Bill Simmons thinks, maybe/perhaps/possibly, Oklahoma City Thunder's championship window is closing. He writes a column about this belief where he uses the word "we" 29 times. Yes, he has written a column about how HE thinks the Thunder's championship window is closing and uses "we" that often. So basically Bill believes that he speaks for everyone and his opinion is our opinion. If the Thunder's championship window does close, Bill will link this column for us, but if the Thunder's championship window doesn't close then "we" were so wrong! That's how it works for Bill. He's right, "we" are wrong. Anyway, here is a shot at analysis (not really) and sentiment in one column. It's not even really about the Thunder's championship window, but is a thinly veiled excuse to talk about the Westbrook/Durant dynamic.
There’s a poignant moment in Jonathan Abrams’s oral history about the 2002 Kings,
It's the first sentence of the column and Bill is already pimping out a Grantland feature. Granted, a good Grantland feature, but it's the first sentence and he's already using his supposedly-weekly column to push other Grantland features. Bill is quickly becoming the NASCAR driver of writing. His columns feature links to other columns (hence the sponsors in NASCAR) on ESPN or Grantland.
That moment resonated for a simple reason: That WAS their shot. And that WAS it.
The boss wasn’t describing a “shot” as much as a window. If you’re
blessed with Michael and Scottie in their mid-twenties, that window
should last for a decade, as long as nothing funky happens.
You mean like Michael Jordan retiring for two seasons because his father was killed over his gambling debts or does Bill mean like how the Kings would have made the NBA Finals if it weren't for the lone wolf official (and there were no more, not at all...and I don't believe that at all) who was gambling on NBA games who screwed the Kings over in Game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals? Funny how both the Kings and Bulls windows closed during a period where there were rumors of a conspiracy involving David Stern and his attempts to keep the integrity of the NBA together. I don't miss David Stern.
If you’re teaming up Pierce and Garnett and Allen at the tail end of
their primes, you’re publicly hoping for five healthy years and secretly
praying for three.
Come on, it's the Boston Sports Guy. Like he wasn't going to mention the Celtics as early as possible in this column. Bill only mentions the Celtics two more times in this column, which is quite the achievement for him. The article is about the Thunder, but it's no secret Bill shoves some Celtics talk down the throats of his readers whenever possible.
Every A-list contender has a built-in window, and almost always, you
know what it is. When that window slams shut well before you’re ready,
you never really get over it.
Fine, but how do we know a team is an A-list contender? The Bulls were second-fiddle to the Pistons until 1991. The Kings never really were an A-list contender because the Lakers were in their way, right? They never made an NBA Finals and even the Lakers had to share a few titles with the Spurs during Kobe and Shaq's prime.
Will we remember Oklahoma City that way someday? We know that it’s Kevin
Durant’s seventh season and his sixth with Russell Westbrook. We know
they’re playing for a small-market franchise that actively avoids the
luxury tax. We know Durant’s contract expires in 2016, and Westbrook’s
deal expires one year later.
We, we, we, we. I don't give care if Bill is reciting facts here, the repeated use of "we" in four sentences would make an English teacher cry or give up out of frustration.
We know Westbrook endured three knee surgeries in the past 12 months. We
know that bad luck comes in all shapes and sizes. We know the West is
loaded, and we know LeBron is never going away. We know they easily
could have blown the Memphis series, and we know the bumbling officials
saved their season Tuesday night.
We overrate youth and potential with sports, movies, TV, music, art and
even politics — it’s more enjoyable to imagine what something might
become. We envision the Thunder overpowering LeBron’s Heat in Durant’s
MVP season because that’s the age-old NBA formula, right?
Bill begins 10 straight sentences with the word "we." 10 straight sentences. I'm not the best writer in the world at all and my sentence structure isn't very good, but Bill has to do better than this. The use of "we" in 10 straight sentences is ridiculously bad writing.
A few thoughts about these "we" sentences:
1. LeBron is going away. Not anytime soon, but he will go away at some point. His window does coincide with the Thunder's window, though I feel like it will be running out in a season or two with Wade getting older.
2. The Lakers had their 2001-2002 season saved by the officials too. This wasn't a sign their dynasty was done, it was just a sign the officials wanted them to win Game 6 to force a Game 7.
