Thursday, April 16, 2009

8 comments New Picture, New Day, Same Old Bill

An ESPN Page 2 columnist has a MVP ranking system up, which in of itself is not worthy of being posted on this site. What makes it worth posting on this site is that columnist is Bill Simmons, so we are going to be treated to pop culture references, self referential references, and bizarre MVP rankings. Incredibly intelligent reader Ivn mentioned in the comments to the previous post that it would be interesting to count up the number of pop culture and self referential references Bill puts into his columns and I thought it was a good idea and Ivn did not seem to mind if I went about doing this. So while completely recognizing Ivn came up with this idea, I am going to count up the number of pop culture and self referential references that are contained in this column. I was going to list each reference, but let's be honest, I don't have all day and that is how long it would take.

Our LVC (Least Valuable Columnist). Bill also has a new picture up and I have to say the new one is a little more flattering.

Bad times for the No Benjamins Association right now. With two-thirds of the teams losing money, one-fifth of the teams losing staggering amounts of money, the 2010 salary cap traveling backward in time like the Oceanic Six, and season-ticket renewals lagging so dangerously -- and really, "dangerously" is not a strong enough word -- that a handful of franchises have quietly moved toward Circuit City Memorial "EVERYTHING MUST GO!!!!!" status, the summer of '09 looms as the craziest for player movement since the post-lockout free-for-all in 1999.

Yes, that was his opening paragraph. 1 self reference with the No Benjamins Association, two pop culture references, and a run-on sentence that begins with a preposition.

Also I wanted to take this time and mention that Circuit City had going out of business sales and they were by far the crappiest sales I have ever seen. Few things were marked down as much as they claimed they were going to be. I have a friend who worked for Circuit City's corporate office and he said he knew the company was in trouble about two weeks after he took the job. That was four years ago and he worked for them a little under a year. They were going out of business, why not have a great sale? That was my only Peter King-esque mini-rant, I promise.

This season's defining image: In's recent a "Day In the Life" video that followed Phoenix equipment manager Jay Gaspar, reader Shaun Ziegler noticed that the Suns "were using Purex detergent, which is what I used throughout my college years seeing as how it was about half the price of everything else. I am pretty sure it is about 90 percent water." The NBA ... where Purex happens!

Really? The defining moment of the NBA season was when the Suns equipment manager used Purex? There were no other defining moments? Maybe a Kobe buzzer beater or LeBron James becoming the outright best player in the league...but no, when the Suns equipment manager used Purex and a SimmonsClone wrote in saying that is what he used in college because it was cheap, now that is the defining moment!

The West playoffs promise to be wackier than Lindsay Lohan.

It never gets old. But is it going to be wackier than Britney Spears? Why doesn't Bill do a breakdown, Dr. Jack style of course, of those two and see who is wackier? Now that is something I would be sure not to read.

446. Jamaal Tinsley
As far as I can tell, the first player with a non-expiring contract who was paid by his team to stay the hell away for an entire NBA season.

I realize he now has an expiring contract but Raef LaFrentz seems to have been paid for the past couple of years to not play basketball. Maybe it just feels this way.

He's "one year, $10 million in Spain or Italy" waiting to happen. You know what that means? Allen Iverson in a foreign country!!!! I'm giddy.

Because Iverson is an African-American and he won't fit in with the foreign culture with his tattoos and bad attitude! That will be so funny! Minorities leaving the country to play sports in another country...hilarious. I think they should make a movie about this and have it star Martin Lawrence and then Bill can quote the movie 676 times. We will call the movie "A Pain in Spain," and it will make 500K at the box office opening weekend.

In mid-December, I attended a Knicks-Lakers game and sat 20 feet away from Marbury, who had bought a courtside seat even though the Knicks had already begged him, "Please, for the love of God, just stay away from us" and done everything but take out an NBA restraining order on him. For four quarters, my friends and I waited for him to wander onto the court like Shooter in the 1954 Indiana sectional finals. Didn't happen. Four months later, he has reinvented himself as ... (gulp) ... a legitimately effective backup point guard for one of the three teams that can win the 2009 title.

I don't know why or how Bill was amazed by this. Marbury pouted his way out of New York and now that he gets to play for a contending team, he is happy again. Of course, he has only been playing for the Celtics for two months now, so he has been sure to be on his best behavior so he can get a contract in the offseason with some other unsuspecting team and then repeat his "play crappy, pout, and then quit" cycle in the NBA.

