Thursday, May 14, 2015

5 comments Bill Simmons Tackles Whether Tim Duncan Should Retire in a Retro-Diary, Except Not Really

As you have heard unless you were living under a rock (not that there is anything wrong with that), Bill Simmons is out at ESPN. He may be out NOW or he may be out in September when his contract runs out. So another one bites the dust. Gregg Easterbrook is out at ESPN and I have no clue if TMQ will show up anywhere else. It was saved a few years ago after ESPN discarded Gregg for the first time, but who knows if another site will pick it up? I know Bill Simmons is going to land somewhere else, and though I don't think he enjoys writing as much as he used to, I'm sure he'll be writing for whatever site he joins or creates. For the time being, he's not writing for Grantland. So it seems Bill won't keep his mailbag promise during the playoffs. One of his last columns for Grantland is about Tim Duncan. As I explained in the last playoff mailbag Bill did, he loves writing about Duncan. I can only imagine how much he would write about Duncan if the Celtics had actually drafted him.

I was remiss a few weeks ago when I listed the contrivances Bill uses in his columns in place of actually writing a column. There has to be a contrivance. I forgot to mention the contrivance of a retro-diary. It's the lazier version of a running diary. Sort of a "Watch this game a few days later and describe what happened" sort of thing. So rather than simply write a column about "The Tim Duncan Question," Bill has to use a retro-diary as a contrivance for this discussion. It's such a (temporary) loss for this blog if Bill is done writing for Grantland. The list of those I can mock on a consistent basis is being pared down of late.

When my father retired as a school superintendent in 2009, only a few months before his 62nd birthday, I remember friends and family members being surprised that he didn’t stay longer. “You always want to get out a year early, not one or two years too late,” my dad always explained.

While I understand that Bill Simmons doesn't believe anything has occurred prior to his noticing it occurred, this quote has been said in different ways by multiple people through the years. Bill's father did not say it, though I understand that Bill believes because his father said it once then he obviously invented this line.

And if that’s true … what do we do about Tim Duncan?

I don't think there is anything "we" can do about Tim Duncan. He will either to decide to continue playing basketball or retire. "We" have no say in the decision.

Maybe Saturday’s Clippers defeat wasn’t as gut-wrenching as San Antonio’s improbable 2013 Finals collapse, but Duncan’s murky future gave Game 7 a different kind of desperation. He scored 27 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, drained two game-tying, ├╝ber-clutch free throws with eight seconds to play … and missed blocking Chris Paul’s last-second, double-clutch, series-winning banker by the length of maybe two knuckles.

Otherwise known by most normal human beings as "two inches."

Ten years ago, he absolutely would have blocked that shot.
Five years ago, he probably would have blocked it.

Three years ago, he could have blocked it, but maybe not.

Four years ago, he probably would have blocked it, but ask again later.

Thirty years ago, he would not have blocked it.

Fifty years ago, Tim Duncan did not exist as a living, breathing human.

Was that the last play of his career? Duncan isn’t saying yet. Of the 14 greatest NBA players ever — Jordan, then Russell, then Kareem, then Bird and Magic and Duncan and LeBron, then Wilt and Kobe, then West and Oscar, then Hakeem and Shaq and Moses — 10 of the 14 retired at least one or two years too late.

The lesson here is that uber-competitive athletes tend to not understand when they are supposed to retire, because they are uber-competitive athletes who have based their lives on being better than everyone else at their chosen profession.

So only the great Bill Russell definitely got out early — he dropped the mic after winning back-to-back titles and beating Wilt, West AND Elgin.


So those are the stakes for Tim Duncan. Leave right now. Leave everyone wanting more. Leave people saying, “Keep playing! You’re still good at this!” Leave with your legs still working. (Fine, one of your legs.) Leave knowing that, by any calculation, you were one of the best two-way players ever and one of the most beloved teammates ever. Leave with five titles, two MVPs and an astonishing 15 All-NBA team nods.

Leave after your normally gruff coach said this about you

“I continue to be amazed by Tim Duncan. He was our most consistent player in the playoffs, at 39. He needed a little more help and I feel badly he didn’t get it. It wasn’t for lack of trying. Even our players shake their heads at his performance at both ends of the floor. He wants it badly and does it the right way. It’s not about bells and whistles and grunting and dancing and doing commercials and all of that stuff. He just does it quietly and that’s why we feel badly when we don’t get it done for him.”

