Monday, June 3, 2013

7 comments Bill Simmons Goes All-In on Dwight Howard; Will Ignore He Wrote this Column Two Years From Now

Bill Simmons has decided to write about Dwight Howard and how his skills have declined (Howard's skills, not Bill's...though I would argue that Bill's skills have declined). What's funny about this column is Bill Simmons discusses how Dwight Howard isn't the same guy post-lockout as he was prior to the lockout. It's funny because these weren't Bill's feelings immediately after the Lakers acquisition of Howard was announced. Nowhere in his summer 2012 mailbag where he discussed the trade did Bill mention he thought Howard wasn't the same center now as he used to be. In fact, Bill wrote stuff quite the opposite after the Lakers acquired Howard:

I'm just going to start typing. Here are my gut reactions …

If scientists could create basketball-playing robots from scratch and were asked to create someone to play with Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant and Nash, basically, they would create Dwight Howard: a ridiculously strong shot blocker/rebounder who can run the floor and doesn't need the ball to be happy. In the span of 3.5 seconds, the Lakers went from "old, slow, can't defend anybody" to "who's stopping us?"

In April, after the Lakers win 65 games and everyone is getting psyched for a Heat-Lakers Finals, nobody will care that Howard acted like such a big baby. We'll be busy with crap like ranking him against the other great Lakers centers of all time. That's just how sports works.

WINNER: Steve Nash Went from playing with 11 bench guys on a lottery team to playing with Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant on a title favorite. Remember SNL's "Orgasm Guy" sketches with Rob Schneider? I think that was Steve Nash this morning when he woke up and found out about this trade.

TO BE DETERMINED: Kobe Bryant Guess who has a chance to pass MJ's six rings now?

Guess who suddenly has a legitimate chance to go down as the best Laker ever?

Guess who basically won the lottery by ending up with Shaq and Howard in the same career?

These are just a few of the comments that Bill wrote last summer about Howard. In these comments he basically hands the 2013 NBA Title to the Los Angeles Lakers and says Howard will go down as one of the great Laker centers of all-time.

Bill also handed the NBA Title to the Lakers in this column as well. Please remember all of this as Bill trashes Dwight Howard in today's column and states that Howard wasn't the same guy after the lockout. It's all revisionist history. Bill is merely pretending he didn't hand the 2013 Lakers the NBA Title last summer...except he did hand the title to them. This is how Bill writes. He ignores what he thought at the time and changes the narrative to fit what he wants to write now.

So here is Bill trashing Howard and pretending Howard hasn't been somewhat injured over the past couple of seasons. I can't wait for his column in two years where he will write "We thought Howard was done," and "We wrote Howard off after a couple of bad seasons," when it was really Bill who did all of that.

You know where this is headed. Unless Patrick Beverley comes flying out of the stands to take out LeBron James or Tony Parker, we're getting a history-altering Heat-Spurs showdown.

Who can forget Bill repeatedly stating the 2012 NBA Finals were going to set a new standard for how NBA Finals would be played? The NBA Finals would now revolve around athleticism is what Bill told us. Yet here we are in 2013 with the San Antonio Spurs making the NBA Finals sporting a team that starts Danny Green, Tim Duncan, Splitter, and Tony Parker, with Matt Bonner, Boris Diaw, and Manu Ginobili off the bench. Not exactly the most athletic team is it?

Will LeBron officially join the "Greatest Player Ever" conversation? Will Tim Duncan officially hijack "Best Player of His Generation" status from Kobe Bryant? Will Gregg Popovich forge his way onto the NBA Coaching Mount Rushmore?

It would be a Finals teeming with story lines — 

Along with other interesting storylines that are actually related to the NBA Finals games being played. Imagine, storylines that actually have to do with the game being played. Questions like, "Who will guard LeBron James," or "How are the Spurs going to keep Tony Parker out of the lane," and various other questions that actually have to do with the NBA Finals games being played. Amazing how there are storylines that actually have to do with the NBA Finals games being played and aren't soap opera-type storylines. I realize Bill doesn't really care about the games and only cares about the story surrounding the games, so I'm not entirely sure what I am expecting.

and if there's anything that sucks right now about the playoffs, it's next round's inevitability after just three Round 3 games.

