#bill simmons

Jonathan Mahler and Richard Sandomir on the return of Bill Simmons from his (ridiculous) suspension this week:

Simmons declined to comment. Since his suspension, he has surfaced only in snapshots on his Instagram account — Simmons at the beach, Simmons on the golf course — seemingly designed to let ESPN know that he’s enjoying his time off. But people close to Simmons say he is furious and has been talking a lot about whether ESPN is still the right place for him. He has threatened to leave ESPN before, but this is the most pitched moment yet in their fraught relationship.

The next move will indeed be interesting

One thing that won’t be happening:

Kenneth Lerer, the co-founder of the Huffington Post and chairman of BuzzFeed, said he has never met Simmons, but thought it would be relatively easy for him to move to another large company, but infinitely more difficult to start something of his own. “Knowing what I know now,” Lerer said, “I think he should say: ‘I had a breakdown, I didn’t mean what I said. I’m back at ESPN and I love it.’ ”

Simmons may indeed come back to ESPN — he’s certainly incentivized to between salary, Grantland, 30 for 30, and soon his new NBA show. But I’d say there’s no way he comes back fully hat-in-hand. Nor should he.

Bill Simmons, Weasels, and Jackals

A week later, I still find myself thinking about ESPN’s suspension of Bill Simmons. The fact that it’s based on what was said on a podcast. The fact that Simmons is now effectively muzzled and can’t say a word about the suspension (he can’t even use his own Twitter account, let alone podcast). The absolute insanity of the suspension being longer than Ray Rice’s original suspension. The whole thing.

Amy Davidson brings up a couple good points. First, on the situation itself:

Simmons’s anger is absolutely earned. Goodell’s denial is absurd; as I’ve written before, what did he think it looked like when a football player knocked a woman unconscious? (Note that Simmons is saying that he lied about knowing what was on the tape, not whether Goodell saw it himself.) There are a few levels of dishonesty here: when Goodell hears that a player—a man whom he watches on the field every week using the force of his body in violent collisions—has hit a woman, and says that he just can’t picture the mechanics of that action without a video, how many lies is he telling, to others and to himself? Perhaps in other cases, when players choked women, shot them, or dragged them by the hair, he needed a sort of animated diagram.

It’s pretty simple, really. Goodell, and by extension, the NFL, has taken what is a serious, sad, and bad situation and has obfuscated it in trying to save their own asses and hiding behind technicalities. Like weasels.

Second, specifically on Simmons part here:

Maybe Simmons was deliberately looking for ESPN’s limits; if so, he found them. What does it mean, anyway, for a journalist to be suspended? Simmons presumably won’t be able to write his columns, appear on television, or record his podcasts. But he still might be asking questions.

Whether he was doing it on purpose or not doesn’t really matter. What matters is that ESPN was foolish to suspend Simmons for this. Whether they’re acting as the hand of Goodell here or not, it appears that they are. That’s all that matters. It has destroyed their credibility.

It’s interesting to think that Simmons was smart enough to know exactly how this would play out — that he would goad ESPN into suspending him and that it would elevate the firestorm even further as a result. Regardless, he comes out of this looking great, while Roger Goodell, the NFL, and ESPN all look like conspiratorial jackals.

But it also puts Simmons in a precarious situation when he returns from suspension. Does he continue on with business as usual? Can he? Won’t it look like ESPN (and again, by extension — rightly or wrongly — the NFL) ultimately “won”? That money continues to talk?

It would seem like the perfect reason for Simmons to break away and re-start Grantland (he’ll undoubtedly be blocked from using the name) on his own? Maybe he has a non-compete (I assume so). And there are probably a half dozen other reasons why it would be hard for Simmons to leave ESPN (aside from the large amount of money they pay him, of course). But doesn’t he have to now?

By forcing ESPN’s hand (for the right reason) did he force his own?

Bill Simmons looks back at the Miami Heat’s 27-game winning streak, how it slipped away, and LeBron, in particular:

Once it became clear that Chicago wasn’t fading and a sense of desperation started setting in for Miami, that led to my second-favorite moment of the night: LeBron saying Screw this, I’m guarding Hinrich and hounding the aging Chicago point guard everywhere, unwilling to allow that streak to slip away without doing everything possible to save it. In turn, that led to my favorite moment — LeBron allowing Hinrich to keep driving past him so he could block the ensuing layup. And he did it twice!!! I’ve been watching basketball forever … I have NEVER seen that before, not even from Jordan. To be fair, I never saw Russell (maybe he tried that trick, too), but please, tell me the next time I’m going to watch a basketball player so supernaturally confident in his own inhuman athletic ability that he intentionally allows an opponent to attempt layups that he can block.

melfi asked:

On his 2/5 B.S. Report podcast, ESPN/Grantland's Bill Simmons discussed pulling a prank on Dick Costello during the Super Bowl. The two were in box together at the game when Simmons pulled out his phone, turned to Costello, and said, "Oh, so Twitter's down?" He said Costello freaked out and almost had a heart attack. Then got really upset when he found out it was a joke. The story starts at the 37:30 mark of the podcast. Tried to add a link, but it won't let me. Thought you'd enjoy listening.

Awesome. Love the BS Report almost as much as I love Twitter (and pranks on Dick Costolo). Will have to listen. As will anyone reading this :)

This is obviously a bit old, but I finally got around to reading it on the plane today. It’s brilliant.

Simmons is a die-hard Celtics fan. Hates the Lakers with a passion. But he rightly calls bullshit on what went down. The best parts:

Once word leaked of the deal, rival owners started rebelling almost immediately. What was the point of that lockout, and all the talk of competitive balance, if the Lakers were allowed to immediately acquire Chris Paul? Dan Gilbert sent a scathing e-mail to a few of the other owners that, of course, was leaked on the Internet last night.

The best part of the letter: “This trade should go to a vote of the 29 owners of the Hornets.”

(Translation: “Let’s cut Demps’ balls off, throw the last few weeks of negotiating out the window and go back on our word. Also, I’m thinking of starting a support group for small-market owners who overpaid for their teams, don’t have the balls to sell and would rather whine, bitch and bully about their lot in NBA life. I’m going to call it O.A.: Overpayers Anonymous.”)

And:

Just know that I’m a die-hard Celtics fan and die-hard Lakers hater … and even I am appalled. I hope Chris Paul sues. I hope the Rockets sue. I hope the Lakers sue. I hope Dell Demps resigns and makes a sex tape with a stripper wearing a David Stern Halloween mask. Whatever happens, the season has been irrevocably tainted — we just watched FIVE teams have their seasons screwed up by this debacle. 

The league has moved on. The teams have moved on. But what went down remains total bullshit.

As a big fan of Bill Simmons, I’m excited for his new site (in association with ESPN): Grantland.

ESPN:

With Simmons as editor-in-chief, Grantland.com is scheduled to launch in June with a mix of original columns, long-form features, blog posts, and podcasts. The name of the site honors the legacy of Grantland Rice, the legendary sportswriter who helped elevate sports into American culture during the early 20th Century. 

Chuck Klosterman, Malcolm Gladwell, Dave Eggers and many others are on board. Awesome.

[via Kottke]