Tag Archives: Bill Simmons

Is it time to switch football teams?

I’m going to admit it.

Mike Morbeck photo, via Wikimedia Commons

Here is Ndamukong Suh. He’s the reason I’m thinking of leaving the Lions.

After being a long-time Detroit Lions fan, I don’t know if I can enjoy watching them play anymore.

See, I went through a lot of bad seasons. I was still supportive during their 0-16 era. I cheered during the Joey Harrington era. I continued to follow the team throughout the whole Matt Millen era. (Not coincidentally, but all three eras were the same time).

But I find they are no longer fun to watch.

And it’s mostly because of Ndamukong Suh.

Yes, there’s a few other players, and the coach can sometimes be annoying. But I find it extremely hard to cheer for a team that has him on the field.

He stomps on players. He kicks them in the groin. He acts like a bully on the field. He gets too many personal fouls.

Maybe it’s the hockey fan in me coming through. I would never be able to cheer Matt Cooke or Brad Marchand. I get disgusted when players on my favourite team dive to try and earn a penalty.

It’s horrible. And I find I can’t bear to watch and cheer for Suh. He’s dirty, and continues to push the line and punish his teammates with his selfish plays.

So I’m wondering if I should switch teams. Bill Simmons wrote an article way back in 2002 about when it’s okay to stop cheering for your favourite team and follow some other organization. This wasn’t one of the reasons.

But I’m thinking it should be allowed. Now the question is, if I do stop cheering for the Lions, who do I cheer for?

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Book of Basketball review

So I recently sat down to read the Book of Basketball, the latest book from Bill Simmons. 

It’s not for the faint of heart. It’s 700 pages, so if you want to read it, you need to be a fan of Simmons or the NBA.

Pretty much, Simmons doesn’t rewrite NBA history so much as put it in historical context. He believes the Hall of Fame should be like a pyramid. That way, someone doesn’t get elected just to the hall, but to a certain level. There can also be only a certain amount of players on each level, so players could technically get bumped down if someone passes them.

For example, the top level might have 12 players. If Lebron retires and is one of the top 12 of all time, he goes to the top echelon, and number 12 gets bumped down to the second level. So Simmons ranks the top 96 players of all time (in his eyes). The only way you can rank the players is to try and compare them, and how they would match up today. For example, would Oscar Robertson have the same success today against guys like Chris Paul, Lebron James and Dwight Howard?

One of the other main topics is what he calls The Secret.

Apparently it’s a big deal to NBA players, but NHLers have understood it for decades. The Secret? It’s not all about the basketball, but about chemistry on and off the court, and making the sacrifices. It’s not about getting your own numbers, but about winning the game.

Like I said, NHLers have known about this for a long time. The most successful teams have players that make those sacrifices (giving more ice time to the checking line, or maybe not getting as much powerplay time, or willing to block shots ad nauseum). But apparently, in the NBA, it’s not that well known.

So much of the book focuses on The Secret, what guys had it and what guys didn’t. Basketball fans will like the book, non-basketball fans won’t, especially considering its length (it’s the largest book I’ve read since the Stand).

I found only two problems with it.

The first has to do with all of his columns/books: too much focus on the Boston sports scene, and letting those teams influence him. For example, Simmons assumes Lenny Bias (drafted second overall in 1986) was going to be a great player for the Celtics, even though he died of a cocaine overdose a couple of days after being drafted. Yet Simmons constantly mentions how cocaine ruined players in the late 70s and affected their playing careers. But I can’t remember one example where he mentions the fact cocaine would have ruined Bias.

As well, there’s no proof that Ferry would have been a great player. What would have happened if his career turned out more like Danny Ferry, Tyson Chandler or Darko Milicic?

He also spends too long arguing that Bill Russell is better than Wilt Chamberlain, when he concedes neither is the best all time.

The other problem has to do with the impact the international competition is having on the game today. Simmons focuses on the ABA, and African Americans changing the game. But nothing about Europeans, even though they’re having an impact. There’s Anderson Varejao, Yao Ming, Steve Nash, Tony Parker, Dirk Nowitzki, Andrea Bargnani, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Jose Calderon, and others. They’re changing the way the game is being seen around the world, but there was hardly any focus on it in his book.