It's going to be tough for Bill to take this statement back after that Eastern Conference Finals between the Pacers and Heat. "Inevitability" huh?

So screw it, let's dive into the most polarizing NBA topic in years: the Dwight Howard Sweepstakes,

Bill doesn't feel like talking about the NBA Finals when the Boston Celtics aren't in contention, so he'll change the subject. Bill has no urge to talk about actual sporting events when a Boston-area team isn't involved.

a worthy successor to Bachelor Pad as 2013's most unpredictable summer series.

I wonder who watched that show. It must be the same people who still watch "The Real World" on MTV.

Here's a text exchange I had with someone who works for one of the 30 NBA franchises.

Oh by the way, Bill knows someone who works for one of the 30 NBA franchises. He hosts a pregame show about NBA Basketball and can talk to Magic Johnson anytime he wants. He knows people. This is your weekly reminder that Bill is uber-important.

I thought it summed everything up.

Him: "U writing about Dwight soon?"

Two things:

1. This guy texts like a nine year old, so I will assume it is someone younger who Bill "knows."

2. Bill didn't want to write about Dwight Howard, but it was DEMANDED OF HIM by people who know how bad Howard sucks.

Me: "Think so. Would u go near him?"
Him: "FUCK NO."

Me: "What if he wanted to sign with u?"
Him: "Maybe."

Him: "I guess we'd have to."

All we needed to know about Dwight Howard is encapsulated in this discussion that Bill had with an unnamed individual. Once again, Bill has proven his own theory correct using anecdotal evidence. If Bill were a 19th century inventor then he would prove his invention would work by citing his own opinion that his invention would work.

Look at those seven texts. They explain everything.

As always, Bill exhibits confirmation bias. He had a conversation with one person who said he wouldn't touch Dwight Howard, except he would sign Howard if Howard wanted to sign with his team. This one conversation proves what Bill wants to prove so it can't be wrong.

NBA franchises look at Dwight Howard the same way a struggling actor looks at Lindsay Lohan at 2:30 in the morning at Bar Marmont. I shouldn't pursue this … but I guess I have to.

I'm sorry Lindsay Lohan isn't the go-to analogy in this situation anymore, it is Amanda Bynes. Amanda Bynes is the analogy we use in this situation now.

This conversation could potentially disprove Bill's hypothesis in this column, that Dwight Howard isn't a superstar anymore and isn't a "mega-max" player. Teams don't want Howard, until Howard wants them. Couldn't this mean Howard is still viewed as a superstar and some teams understand he has played somewhat injured of late? Of course Bill is only going to pay attention to information that proves his point and ignore information that doesn't prove his point.

If you're a coach, Dwight Howard brings you to the Finals or ruins your life.

I'm shocked Bill didn't use a pop culture reference here. Shocked.

In the final installment of my Trade Value Trilogy two weeks ago, I compared the experience of watching Howard play basketball after 2011's NBA lockout to watching Mike Tyson after his prison release in 1995. They looked like the same guy, even if the results weren't backing it up.

Mike Tyson is like Dwight Howard. They are the exact same.

Will the rest of Dwight Howard's decade unfold like that? Were these last two Magic/Lakers seasons like Tyson's two uneven slugfests against Razor Ruddock, both of which preceded his Evander Holyfield defeats and established that he wasn't the same anymore … only we didn't want to admit it?

Again, what's with this "we" shit? Stop saying "we" constantly like you are speaking for sports fans as a whole. You are not. You are speaking for yourself.

Dwight Howard was 1st in the NBA in rebounds per game (including 1st in defensive rebounds per game and 8th in offensive rebounds per game), fifth in blocks per game, and 27th in the NBA in scoring (tied for 4th among centers). Bill is just picking on Howard because he doesn't like the Lakers. Bill is going to regret writing this column in a couple of years. Howard missed all but four weeks of training camp and preseason this year and was integrating himself into a new team that didn't always have it's best players on the court at the same time and experienced a coaching change. Trust me, I have found Howard to be overrated in the past, but it doesn't take a doctor to figure out surgery on a herniated disk in an athlete's back (especially a tall athlete) isn't exactly an easy injury to recover from. Howard didn't play well this year based on his own standard, but I would bet a lot of money teams wouldn't mind signing him this offseason. Will he be overpaid? Probably, just like most free agents are overpaid in one way or another. I don't think season is evidence that his skills are declining though.