That’s why we feel badly when we don’t get it done for him. Eighteen years and they’re still saying this about Timmaaay???

18 years? Something similar was said about David Robinson during the beginning of Duncan's career and I don't ever recall "Let's get this done for Tim Duncan" being a rallying cry during the first decade of Duncan's career either. But hey, Bill's memory is better than mine I'm sure.

What if he’s leaving two years early? What if he has one more vintage beauty in him?

What if Duncan retires and gets eaten by a grizzly bear while camping in the woods with his family because he couldn't outrun the bear due to no longer being in basketball shape? What if he comes back and has just an "okay" year and then retires at the perfect time for him? (Bill Simmons checks word count to see if he needs to kill more space)

Before he decides, I really hope he watches the last 12 minutes and 10 seconds of Game 7 again. Maybe it will get his juices flowing. Here’s a retro diary to help fill in the blanks.

Yes, Bill is here to help Tim Duncan by providing the contrivance of a retro-diary that Duncan is sure to never actually read. The idea that every NBA player doesn't read his mailbag columns probably would come as a shock to Bill. But hey, here's a retro-diary for old time's sake.

0:10 remaining, third quarter (Clips 76, Spurs 76) With Chris Paul resting on the bench, the Clips just “blew” a four-point lead (three missed 3s, one turnover) and have a foul to give … Manu Ginobili knows it … only Austin Rivers doesn’t realize that Manu knows it … leading to the rarely seen “fouled in the act of shooting a 3 from 65 feet away” call … leading to the incredible sight of Rivers and his son executing matching disbelief/sprint/stomp skids.

So why would Tim Duncan watch these 10 seconds again? This play has nothing to do with him at all and is just an attempt for Bill to mention he was at the game (in case you missed his previous column where he gnashed his teeth over his fate when trying to choose between attending this Game 7 or the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight) while being clever. This play had nothing to do with Duncan.

0:00 remaining, third quarter (Clips 79, Spurs 78) Paul comes back, dribbles over midcourt, takes three steps (no travel call — a pseudo-makeup), banks in a 37-footer and immediately stares down referee Monty McCutchen for the NBA’s first-ever one-legged, double-clutch, 37-foot F.U. banker.

And if bad NBA officiating which entails one bad call resulting in the officials doubling down and making another bad call as a "make up" doesn't bring Tim Duncan back from the brink of retirement then I don't know what will.

Yet another reason why Duncan should retire: Tony Parker might not be Tony Parker anymore. Check out these playoff numbers …

2013: 36.4 mpg, 20.6 ppg, 7.0 apg, 45.8% FG, 5.3 FTA, 21.5 PER
2014: 31.3 mpg, 17.4 ppg, 4.8 apg, 48.6% FG, 3.0 FTA, 15.8 PER
2015: 30.0 mpg, 10.9 ppg, 3.6 apg, 36.3% FG, 2.4 FTA, 6.3 PER

But if the Spurs have Patty Mills ready to fill the point guard role for Parker and they draft Tyus Jones then all will be right in the world.

Even if an Achilles strain hampered Parker, isn’t that the problem with aging point guards? It’s always something, right? 

Great point based off an astute observation. With aging point guards (athletes) it's always something (as these athletes get older their bodies are more prone to breaking down). Maybe Tony Parker is the one who should realize it's time to retire.

11:04 (Clips 82-81) Three-pointer, Chris Paul. Quick tangent …

Yes, quick tangent away from the quick tangent about Tony Parker's regression away from the supposed column topic on why Tim Duncan should not retire quite yet. At some point, the reason Duncan should not/should retire (other than "Your point guard is getting old") will be given, right?

In 1976, I was there when a thoroughly banged-up John Havlicek made his famous off-one-leg running banker in the triple-OT game against Phoenix. I watched Kevin McHale play on a broken foot for four straight rounds in ’87. I watched Larry Legend submit multiple Hardwood Classics moments in ’91 and ’92 while wearing a disturbingly bulky back brace. I watched a gimpy Wade throw on his Batman costume and help out Superman LeBron in those last two 2013 Finals games. But watching Chris Paul’s trial-and-error routine with that faulty hamstring, once he returned to Game 7 Saturday, ranks right up there. He just wouldn’t let that thing derail him.

