Monday, January 7, 2013

20 comments Bill Simmons Just Doesn't Like Kobe Bryant

I used to read Bill Simmons' columns about 10 years ago every time one got posted on What has happened since then? Well part of the reason is Bill Simmons has become a first-rate starfucker. He is all about dropping the names of celebrities and athletes he has interacted with in any fashion. His writing ability aside, it's pretty unbearable to read him name-dropping how he watched a basketball game with Jalen Rose and Chuck Klosterman or trying to drop some "inside knowledge" he heard about an NBA team or player from one of the many people Bill has leeched on to through his employment with ESPN. For his Week 14 picks Bill decided to write a loooooooooong, rambling column about Kobe Bryant based on a conversation that he had with Bill Russell.

The entire point of the column appears to be that Kobe Bryant isn't Bill Russell and doesn't care if he is Bill Russell. It's hard to read this column believing Bill isn't being somewhat critical of Bryant considering the Boston Sports Guy hates the Lakers and Kobe Bryant specifically. Bill's "6 for 24" comments about the 2010 NBA Finals got old after the first or second time Bill mentioned this statistic. It's interesting how Bill frames the discussion of Kobe Bryant being a leader as compared to how he frames other NBA players as leaders. He always tends to frame Kobe being a leader from a purely selfish point of view, while framing other players (specifically Bill Russell) as a leader, because gosh darn it, he just wants his fellow teammates to do well. I'm not a Kobe defender, but it's like Bill has never heard of different methods of leadership...which we learn from a conversation Bill had with Bill Walton actually ends up being true. Bill assumed the correct way of being a leader was the Bill Russell method.

I spent five hours with Bill Russell last week and thought of Kobe Bryant twice and only twice.

This leads me to the many times in a day does Bill Simmons think about Kobe Bryant? More than twice? Ten times? Every minute of the day? Thinking about Kobe Bryant in a day more than twice is cause for concern.

I accidentally watched 30 seconds of the ESPN halftime show on Friday and heard Bill Simmons plug this article. He's like a one-man marketing machine for his bullshit. 

One time, we were discussing a revelation from Russell's extraordinary biography, Second Wind, that Russell scouted the Celtics after joining them in 1956. 

He scouted them? Did he call them on their phone as well and then go visit their house too?

Why would you scout your own teammates? What does that even mean? Russell wanted to play to their strengths and cover their weaknesses, which you can't do without figuring out exactly what those strengths and weaknesses were. So he studied them. He studied them during practices, shooting drills, scrimmages, even those rare moments when Red Auerbach rested him during games.

I'm a big Bill Russell fan, but I'm guessing he wasn't the only professional athlete to scout and study what his teammates did well or poorly during games and practice. Through this whole article we will read Bill "fancy up" what Russell did as an NBA player in an effort to make Russell seem more unique than he already is. I don't know what passed for common sense in the NBA fifty years ago, but this seems like common sense. An athlete figures out his teammates strengths and weaknesses during practice and games, regardless of whether he knows he is doing it or not.

He built a mental filing cabinet that stored everything they could and couldn't do, then determined how to boost them accordingly.

This is a fancy way of Bill Russell remembered his teammates strengths and weaknesses and then figured out how to help them improve.

It was HIS job to make THEM better. That's what he believed.

Bill writes his columns like a junior high-educated person writes an angry email. He italicizes random words and then capitalizes words constantly in order to provide emphasis. I capitalize certain words on occasion, but Bill does this constantly. His writing reminds me of an angry email I will get at work from a disgruntled person who doesn't know exactly why he/she is angry, but knows capitalizing as many words as possible is the best way to convey this anger.

So when Russell mentioned a current star devouring his book and stealing that specific concept — then thanking Russell for the help — naturally, I expected the player to be LeBron James, Chris Paul, Steve Nash, maybe even Kevin Durant. Nope.

Kobe Bryant.

"Really?" I said incredulously.

"This doesn't match my previously held belief based solely on my biased opinion on how I want Kobe Bryant to act. I must find a way to immediately dismiss this information or show how Kobe Bryant isn't in any way like Bill Russell. Reality is secondary to my preconceived notions."

Which didn't make sense to me. After all, Kobe regards his teammates the same way President Obama regards the Secret Service — these guys are here to serve and protect ME. Why would he need to scout them? What was I missing?

What you are missing is that Kobe Bryant is like this, but he also has a history of including his teammates or deferring if it makes the team better. Kobe's ego got in the way of his split with Shaq, but the bigger point is that Kobe was in the right to want to be "the guy" for the Lakers. The Lakers were right to choose to build around Kobe and trade Shaq when there were issues. Bill has preconceived notions about Kobe, and yes Kobe can be a dick, but he also is astutely aware of what makes the Lakers a better team and will embrace that when necessary.

