I'm assuming most of you readers, since you are reading an online blog, know who Bill Simmons, aka "The Sports Guy" for ESPN.com is. He is probably the most famous sports blogger ever, and is a champion to any one of us typing away at our keyboards to probably no one just because we have opinions. He's the one who "made it," not because he had connections or because he had the right internships, but because people really loved reading what he had to say. In the blogging world, at least in my blogging world, he is king.
That said, there are a few drawbacks to his writing, the first being he is an unabashed Boston sports fan. We all know how obnoxious they are -- they are the ones who somehow perfected the art of being whiny and arrogant at the same time. Part of me actually likes this aspect of his writing, and it is refreshing to hear him just come out and say it, because he sounds like me writing about my teams. He covers the Boston teams with the same love and affection we at the Ace of Sports do for Detroit teams. However, there are times where it is so glaring he actually makes himself look bad. Here's the example I'm getting at (watch out -- this is pretty long. You know how he can be):
Random tangent since we're here: I want to come back in my next life as Joe Dumars. He should have broken up the Pistons after they folded in the 2007 East finals against the Cavs, but instead, he waited an extra 16 months, overpaid Chauncey Billups, then killed this season's team by getting out of the Billups contract by dumping his salary for Iverson's expiring contract, only nobody in Detroit caught on because, "Hey, we got Allen Iverson!!!!!" Meanwhile, he has the media convinced Rodney Stuckey is headed for the Hall of Fame, and the Pistons have a chance to land LeBron in 2010. Really? LeBron is going to drop a nuclear bomb on Cleveland by ditching it for a division rival? That's happening? Last time I checked, free agents were fleeing Detroit (Allan Houston, Grant Hill, Ben Wallace) and not signing there. And if you really think Detroit is landing a marquee guy in 2010 when big markets such as New York and L.A. and warm-weather cities such as Miami, Phoenix and Orlando will all be throwing money around -- not to mention deep-pocketed Portland, which will have assembled a contender at that point and remains the most logical destination for LeBron if he only cares about winning titles and nothing else (and also, Nike is right there) -- then you're obviously in denial. Chris Bosh loves Toronto. He's not leaving. Dwyane Wade isn't leaving South Beach so he can wear a parka and live in Michigan. And LeBron wants to be the next Jordan and/or the most famous athlete on the planet; these things aren't happening in Detroit just because Worldwide Wes likes the Pistons. Come on.
Here's what that cap space will get Dumars: Maybe a discount superstar like Dirk Nowitzki (who's about three months away from turning into the 1991 Tom Chambers) or a nonsuperstar free agent like Carlos Boozer. That's about it. As for the Pistons fans, Dumars might be better than many GMs in the league, but remember, he's the same guy who botched the Darko pick, hired Flip Saunders, overpaid Nazr Mohammed, shoved Carlos Delfino down your throats, pushed out Larry Brown and badly misjudged Mehmet Okur. He's not a genius. He's a solid GM who made some good moves and some bad ones, and he definitely held on to the 2004 nucleus for about 18 months too long. It's OK to lightly question the direction of this team without feeling like an ingrate. Really, it is. You are within your rights. The five-year grace period is almost up.
And there it is: the fear. Can you smell it? It practically oozes from his words. The best part is when he tries to convince himself that Portland is more of a contender in the hugely competitive Western conference than Detroit is in the much weaker Eastern conference. Bill, I'm sorry Joe D can't make all the right decisions. Your squad has been known to blow a few big ones as well (Antoine Walker, anyone?). The fact is, we in Detroit trust him. All he's done is win us a championship with one of the most likable and truly team-first teams in recent memory, certainly a more legit project than your Celts, who were gift-wrapped, packaged and sealed for you by a former player in a trade that should have been vetoed by the Commish. So good job Danny Ainge, you've built a winner, at least until the aging Ray Allen slows down (which he already did against, ahem, Detroit in the playoffs. It's only a matter of time), Kevin Garnett gets a little older and loses some of his defensive quickness, and Paul Pierce decides he's done enough and starts mailing it in. That day is rapidly approaching. The point is, your team may be good now, but they're OLD. OLD, OLD, O-L-D OLD. And who do you have waiting in the wings? The great Rajon Rondo, Big Baby Davis, Eddie House (truly a joke of a player), and Kendrick Perkins (nothing but a body). The only legit players you got are Tony Allen ( and that's stretching the definition of "legit") and Leon Powe, who is, admittedly, a beast. Good luck with that team in five years. Hell, three years.
Here's the thing: Bill knows all of this. This is not new to him. That's why he went on his "tangent." It was written as much to reassure himself as to demoralize Detroit fans. You can hear it, especially when he talks about free agents leaving Detroit instead of going there. Good argument, Bill. Every team lets free agents go. It's not like players look at teams that have let a few go and say, "oooh, they let those guys go, I don't want to go there." Each case is different, and the players know that. Also, Allen Houston? Grant Hill? Really? I think I was nine when the Houston was here, and only a little older during Grant Hill. You're showing your age, Bill. Maybe you should take some of your own advice that you give Charles Barkley in the paragraph before the one I posted. Another good part is when he says the weather is one of the top reasons players decide where to go. Here's a revelation for you. Real players care about two things: money and rings. If the Stons got the money and the team, there should be no problem whatsoever signing a top-notch free agent.
And excuse us in Detroit for being excited about landing the player with the third-best average of all time. I love Iverson. He truly showed me what the NBA could be when I was in sixth grade and he took the Sixers to the finals when the second-best player on the team was Aaron McKie and he was THIS CLOSE to winning the first two games in L.A. against the mighty Lakers. I will always be grateful to him for what he showed in that series. And you know what's funny about Allen Iverson? I've never seen him cry and be wheeled out of the gym in a wheelchair from a fake knee injury. Even you, Bill, had to see the sapiness in that whole act. The Celts were praised and hyped and fawned over and dramatized (Bill Russel's televised conversation with KG, anyone?) by the media that whole season, and Pierce wanted just a little bit more, so he sold his dignity for a chance that a few people would believe he was actually hurt and he could pretend he was a hero. One problem: he lost the respect of countless fans. Congratulations, Paul.
So there you have it: the unflappable Bill Simmons, he of the boundless ego, is officially scared. I am looking forward to the rest of the season like I have never before. Go Pistons, and God Bless Joe Dumars.