Bill WAS THERE to experience these things. I thought I remember McHale playing on the broken foot and Larry Bird trying to play with a balky back, but I don't remember because I WASN'T THERE like Bill was. His being there, means he has a perspective that no one else can manage to have on these events. He's more special than you and don't question it because it's true because Bill's parents told him that all the time when he was growing up about how special he was.

These guys happen to be otherworldly athletes; that’s why we watch. They make our dreams come true. 

I really wish Bill would stop constantly referring to "we" and "our" in his columns, as if he speaks for all sports fans. For a guy who is known for a writing style that features a lot of first person accounts where he is JUST LIKE US, Bill seems to write in the third person quite a lot. His writing style has gone from "He's just like us!" to "He's just like how he wants to perceive us as being in order to make a point he wants to prove!" 

It’s incredible to watch. I have been going to Clippers games for four years; that was easily the best game I’ve ever seen Chris Paul play. It was like watching someone win a NASCAR race with three tires. He had no margin for error. None.

Bill will have to tell us what being at the game was like, because obviously on television it was impossible to see that Chris Paul was even hurt. I'm glad Bill was there to relay stories such as this, and I'm glad he has such little respect for his readers' ability to see Chris Paul was hurt, because that means "we" get to experience the game through the eyes of Bill Simmons. It's like viewing sports through the eyes of God.

And if anyone thought Bill wasn't going to write about this Game 7 as if it were the greatest game in the history of sports, then these people were wrong. Granted, it was a great game, but even if it wasn't then Bill would have pretended it was so he can justify his decision to not attend the Manny-Floyd (I like using first names better because it sounds like two really old men fighting) fight.

He’s the best point guard of his generation. Game 7 ended up being his submission to the “Best Point Guards Ever” club — his version of Isiah’s slightly-more-incredible Game 6 of the 1988 Finals. A game that I absolutely revere even though a Bad Boy Piston was involved.

It was just a few short years ago that Bill called Rajon Rondo the best point guard in the NBA. I tried to find where he stated this, but I could not. So believe me or don't. Bill did state this in a column during the season when Chris Paul was injured, so obviously Bill was making an observation based entirely on immediacy. I wish I could find it, because I stated that Chris Paul is still the best point guard in the NBA. Anyway, Bill wants people to forget he ever wrote that.

By the way, is this column about Tim Duncan or Chris Paul?

Last point: After seeing how badly CP3 wanted Saturday’s game, it was fascinating to watch how badly Floyd and Manny didn’t want their fight. They made an exceptionally lucrative arrangement to stage a friendly 12-round boxing exhibition, our first-ever Happy To Be There fight of the century.

Bill streeeeeeeeeeeeeetches to talk about the Floyd-Manny fight in some capacity.

This was the good-natured, hate-free, low-stakes battle that Drago and Creed were supposed to have had.

Isn't it interesting how Bill spent a portion of his last mailbag talking about what a huge fan of boxing he is, yet the only parallel to the Floyd-Manny fight is to a fictional boxing match? I feel like if Bill really was a huge boxing fan (instead of just suddenly becoming one a few weeks ago) then he could think of a real-life parallel and not a parallel based on a fictional fight.

When Manny fell behind heading into the last four rounds, you never felt his urgency — because he didn’t have any. That dude had both arms raised from the moment they told him how much money he was making. Game 7 wasn’t the best undercard for Floyd and Manny, that’s for sure.

Of course, Manny was hurt, but since Bill isn't a boxing fan anymore then he probably doesn't care.

10:06 (Clips 84-84) Missed Kawhi 3, Diaw rebound, Manu 3 (good!), Griffin turnover, Spurs fast break … and Kawhi blows a twisting reverse layup that leads to a Matt Barnes dunk. I didn’t love Kawhi’s last two games — no-showed Game 6, never went full Sharktopus in Game 7. Does he trust his own talent yet?

Or perhaps he is just a really good player that can't carry the Spurs team long-term when other players on the team are struggling? By the way, still no mention of Duncan. So is this column just a cheap excuse to talk about the exciting Game 7 that Bill attended? Probably.

8:27 (Clips 88-87) More back-and-forth action crests with CP3 hitting a jumper, Duncan abusing DeAndre on the low post (he’s officially in Game 6 2013 Finals Jedi mode), then Blake pulling off a reverse layup for a three-point play (“hrrrrrrr-HAHHHHHHHH”).