I hate the Lakers. I've hated the Lakers for as long as I can remember. James Worthy went to my high school and I couldn't stand to see his jersey number on the wall of the gym. I don't like Magic Johnson either...because he played for the Lakers and for no other reason. In all of my hatred, I can also realize the truth. My blind disgust for the Lakers can't override the truth and make me look like a homer-ish dickweed. Kobe is an asshole, but he also wants to win games, and knows he has to make his teammates better to do that. Maybe Kobe doesn't have the same leadership style Bill Russell does, but he pushes his teammates for a reason, to make them better.

Later in the day, we were discussing leadership and Russell revealed that he never criticized a teammate publicly or privately. Not once. Not during his entire 13-year career. What was the point? Everyone already knew Russell was their best player — why undermine their confidence by making them doubt themselves, or even worse, making them wonder if he believed in them? How was that productive?

I don't know, but different players have different leadership abilities and styles. As a counter to this argument, if a little criticism from Kobe Bryant is going to ruin one of his teammate's confidence or make the player doubt himself then how is that player going to react in a crucial playoff game when he starts off 1-8 from the field with two fouls in the first quarter? If criticism from Kobe destroys the player's confidence, what will public failure in a nationally televised game due to that player's confidence?

Russell believed, and still believes, that a basketball team only achieves its potential if everyone embraces their roles — you figure out what you have, split the responsibilities and you're off.

Everyone believes this. Russell could have been the first to think of this idea, but nearly every championship team has players who embrace their roles. Robert Horry wasn't trying to score 30 points in a game and Derek Fisher didn't start launching three point shots out of an isolation play. Again, Bill is trying to "fancy up" Russell's words to make him seem like the only one who believes this. Part of the reason the Miami Heat won the 2012 NBA Title is they found guys like Shane Battier, Mike Miller and James Jones who found their role, while LeBron embraced his role as the alpha dog and Wade accepted the secondary alpha dog role. Great teams find players who can embrace a role.

But that would have failed unless everyone embraced their role, and that's the thing — everyone has to have a role.

Holy shit, we know this already. 

I'm not dismissing Bill Russell or his book. His legacy stands for itself without further comment, but Bill Simmons is quickly becoming the master of stating the obvious and coating the obvious in terms where it doesn't seem so obvious. Whether it is criticizing the NFL commissioner for concussions over a year after this issue arises or making it seem like the idea a championship team needs role players to know their role is a new idea, it's all been done and stated before, so don't make it seem like it hasn't.

So it was the "everything else" that varied from season to season, or even month to month — Russell assessed what his team needed and tailored his game accordingly. That's what made him Bill Russell.

Star players tend to do this. Tim Duncan recognizes that Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili like to drive in the lane and so he has developed a jump shot to prevent the lane from being clogged and become a threat outside the paint. Kevin Garnett knows Rajon Rondo likes the ball immediately after it is rebounded (okay, I can't read Rondo's mind but I know he calls for the ball quickly after it is rebounded),so he gets the ball to Rondo as soon as possible. Russell may have invented it, but he isn't the only one who did it.

Russell's book covers one example with an enlightening section on Sam Jones, one of the league's first great scoring guards but someone who feared the responsibility of being great every night. Sam couldn't handle the pressure; the burden was too big, like having the same term paper hanging over your head 100 times per year.

So Sam Jones couldn't handle the pressure of being great every night...

But he also happened to be a phenomenally gifted offensive player, someone who loved taking and making pressure shots. Sam's laconic demeanor worked against him being a legendary player, but for big moments? It was perfect.

But apparently he could handle the pressure of being great in certain situations. Russell understood this. Good for him. This is much like Kobe understood Robert Horry wasn't going to drop 20 points on a nightly basis, but would hit a big shot if given the opportunity. Kobe doesn't get credit for understanding this. Bill doesn't give Kobe credit for recognizing Derek Fisher can't be a leading scorer, but can be counted on to hit a big three-point shot.

Bill Russell left Sam Jones alone.

Yes, but happens when it is a team's second best player (Gasol), a player that team requires to play well to win an NBA Title isn't playing very well? What happens when the new center on the team can't hit his free throws and doesn't show the same passion for winning that Kobe does? The Celtics team could win without Sam Jones handling great responsibility, but if Gasol doesn't play well then the Lakers can't compete. Please understand the difference.

Russell told the other story in Seattle last week, after I asked him how the aging Celtics won their last two titles without a real point guard. They didn't run the triangle offense like MJ's Bulls or Shaq's Lakers … so how?

They had a team loaded with Hall of Fame players surrounding Bill Russell? I know Bill Simmons goes to great lengths to refute this point in his "Basketball" book, but the bottom line is the Celtics always surrounded Russell with talented players. It doesn't take anything away from Russell, but it must be acknowledged.

Russell heard that chant ringing in his ears all summer. After winning eight straight titles, he wasn't ready to be buried as a basketball player yet. He also wasn't ready to blow up his team. So he asked Siegfried to replace K.C. Jones. 