3. "We" don't overrate sports, movies, TV, music, art and politics. Bill Simmons overrates sports, movies, TV and music. He has built an entire career on overrating these subjects and tying them into his sports columns. I don't want to hear about how "we" overrate these things. Bill has used them as a writing crutch for 15 years and tied together any sports event with movies, TV or music. Bill needs to find a mirror so he can see who is the one that really overrates these things. As usual, he's happy to take the success caused by tying these subjects to sports, but when it's a bad thing "we" are the ones who overrated these subjects.
Just like we overrate youth and potential, we underrate injury luck, unfortunate breaks, untimely trades, the Disease of More, greed and egos, poor coaching and plain old bad luck.
Stop saying "we"! YOU write these columns. "We" don't write weekly columns for ESPN/Grantland or any other national sports publication/site. Simply because you overrate youth and potential doesn't mean everyone else does also.
The Thunder could definitely topple San Antonio and Miami next month,
but they’re just as likely to not win a single title with Durant and
The Thunder may or may not win the NBA Title this year. Step back people, this is expert analysis occurring. This is how Bill got a prime job on "NBA Countdown," by making bold statements like this.
On paper, OKC should evolve into this generation’s version of the 1990s
Bulls: Durant as Jordan, Westbrook as Pippen, and Ibaka as Grant/Rodman.
It’s a star-driven league with the least amount of playoff variance in
any professional sport. When you have a top-two player, a top-eight
player and a top-25 player on one team, you should definitely win a
I really feel like arguing Ibaka as a top-25 player but I have bigger fish to fry right now. Or as Bill would say, "We thought Ibaka was a top-25 player but it turns out we were wrong."
Unfortunately, you never know when “The Rains of Castamere” will start playing.
Hey everyone, it's a relevant pop culture reference squeezed awkwardly into the column!
A similar window opened after Game 7 of the 1962 Finals, when the Lakers
came within Frank Selvy’s errant 15-footer of upending Bill Russell’s
budding dynasty. That Lakers team employed 27-year-old Elgin Baylor and
23-year-old Jerry West, two of the league’s best five players. (Sound
No, it doesn't because Westbrook is not one of the NBA's five best players.
Fifteen years later, Bill Walton’s precocious Blazers
These professional athletes displayed traits that belied their years. Sure, they were grown-up adults but trying to win an NBA title is just so child-like. Thanks Peter King.
toppled Philly for the 1977 title, then took a 40-8 record into the
ensuing All-Star break looking like Russell’s Celtics reincarnated.
Bill isn't really even comparing apples-to-apples here. Jerry West did win an NBA Title with the Lakers and the Trail Blazers won an NBA Title with the team Bill is referencing here. The idea of this column is the Thunder's championship window may be closed without them winning a title and Bill is giving examples, but so far he's given examples of players/teams who did win a title with the team whose championship window supposedly closed. Now if Bill's contention is the Thunder may not be a dynasty, that's entirely possible, but considering the discussion is about championship windows then any team/player who has won an NBA Title with the team Bill is referencing would not be a good example.
Every generation has its version of the ’62 Lakers and ’77 Blazers,
contenders that fooled us into thinking their window would last longer
than it did.
I can buy this but the Thunder may not even win one NBA Title according to Bill Simmons. Their window is being eaten up by the existence of the Miami Heat. The 1977 Blazers had won one NBA Title, so there is a difference when using them as an example. Also, I wasn't fooled into thinking these team's window would last longer than it did because I wasn't alive when these teams were alive. When I don't exist as a human in the world, I can't have an opinion on a team's championship window. Don't "us" me.
An alpha-dog battle submarined the Shaq-Penny dynasty in Orlando and,
later, a possible seven-title run for Shaq and Kobe in Los Angeles.
Derrick Rose, C-Webb and James Silas suffered untimely knee injuries
that ruined legitimate title windows for the Bulls, Kings and Spurs.
Steve Nash’s critically acclaimed Suns teams kept falling short in
increasingly unfair ways.
Basically what Bill is getting at is that luck plays a part in whether a team wins multiple championships. He can dress it up all he wants to over-complicate the situation, but this obvious-type statement is what he's getting at. This isn't a new perspective Bill is offering, even though he's trying to make it new by looking at it from the perspective of the Thunder, which is weird since this column is 20% complete already and he hasn't really discussed them much.