Let's break down the 10 realities of Dwight's situation — not what we think we know, but what we actually know.

Bill's opinion is now the reality. I can't stand it when Bill writes like this. Bill uses "we" three times in this sentence and then tells us Howard's reality that is really just Bill's opinion disguised as reality.

Reality No. 1: Dwight Howard deserves a max contract, just not a mega-max contract

I created the word "mega-max" because it's the only way to explain the difference between a max contract, a franchise max contract and a MAX contract. Last summer, Brook Lopez signed a "max" deal for $60.86 million and Roy Hibbert and Eric Gordon signed four-year "max" deals for $58.5 million. Technically, they're "max" players even though they're really mini-maxers. Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant signed "franchise max" deals, taking advantage of a beneficial rule in the latest CBA that allows one player per franchise to fetch a five-year extension.. They're "max" players in the traditional sense. 

This is an opinion, not a reality. Here's the real kicker. Do you know why Howard isn't a "mega-max" player? Why is this a reality? Because it is Bill's opinion this is a reality. This conclusion isn't based on anything except a terrible analogy to Jim Carrey and Bill's own opinion.

You could safely call Howard a "max" player. He's probably not a "franchise max" guy anymore, but as he's one of the best 30 guys in a 30-team league, you could talk me into it.

So because we can't talk Bill into Howard being one of the 30 best guys in a 30 team league then I guess he really isn't a "mega-max" guy. After all, Bill is the final judge on irrelevant monikers given to players so his opinion trumps all.

There's more than a little Jim Carrey Syndrome going on here. Jim Carrey is an A-list movie star, right? Well, here are the six movies Carrey has headlined since 2005.

Fun With Dick & Jane
The Number 23
Yes Man
I Love You Phillip Morris
Mr. Popper's Penguins
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

This is Bill's version of the Chewbacca defense.

"Dwight Howard isn't a mega-max player. It doesn't make sense. Jim Carrey is a movie star, right? How can he be a movie star if no one likes his movies? It doesn't make sense. Who can be a movie star if no one wants to see you in a movie? No one wants to see Dwight Howard star in a film, just like no one wants to see Jim Carrey play center for the Lakers. It doesn't make sense to have Jim Carrey play center for the Lakers, so Dwight Howard isn't a mega-max player."

By the way, Bill's reasoning for saying Jim Carrey isn't a movie star sucks. Since Bill name-drops celebrities he knows every chance he can get then I would guess he already knows Hollywood doesn't give two shits about whether a movie is any good or not. What Hollywood cares about is whether a movie makes money at the box office and that's how they consider an actor to be a star or not. Every single one of those movies that Bill lists, except "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone," made at least twice it's budget back. A couple of these movies made back three times their budget with Jim Carrey as the lead actor. Guess what? That means Jim Carrey is a movie star. He makes money for the studio when he headlines a movie. Big fail on Bill's part. You can't just look at a movie star's bio and say, "He doesn't make good movies" and then state he isn't a movie star. Movie stars are people who make the studio money because people will go pay money to see that star in a film. Jim Carrey still qualifies.

Yikes. At some point, you are who you are. Jim Carrey isn't an A-list movie star anymore. And Dwight Howard isn't a mega-max player anymore.

It's not only not factually correct, but it is Bill's version of the Chewbacca defense.

Reality No. 2: Despite everything you just read, the Lakers could give Dwight the mega-max without blinking.

They have the room to do this, so obviously they could do it. Plus, if Kobe Bryant comes back healthy and with Pau Gasol on the team Dwight Howard doesn't have to be the star of the team. He can be the 2nd best player and the Lakers would be very good.

Time Warner recently paid the Lakers $3.6 billion over 20 years to broadcast their games in Southern California. That money could cover 30 Dwight Howard contracts.

So "Should we re-sign Dwight?" doesn't have much to do with money.