Siegfried resisted. He wasn't a point guard. He didn't want the added responsibility, nor did he want to chase faster players around. Russell gently insisted. No, thanks, Larry Siegfried said. They had reached something of a stalemate. The modern solution would be dealing Siegfried away,

What? The modern solution would be for the Celtics to trade away the only guy on the roster who could play point guard? How is this a solution? The Celtics would then potentially have zero players who could bring the ball up the court.

Spoiler alert: This really isn't the modern solution, but Bill is creating this straw man in an effort to show just how different the Celtics and Russell were from Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.

but the Celtics never traded back then — they believed continuity was their single biggest advantage other than Russell. During Russell's entire playing career, the Celtics only swung one real trade in 13 years: Mel Counts for Bailey Howell.

Again, it makes it easy not to make trades when you are consistently winning NBA Titles with the players on your roster and those players are named Bob Cousy, Tommy Heinsohn, Bill Sharman, Sam Jones, John Havlicek, K.C. Jones, and Satch Sanders. It also helped there was no salary cap in the NBA at the time.

He didn't threaten him or anything, just laid out the landscape. We have me, Havlicek, Sam and Bailey (Howell). All four of us need to play. This is your best way to get minutes, Larry. He kept appealing to him as a friend more than anything.

And of course Bill knows that Bill Russell appealed as a friend because Bill was there when Bill Russell appealed to Larry Siegfried or he knows this based on Russell's account of how he appealed to Siegfried? Since Russell doesn't want to make it seem like he was a pushy leader, I wonder if Siegfried thinks Russell wasn't pushy and appealing to him as a friend? Isn't it possible Russell's account may not be 100% reliable or Siegfried felt threatened but didn't say anything about it?

As Russell was telling the Siegfried story, I couldn't help but wonder how Kobe would have handled that situation. Would he have cussed him out? Bullied him? Called him out to a reporter? Pushed behind the scenes for the Lakers to dump him? And how would an obviously stubborn guy like Siegfried have handled Kobe's reaction? My guess: Siegfried would have pushed back … and if he pushed back, he probably wouldn't have been a Laker for too long.

What a scenario that Bill has presented to us based purely on conjecture and speculation. Not shockingly, the conclusion Bill reaches matches up with the point Bill wants to prove. What a coincidence! Bill's speculation matches his assumptions!

Let's at least agree that Kobe wouldn't have handled things like Bill Russell did.

Let's also agree this is speculation and Bill Russell played in a time before the 24/7 sports media could blow this disagreement between Siegfried and Russell into a bigger issue.

Of the 14 greatest players of all time, only Wilt and Kobe needed 10,000-word footnotes to cover "the other stuff." That list currently looks like this: Jordan, then Russell, then Kareem, then Magic/Bird, then Wilt, then Kobe/Duncan (or Duncan/Kobe), then West/Oscar, then Hakeem/Shaq/Moses. With LeBron lurking in there somewhere. We just don't know where yet.

Yes, "we" don't know where yet, but Bill will be sure to notify "us" when "we" know where LeBron fits in.

You would have loved playing with nine of those guys. The other five? Maybe, maybe not. 

Oh, would I have enjoyed playing with nine of those guys? I didn't know that about myself. Thanks for telling me what I do or don't like because being the fucktard I am, I have no clue what I do or don't believe to be true.

Of course, Oscar was a picnic compared to Jordan, who evolved into a withering, homicidally competitive bully; if you couldn't handle it, you needed to find another team. And Kobe tried to evolve into a withering, homicidally competitive bully, if only because his idol acted that way once upon a time. Eventually, that's what he became. For better and worse.

How about Larry Bird, who was famously competitive and would belittle and ride Kevin McHale during games and practice? I'm sure from Bill Simmons' point of view Bird was just trying to make McHale better, while Kobe is a homicidal bully. What about Larry Bird calling out his teammate Cedric Maxwell for being out of shape after coming back from an injury and said he didn't bring his best every night? I guess that doesn't count either.

Oscar, Hakeem, Shaq and Moses kept playing until nobody wanted them anymore. Jordan left at the perfect time, missed the attention and (unfortunately) came back. Only Russell nailed his exit. I have a feeling Duncan will do the same. But Kobe? Your guess is as good as mine. 

Don't you love how this conversation with Bill Russell has immediately turned into an assessment of Kobe Bryant's leadership abilities? This happened simply because Russell dared to mention Kobe stole a concept from Russell's book to Bill Simmons.

Also, Kobe claims he will retire at age 40, but plans to play for the Lakers for two more seasons. Based on that information readily available through a Google search, it appears my guess is actually better than Bill's.

Many NBA observers believe Kobe will handle his inevitable decline poorly, maybe even more poorly than Jordan's last two Wizards seasons.

This is what is known as "not really reporting" since it is based on pure speculation. Many NBA observers think a lot of things. They "think" them because they are unable to accurately predict the future to say they "know" these things. With a grain of salt is how I take this information.

That's the reason Phil Jackson retired two years ago: He even admitted as much during our lunch together, saying that he didn't want to be coaching Kobe Bryant when Kobe wasn't Kobe anymore.