The fans like him. Even ... (gulp) ... my Dad likes him.

That completely changes my opinion of him then. Your dad, much like you, is one of the smartest group of individuals who have ever walked the face of the Earth...that group is called "Celtic fans," so if that group, who not only know everything, but also cheer for the most important team in the world like him, then he is all right with me.

I don't get what is so shocking that Bill's dad likes Marbury. Is he normally a person who doesn't believe players can redeem themselves for only two to four months in a season? Marbury playing limited minutes definitely will work, and that is all Bill's dad really knows about the situation, but it is whether he stayed on his best behavior off the court that is the problem. Our investigative journalist Bill Simmons says he has so I believe him.

311. Monta Ellis
If the Warriors were "The Room," their fans were Johnny and Monta was Lisa, the 2009 Warriors team video would be the "You're tearing me apart!" moment on a never-ending loop. Fine, that didn't make sense. I just wanted you to watch "The Room" trailer. Then watch it again. Then watch it a third time. And a fifth. And a 10th.

I wonder where that trailer would rank on the "Unintentional Comedy" scale?

It seems that movie would rank right up there for Bill. Apparently Jimmy Kimmel featured this movie on his January 30, 2009 show. I wonder why it took Bill so long to catch on. He is usually right with the times when it comes to pop culture references...or at least only 15 years behind.

301. Baron Davis
Is it possible Tim Thomas switched bodies with him like in the plot of that new Zac Efron movie?

I give Bill credit for picking on Baron Davis (kind of) here when he "interviewed" him a few weeks ago at the trade deadline but unfortunately those points he receives for this are offset by a completely serious Zac Efron reference. I know I beg Bill to make current pop culture references but referencing a Tweeny-bopper in a movie with a plot that has been done and re-done probably 20 times is not what I was talking about. Maybe Bill's boy, Seth Meyers, said that Zac was totally cool when hosting SNL this week. I don't really know but I do know if you can avoid a Zac Efron reference, I would try to do it.

253. Billy Walker
The most supportive, gregarious, happy-to-be-there 12th man in Celtics history.

I may need some help on this one. I can't understand why Bill Simmons, the man who thinks if Joey Harrington had just gone by the name "Joe" his entire NFL career would have been different, feels the need to call Bill Walker "Billy Walker." At Kansas State he was Bill Walker and I have never known him as any other name. Is it because Bill Simmons thinks he is the supreme Bill and no other can match him, so he attemps to demean him by calling him "Billy?" I have no idea, but I would just think someone who pretends to believe so strongly that a name can make a difference in a player's career would call Walker by the name "Bill." There have been some very successful "Bills" like Bill Russell and Bill Bradley. I have been trying very hard and can't think of a single very successful Billy in the NBA...and Billy Owens does not count. He was a disappointment for the 3rd pick in the draft. Seriously, why call him "Billy?" I don't remember him every going by that name.

The weak link of the 2009 Laker Playoff Express. Farmar's numbers in March/April: 4.3 ppg, 2.2 apg, 31 percent FG. Fisher's last 10 games: 5.4 ppg, 1.3 apg, 33 percent FG. Throw in their ages (34 for Fisher, 22 for Farmar) and we might have a "one guy's washed up, the other guy isn't ready yet" situation on our hands.

I think this may be a little wishful thinking on Bill's part. If we can count Farmar and Fisher as a platoon those numbers come out to 9.7 ppg and 3.5 apg, and that is coming from the 5th starter on the team. That's not so great, but also not so bad considering I am using Bill's cherry picked stats and not their season totals.

(Follow-up note: Presti wins 2009 Exec of the Year for shrewdly building a nice foundation -- Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook as his Big Three; Krstic, Nick Collison and Thabo Sefolosha as three legit rotation guys, a top-six draft pick coming, multiple first-rounders in the hopper, cap space galore, a genuinely good coach in Scottie Brooks, and the NBA's single strangest bench guy in Robert Swift. There's just a lot to like.

Bill is now planning on spending the entire weekend thinking of a way to get angry with the Celtics management so he can become a Celtics basketball orphan and then switch his team over to Oklahoma City. It is not going to happen, but you know he has at least thought about it. He loves himself some Thunder and Kevin Durant.