Actually, "Should we re-sign Dwight" has a lot to do with money. The Lakers have to decide if they want to spend their money on Dwight Howard. Regardless of whether they have a lot of money or not, they still need to decide whether re-signing Dwight Howard is the correct allocation of their resources. They could spend that money elsewhere. It's all about the money. Even a billionaire has to decide if a certain $45 million boat is the right one to purchase.

Reality No. 3: Dwight Howard peaked already

Even if he peaked already, it doesn't mean he isn't worth re-signing and can't be the 1st or 2nd best player on a championship team. Howard didn't play well this year and still seems to have done his job as a center (score, rebound, block shots) very well.

2011: 22.9 PPG, 14.1 RPG, 59% FG, 60% FT, 227 dunks, 26.1 PER (2nd in NBA)
2013: 17.1 PPG, 12.4 RPG, 58% FG, 49% FT, 187 dunks, 19.4 PER (36th)

I'm not big on excuses for Dwight Howard, but he did have back surgery last offseason and was limited in the preseason. The fact he didn't have time to gel with his new Lakers teammates could easily explain his down year. The bottom line is that Howard isn't old and could easily rebound given a full offseason and preseason to work with his teammates.

… and defensively, he wasn't the league's dominant shot-blocker/rebounder anymore.

This is very debatable considering he led the NBA in rebounding per game and was 5th in blocked shots per game. This isn't a debate anyone could win really and since Bill has his mind made up, he'll just assume he is right. I'm not resigned to this as a fact quite yet.

You could argue that Joakim Noah, Marc Gasol AND Roy Hibbert are better at anchoring a defense than he is. (In fact, I think I just did.) Remember when Orlando sneaked into the 2009 Finals thanks to timely 3-point shooting and a monster two-way performance by Dwight?

Using Bill's trade value column as the example where salaries don't matter (and really, why wouldn't I use Bill's trade value column as the example since Bill considers it to be the text based upon which all NBA-related thought should be considered), I would bet the Bulls and the Pacers would trade Hibbert or Noah for Dwight Howard. Salaries aside, this is my unprovable bet. I don't know if the Grizzlies would trade Gasol for Howard, but I am betting the Pacers/Bulls would make this trade.

You could interpret that 2009 run two ways: either as "that was only four years ago," or as "that was FOUR FULL YEARS AGO."

And of course Bill will interpret the way that best fits his conclusion.

My take: He's not the same guy. Back surgery didn't help, obviously.

Wait, so you are telling me that a guy nearly seven feet tall having back surgery and joining a new team DIDN'T help him have a great season by his own standards? Where would I be without Bill's analysis?

Reality No. 4: Dwight's offensive game hasn't improved

His offensive game hasn't ever been good. It probably never will be where it needs to be. Regardless he manages to put up points.

His footwork gives you that same "I'm just trying to get through this sequence alive" feeling you get when you're watching D-list celebs on Dancing With the Stars.

I would get this feeling except for the fact I'm not watching "Dancing with the Stars" at any point during my lifetime to where I could make this comparison.

He's a lousy passer from the low post who has never averaged even TWO assists per game. And he rarely out-hustles other bigs down the floor for layups or dunks anymore, something Tim Duncan gleefully exposed during the humiliating Spurs beatdown. Should Duncan (37, nearly 1,382 career games) repeatedly beat Howard (27, 758 career games) down the floor in a playoff game? You tell me.

Maybe he should beat Howard down the court. I don't know. Duncan played 30.1 minutes per game in 69 games this year and Howard played 35.8 minutes per game in 76 games this year. Howard played more minutes in more games this year. Howard played 644 more minutes this year than Duncan played. Again, that is coming off back surgery. I'm not trying to use this back surgery as a consistent excuse. Howard isn't the player he could be, but Bill seems to be picking on him and not being entirely fair in doing so. Duncan and Howard are built differently physically and Howard played more minutes this season. Plus, the Lakers' transition defense isn't solely the responsibility of one player.

By Year 10, you are who you are as a big guy.

Oh ok, if we are making up arbitrary rules like this one then I guess I can't argue. Let's ignore the fact Howard will still be 28 years old in his 10th year.

Hakeem peaked the latest of anyone — Year 9 — and trust me, Dwight Howard ain't Hakeem.