Bill Simmons went to lunch with Phil Jackson. He doesn't name-drop or anything, he just wants you to know he went to lunch with Phil Jackson. Just ask Jalen Rose or Chuck Klosterman about it they saw them, in fact if you ask Gus Johnson, who Bill just finished having coffee with before meeting Phil Jackson for lunch, he could confirm this as well. There's no word on what Jimmy Kimmel knows and when he knew it.

His defenders maintain that Kobe hasn't been this efficient offensively in years, that you can't blame him for Dwight's back, Nash's leg, Mike Brown's brain and the cast of nobodies on his bench. 

His defenders would have a point in regard to everything except when discussing Kobe's own offensive efficiency.

His detractors believe it's been like watching Kobe Karaoke: As soon as things threatened to go south, Kobe started pushing for a new coach, blasting teammates and hogging the ball in close games. He's the most polarizing superstar since Wilt for a reason.

Because the most popular columnist at ESPN, the founder of Grantland, and the host of ESPN's pregame NBA show continues to write columns about how polarizing Kobe Bryant is?

We know what's driving him: Kobe wants seven rings (one more than Jordan); he wants to be remembered as the greatest Laker of all time; he wants to at least be mentioned with Jordan; and he understands the sheer power of numbers better than anyone. You can pick apart his top-five candidacy pretty easily. 

To be fair, outside of Michael Jordan you could pick apart a lot of players top-five candidacy pretty well.

He was the second-best player on three of those five title teams (not the best).

He was also playing on the same team as one of the best centers of all-time in his prime and was 21-23 years old when he played on those Lakers teams. Excuse him if he was only the second best player on the team. Not to mention, the fact Bryant was able to defer to Shaq could be used by a less biased observer as proof of what a great teammate Bryant showed himself to be at certain points in his career.

He never held the "Best Player Alive" belt as emphatically as Jordan did,

Yes he did. I only say "yes he did" because this is one of Bill Simmons' typically unprovable statements that he tries to pass off as a fact. Bill is great at contriving titles for a player/team (Bill is all about how a team "defends" a title or how a player "defends" an individual award) and then criticizing that player/team for not meeting Bill's own standard for defending these titles.

And unlike Bird, Magic and Michael, his team seriously considered trading him one time (in 2007).

This is completely irrelevant. Part of the reason Kobe almost got traded was because he had sort-of demanded a trade.

Then Bill starts listing statistics which show Kobe Bryant isn't as good as Magic Johnson or Michael Jordan. Of course this isn't a direct comparison since Magic was a different kind of player from Kobe Bryant. Plus, Magic was a fantastic passer, but it benefited him there were Hall of Famers like James Worthy and Kareem catching those passes. It doesn't take anything away from Magic of course.

Like Kobe today, Kareem and Malone were maniacal about taking care of themselves (Kareem with yoga, Malone with weights), but Kobe's era has offered decided advantages in conditioning, dieting, workout equipment, stretching routines, surgical techniques and even goofier advantages like napping (and the science behind it), sneakers (much better today) and the Internet (and the ability to study opponents on sites like Synergy). If ever an NBA player could play for a quarter of a century, and thrive for at least two solid decades, it's Kobe Bean Bryant.

I like the sort-of backhanded compliment here. Bill states Kobe has certain advantages that make him better able to take care of himself and study his opponent without mentioning Kobe's opponents have these same advantages. NBA players are much better athletes now than they were in Kareem and Karl Malone's prime, plus every single advantage Kobe has access to Kobe's opponents also have access to as well. This is a factoid that Bill leaves out (accidentally or on-purpose) to make it seem like Kobe has an advantage now that other current NBA players don't have which sufficiently explains why he is thrives while still being durable. 

And that's what makes "the other stuff" so frustrating. Nothing that happened this season has been surprising because it's happened, in various forms, during so many other Laker seasons.

What an absolute lie. Bill isn't surprised by what has happened this year? Then how come he wrote the NBA should basically hand a 17th title to the Lakers after the Howard trade occurred? 

It seems Bill was quite worried when he wrote an entire column saying the NBA's balance of power had completely shifted to the Lakers. How can Bill and his Simmonsites explain Bill's supposed non-surprise at how the Lakers season turned out when Bill repeatedly stated this past summer that the Lakers were going to probably get a 17th NBA Title? It must be very disappointing for Simmonsites to learn their idol is full of shit. Of course if they had been paying attention rather than worshiping at his altar they would already know this.

He's only been successfully coached by one person … the man who happens to be the greatest NBA coach ever.

Much like Gregg Easterbrook, Bill leaves out important details. Tim Duncan has been successfully coached by one person and Michael Jordan was only successfully coached by one person. Does this mean they aren't great NBA players? Of course not.

His second-best teammate (Gasol) looks totally broken, just a head case, a totally different player from the one who single-handedly almost vanquished our Olympic team five months ago.