Son of a bitch, Bill is just giving the play-by-play of the game right now. It's nearly impossible to stay awake. And what the fuck is "hrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr-HAHHHHHHHHHHHHH"? What the fuck is that? If this were Bill's last column for Grantland then it would be fitting because this is one of his more obvious mail-in jobs.

That happened in the best two Game 7s I ever caught in person: 1981 Boston-Philly and 1987 Boston-Detroit. Everyone just kept climbing the ladder as the fans glanced around in disbelief. 

I have watched Game 7 of the 1987 Eastern Conference Finals probably 100+ times in my life (easily), so I didn't need to catch the game in person to know how exciting it was.

This was the exact point in Saturday’s game when it started happening — right here. (You’re gonna miss those moments, Timmay.)

Yes, Tim Duncan. You will miss these moments, because this column is about you. Except, it's not.

Then Jamal Crawford throws the ball away and fouls Parker. Let the record show that Crawford scored nine crucial points during the game’s darkest stretch for Clips fans,

So yeah, Jamal might have stunk in Round 1 — 11.7 points, 38 percent shooting, 20 percent from 3 and a ghastly 8.86 PER. But those nine no-CP3 points were nine of the biggest points of his career. The Clips don’t win Game 7 without them.

The Clippers don't win Game 7 without them, mostly because if Crawford didn't score 9 points then the Spurs would have won due to having lost in reality by only two points.

5:58 (Spurs 95-92) Good God, it’s Hack-A-DJ!!!!!! He makes only one of two. Can you really give DeAndre Jordan a $120 million, five-year extension when he’s become such a free throw liability that he’s headed for a Game 7 crunch-time benching?

I probably wouldn't give DeAndre Jordan $120 million regardless, but yes, an NBA team will do this.

5:26 (Spurs 97-94) Duncan scores and CP3 bricks an 18-footer, leading to the game’s second Coulda Woulda Shoulda momentum swing play--Parker grabbed the rebound, only he forgot that Chris Paul loves sneak-picking pockets after missed Clippers shots. Whoops. Pop flipped out after this one. Not protecting a big defensive rebound against Chris Paul — that’s like not moving the leftover pork chops far enough away from the counter if you have a dog.

Great analogy Bill. Not protecting the basketball from Chris Paul is EXACTLY like leaving pork chops close to the edge of the counter where a dog can get them.

5:26 (Spurs 97-94) Barnes comes in for DeAndre. Hold this thought.

It's your thought, Bill. You can do whatever you want with it. "Hold that thought" usually goes for when another person is having a thought, no?

4:00 (Spurs 101-100) Diaw to Duncan inside for a layup, Redick’s second straight 3 (off a nice pick from Blake), Parker with an off-balance banker. Boom, boom, boom. Dizzying. Such a high level of hoops. And the subtweet conversation of this epic run … no DeAndre!

I'm still confused as to what Tim Duncan has to do with this play-by-play that Bill is giving. If Duncan is supposed to miss playing in an extremely exciting Game 7, and that's why he should come back for another year, well these exciting games don't come along every year. Again, in reality Bill is only trying to frame his lazy play-by-play around Tim Duncan's potential retirement. Bill had made the decision to do a retro-diary and needed to frame it around something or else the laziness of it might become clearer.

Doc willingly sacrificed rim protection and defensive rebounding to spread the floor and avoid the Seventh Circle of Hell (a.k.a. Game 7 Crunch-Time Hack-A-DJ). Say what you want about Doc, but this decision took a set of watermelon-size balls. I loved it.

Bill just asked if an NBA team can give Jordan $120 million when he can't be on the court in crunch-time, then he says it takes balls for Rivers to pull Jordan in crunch-time. Was it a gutsy decision or a decision to take advantage of the Clippers outside shooting and move a liability off the court? So Rivers' move makes sense and didn't take a huge set of balls, right?

3:34 (Clips 102-101) Danny Green fouls a driving/careering/fearless Blake and Griffin drains both...How many times was Blake gasping for air on the bench like he’d just finished a triathlon? Nobody played harder. He finally figured it out.

Great power forwards aren’t that complicated — once they hit their playoff peaks, they start going for 24 and 12 every night and that’s just how it goes.