Well, we trust you then. You are "The Sports Guy," knower of all knowledge about sports as long as it pertains to the NBA and you are able to leave out certain facts and data that doesn't help to submarine your argument. For example, if Hakeem peaked in Year 9 that made him 30 years old. Howard is 27 years old. See the issue with the stupid "By Year 10, you are who you are as a big guy" argument? While seemingly true in general, it doesn't factor in the age of a player during his 10th year in the NBA.

Shaq, Mourning and Moses peaked in Year 8.

They were 27, 29, and 26 years old respectively. These are slightly better examples.

Ewing peaked in Year 6. Duncan, Robinson, Gilmore and Walton peaked in Year 5. Dwight Howard peaked from Year 5 through Year 7, and now he's here. 

Where is "here?" Is "here" still putting up pretty good numbers by being in the Top 30 in the NBA in scoring per game, Top 5 in blocked shots per game, and the NBA's top rebounder per game? If so, I guess we are "here."

Then Bill points out he doesn't think Dwight Howard can handle the pressure, which is of course completely contrary to what he was stating last summer as he talked about Dwight rehabbing in Los Angeles and dreaming of becoming the king of the city. This is one of my biggest criticisms of Bill Simmons. His ego simply can't handle the thought of being wrong. He essentially handed the Lakers the NBA Title last summer during the Olympics, but now he does research and has all this data showing how the "old" Dwight Howard isn't coming back and Howard has been declining over the last two years. Where was all this research and insight last summer when Bill was whining about the Lakers acquiring Howard? It was non-existent.

Bill is the king of using hindsight to prove a point he claims he thought prior to the event occurring. He KNEW Howard wasn't the same guy, but only after he saw Howard wasn't the same guy. Bill writes high and mighty about all of this Howard-related insight he has, when he is simply knee-jerk reacting to the Lakers 2013 season. He was ready to hand the Lakers the 2013 NBA Title last summer and brought up none of this information about Howard's skill set. But now that Howard has a sub-par year (by his own standards), Bill is the NBA genius who points out how Howard declines using hindsight. It's lazy writing. Bill simply pretends his previous thoughts on Howard never existed to make it seem like he had a line on Howard's decline all this time.

Reality No. 7: Lakers fans would flip out if Dwight Howard left

And here's the thought process …

OK, let's say we let Dwight leave. Who's happy paying $350 per ticket to watch Pau Gasol, a 40-year-old Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Earl Clark, Jodie Meeks, Robert Sacre and two months of Kobe in a throwaway season with us telepathically sending six months of "Don't worry, we're the Lakers, this shit always works out for us in the long run, you better renew your season tickets or you might miss the LeBron era" vibes? Anyone? Any takers? At least Dwight makes us SEEM relevant. WE HAVE TO SIGN DWIGHT!

I would think in reality the Lakers would work out a sign-and-trade so they at least got something back for Howard and Howard could be the "mega-max" player that Bill doesn't believe he is. So I'm not sure Bill's hypothetical freak-out by the Buss family is exactly realistic.

Personally, I believe Lakers fans are smarter than that. Instead of betting on Dwight, I think they'd sign off on keeping Gasol, praying Kobe returns sooner than later, and trying to sign-and-trade Howard to either Houston (for Chandler Parsons and Omer Asik) or Golden State (for Andrew Bogut and Harrison Barnes) — a move that, combined with a World Peace amnesty, solves their luxury-tax issues while keeping them semi-competitive next season AND keeping their 2014 LeBron window open.

And Bill plays both sides again. He just needs to be right, you guys. If the Lakers freak-out and re-sign Howard then he can say he predicted that and then if they work a sign-and-trade Bill will say he predicted that as well. All realistic scenarios are covered.

Reality No. 8: Dwight Howard just isn't that entertaining

An underrated but crucial point.

An overrated and incredibly pointless point. This is a typical Bill Simmons point that has nothing to do with the matter at hand. Howard dunks the ball a lot and fans like dunks. Fans like winning and having Dwight Howard on the team helps a team win. Winning is entertaining.