Bill is conveniently leaving out exactly why Gasol is broken and how Gasol's performance is making seem more broken than he may be. Gasol is broken partially because he isn't playing well. Let's not forget Gasol needs to play well for the Lakers to win an NBA Title. Naturally, Bill doesn't acknowledge Gasol isn't playing well and this is partially what is causing him to be a head case. He doesn't acknowledge this because he wants us to believe Gasol's poor performance is all Kobe Bryant's fault. That's what Bill will have you believe.

His third-best teammate (Andrew Bynum) got shipped to Philly and traded shots with Kobe on his way out.

What's Bynum doing now, Bill? Bill neglects to mention Bynum's performance in Philadelphia or bring up the idea perhaps Kobe constantly riding Bynum to be a better player actually made him a better player. To acknowledge this would be too unbiased and less deceptive. Bill can only give Kobe back-handed compliments and blame him for not making his teammates better, while ignoring times when Kobe did make his teammates better.

It's just a different way to lead a basketball team: through fear, through conflict, through bullying, through the media. 

Well, he did partially learn how to do this from Michael Jordan. If this article is about Kobe Bryant being a bad leader it could just as easily be about Michael Jordan being a bad leader. Of course if Bill wrote a column about Michael Jordan being a bad leader he would get laughed at.

From what I heard,

Sources everyone! Bill has sources! I wonder if Jacoby told Little Mike (I don't know the names of Bill's friends and family, so I apologize to Simmonsites for getting the names wrong) who relayed a text message about this to Bill who confirmed it with Magic and Jalen Rose?

Kobe already played the "You don't know anything about winning championships!" card with Howard — during a scrimmage last week, when the second team beat the first team partly because Howard checked out (he wasn't getting the ball enough), followed by Kobe blistering him.

Has Bill thought that perhaps Howard deserved this? The second team of the current Lakers team should never beat the first team. If Howard is checking out perhaps he deserves to be reminded he doesn't have any championships. Of course Bill doesn't mention this. We all know if Kevin McHale checked out during practice that Larry Bird would pat him on the ass and tell him not to worry about it.

That same week, Kobe needled Gasol publicly for not sucking it up with knee tendinitis, saying he needed to "put your big boy pants." The whole thing is strange. Really, really weird to watch. Especially for me, just one week after hearing the greatest winner in basketball history say that he never criticized a teammate — not once.

Bill Russell says this. It doesn't mean it is true. For some reason Bill is taking Russell's first hand accounts from 40-50 years ago very, very seriously, even when Russell admitted to Bill he used to be able to remember details of games from that time he can no longer remember. So maybe Russell did criticize a teammate and just forgot he did it.

When we were preparing for our NBA Countdown show on Wednesday afternoon, I told Magic that Russell/teammates story if only because I knew he'd appreciate it.

This is your reminder that Bill works with Magic Johnson. Starfucker, starfucker, starfucker, starfucker, star.

This was like hearing a story about working the crowd from Bruce Springsteen and then passing it along to Mick Jagger.

Another not-so-gentle reminder from Bill that he knows famous athletes if his ceaseless name-dropping wasn't indication enough.

We started discussing the various ways to lead a basketball team. Magic settled on four, believing you could lead by example, by intimidation, by being a communicator (talking all the time, like Magic did) or by some combination of all three, or even two of the three. He didn't believe there was a right way or a wrong way. 

I'm glad it takes Magic Johnson, the same guy who barely can get a sentence out in complete English when on television, to explain to Bill there is more than one way to be a leader. I always thought this was somewhat common sense.

We've never asked Kobe for his feelings on leadership because we know the answer — he posted his thoughts on Facebook during the bizarre Smush Parker embroglio.

Bill's thoughts are in bold and Kobe's post is in bold parenthesis. 

There comes a point when one must make a decision. Are YOU willing to do what it takes to push the right buttons to elevate those around you? If the answer is YES, are you willing to push the right buttons even if it means being perceived as the villain? 

This is what I am talking about with the excessive capitalized words. Don't the capitalized words make Kobe seem a bit unhinged? That's how Bill Simmons writes and he is probably proud of it.

Here's where the true responsibility of being a leader lies. Sometimes you must prioritize the success of the team ahead of how your own image is perceived. 

(I'd be more prone to believe this if Kobe didn't spend so much time obsessing over how his image was perceived — he's the same guy who nicknamed himself "Mamba" and changed his number.

Every NBA player cares how his image is perceived. Michael Jordan is famous for stating "Republicans vote too" when asked why he doesn't get involved politically. This is a somewhat irrelevant point and stating Kobe cares about his image is only disguising the fact every NBA player cares about his image.

It's pushing them to find their inner beast, even if they end up resenting you for it at the time.

(I think that's the most fascinating thing Kobe Bryant has ever said. Seriously. He just explained everything. I don't even think he was exaggerating or writing those words for effect. It might be as simple as "Every time I lay into Gasol or Howard, it's because I am pushing them to find their inner beast, and I don't give a shit if they resent me for it." Does he feel like Gasol responded so beautifully in Game 7 of the 2010 Finals — 19 points, 18 rebounds, nine offensive boards — partly because Kobe pushed him to embrace whatever an "inner beast" is called in Spanish? Why do I feel like he does?)

