Posts tagged Sports Guy
Posts tagged Sports Guy
Bill Simmons, ESPN’s Sports Guy, can make me laugh out loud at my computer or openly shake my head in disgust several times in the same column.
Here’s an example, from this latest mailbag. First, the bad:
Q: Who you got for the next “Child Actor who goes off the deep end” ala the 2 Coreys. I’m going with the kid from “Two and a Half Men.” He makes $500K per episode!
— Ryan, Indianapolis
SG: Way to go out on a limb. That’s like predicting Jessica Simpson is going to gain some weight over the next 20 years. I say, twist it around: Which current child star WON’T go off the deep end? I pick Justin Bieber, and here’s why: He’s Canadian. Canadians don’t go off the deep end. Lock it down. Sure, it’s going to be weird seeing him in 15 to 20 years when he’s the exact same size he is now (and has a comb-over). But I say he’s safe.
This is my biggest problem with The Sports Guy. He’ll make “expert” announcements that are inherently flawed. This particular answer is silly because the person asked who will be the next Corey Haim. (Sports Guy references Haim in nearly every mailbag and fancies himself an expert in that regard.) SG writes that Justin Bieber won’t get a batch of the crazies since, you know, he’s Canadian and uses the evidence of “Canadians don’t go off the deep end.”
Of course, Haim was also Canadian.
That is something that I found out after a hunch (hey, isn’t Haim Canadian?) and a four-second Google search. This is the kind of thing that gets Simmons so much criticism.
He’ll compare his updated fictional rankings with newer fictional rankings that really mean nothing to everyone else in the outside world. He’ll make ridiculous music-sports comparisons. He equates word-count with quality (reference his million-page, NBA GM cover letter “Book Of Basketball” for that. My copy is packed away, so I can’t make an exact count, but the first 10 or 250 pages deal with the argument that: Wilt Chamberlain had better stats than Bill Russell, but Russell was an overall better basketball player and teammate, which can be summed up by well, the previous 18 words I just used, along with a small breakout of Russell’s stats.
I don’t mean to completely bag on the SG — from 2004-2006 I really enjoyed his columns. At his best, they are really great. He completely carved out his own niche and deserves credit for doing so, rather than the scorn he gets from many print-establishment types who are likely jealous of his wide-spanning audience. But at other times, SG over-uses his shtick. (Some pop culture references are good, but some of the convoluted Survivor/Bachelor/etc. ones don’t age terribly well. And I would love to know if any edits are ever made to his column; at times I think his writing would be well-served by a strong copy editor.)
But now, the good. (The negativity on this blog sucks!) This has to do with why many people were so bothered by LeBron James leaving:
As for me, I figured out why the LeBron/Wade alliance bothers everyone beyond the irrefutable “Jordan would have wanted to beat Wade, not play with him” argument. In pickup basketball, there’s an unwritten rule to keep teams relatively equal to maximize the competitiveness of the games. That’s the law. If two players are noticeably better than everyone else, they don’t play together, nor would they want to play together. If the two guys have any pride at all — especially if they play similar positions — then getting the better of each other trumps any other scenario. They want that test. Joining forces and destroying everyone else would ruin the whole point of having the game. It’s like a dad kicking his young son’s ass in a driveway one-on-one game. What’s the point? When LeBron and Wade effectively said, “Instead of trying to whup each other, let’s just crush everyone else” and “If these teams end up being uneven, we’re not switching up,” everyone who ever played basketball had the same reaction: “I hate guys like that.”
That is fantastic. It’s relatable, it’s original and definitely true in my own experience.
As kids we played pickup football, baseball basketball throughout the years and for a good part of those years, it was the same group of friends. We always split up teams to be fair for the most part and I often squared off against my friend Josh, be it whatever sport.
Usually, he got the best of those matchups. Sometimes not, but even then, it was clear he was the best player on our block. Did I want to be on his team just so we would dominate? No, I wanted to beat him, to knock him off. I can remember how good my friend Dok and I got to be playing together in trying to beat Josh and whoever was his 2-on-2 teammate.
(Sidenote: I remember that one of the only times we were on the same pickup football team was when another friend, Robey was playing football with us. He was two years older and about 5 inches taller than all of us, so the teams were obviously reshuffled. I can only remember this because a deep pass got lost in the sun and bounced off of Robey’s head and Josh caught it. I can remember this because Josh jokingly referenced it in my high school yearbook, so that 50 years later we would laugh at it. I can still remember this, but I’m sure there’s something my wife asked me to do this afternoon that I have completely erased from my short-term recall. Sigh.)
The main point is that I wouldn’t have wanted to change teams to Josh’s side just so I could win. I also have forgotten about a lot of this, until I read Simmons’ column. It made me smile on an otherwise nondescript Tuesday, thinking about getting beat on a three-pointer by one of my best friends and how much fun we used to have running up and down Second Avenue South.
That is a function of good sportswriting.