(Bengoodfella chokes to death on hyperbole)

Look up Malone, Barkley, Pettit, Duncan, C-Webb, Garnett, Elgin … it doesn’t matter. Those guys were getting 24 and 12 at their peaks. Blake took it up a notch: For the series, he sent in his 42 Club application by averaging 24, 13 and 7, with a 26.0 PER, which has never been done for an entire NBA postseason.

Ah yes, no Bill Simmons column would be complete without Bill referencing something else he has written or referencing a contrivance he had previously created. By the way, is this column about Tim Duncan or is it about DeAndre Jordan's foul shooting, Blake Griffin, or Chris Paul? I'm becoming confused.

Maybe it IS time for Duncan to get out. Like winter in Game of Thrones, Blake Griffin is coming.

Except winter is never fucking coming in "Game of Thrones," so according to this parallel, the discussion will mostly revolve around Blake Griffin coming but it never actually happens.

2:50 (Spurs 103-102) Diaw misses a 5-footer, Barnes blocks two Green putbacks (TWO!), then Duncan makes a layup AND gets fouled by Griffin, followed by the textbook Duncan/Undertaker dead-eyed shuffle/stomp-away/eye-bulge routine toward the sideline as his bench erupts. Just a stupefyingly competitive sequence that doubles as DeAndre’s best case for a $120 million extension, even before Duncan misses the free throw, Diaw grabs the rebound (PAY DEANDRE!!!!!),

So DeAndre Jordan should get $120 million because the Clippers don't have any other good defensive rebounders? That type of logic is how two years from now the Clippers will be looking to rid themselves of Jordan's contract. It's terrible logic. Simply because the Clippers don't currently have good defensive rebounders means they should go pay Jordan $120 million any more than it means they should find (through free agency) better defensive rebounders to come off the bench.

2:12 (Spurs 105, Clips 105) In the words of Mike Breen, “Bang!!!!!!!!!!” 

In the words of me, "Why the hell are you writing an entire column that consists of play-by-play of that game that provides no further insight into what happened on the court?"

Not since Robert Horry’s heyday has such a statistically shaky, up-and-down, pseudo-journeyman doubled as such a valuable you-can-go-to-war-with-him playoff guy. He made six or seven huge fourth-quarter plays and vindicated Doc’s decision to bench DeAndre. Of anyone who’s ever been married to a real-life reality show character, Barnes is the one you’d want in a do-or-die basketball game — narrowly edging Mauricio from Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

I’ve seen Mauricio in action during multiple catfights and near altercations — the dude never loses his composure. Cool as a cucumber.

Yes, anyone who has ever seen that show has seen him during the catfights and near altercations. Bill Simmons does realize other humans have television sets doesn't he? Like, other people were able to view Game 7 of the Spurs-Clippers series and can watch Bravo television shows as well. He isn't the only one who can view and experience these types of things.

The only Spurs who played as well in the 2015 playoffs as they did in the 2014 playoffs: Duncan and Mills. Who woulda thunk? Maybe that’s one more reason for Duncan to come back — new blood! Free agents!

Because the Spurs are well-known for having a lot of roster turnover between seasons. I'm sure it will be attractive for Duncan to come back knowing he'll get to play next to guys he hasn't played with for his entire career and there is a small chance he'll play in an exciting Game 7. Where can he sign up?

0:55 (Spurs 107, Clips 107) Kawhi makes a sweet hesitation move, finds the right shot (an open 12-footer) and totally short-arms it. Rebound, Griffin. (No DeAndre — still!) In the last three second halves of this series, Kawhi shot 3-for-23 and made only one shot that wasn’t a layup. That’s why, in Monday’s end-of-season press conference, Pop broke down Kawhi’s development as a future franchise guy by saying, “It’s a matter of understanding that it will be expected night after night after night.”

Bill Simmons has been pushing Kawhi Leonard as one of the next great superstars in the NBA and even comparing him to Scottie Pippen. But now when he sees evidence this isn't true he is all, "Well Coach Pop said that Leonard has to prove he can do great things on a nightly basis," which is something anyone who had not already compared Leonard to a Hall of Famer knew. I'm sure Bill thinks that he is informing his audience of something new and revelatory by stating Leonard can't consistently be the MVP of the NBA Finals, when in fact it's Bill who needed to be informed of this.

Even if that next-level leap will eventually come, much like it just came for Blake (three years older), Duncan can’t wait around forever. I blame myself for throwing the Apex Scottie comparisons around.