Four unstoppable-at-the-time duos — Hakeem and Ralph, Penny and Shaq, GP
and Kemp, and Malone and Stockton — somehow finished with a combined
8-20 Finals record. Can we really say, with any certainty whatsoever,
that “Those guys are gonna be chasing championships and competing for
years to come”?
I would argue that Payton and Kemp, as well as Malone and Stockton were not considered an unstoppable-at-the-time duo due to the existence of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. They were the unstoppable team. But Bill is going to twist facts/opinions the way he wants them to go to fit his needs.
And "we" aren't saying the Thunder will chase championships for years to come.
You’re more likely to bemoan the opportunities that slipped away.
Oh I am more likely to bemoan the opportunities that slipped away? I didn't know that about myself. Thanks for telling me about myself because you don't know me and all.
father and I talk about the Celtics blowing the 2010 title waaaaaaaay
more than we talk about the Celtics winning in 2008.
That's probably because you both traffic in misery rather than celebrate the successes of your teams. Bill really, really, really wants to be a tortured fan. It's pretty much his dream to be tortured by his favorite teams.
How does that make sense?
It makes perfect sense based on who Bill is and how he made his living as a writer. Bill made his living whining about how tortured and cursed his favorite teams are. In fact, he still does this, except he has expanded it to include fans of other professional sports teams emailing him to whine about how tortured their favorite team is. I would say Bill has expanded his horizons, but he really just found a new group to share his misery with.
Then Bill whines about Game 7 of the NBA Finals because life is unfair and he prefers to act like a child and stomp his feet when his teams don't succeed. Not that Bill acts like a child when he doesn't get what he wants. Not that there is a "Rolling Stone" feature on Bill that somewhat proves this to be true.
We thought we were in the minority … until Doc Rivers told me about
eating dinner with former assistant Tom Thibodeau last summer. For
whatever reason, they spent an hour talking about Game 7...They just sat there eating and drinking and making each other miserable.
Only later did Doc realize that the 2008 Finals never came up.
And because Doc Rivers (who was the coach of the Celtics, so it makes sense why he would rehash everything) and Bill Simmons talk more about failures rather than the successes this means "we" must do it also. Obviously.
By the way, remember this column is about the Oklahoma City Thunder? It's easy to forget with Bill's rambling form of writing.
When should you start feeling real anxiety over something as simple as
“We might have Durant and Westbrook for their entire careers … how could
we NOT win a couple of titles?”
LeBron didn't win a title until he was 27 years old. Durant and Westbrook are both 25 years old. Let's take it easy about them not winning a title during their careers.
When Durant’s beautiful MVP speech seemingly inspired their best
basketball in Game 2 and Game 3, as well as the first three quarters of
Game 4, that seemed like something of a “Voilà!” moment...And then the last quarter happened. If you want to watch OKC at its
worst, just watch the last nine minutes of Game 4: one-on-one offense,
overdribbling, wrong lineups, bad strategy, no composure, no crunch-time
savviness and 27-foot heaves.
You know Bill was sitting at this game (because it was against the Clippers and Bill has season tickets to Clippers games and knows Jimmy Kimmel...you need Kimmel's phone number, because Bill has it right here) thinking, "I have to write a column about this."
That unsettled malaise carried over to the first 47 minutes of Game 5,
with their defense floundering and Durant inexplicably turning into a
right-handed Josh Smith. Everything flipped again in the last
50 seconds, thanks to Durant’s monster 3, two utterly ridiculous calls,
three egregious Chris Paul mistakes, and Westbrook draining three of the
ballsiest free throws I can remember.
Bill looks at it as the Thunder not playing well, while I look at it as an example of a good team winning a game they shouldn't have won...which is something good teams do, right?
I left that game thinking two things …
1. Why am I out of column ideas?
2. Can I squeeze a column idea out of the Thunder's championship window closing?
How can anyone believe in this Thunder team?
And how can anyone NOT believe in this Thunder team?
It’s a great question. And it’s a great question.
Bill thinks he asks himself some great questions. No, he asks fantastic questions of himself that only he has the intelligence to appropriately answer. Bill thinks that Bill Simmons has a beautiful, inquisitive mind.
