man somehow be fired as soon as possible.  Fuck Bill Simmons.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Bill knows about as much about football betting as he does about baseball, or anything related to sports really (part 1)

The title says it all.  Just read this horseshit.
I posted my last Playoff Gambling Manifesto in January of 2006 right before the NFL playoffs turned into a glorified crapshoot. That particular document contained 15 gambling "rules" that I created from 1991 to 2005, along with my buddy Geoff, during an extended trial-and-error period that left more than a few scars and bruises. For instance, you only learn a rule like "Never bet on a playoff team coached by Marty Schottenheimer" once you've said things like, "The next time you hear me say that I'm betting on Marty Schottenheimer in January, just swing an ax into my chest."
Now there's a point I won't argue with him.  Poor Marty.  Poor Cleveland.  I won't say poor Kansas City, because fuck Kansas City.  
And you know what? The Manifesto actually worked. 
No it didn't.  You were lucky for a while.
When New England won back-to-back Super Bowls, I finished 14-8 against the spread in those two postseasons. 
I'm sure that had nothing to do with the fact that your favorite team, for which you are a huge homer, won six straight during those two postseasons.
Everything flipped in January, 2006, right when I posted Manifesto 4.0. Over the next six postseasons, I staggered to a middling 31-34-1 record, 
Because you're not that smart and got unlucky.  Nothing flipped.  Nothing changed.  Football was played exactly the same way.  You had exactly the same amount of knowledge.  It's just that consistently picking winners is hard, and you were unable to do so for a really long time.  You're a fucktard for thinking there is any other explanation for that 31-34-1 stretch, but of course that shouldn't surprise anyone.
slowly drifting away from the Manifesto as the league stopped making sense. These last two postseasons, I went 15-7 by obeying a stripped-down set of rules (we'll get to them). 
Hey, you got lucky again!  Good for you.  I hope you donated the money to charity.
Still, I'm not sure people realize how wonky these last eight postseasons were.
Allow me to demonstrate, point by point, why that's fucking idiotic.

Since January 2006 …

• The league's two best teams by record only faced off in one Super Bowl: the '09 Saints versus '09 Colts (combined records: 31-5).
Yeah, back when Bill was putting together his brilliant original manifesto, that used to happen ALL THE DAMN TIME.  By which I mean, looking all the way back to 1990, the only other times it happened were in 1992 (Redskins and Bills) and 2002 (Raiders and Buccaneers).   
• The no. 1–ranked DVOA team only made one Super Bowl … (long gulp) … yup, the '07 Pats. Only two other top-three DVOA teams made a Super Bowl: the '10 Packers (third) beat the '10 Steelers (second). The last top-two team in DVOA to actually win the title? The '04 Pats, who finished first. In other words, keep your guard up, Seahawks fans.
There was a nice streak of top ranked DVOA teams making the Super Bowl in the late 90s, but the only other one to have done so in the 21st century besides the 2007 GREATRIOTS was the 2002 Buccaneers.

• Underdogs covered six of the last seven Super Bowls and won four outright: the '07 Giants (12-point dogs); the '09 Saints (five-point dogs); the '11 Giants (2.5-point dogs); and the '12 Ravens (4.5-point dogs). The previous four underdogs to win a Super Bowl outright: the '02 Bucs, '01 Pats, '97 Broncos and '90 Giants.
This is not useful as trend information (especially in the case of sub-5 point underdogs winning outright WOW WACKY WHAT ARE THE ODDS OF THAT?????) unless one of the planks of your manifesto is "always bet on the favorite."

• It's really important to clinch a Round 1 bye, right? Well, the '08 Steelers and '09 Saints were the only bye week teams to win Super Bowls. The Bye Weekers only finished over .500 in the playoffs once, in 2009, when they went 6-3. They never went "chalk," finishing 29-30 overall. By contrast, from 1998 through 2004, the Bye Weekers won six of seven Super Bowls, went "chalk" three times (in 1998, 2002 and 2004), and never dipped below .500 (finishing 40-22 overall).
This is actually useful information, and is also something everyone who pays even the slightest attention to the NFL has been hearing nonstop for the past several years.

• Three teams won a Super Bowl without hosting a playoff game: the '05 Steelers, '07 Giants and '10 Packers. From 1966 through 2004, that only happened twice.
Only useful information if one of the planks of your manifesto is "If a 5 seed or 6 seed makes the Super Bowl, do not bet on them to win under any circumstances.  They just won three straight on the road--what makes you think that they'll be able to win at a neutral site?"  This is perhaps more useful when applied as an analytical tool for conference championship home vs. road results (or divisional round home vs. road results, already covered above), but then you look at the results and see that home teams were only 18-14 in conference championship games from 1990-2005.