As a Lakers fan/buddy e-mailed me during the Spurs-Lakers series, "I have to ask — what's fun about watching Dwight Howard?"

Wait, so a bitter, entitled Lakers fan is bitter towards Howard because the team had a disappointing year? Fascinating. Fans never get bitter towards their team's players when the perception is the team underachieved. We can always trust the opinion of a bitter, entitled fan.

Check this out.

Player A: 14.1 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 4.0 APG, 1.7 BPG, 49% FG, 85% FT, 19.5 PER, 11.5 WS

Player B: 19.4 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 0.9 APG, 2.1 BPG, 52% FG, 76% FT, 24.7 PER, 9.0 WS

Player C: 17.4 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 3.2 APG, 1.1 BPG, 54% FG, 64% FT, 19.8 PER, 8.8 WS

Player D: 17.8 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 2.7 APG, 2.7 BPG, 50% FG, 82% FT, 24.4 PER, 8.3 WS

Player E: 17.1 PPG, 12.4 RPG, 1.4 APG, 2.4 BPG, 58% FG, 49% FT, 19.4 PER, 7.6 WS

Player F: 17.1 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 2.7 APG, 0.7 BPG, 47% FG, 74% FT, 20.2 PER, 4.4 WS

Those players in order, along with their financial commitments starting next season …

Player A: Marc Gasol (2 years, $30.7 million)
Player B: Brook Lopez (3 years, $47.2 million)
Player C: Al Horford (3 years, $36 million)
Player D: Tim Duncan (2 years, $20.6 million)
Player E: Dwight Howard (5 years, $118 million — theoretically)
Player F: Boogie Cousins (rookie deal)

Starting to see the big picture now?

Not at all actually. The big picture is that Howard "theoretically" will sign a huge contract that goes for more years and is worth more than other centers, but doesn't provide as much production? DeMarcus Cousins is under his rookie deal, so he will get overpaid very soon. Tim Duncan took a team-friendly deal because that's how he is. I still think Brook Lopez is overpaid because he can't rebound and (like Howard) isn't a good passer. Marc Gasol will be well-paid in the near future. I get the point Bill wants to prove, but throwing salary in here confuses the issue a bit. These players are all at different stages in their career.

Even if Howard averages an 18-12, shoots 57 percent and makes half his free throws for the next five years, where am I really going? I don't have a guaranteed contender, that's for sure.

Nothing is for sure. I don't even get the point Bill wants to prove. Every single one of these centers (outside of DeMarcus Cousins) led their team to the playoffs this season. Duncan is in the NBA Finals. So how would putting up 18 points and 12 rebounds not help his team go to the playoffs? Centers like Howard (and Howard himself) played on teams that made the playoffs this past season. So it seems having a center like Dwight Howard almost does guarantee a team will be a contender.

Would you put him on your "Top 30 Most Entertaining NBA Players" list? I sure wouldn't. 

Tim Duncan isn't entertaining to watch either, but of course Bill neglects this point because it doesn't help support his argument. Are there people who say, "Let's go watch Brook Lopez play tonight?" I'm sure there are some, but whether an NBA player is entertaining certainly isn't relevant in terms of whether that same player has a declining skill set or not. Bill is excellent at using irrelevant points to prove his argument, while ignoring relevant points that don't help his argument.

Dwight Howard? He sold $5 million worth of sneakers, the same number as John Wall. Sorry to be harsh, but as a "marketable personality," Dwight Howard just never got there.

So I guess to be a "mega-max" player you have to sell a lot of sneakers. I never knew this. I guess Moses Malone and Hakeem Olajuwon aren't great players because they didn't sell as many sneakers as Michael Jordan. A player's value to his team is inextricably tied to his ability to sell shoes. You learn so much from reading a Bill Simmons column. Well, mostly you learn Bill is full of shit, but at least you do learn something.

Reality No. 9: Only one franchise makes sense for Dwight

And it's not the Lakers.

It's the Rockets. Of course it is the Rockets. Bill's buddy and idol Daryl Morey (whose reputation in my opinion has exceeded his ability to this point...again, it's just my opinion) is the GM for the Rockets. I think Howard makes sense for a couple of NBA teams, including the Lakers.