In a way, hockey and basketball have a lot in common. There’s the debates about who’s better (Wilt Chamberlain vs Bill Russell in the NBA, Mario Lemieux vs Wayne Gretzky vs Bobby Orr in the NHL), competing leagues in the 70s that were eventually swallowed up (the ABA and the WHA) and whether someone actually belongs in the hall of fame (too numerous to mention).

But you would not be able to write a 700-page book on the history of the NHL without focusing some on the Summit Series in 1972, Russia’s domination on the world hockey stage for decades, or the influx of European players over the past 20 years. It would have been nice for Simmons to spend a little bit of time talking about how the impact of the U.S. national team losing at the 2002 Worlds, 2004 Olympics and 2006 Worlds, and whether that is changing the style of play in the NBA as more Europeans come into the league.

One last thing. Simmons rails on the media for not going after different stories, afraid that teams might stop talking to such and such a reporter. He thinks the media won’t rag on a certain player at times because they are worried they’ll lose the friend-like atmosphere between the journalist and the athlete. What’s the worse that can happen, he asks, that the teams will get angry at a reporter? But Simmons admits fear at Isiah because of columns he wrote that made fun of Isiah. So Simmons wants more print media to be like him, when he doesn’t even need to worry about seeing these people every day, but he admits to be worried about meeting someone he made fun of (and didn’t even want to meet Isiah). Sounds a little hypocritical.

Overall though, it’s a good, if lengthy read. I would give it 4 out of 5 stars.


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Book review: Now I Can Die in Peace

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Bill Simmons, a columnist for ESPN.

Bill Simmons first book was a great read!

He writes in a unique way that is different from most columnists, which I think sets him apart.

To start, he makes every column personal. That means he puts lots of feelings into each piece of writing. Instead of just quoting stats and numbers, he writes about how he feels, or how sports fans feel. It makes his writing unique.

In fact, I’m trying to emulate him more in my writing, with some longer, thought out posts.

Simmons has just published his second book, The Book of Basketball. I’ve asked Santa for that book for Christmas.

In the meantime, I just finished his first book, Now I Can Die In Peace: How ESPN’s Sports Guy Found Salvation, with a Little Help from Nomar, Pedro, Shawshank and the 2004 Red Sox. That actually has to be the longest book title I ever read, but the book is a quick read.

It’s a collection of some of his columns over the years relating to the Boston Red Sox as they won the World Series back in 2004. I’m not a Red Sox fan, or even a big fan of baseball, but I wanted to read the book because of the fact Simmons wrote it.

That said, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The first half was a little repetitive, as the Sox kept losing and falling short. But it is meant to set up the second half of the book, where the Sox break the curse and win the series, their first in about eight decades.

So now I’m anxious to read his next book. I’m a basketball fan, not a huge one, but definitely more of one than a baseball fan. I’d love to see him write more about the NHL, but that won’t happen until the Bruins win the championship (he gave up on the team years ago when he realized that the Bruins ownership at the time wouldn’t spend money to win the title).

I give Now I Die in Peace 4.5 out of 5 stars. It’s a must-read for any Simmons fans.

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Top movie of the 2000s

ESPN writer Bill Simmons had an interesting column today.

Is Almost Famous the defining movie of the 2000s? One columnist believes so.

Is Almost Famous the defining movie of the 2000s? One columnist believes so.

At the beginning, he explained what he thought the top movie of this decade is. It had to meet three criteria:

• Excellence

• Originality

• Rewatchability

He then used quotes from that movie to explain this summer in the NBA (the column falls flat here, I think).

Anyways, his choice was Almost Famous. While he gives good enough reasons, I can’t help but believe there are other movies that would better define this decade (as the best movie of the decade should).

I decided there must be other films better than that. So I decided to try to come up with five others.

Remember, these aren’t necessarily my favourite movies, but just the ones I thought would define this decade the best.