Because it is very possible Gasol responded to Kobe laying into him. This is a coaching method that some people use to get the very best out of a player. I realize Kobe isn't a coach, but coaches push their players and realize they may end up being resented for doing so. Coaches push their players and one teammate will push another teammate in an effort to get the absolute best out of that person.

I'd rather be perceived as a winner than a good teammate.

(WHOA! GOOD GOD ALMIGHTY! Are you reading this????)

I am sure Michael Jordan believes the same thing. Again, this isn't unheard of.

Then Bill name-drops Bill Walton and reminds us he interviewed Bill Walton for his "Basketball" book.

Walton believed that I didn't like watching Kobe that much because he didn't play basketball the way I liked to see basketball played. That was my choice, just like it was Kobe's choice to play that way.

Bill Simmons, the Boston Sports Guy, just doesn't like Kobe Bryant and that is fine. Don't pretend you are judging him neutrally when you aren't though. Part of being the "Boston Sports Guy," means he hates the Lakers.

So, if the coach isn't working? He needs to go. If the new center isn't trying hard enough? He needs to try harder, or else. If the old center can't snap out of this crazy funk? Then he needs to put on his big-boy pants and suck it up. Kobe Bryant would rather be perceived as a winner than a good teammate. Kobe Bryant figured out what leadership style suited him best.

Exactly and if it isn't Bill Russell's leadership style then that doesn't mean it won't work. Of course Bill thinks the entire world revolves around Boston sports so he naturally thinks only leadership styles like Bill Belichick's, Bill Russell's and ubuntu are effective. This is what happens when you have tunnel vision.

This column has been updated.

Translation? There were incorrect facts but Bill won't let the editors mention which one in order to give the illusion he isn't ever wrong. Much like Kobe, he's gotta an ego to serve. 


HH said...

I used to read Bill Simmons' columns about 10 years ago every time one got posted on What has happened since then?

We have grown up, and Bill Simmons has not.

Snarf said...

Russell believed, and still believes, that a basketball team only achieves its potential if everyone embraces their roles — you figure out what you have, split the responsibilities and you're off.

Hmmmm, and here I thought players saying eff off to coaches and doing whatever the hell they please was the way to achieve potential. Learn something new every day.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, Bill was right when he said that the Bailey Howell was the only "real" trade in thirteen seasons. I looked it up sure that I would find like fifteen impactful trades.(There were three trades total, the second most "real" trade brought Wayne Embry over. Embry was good, but not Bailey Howell good)

But although Simmons was correct on that point, it's a non-starter. The Celtics were very active in the free agent market during Russell's era, and those were the days of six, seven, eight-round drafts. And with Red Auerbach's ability to find great basketball players (relative to his competitors), of COURSE there was going to be continuity. If I was Red Auerbach and I had Russell, Heinsohn, the Joneses, Havlicek, Sharman, Cousy, Ramsey (etc, etc, etc), you're damn right I'm not gonna mess with my roster very much. No one with a half-functional brain stem would. Teams that lack continuity (stunning coincidence) also lack talent.

Simmons seems to think that the NBA of 1965 is like 2% different than today.

Steve said...

I used to love reading Simmons over a decade ago but as a Celtics fan the fact that he is looked at as an expert on all things celtics and basketball is quite embarrassing

rich said...

Russell revealed that he never criticized a teammate publicly or privately. Not once.

A few things:

1) If Bill Russell said he didn't criticize his teammates, then by god, that's the only source I need to find.

2) What did Russell have to complain about? In 13 years, he won 11 fucking championships. Must be hard to cut back on the criticism. He also played with what? 7 Hall of Famers? Golly, what a rough career he had.

3) A lot of Kobe's "public" criticisms were actually private moments that people made public. The biggest criticism from Kobe I remember is when some douche pulled out his camera phone and kept hounding Kobe until Kobe answered.

Heck, ten years ago, having the ability to upload videos to the internet from your phone wasn't even possible and so Bill Russell knew when he was in "public" and when he wasn't. Much harder to tell when it doesn't require a massive recording device to document your insults.

Sam couldn't handle the pressure;

Says who? Who the hell said this?

the Celtics never traded back then

There were eight teams when Russell entered the league. So they were winning (almost) every championship and they weren't trading their players to one of the seven other teams?


Honestly, look at the number of trades that happened back then - very few teams made trades because, and I can't stress this enough, there were only seven other teams.

Only Russell nailed his exit.

Wilt's final season averages: 13.2 points, 18.6 rebounds, 4.5 assists and shot 73% from the field.

Tim Duncan is averaging 17.7 points and 9.6 rebounds.

These guys both hung around so they could win another championship. It's a lot easier to retire when you've already won eleven of them.

Oh and Bill Russell's final season? 9.9 points, 19.3 rebounds.

I hate Simmons.

maybe even more poorly than Jordan's last two Wizards seasons.