• The '08 Cardinals went 9-7 and somehow lost the title in the final minute, on the highest degree-of-difficulty game-winning pass in Super Bowl history. Three years later, the '11 Giants became the first 9-7 team to win the title, as well as the only Super Bowl champ that gave up more regular-season points than it scored. I will get over this at some point in my life. Probably not this decade or next decade. But at some point.
Yes, the difference in talent between the teams with the best records and the teams with the 9-7 or 10-6 records during any given season is perhaps less pronounced than it used to be.  This is only useful information if one of the planks of your manifesto was "Always bet on the team with the better record."

• Five of the last six Super Bowls were nail-biters that included at least one unforgettable moment: David Tyree catching a season-saving football off his helmet and then never making another professional catch in his entire life (Super Bowl XLII); James Harrison's insane touchdown and the semi-miraculous Roethlisberger/Holmes game-winning touchdown (Super Bowl XLIII); Peyton Manning's season-ending pick-six (Super Bowl XLIV); Brady just missing Welker for a potential season-clinching TD that I can still see when I fall asleep at night (Super Bowl XLVI); and the blackout and all the other unforgettable stuff that happened during that Ravens-Niners barn burner (Super Bowl XLVII).
All true.  All irrelevant in a discussion about gambling, but thanks for maintaining that "the sun shines on the world because Bill Simmons casts his eyes upon it" tone of self-importance Marchman (and others) have pointed out.

• We've had one significant Round 2 upset for eight straight Januarys: the '05 Steelers in Indy (+9.5 underdogs); the '06 Pats in San Diego (+4.5); the '07 Chargers in Indianapolis (+11); the '08 Cards in Carolina (+10); the '09 Jets in San Diego (+8.5); the '10 Jets in New England (+9); the '11 Giants in Green Bay (+8.5); and the '12 Ravens in Denver (+9). Good lord! Seven of those were MONSTER upsets, too. Kudos to the Greatest Quarterback of All Time, Peyton Manning, for somehow being on the wrong side of three of them! (Sorry, I had to.)

I don't have the point spreads on these, but I'm sure they were all at least +4.5 (or in some cases, if they weren't, the road teams blew out the home teams so badly that it was definitely a notable outcome)--the 2003 Panthers beat the 12-4 Rams in Saint Louis, the 2003 Colts beat the 13-3 Chiefs in Kansas City, the 2001 Eagles stomped the 13-3 Bears in Chicago, the 2000 Ravens stomped the 13-3 Titans in Nashville, the 1999 Titans beat the 13-3 Colts in Indy, and I could go on and on, but the point is that Bill is a fucking dolt.  Also, big ups to Tom Brady, Obviously the Greatest Quarterback of All Time Because Everyone Knows Peyton Manning Sux LOL, for being on the wrong side of the Ravens' (+8) upset of the Patriots in last year's AFC Championship game.

• We've had two stunning conference title game upsets: the '07 Giants (nine-point underdogs in Green Bay) and '12 Ravens (7.5-point dogs in New England). And we had one semi-mildly stunning upset that wasn't so stunning because we'd already learned that you should never bet against God, puppies and gambling theories hatched in Pakistan: the '08 Cards as four-point home dogs over Philly.
Wow, can't believe he even bothered to mention that Patriots loss.  I'm surprised there isn't a Grantland Ministry of Information assigned to edit out any negative references to Boston area teams, even those made by Simmons himself.  Anyways, again, no clue on the point spreads but I'm sure they were big and/or the result was a huge blowout--the 1999 Titans crushed the 14-2 Jaguars in Jacksonville, the 2001 Patriots beat the 13-3 Steelers in Pittsburgh, the 2004 Patriots crushed the 15-1 Steelers in Pittsburgh, and the 2005 Steelers crushed the 13-3 Broncos in Denver.  But no, really, believe Bill when he says that he used to have a PERFECT manifesto for betting on NFL playoff games.  It wasn't just that he had a good lucky streak, which was followed by an unlucky streak.  It was that in 2006 everything that had been totally predictable went SUPER CRAZY and all this stuff that had never happened before started happening.

• From 2000 through 2006, only three times did a matchup feature a playoff team that had won four or more games than its opponent: Eagles-Vikings in 2004, Steelers-Jets in 2004, and Bears-Seahawks in 2006. All three times, the better team won. From 2007 through 2011, those matchups happened at least twice per postseason and an unbelievable 14 times overall. Seven of those 14 games were won by the vastly inferior team, including two by .500-or-under teams playing at home and as 7-plus-point underdogs (the 2010 Seahawks and 2011 Broncos).
Another sort of useful piece of information that parallels the divisional round road team record thing: there appears to be more parity in the NFL than there used to be.  If that trend destroys your manifesto, your manifesto was dogshit to begin with.