We always hear about the “journey” with NBA champions. Wilt couldn’t get
past Russell until 1967, when he regrouped and unleashed the best
Russell imitation that’s ever been done. West couldn’t shed that
“Greatest Player Who Never Won” label until the magical ’72 season.
Jerry West didn't win a title until he was 34 years old. This is important to remember when Bill is writing a column about how two 25 year olds have their championship windows closing.
Julius never climbed the mountain in Philly until a man named Moses showed up.
We see what you did there, Bill!
Jordan didn’t become an NBA champ until Scottie matured into a top-five
player. Shaq and Kobe kept belly flopping until their unforgettable Game
7 comeback against the 2000 Blazers. The Heat kept caving in 2011 and
2012 until Game 6 against Boston, when LeBron finally said, “Out of my
way, this is MY team.”
So basically there is still time for the Thunder to win an NBA Title. Great, fantastic. "We" knew this.
With their best four players younger than 25, they seemed like the safest bet for a multi-title dynasty since the 1995 Magic.
Incorrect. Either the Shaq-Kobe Lakers were the best best for a multi-title dynasty or the Spurs "Big 3" of Duncan, Ginobli, and Parker were the other best bet. I like how Bill uses the example of the 1995 Magic, as a direct comparison to the current Thunder which would lead to the assumed conclusion that the Thunder won't win a title either.
If Durant and Westbrook never win Oklahoma City a title, the Harden trade will forever be the first reason mentioned.
The Thunder EASILY could have afforded Durant, Ibaka, Westbrook and
Harden these next two seasons. Right now, they have Steven Adams and the
21st pick of next month’s draft to show for a first-team All-NBA guard.
Can you ever recover from that?
Me? Can I recover from that? Yes, I can recover from it because I'm not a Thunder fan. But no, it's hard for a team to recover from trading away a young player like Harden, though the Thunder have won 59 and 60 games in the two seasons since Harden left. The Thunder lost to the Grizzlies last year in the Western Conference Semifinals, but that was after losing Russell Westbrook for the series. This is a big reason why the Thunder didn't advance further in the playoffs last year. This year the Thunder have made the Western Conference Finals. So they seem to be recovering fairly well.
After Westbrook’s untimely knee injury ruined their 2013 playoff
chances, you could hear the Thunder’s window creaking for the first
I could? And here I thought that was just the wind.
KD threw up a 34-7-6 every night with 51-38-87% shooting splits. Even
better, he started carrying himself like a Liam Neeson character
— unfriendly, cold-blooded, blessed with a specific set of skills unique
to him and only him.
Boy, this reference feels really forced.
As for Westbrook, it took 11 months and three surgeries before he
finally looked like Force Of Nature Westbrook again. He’ll always be
polarizing — the point guard who shoots 20-plus times a game, the
creator who creates mostly for himself, the leader who rarely makes
teammates better, the ultimate 90/10 guy,
"90/10" will not become a "thing" Bill. I will not allow it to happen.
I was fortunate enough to watch Jordan and Pippen in person during their
collective apex, when they were ripping through overmatched teams like
varsity studs whupping on the JV.
Bill watched Pippen and Jordan. "We" didn't watch Pippen and Jordan, but Bill watched them. Not like "we" watched them, but he WATCHED them in the mid-90's when they were unstoppable. On the other hand "we" were wrong that the Shaq-Penny combination wouldn't lead to multiple titles. See how that works? "We" were wrong about the Magic in the mid-90's, but Bill watched the Bulls tear up the NBA in the mid-90's.
That doesn’t stop the general public from picking them apart. Following
the NBA has become a 24/7 thing thanks to social media, YouTube,
Instagram and everything else; we never leave these guys alone. They’re
Oh yeah, it's the general public's fault for sure. The general public is always on pregame shows, debate shows and talk radio bashing Westbrook or giving hot sports takes in small soundbites about Westbrook and Durant that gets published nationally. That's always what the general public is doing, because the general public and not behemoth sports organizations like ESPN set out the talking points for athletes like Durant and Westbrook. Blame the people because it sure as hell ain't the fault of Bill's employer.