Don't forget his history: high school ball at a private school in Atlanta, followed by eight seasons in Orlando (one of the league's most mellow markets). Until his bizarre 2012 trade deadline fiasco happened, he'd never dealt with any real national backlash.

Possibly true, but does this mean Howard isn't used to dealing with national backlash or he can't deal with national backlash? There is a difference.

In April, Howard confessed to someone close to the team, "I didn't realize playing in L.A. was gonna be so tough." Whaaaaaaaaaat??? You really had no idea, Dwight?

To be fair, LeBron James didn't know "The Decision" would result in such a backlash against him. This type of naive-ish things happen when a beloved athlete faces a public backlash the first time. LeBron has rebounded well and Howard could toughen up to where his play overshadows his exit from Orlando and he gets used to playing in Los Angeles. Dwight Howard isn't the first athlete to be surprised that playing in a large market can be tough and he wouldn't be the first athlete to adapt to the large market and thrive.

We have overwhelming evidence that Howard can't handle carrying a big-market franchise, that he's better off in a more laid-back situation — ideally as the running mate for someone who could shoulder the superstar burdens for him.

We have evidence, but I wouldn't call it overwhelming evidence. Orlando is only a slightly smaller market size than Miami is, so it's not like Howard was playing in the backwoods of Montana while he was with the Magic. According to the data I linked from 2011, Houston is the 10th biggest market in the NBA, so it isn't exactly a small market either. Houston is a smaller market than Los Angeles of course.

The Houston media wouldn't pick Dwight apart. Rockets fans would be happy to have him. He'd even have Hakeem down the street as a potential Basketball Yoda.

You mean Howard would be constantly compared (in a negative fashion) to Hakeem Olajuwon, one of the greatest centers in NBA history and an icon in Houston through college and the NBA? Sounds great for Howard. Why wouldn't he want to be constantly compared to Olajuwon?

His critics would eviscerate him for running from Orlando and Los Angeles. And they wouldn't necessarily be wrong.

So basically Bill would eviscerate Howard for running from Orlando and Los Angeles.

Reality No. 10: Despite everything you just read, the Rockets, Mavericks, Hawks, Warriors and Lakers would almost definitely still pay Dwight Howard $118 million over five years

Despite the overwhelmingly evidence that Bill Simmons finds himself to be wrong, people who get paid to actually make these decisions disagree with Bill. I like how Bill writes "despite" as if his opinion about Dwight Howard is some sort of fact and these teams would be blatantly ignore these OVERWHELMING facts that the VP of Common Sense has so kindly laid out as a template for how all NBA teams should build their teams now and forevermore. How can you ignore Bill's opi---I mean, these facts Bill has shaded to prove his point?

If you're the first three teams, and you have no other way of luring a franchise big man … you probably roll the dice.

Obviously Bill doesn't remember he just compared Al Horford to Dwight Howard in a manner at which he made Horford seem like a better player for a smaller amount of money. Of course now Bill states the Hawks have no way of luring a big man, even though Bill just compared the Hawks big man in a favorable manner to Dwight Howard. So the Hawks have no way of luring a big man, but their current big man is on par (skill-wise and money-wise) with Dwight Howard. I'm getting a headache.

Just know that some NBA owner will be grabbing those dice soon. And deep down, he'll be nervous as hell about it.

Bill knows what every NBA GM is thinking and is capable of reading minds. Bill not only has a firm grasp on how to exhibit a confirmation bias, but also how to be omnipotent.

Wouldn't it make sense for a GM to be a little nervous before signing a really expensive free agent? Is Bill telling us he doesn't believe Danny Ainge was nervous about trading for Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett half a decade ago? It isn't a sign the trade/signing is a bad one if a little nervousness accompanies it.

Once upon a time, Dwight Howard was just about the surest thing there was. Those days are gone. Over everything else, let's at least agree on that.

I will not necessarily agree on that because that's Bill's opinion. He is being a little presumptive about a 27 year old who had back surgery less than a year ago. I don't think we need to agree on that, it doesn't matter to me if "we" do. Let's also agree that Bill Simmons is guilty of continuing to show a confirmation bias. Dwight Howard may never be the same player he was a few seasons ago. That remains to be seen. I don't think the 2012 season is the best example to show Howard's slow decline. He's only 27 years old.