• For anyone making proclamations this week like "I just don't trust Andy Dalton in January," please remember that, in the last eight postseasons, (a) Matt Hasselbeck and Rex Grossman started Super Bowl games; 
Matt Hasselbeck was pretty good.  He was three-time Pro Bowler with almost 35,000 career passing yards.  Rex Grossman was not very good, but the 2006 Bears were very good.  Not sure what's WACKY about this.  In 1994 Stan Humphries started a Super Bowl.  In 1995 Neil O'Donnell did too.  In 1998 Chris Chandler did the same.  Which world did Bill come from in which only Hall of Famers were allowed to start Super Bowls.
(b) Mark Sanchez won FOUR ROAD PLAYOFF GAMES IN TWO YEARS; 
It's almost like the Jets HAD A REALLY GOOD DEFENSE IN 2009 AND 2010.
(c) Matt Schaub won a playoff game only 12 months ago and just nine months before he became a bleary-eyed carcass; 
First time in history a 30-something athlete has gone from pretty good to pretty crappy in 12 months.
You forgot (d).
(e) Jake Delhomme won consecutive road playoff games; and (f) Tim Tebow won a playoff game … in overtime … by completing an 80-yard touchdown pass.
SO SUPER CRAZY.  IT'S LIKE THE TWILIGHT ZONE MIXED WITH THE OUTER LIMITS.

• In the last eight postseasons, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees are 19-16 combined, with two Super Bowl titles.

• In the last eight postseasons, Mark Sanchez, Eli Manning, and Joe Flacco are 21-9 combined, with three Super Bowl titles.

• Read those last two paragraphs again.
BRAIN EXPLOSION IT'S SO BANANAS WOWOWOWOW

So I ask you again … how can you give your gambling career over to a Playoff Manifesto when all hell has apparently broken loose????
I KNOW RIGHT????  Good thing you've fixed all those problems and now your system will be totally perfect again, like it was as of January 2006, when a comet passed too close to Earth and secretly jumbled everything up!  We'll take a look at it next week.  In the meantime, I'll post Bill's picks (from the end of this article) and provide my own analysis.  I'm not saying I'm going to do better than him, I'm just saying he's a moron and as someone who regularly watches the NFL, I have as much gambling acumen as he does.  It's just that unlike him, I don't pretend to have CRACKED THE CODE.  I'm not a self-important cunt like that.

Chiefs +1 @ Colts

Bill's Pick: Colts 27, Chiefs 14
My Pick: As I type this, it's 31-10 Chiefs shortly before halftime.  I'd like to laugh in Bill's face, but if I'm being honest, I also thought Indy would win this game by at least a TD.  I GUESS THAT'S WHY THEY PLAY THE GAMES ON THE FOOTBALL FIELD IN THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE FOLKS.
Saints +2.5 @ Eagles

Bill's Pick: Eagles 34, Saints 22
My Pick: Saints 28, Eagles 21.  Call me crazy.  I know dome teams are terrible outdoors in the playoffs.  I just feel like the Eagles aren't that good, and will be in a "we're just happy to be here" mood.  Their season is already a success.  The Saints will get it done somehow.  Or not.  Who the fuck knows.
Chargers +7 @ Bengals
Bill's Pick: Cincinnati 27, San Diego 23 
My Pick: Cincinnati 31, San Diego 17.  I don't think it'll be all that close.  Cincy's defense is too good.  If the Chargers pull off the upset it'll be because Andy Dalton turned the ball over like five times, like he did in that Thursday night game against the Dolphins a couple months ago.  I lost $10 on that game.  Fuck you, Andy Dalton.  Obviously you care about my gambling stories, and obviously I'm still bitter.
49ers -3 @ Packers

Bill's Pick: San Francisco 41, Green Bay 20
My Pick: Green Bay 24, San Francisco 20.  God I hate Packers fans.  I hope this doesn't happen.  I like the Niners a lot, I just feel like neither team is going to be able to move the ball much on the ground, while Rodgers and Cobb will hook up for some big plays and Kaepernick has a bad game.  Notice that I didn't say anything about the weather, because if you watch this game tomorrow, the announcers are going to talk about the weather during about 90% of their air time.  You're welcome.
Yeah, so I'm picking against Bill's spread pick in all three remaining games, and picking a different winner in two of them.  Did I do that on purpose to be contrarian?  Probably.  Could you be just as successful at picking against the spread as Bill (or me) by flipping a coin?  Probably. Is Bill Simmons an asshat when it comes to gambling?  Definitely.  Is Bill Simmons an asshat when it comes to any other topic?  Again, definitely.