So with that, here are my top 5 movies of the 2000s.

Is Superbad the most defining movie of the 2000s? This blogger says yes, sadly.

Is Superbad the most defining movie of the 2000s? This blogger says yes, sadly.

5) The Lord of the Rings trilogy: I decided to lump these three together because it would be too hard to pick and choose one or two over the other. While it gets point for excellence and rewatchability, it loses points for originality, since it was based on the books.

4) Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Re-defined the martial arts genre for a while. Gets points for creativity and excellence, but loses points on rewatchability. I think a straight-forward martial arts film would stand the test of time more than watching the special effects fights in this film.

3) Kill Bill: Again, I included both films in this one. It upped the violence found in a lot of movies, and gave an interesting premise. Instead of the man bent of revenge, it was a kick-ass woman. Each fight scene was great, but I don’t think there’s ever a point where you’ll sit down, see this film on TV, and want to watch it for one specific scene, so it loses a little on the rewatchabililty criterion.

2) Wall-E: Cute movie, that both kids and adults love. Not a lot of dialogue, but keeps you interested. It’s creative, original, and can be rewatched. But should a cartoon be the defining movie of a decade? That’s debateable, but this movie comes close.

1) Superbad: You could almost put any other comedy movie of the past five years in this spot (Knocked Up, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Wedding Crashers, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, etc.). Superbad was definitely excellent, and was original. The rewatchability of it is still up in the air, but I think there would be times if I flipping through the channels, and this movie was on, I would stop to watch it.

Conclusion: Could these movies beat out Almost Famous as top movie of the decade? I think Wall-E and Superbad could, but the other three couldn’t.

I just found it sad that there is no one movie that jumps out from this decade. The 1990s had Saving Private Ryan, The Matrix, The Sixth Sense, Forrest Gump and Titanic, and probably a dozen others.

So what happened to the 2000s?

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One thing I don’t understand

There are many things I don’t understand.

I dont understand why Paris Hilton is famous, but that isnt the point of this post.

I don't understand why Paris Hilton is famous, but that isn't the point of this post.

Nucleur physics. Why Paris Hilton is famous. The smoke monster from Lost.

But there’s one thing that’s been bothering me lately that I don’t understand. Why do people feel the need to e-mail more famous people in the middle of an exciting game.

A prime example: Bill Simmons of ESPN.

I think Bill Simmons is one of the best sports writers out there, even if his bias towards all-things Boston gets a little tedious after a while (especially for those of us who don’t like Boston teams). But he’s one of the funniest guys out there, and one of the smartest.

His favourite NBA team is the Boston Celtics. For those who may have missed it, Game 6 of their first round matchup against the Chicago Bulls was one of the most exciting playoff games in quite a while, as it went into triple overtime. Chicago held on for a one-point win to extend the series to a game 7.

Near the end of regulations, tons of people started e-mailing him. So much so, that he created a whole column just on the basis of those e-mails.

Some prime examples:



Will you please write your next book about this series between the Bulls/Celtics?



Okay, maybe it’s just me, but I can’t imagine watching an exciting triple overtime basketball game, and then stopping during the game to e-mail a famous writer I’ve never met.

Joakim Noah made the game winning basket in triple overtime.

Joakim Noah made the game winning basket in triple overtime.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with, I just don’t understand why. Are they not engrossed in the game? If I’m watching my favourite team play in one of the most exciting games in history, the last thing going through my mind is what a certain writer thinks at that specific moment, and what I should say in my e-mail to him.

And especially when the e-mails aren’t very exciting. Give it to Ray Allen? Why not just e-mail him and say “set up the screen and roll.”

Why not just enjoy the game? I just don’t get it.


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Price is Right

Bill Simmons mentioned this in his ESPN column last week, but I think it bears repeating for those who normally don’t read his column.

In the Showcase Showdown on the Price is Right, a woman missed her bid by $494. You should see her reaction. She thinks she has it sewn up.

The other guy gets it right on the nose. Not even one dollar off.

You think people would be more ecstatic. Just watch and listen to Drew Carey’s reaction.

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