166. Manu Ginobili
Ways I'd dissuade my stars from participating in the Olympics or World Basketball Championships if I owned an NBA team:

Bill says "if I owned a team" or "if I was an NBA GM" about three for four times in this column. Him running for Milwaukee Bucks GM was not a joke last year. I wonder what happened to the Sports Czar platform or was that too pathetic even for Bill?

159. Greg Oden

He's averaging 21.6 minutes and 4.0 fouls, which prorates to 8.8 fouls per 48 minutes. (I'm almost positive nine fouls gets you disqualified from any NBA game.) I asked Jeff Bennett's ESPN research crew to find the last player who averaged 20-plus minutes and topped that 8.9 number. The answer? Stanley Roberts with 9.5 in 1992.

In the past I have defended Greg Oden and said I was in the "wait and see" portion of Oden's career. Well now I have waited and I am seeing, and I have to admit it is not looking too good. I am not giving up on Oden quite yet but Bill may have been right on this issue.

Oden: 21.3 mpg, 8.7 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.1 bpg, 56.3 FG percent, 63.3 FT percent
Roberts: 20.3 mpg, 10.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.5 bpg, 52.8 FG percent, 51.5 FT percent

These numbers are similar Oden doesn't have the weight problem Roberts had even coming out of college. Roberts also played for a bad Orlando team and Oden plays for a playoff bound Portland team so less is required of him, at least in regards to scoring.

I am willing to concede this argument to Bill as of next year if Oden continues to underperform.

152. Rodney Stuckey
The Billups/Iverson salary dump would be more defensible if Stuckey ran Detroit's offense better than Will Bynum does. It's unclear if Stuckey is even a point guard. I might hire Joe Dumars to do PR for my basketball book in October. There's nobody better.

This is Bill's shameless promotion for his book that is coming out in 6 months. So SimmonsClones start saving that beer money and get ready to make self referential jokes to Bill on his book tour. Better start thinking of something witty to say to him right now.

He really threw that advertisment for the book in there out of left field.

137. Amare Stoudemire
129. Shawn Marion
117. Jose Juan Barea

I realize this is an MVP ranking and not a player value ranking...but this is messed up. Stoudemire is WAY more valuable than Jose Juan Barea no matter how many hyperbolic stories Bill tells.

Whenever Barea catches fire, and it has happened like five times this season, it fires up the rest of the Mavs like nothing you've ever seen. It produces results akin to Steve Kerr's unforgettable barrage of 3-pointers in Game 6 of the 2003 Western finals -- players leaping up and down on the bench, coaches hugging, Jason Kidd smiling like a proud dad, tears streaming down Mark Cuban's face. It basically turns into the ending of a bad Disney sports movie.

Sure, I am sure it happens exactly like that, you are in no way making that up or making it seem more exciting than it truly is.

Also, Barea has made 5 three point shots twice in games this year and his largest total other than that is 2 three point shots. Just thought I would share that.

104. Kyle Lowry
Savvy acquisition by Daryl "Stop Calling me Dork Elvis; It's Starting to Catch on Around The Office" Morey.

Bill's ego loves it when something he says catches on with other people. When this happens, it is one of the few times his own inflated self worth gets some satisfaction.

The Rockets are getting a combined 19-7-5 every night from the Lowry/Brooks combo. Not shabby.

Not too shabby. By the way, the Lakers get 16-4-6 from Farmar/Fisher. Just thought I would mention that based on Bill's "weak link" theory.

46. Kevin Garnett

This is for future reference. Just remember this.

27. Brook Lopez

Unfortunately, his brother tanked in Phoenix and we now have a Sly/Frank situation looming. Bummer.

Yes, no one saw that coming considering Brook Lopez has always had better numbers than his brother at Stanford and was also drafted in the lottery of the 1st round, while his brother was drafted at the end of the first round. Yeah sure, no one saw this coming...and great reference by the way. You don't see many Sly/Frank references anymore...mostly because anyone who would have made that reference has quit writing like that out of embarrassment.

17. Jesus Shuttlesworth

Please also remember Ray Allen is #17 on this list. Also, I really wish basketball reference had comparables for basketball players like they do for baseball players so I could potentially call bullshit on this following sentence:

After another stellar season, I have Ray Allen over Moncrief, Dumars, Westphal, Maravich, Monroe and neck-and-neck with Reggie Miller at this point. You're damn right, I just went there

I can't call bullshit because I don't know...but I don't think Allen is on the level of Maravich.