Jordan averaged over 20 points in both of those years and while his numbers weren't great, he was still the best player on the team.

He shouldn't have come back, but it's not like he came back and put up all-time bad numbers.

Kobe's era has offered decided advantages

And Bill Russell didn't? At 6-9, 250 Russell was one of the biggest guys in the NBA, but that in now way shape or form helped him.

Good grief, at this point, it's like Simmons is pissed he can't use the 27% (or whatever percentage it was) "insult" anymore.

Bengoodfella said...

HH, that is probably the truth. He did grow up, but didn't want to make it seem like he had.

Snarf, you can learn a lot by reading a Bill Simmons column. A lot of it is fiction of course.

Anon, I did research on that too in order to prove him wrong. But you hit the nail on the head in that the Celtics didn't need to make trades because they had such a good roster already. It's easy to have continuity when you have players you don't want to get rid of.

I think the comparison of how the NBA was run in 1965 to today's NFL is a bit misleading, yes. The game has changed so much.

Steve, I agree. It embarrasses me to be a Celtics fan. He's the kind of guy I separate myself from.

Rich, there is a difference. If Russell did criticize a teammate, there is a chance he could have gotten it buried, whereas today there is no way a reporter is burying a good story like that. There is a simple difference in coverage. Plus, he didn't have that much to complain about.

Bill Russell says Sam Jones couldn't handle the pressure. That's not criticism, mind you, that's just a fact.

But Bill Russell nailed it because he won a title and because Bill says so. Did Bill say another player nailed his exit? No? Then he didn't nail it.

I can't figure out what decided advantages Kobe has now that other players in the NFL don't have. Does Kobe have an advantage that no other NBA player has in training, access to film, and conditioning? No. So Kobe has advantages when compared to Bill Russell, but not relative to his competition. This is just overly simply thinking by Bill.

jacktotherack said...

I'd rather be perceived as a winner than a good teammate.

(WHOA! GOOD GOD ALMIGHTY! Are you reading this????)

I love how Simmons acts like this is some amazing revelation. What fantasy land does he live in where every leader has to be loved by his teammates? Does he think every Patriot loves Tom Terrific?? His ability to take inane bullshit and try to make it sound like some epiphany that only he realizes makes him completely insufferable.

Bengoodfella said...

Jack, he is close to the level of Gregg Easterbrook when it comes to making obvious statements that sound very deep and thoughtful.

waffleboy said...

Okay, Kobe is someone who is very skilled at what they do, but who has less than stellar interpersonal skills. I think he's a lot like that one guy on the Big Bang Theory, which is why I have started thinking of Kobe as Black Sheldon.
That being said, good lord, what is the point of this column? A reminder that Kobe has been a pretty horrible teammate over the years? Yeah, we know that. I knew it the last time Bill wrote a Kobe hit piece, and the time before, and the time before that one too.
God, I detest the Lakers like a bad case of joke itch, and even I don't need a yearly update that Kobe forced Shaq and Phil out of the Lakers, and probably made Lamar Odom cry after practice a few times. Ugh.
That being said, the trash Kobe pieces are always a step up from him whining about the Soxs

Bengoodfella said...

Yep, Kobe is a dick. We knew that a few years ago and we still know it. It was almost a cleverly designed Kobe hit-piece wasn't it? Still, we all know what it is. If Kobe makes Dwight Howard upset then I have to say Howard may deserve it. I hate the Lakers as well and Kobe has been a horrible teammate, but I don't really care at this point.

Anything Bill writes about Kobe is going to come off as a Kobe hit-piece and not as a neutral piece of work about Bill Russell. We all know what this was.

Unknown said...

synergy events boston LAUNCHES BOSTON'S TIMELESS BOND GIRL CONTEST 2013 -- Winner to be Revealed at Boston's Fifth Annual Timeless New Years Eve Event at the Marriott Courtyard.

JBsptfn said...

And unlike Bird, Magic and Michael, his team seriously considered trading him one time (in 2007).
Actually, there was a discussion to trade Jordan to the Clippers back in 1988. The Bulls were going to get LA's two #1 picks that year, and they would have drafted Rik Smits and Mitch Richmond, and they would have used their own #1 on Rod Strickland.

However, I think that owner Jerry Reinsdorf decided against it.

Bengoodfella said...

JB, I never knew that. I'm thinking of a team with Smits, Richmond, Strickland, and Scottie Pippen. It's not the Bulls of the 90's, but that's not a bad team in itself.

Anonymous said...

As I am a Simmons fan, feel free to ignore this entirely.

I thought your post was fairly good. It was a bit long-winded and you occasionally devolve into some serious hypocrisy. But in the main, it touches on all of Simmons' faults (or all the things that make him so good to read, depending on your perspective). You know what you get with Simmons; hardcore homerism, stubborn opinions and an incredibly precise grasp of the obvious. But with any basketball subject he doesn't have a preconceived idea about [read: not Kobe], his insights are objective and intellectual enough for his target audience. Bill is not and never has been the best basketball writer going around. With his obsession for constantly ranking things and UNSHAKEABLE CAPITALISED ITALICISED OPIONONS, he is the king of pop culture basketball. It's like comparing Linsanity to Tim Duncan - you know he's not better, but for the moment at least, he's more fun and that's all you need right now.