I can't wait for Howard to have a great next couple of seasons and two years from now Bill will be writing a column about how "we" wrote off Dwight Howard. Bill can never accept it when he is wrong. Bill handed the title to the Lakers last summer and now all of a sudden he has evidence that Howard was in decline (despite the fact Bill didn't think he was in decline less than a year ago). Bill wants us to forget how his opinion has changed so drastically over the last year and focus on just how correct his current opinion truly seems to be. It is the opinion of the VP of Common Sense. You have to be a pretty smart guy to award yourself that fake position of authority.


j-dub said...

this whole thing read like a Bleacher Report slideshow with the "10 realities" each sounding whiny and juvenile.

Grantland has become a decent source for well-written sports articles, especially those written by Zach Lowe (IMO). The catch with that is those articles make Bill's writing seem even more sloppy and juvenile. Ego and entitlement still rule above all though i guess

Bengoodfella said...

J-dub, I read someone comment on Twitter they wish Bill would test his Ewing Theory by leaving Grantland.

I always enjoyed Zach Lowe too. I read somewhere Bill may not do NBA Countdown after this year, or at least he is thinking about. He didn't write a column this week either. He's probably a little insecure his writing isn't the best part of Grantland.

Anonymous said...

Simmons is insecure about everything and it is quite obvious. I have never seen an ego go unchecked for so long but that's the Disnespn Channel for you. Why does he think men or even college guys watch those crap shows he references? He is such a man-bitch. We play sports and workout Bill. We don't live in a salt-box house (albeit in a nice neighborhood) in LA and vicariously live through others accomplisments. You are a Holy Cross grad who was definitely bullied and that sucks but time to grow up and write for espnW. Much more your speed. It sickens me that he still attempts to use Boston as his pseudo home state. The Commonwealth HATES his punk ass. Think he could discuss the Marathon bombing or maybe come to town and publicly support the city? Nah . . . we're not on MTV or Kimmel. You were relatively easy on him this week, but I imagine it's much like writing about P. King whereas you often must be incredulous that these two fools have a national forum. Simers and some of the other clowns you destroy are more localized so all of us aren't aware of their idiocy but these two are in your face daily. How about going after Greeny & Golic or is television off limits? They have taken that show and their uninformed opinions to places they just doesn't belong and Greeny utters some of the dumbest statements heard on that crap station and slurps LeHalfring and the Cablanasian like no other. Sorry for the long rant but the direction of ESPN has got me down lately. Well done as always and looking forward to the dismantling of the horrible MMQB of this week. Go Panthers!

waffleboy said...

Duncan, Robinson, Gilmore and Walton peaked in Year 5.

If Duncan peaked in year 5 that be around 2002. I think if the Lakers could count on Howard having a backside that long and gradual that they would jump at signing Howard. Maybe not the example Bill needed to trot out to make his point?

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, I'm usually pretty incredulous at these guys. Bill usually gets me really irritated, but I also try to keep my blood pressure down. I wish Greeny and Golic wrote something down, which would help. I don't listen to talk radio. I hear people talk all the time so I don't need to hear any more of it.

ESPN has had me down for a while now. It's just the state of affairs I guess.

Waffle, that's a really good point. If Howard isn't at his peak anymore would he still be a megamax player? I would almost argue that, yes, if Howard stays at his current level for 3-4 years then he is a megamax player. He wasn't awful this year and having a guy like him as your 2nd best player isn't the worst thing.

I don't like Howard. I think he hasn't improved his offensive game, but he can rebound and still defends the rim pretty well. Plus, he is going to be motivated (I assume) to put this year behind him.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Hey haters, get a life. Bill's success speaks for itself. The comment here actually make me sad for you; you've resorted to dissecting other peoples work as a proxy for a writing career.

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, I agree that Bill's success speaks for itself. It speaks that there are a lot of lemming-like people out there who want to live vicariously through Bill and they need a literary hero to look up to.

Feel sad for me all you want. I have no urge to have a writing career. I have never pursued one and never really wanted one. Thanks commenting and ripping me anonymously, always a brave thing to do.