Five years ago, I would have ended the paragraph there, but now we can look this stuff up! Of the top 12 "clutch" scorers according to , Parker had the highest field-goal percentage other than Melo and LeBron. The lowest? That would be ...

12. Dirk Nowitzki... with a ghastly 39.2 percent.

Everyone wants to know...where is Kevin Durant on this list? How about behind Mike Dunleavy Jr. and T.J. Ford, but he is ahead of O.J. Mayo and Rashard Lewis. So that is good news. What is his FG% at that point in the game? An even more ghastly 35.5%, which is worse than Dirk's percentage of 39.2%. So if Nowitzki's average is ghastly, what does that say about Durant? What does that say about Durant in the clutch I wonder? I don't know and that is why I am asking...but I would not think it is great.

Don't bring me numbers if you don't me to use them also...Mr. Boston Sports Hyperbole Pop Culture Reference Guy.

6. Dwight Howard
Does he want it? I can't tell. I really can't. I know the next guy wants it.

5. Paul Pierce

He's a fucking Celtic, of course he wants it more than anyone. Celtics want to win more than anyone else in the universe and that is just a reflection how loyal and knowledgeable the fan base is.

Let's read while Bill JemeHill's this one.

Numbers can't possibly describe Pierce's all-around impact on a banged-up team that had no business winning 60 games. Since the beginning of February, when KG's knees finally went south, Pierce averaged a 23-6-3, defended the opponent's best perimeter scorer every night and carried the Celts emotionally

"Numbers can't describe" usually means, "I am going to give him more credit than he deserves because I want to, and because the numbers don't really support what I am saying." I think we could call this a false premise to say Pierce carried the team.

If Pierce and Howard are equally important to their teams, and Pierce's team won more games, why wouldn't he rank higher on the MVP ballot?

And now Bill is carrying his false premise out to it's fullest extent. Paul Pierce and Dwight Howard are NOT equally as important to their team. You take Howard off that Orlando team and they don't win 30 games, but if you take Pierce off the Celtics they would still be in the playoffs.

What am I missing?

What you are missing is that Howard and Pierce are not equally important to their teams, so you are starting off your idea with a completely false premise. Bill ranked Kevin Garnett #46 on his MVP rankings and Ray Allen #17 on his MVP rankings. He did not rank any other Orlando players, partially because he really doesn't follow them, but suffice to say he would not have ranked them quite as high as either Garnett or Allen. How can Pierce be more valuable than Dwight Howard when Bill ranks two other players on Pierce's team in the top 50 of the MVP race while Howard has no one else in the top 50? Bill doesn't do research, he has others do it for him, but if he had looked back over his column before absentmindedly turning it in, he would have realized he just shit all over his "Paul Pierce is as important to the Celtics argument as Dwight Howard is to the Magic" by ranking two other Celtics high in the MVP race.

So either Garnett and Allen are over ranked and Bill is being a complete homer or Pierce is not as important to the Celitcs as Dwight Howard is to the Magic.

3. Dwyane Wade

By sheer osmosis, he redeemed Beasley's career, made him care about defense and turned him into a potential playoff weapon. ...

How Bill knows these things, what people are thinking and feeling is still beyond me, but I do find it amazing Dwayne Wade managed to turn the #2 pick in the 2008 NBA Draft into a potential playoff weapon. Simply is so hard to take guys with no discernable talent like that and turn them into being productive...and he did it by osmosis. It's amazing enough to make me think Bill is full of shit.

1. LeBron James

1. Only seven teams won 67-plus games and the title: the '96 Bulls (72 wins), '97 Bulls (69), '72 Lakers (69), '67 Sixers (68), '86 Celts (67), '92 Bulls (67), '00 Lakers (67). Each of those teams had at least two HALL OF FAMERS. The Cavs won 66 this season, and LeBron played with Mo Williams, who made the All-Star Game only as an injury replacement.

Yet somehow Bill takes this logic and just forgets it when he put Paul Pierce at #5 on the MVP list. Pierce's team has 2 other Hall of Fame players. Howard has zero Hall of Fame players around him, unless J.J. Redick really picks up the pace. I'm just saying...For a player who went to the University of Kansas, I really like Paul Pierce, and would not argue with his placement at #5 if it weren't for the messed up logic Bill used to put him over Dwight Howard.