Ps I love Tim Duncan, one of my favourite players. I don't think he's boring, I'm just utilising general public opinion.

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, I'm always long-winded. That's how I write I guess. I also enjoy being a hypocrite so I would like to know what parts you found that contained my hypocrisy. If I ignored someone else's point of view because I didn't like it then that would make me a hypocrite.

I'm not sure how an incredibly precise grasp of the obvious and hardcore homerism can be fun to read, but that's possibly the difference in our opinions of Bill. The issue is that he thinks and his fans treat him like he is the best basketball writer around. The amount of worship that he receives is grossly unequal to the amount he deserves. His pop culture references are forced and sometimes not even relevant.

I don't know how long you have been reading him, but he's quite obviously not trying anymore. He's gotten famous, he's got to starfuck a little bit, and he's happy doing everything but writing. His fans made him famous and that's all he ever wanted. To be worshiped and famous. That's how I have come to see him.

I don't find Duncan to be boring either.

StarKiller said...

Very good unbiased brake down. I love basketball, but always felt simmons articles are a little too biased especially when he starts comparing kobe Bryant. Maybe it would be different if kobe played for the celtics.

Bengoodfella said...

Thanks, I'm a Celtics fan but I think Bill is just hard on Kobe because he doesn't like him. There's not much else to it. What a shame that Kobe wants to be seen as a winner and is uber-competitive. He has a pre-conceived notion of Kobe and I'm not sure that will ever change.

TheLakerGenera11 said...


Hey Just Read your article I know it's old but wow dead on in your critique. Listen we all may have some bias sometime, I'm a huge Laker fan and I've defended Kobe over the years not because he's a saint he's a well documented
A-Hole but aside from the obvious the guy loves basketball he loves to compete and that is why I personally get so frustrated because I have seen people denounce his skill since day one especially after the Rape case. people have thrown every 2 guard they can think of as being better then Kobe and in the era of the 2 guard only one man has not only dominated but stood taller then the rest put people in the seats sold merchandise etc. and btw his sneakers WORK for baskeball purposes they are the top 3 consistantly as best bb sneaker and that gets thrown out consistantly. Im starting to ramble but especially with all of the moving pieces in the Laker org. the only rock has been Kobe I can go on and on. Again I say it with confidence Kobe is not the Best Kobe is not perfect, Kobe angers me when he pump fakes 4 times and still takes the shot Kobe is a Dick I know this BUT he is still a damn good Ballplayer and one of the GOATS in the NBA and that speaks volumes and should not get thrown aside because of stats or because kobe didnt hold hands and play sing along like the rest of the kids, to hell with all that. Thanks for providing me with a great sunday afternoon read.

Bengoodfella said...

There's no doubt that Kobe has the sort of "jerk mode" that Michael Jordan had as well. I tend to think if Kobe had come before MJ then MJ's attitude would have been compared to Kobe's much in the same way it is vice versa now. Kobe is not a nice guy, but his teams win and it's obvious Bill just doesn't like him. That's fine, but sometimes he goes a little overboard.

A good example of Bill going overboard is the whole "Well, the Lakers wanted to trade him one time." It's pretty weak. In fact, Danny Ainge has stated on multiple occasions he thinks the Celtics should have traded Larry Bird when they had the chance. Does that demean Bird as a player? Not at all.

Remember when Kobe ripped Andrew Bynum? I still don't know how I feel about that, but it seems Kobe had a little bit of a point in ripping Bynum.

TheLakerGenera11 said...

I can go back and forth hearing your thoughts all day, highly refreshing unbiased but honest opinion on a player in the context of what that player does in their sport is what I like to hear.

My Final comment in relation to this post, is I do recall Bynum getting ripped but it was after someone filmed Kobe and kept badgering him to speak on getting Bynum out for Jason Kidd. Also Bynum has always looked up to Kobe and bc of seeing how Kobe puts his all into the Game and doesn't take a night off he said in an interview on KCAL radio years ago that he wanted to put that burden on his shoulders like Kobe does and wants to be out there for his teammates. Bynum always had degenerative knees but he pushed himself to the limit durning the Lakers back to back run at the title after they lost to the Celtics in '08

Duncan on national Televison was asked is it true you didn't speak to Tony Parker and Manu when they first got here he said Yea, of course they're rookies I don't speak to Rookies you gotta earn your keep here, for me to acknowledge you! Thats Duncan of all people saying that but he's held as the greatest teammate ever Smush Parker says kobe didn't speak to me when I first got there and the headline is Kobe is still a jerk.
But with all that being said Kobe def. played a part in his own perception getting chopped up and after that it was open season for others to do the same.
Anyway great stuff and now you got me hooked on reading your thoughts as it pertains to the world of sports.