I hate how the general public are such monsters don't you? The same general public that has elevated Bill to what he is and gives him the traffic at Grantland that makes him so much money. The same general public that Bill looks down on with such disdain high upon his pedestal as he talks on an NBA pregame show handing out soundbites and hot takes all while blaming the general public for what's coming out of his mouth. If there was ever any doubt Bill has cognitive dissonance on how he became what he is today and how he was at one point similar to the blogs and the public he has such a distaste for that "Rolling Stone" feature removed all of that doubt.
Shaq and Kobe never would have survived life together in 2014 — they
would have imploded well before that third title. Scottie Pippen never
would have survived the Migraine Game in 1990 or the Self-Benching in
1994; he would have been skewered and reskewered and rereskewered,
So who would have skewered and reskewered Pippen again? Is it the general public or is it the 24/7 coverage and hot takes handed out by the brainless trolls at ESPN, when Pippen's migraine situation would end up being discussed on all of ESPN's daily news/opinion shows and every "SportsCenter" at length? I think I know the answer to this long question, but does Bill? He needs to be more self-aware.
That’s why there wasn’t a snippier, angrier, more hostile contender than
OKC during the regular season. They hated hearing about Harden, hated
falling short, hated the Westbrook microscope, hated the constant
scrutiny. Everything about them oozed the words “Leave us alone, let us
Who should leave them alone? The general public or Skip Bayless? Does Bill think that Westbrook and Durant hear the criticism from the public or the criticism from the talking heads at ESPN more? Again, I know the answer and I'm not surprised that Bill doesn't.
When Jackson saved Game 4 in Memphis, Durant and Westbrook
bear-hugged him for unusually long times. You could feel the relief
pouring out of them. This wasn’t just about escaping a threatening
playoff moment. It was bigger than that.
And I didn’t totally understand until Durant’s incredible MVP speech,
which was simply one of the greatest off-the-floor moments in NBA
It was a really good speech. The inability for Bill to understand the criticism of Durant and Westbrook is partly (mostly?) coming from his fellow co-workers at ESPN is baffling to me. I get that he can't just call out Skip Bayless or other ESPN employees, but the mention of "the general public picking them apart" is infuriating to me.
To me, it shows his dislike for the public and those people who have made him the person he is. He's Bill Simmons, fuck you, he's not like the general public and apparently thinks the general public don't take their cues from ESPN at all...despite ESPN being the most popular sports/entertainment organization around. ESPN creates stories out of soundbites by their employees and then runs the story through the ESPN vacuum to get as much mileage out of the story as possible. "Colin Kaepernick could be the best QB ever," "LeBron/Durant aren't clutch," or "I see bust written all over Johnny Manziel," there's no story created by ESPN that ESPN won't beat into the ground. I just take offense to the idea the general public are the ones who are picking Durant/Westbrook apart. That talks from the public is just noise to those guys, but they pay attention when their name is on "SportsCenter" because Skip Bayless is crying for attention again. Durant/Westbrook aren't bothered by guys they don't know giving an opinion on their performance, but when they see themselves being discussed on the national stage in a negative way, these are the types of comments that gets their attention.
He remembered every obstacle he overcame, every moment that mattered,
everyone who helped him along the way. He didn’t read from anything. It
was unclear how much he even prepared.
"We" were shocked that Durant didn't seem prepared.
Bill won't mention this moment because he's too busy talking about Westbrook/Durant, but the best moment was that one shared between Durant and Butler. Butler hasn't been on the Thunder team long but it's clear he has made an impact on Durant by leaving a note in his locker (yeah, it does sound juvenile) calling him the MVP. It was obvious it all meant something to Durant.
But enough about that, Bill wants to pick apart the Westbrook/Durant dynamic that the general public likes to pick apart so much. Bill is only writing about this dynamic because the general public, not the media, likes to pick this relationship apart.
I mean, can you even compare it to anything? Could even the great Bill Russell have pulled this off?
Bill is essentially a parody of himself at this point. "Could even the great Bill Russell have pulled this off?" I don't remember when Bill Russell became the go-to reference for good speeches, but he was a Celtic and that's all that matters to Bill.