If there's an enduring image of the '08-09 season, it's the way LeBron stamped his personality on everyone around him.

I guess there is a difference in the "defining" image and the "enduring" image, because I thought the defining image was the Suns equipment manager using Purex.

Thanks to the ESPN Stats & Information group for its help. All stats through Monday.

Thank you so much for helping Bill write this column. Otherwise we would have been subjected to 5,000 words with incredibly misleading and cherry picked information. Bill looked up that one stat about the clutch percentage and it basically said Durant sucks worse in the clutch than the guy Bill was berating, Dirk Nowitzki, but he ignored that. That would have been the entire column. Thank you for saving my blood pressure from sky rocketing more than it did.

Pop culture reference count: 25
Self referential reference count: 9

Not too bad but I can imagine a mailbag is going to be much worse.


Dubs said...

I've got to say, I really don't mind when Bill writes about the NBA. It's the only time I can read him without minding the crap he throws in there too much.

One thing I have to question with the general media is how anyone can describe it as an "MVP Race" this year. LeBron is so far ahead of everyone else right now in any possible way to look at the MVP IMO. He's the best player, with the best stats and even if you use the old tired "if you take Player X off of his team, what happens to the team" argument and Cleveland sinks the furthest without LeBron. No question on the MVP.

Bengoodfella said...

Dubs, Bill does know the NBA a lot better than he knows pretty much every other sport, I will give him that. This was not so bad overall, though his reasoning for Pierce at #5 was a bit questionable. His NBA expertise is actually pretty decent. I think he actually puts effort into his NBA columns.

I agree with you on the LeBron James being MVP thing though. It is not even close in my opinion. He has dominated the league this year in nearly every way.

Dubs said...

Yeah, I'd agree that his reasoning for Pierce was suspect, but there are so few writers that are around anymore that do a good job with the NBA that I have to accept Bill's homerism. I think that since he at least admits to it once in a while it makes it easier for me to swallow.

Actually, thinking about it a little more, I don't think that Pierce at 5 was as much of a problem as Garnett being on the list. The Celts are 2 in the East with KG missing however many games, was he really a top 50? IMO, he wasn't.

Bengoodfella said...

I can accept it when he admits his homerism but it annoys me when he doesn't admit it and tries to pass it off as a fact. That is what bothers me and also when he tries to make a point, like in the 3 pt v. 2 pt. shooting "discussion" a few weeks ago. I am not really doing to dispute too much of his intelligence about the NBA, but sometimes I think he talks out of his ass a little bit.

Another good example of when his homerism annoys me is Garnett in the top 50 of Bill's MVP race. I am with you on that, I don't see how he makes the top 50 either. He has been shut down for a while and the Celtics really did not slip much...and I don't think it is completely because of Pierce. I did not make that point in my post but Garnett and Allen were a little high for me. I still believe Howard is more valuable than Pierce though.

Martin said...

If you look at the article now, it turns out that the Stats Dept messed up on something about teh Cavs and they had to stick in a disclaimer. ~rolls eyes~ Pretty funny.

Bengoodfella said...

I saw that correction...I guess even they make mistakes. I saw that Danny Ainge had a minor heart attack on the day Garnett may be out for the playoffs. Coincidence? I think not.

Also, to get Boston's playoff chances they ask the Boston Sports Guy, Bill Simmons about the Celtics chances. I do agree he knows a lot about the NBA, but I still think it is funny rather than go to one of the high paid experts, they go to the Sports Guy who knows the Celtics so well because he spends most of his time talking about them.

They need a homeristic report, they go to him.

Martin said...

Sadly, I read that article, and I think Bill did a better job then most of the "experts" who work for ESPN would do. It's homery, but also pretty realistic in most of it. A lot of times a true fan will admit the pessimism of reality faster then a network that is vested in making people think that a popular team is going to be ok...please please please watch our games...please.

Bengoodfella said...

I would expect Bill to do better than the experts, simply because he follows the team constantly, so he is going to know more about the impact it will have on the Celtics. I mean, they are missing one of the top 50 MVPs in the league. Fortunately they have #17 and #5 left.

I don't know whether to be angry they had to go to an entertainment columnist to talk about his favorite team because none of the highly paid experts would do as good of a job or be happy it shows the NBA experts on ESPN really aren't that.