“I know you guys think I forgot Russ,” he joked as everyone laughed
nervously. “I could speak all night about Russell. An emotional guy who
would run through a wall for me. I don’t take it for granted. There’s
days where I just want to tackle you and tell you to snap out of it
sometimes. I know there’s days you want to do the same thing with me. I
love you, man. I love you.”
You are the one writing the column. You can stop at any point you want.
No way Jordan would ever describe Pippen that way. No way LeBron
describes Wade that way. No way Kobe describes ANYONE that way. Durant’s
best quality was always Duncan’s best quality — he doesn’t care how his
team wins, just that they do. He’s one of the best teammates ever. And
just with those eight sentences, he squashed even the most remote
possibility of an Avon-Stringer ending.
Well, that's it then. The Thunder's championship window isn't closed and they still have time to win championships. I mean, isn't that what this column is about? Or was about? More importantly, remember how Bill talks about those who pick apart the Westbrook/Durant relationship? What's Bill doing now? The exact same thing. As we learned in the "Rolling Stone" article Bill has rules for others that don't apply to him. He's tired of the general public picking them apart, but it's fine for him to do so.
So much for trading Russell Westbrook.
Bill has now decreed it...RUSSELL WESTBROOK WILL NEVER BE TRADED! WHO SAYS "NO" TO THIS?
I have been following sports for something like 40 years — I can’t
remember a teammate sticking up for another teammate better than that.
NEVER! EVER! Not even the great Bill Russell could have stuck up for a teammate like this.
Terrell Owens crying about Romo being his quarterback was him sort of sticking up for a teammate. I'm sure there are other examples of a player sticking up for his teammate, but it's pointless for me to try to remember them because Durant just did it better than any other player ever.
Kevin Durant flipped the script on the “journey,” just like that, in
less than 50 seconds. Either KD sticks around like Duncan stuck around
in San Antonio, or he’s a greater actor than Daniel Day-Lewis. I’m
betting on the former. You can’t fake that stuff. You just can’t.
Right, because athletes haven't said things they later take back or have sworn dedication to a team/teammate publicly and then reneged on this dedication later. If Westbrook decides he's not sticking around when he hits free agency, then maybe Durant decides he'll test free agency. There's still a lot of time. And wasn't this column supposed to be about the Thunder's championship window and whether it was closing or not?
And you know what else? Even if they drive us bonkers sometimes,
Yes, "us" are driven crazy by Durant and Westbrook. "Us" are.
Would LeBron have ever dumped Cleveland if he had Westbrook there?
Bill is tapping into his inner Skip Bayless. This is what being a talking head on television does to a person.
And why would Durant leave OKC when he has Westbrook there?
But he may not always have Westbrook there. Therein lies the rub. Westbrook didn't seem all that touched by Durant's comments and he doesn't have a lifetime contract with the Thunder. Westbrook can become a free agent after Durant can. If he thinks Westbrook isn't staying, why would Durant stay?
It’s the rarest of basketball partnerships — two alpha dogs coexisting
and complementing each other (for the most part, anyway), with their
friendship transcending every conceivable landmine. Why would you break
THAT up? Keep that window pried open, baby. For as long as you can.
So what if this is the Thunder's last shot? That was the question in the title and it remains unanswered, though Bill did a great job of rambling around for a few hundred words until he could lazily talk about the Westbrook/Durant relationship, which has been done a thousand times before (mostly by the general public of course).
So was last night’s remarkable comeback something of a watershed moment
for the Durant-Westbrook “journey”? Can they extend their window for 10
years, or 12, or maybe even 15?
15 years seems a bit much. Simmer down a little.
Or will some Thunder employee be wondering What if that was it? What if that was our shot? next month and end up looking like Nostradamus? I don’t know, I don’t know, and I don’t know.
Glad you wrote this column then. NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING ABOUT ANYTHING, EXCEPT NO ONE KNEW NOTHING ABOUT ANYTHING AS MUCH AS THE GREAT BILL RUSSELL KNEW NOTHING ABOUT ANYTHING.
Just remember to keep enjoying the ride. Even when it’s a roller coaster.
If Bill doesn't want to write columns anymore, I just wish he would stop. It's clear his heart isn't in it anymore. I'm assuming Bill still has a heart and didn't leave it in Boston as he headed out to California to become a talking head and hopefully a pop culture celebrity.