Yes Bill, it's your fault. You made Kawhi Leonard not take "the leap" because you compared him to Scottie Pippen and when Leonard read your column/mailbag (as every professional athlete does, naturally) he thought too much of himself. Perhaps you can simply blame yourself for throwing the comparison to Pippen around and admitting that at this point it was a dumb comparison.

Kawhi isn’t all the way there yet. By the time he gets there, Duncan will be gone. Alas.

Again, it's laughable this column is titled "The Tim Duncan Question" when it seems this retro-diary is about everybody else in the Spurs-Clippers series except Duncan.

Monty McCutcheon belatedly calls Duncan for a body foul about 1.3 seconds after CP3 releases his missed jumper. Ludicrous whistle. When they no-called Barnes’s body block on Parker at 1:23, for me, that was our under-the-radar sign that the players would decide this game. Nope. Pop waves in disgust and turns back to his bench, like he was watching a meter maid writing him a ticket, said “Screw it,” and left the ticket on his car to get coffee. Go figure — Team Whine & Cheese got the shakiest big call of Round 1. Had the roles been reversed, they would have had to airlift a purple Doc out of Staples Center.

(Yes, this was Coulda Woulda Shoulda Play No. 6. And yes, Chris made both free throws — giving him an astonishing 26 straight for the postseason. Timeout, Spurs.)

Throughout this retro-diary, Bill talks about Coulda Woulda Should Plays, which is just a way to restate that certain plays could go either way and change the complexion of the game. Bill is taking an old idea about 50/50 calls or plays and re-naming them in order to make it seem like it's an original thought of his own.

0:08 (Clips 109, Spurs 109) The Spurs run a beauty of a play, getting Duncan rolling to the basket off a switch and forcing Redick to foul him. That means Duncan, hovering at 50 percent for the series, now has to save San Antonio’s season from the free throw line. In the moment, I found myself rooting for him like he was a Boston guy. You can’t go out this way. You have to make these.

This retro-diary is just absolutely riveting. If the sign of quality writing isn't play-by-play of a sporting event with the writer's own personal thoughts inserted into the narrative, then I don't know what is the sign of quality sportswriting. That's the beauty of Bill's writing. You have to give a shit about Bill and what he thinks or else it's wasted time reading what he writes. Everything he writes is framed around his point of view where he imposes his views as being the view of others as well.

Additional Point No. 2: I don’t see how the same guy who made THOSE free throws can retire...But I went to four of those seven games and didn’t see any laboring.

I watched from television and didn't see any laboring. Of course, I'm only watching on television, while Bill WAS THERE, so because Bill lives in a world where those people who watch sports on television aren't actually watching the sporting event then he knows more than anyone else does.

NBA big men and wrestlers age the same way — they get stiff and lose their balance. Happens to everyone. When I went to WrestleMania 31 and watched the actual Undertaker wrestling, guess what?

You tried to subtly brag about attending a sporting event without your audience knowing that you were trying to brag?
They played 341 minutes in this series; the Clippers took the lead for good at the 340:59 mark. The Spurs knew what play was coming, and so did the fans, only it didn’t matter. What’s amazing is that Paul always seemed to think it was going in. Everyone went bonkers, obviously. I have been in the building for some ear-splitting, everyone-loses-their-shit NBA reactions, ranging from Havlicek’s aforementioned banker (the triple-OT game) to Bird Steals the Ball to Ray Allen’s 3 to a slew of others. Really, there’s no “loudest” sound. Once you reach Everyone Loses Their Shit level, that’s it. You can’t get higher.

Cue to three years from now when Bill talks about he attended a Celtics game where the crowd was the loudest he's ever heard while at a sporting event and this loudness can never be topped.

CP3 played brilliantly all series, injured himself at the worst possible time, rallied back and ended up making history. And that seven-game series/battle/war/life experience brought that whole team closer together. Don’t sleep on the Clippers.

They were one of eight teams left in the NBA Playoffs, so it's hard to sleep on them.

Our final score: Clippers 111, Spurs 109. A.k.a. the Chris Paul game.

And I don’t care if it was Round 1. That’s one of the 12 best seven-game series since 1976’s ABA-NBA merger if you’re ranking for star power, general story lines, legacy-related story lines, closeness of the games, atmosphere, and iconic games/plays/moments …

So has the Tim Duncan question been answered yet or no? Or was the whole "Here's why Tim Duncan shouldn't retire" just a way for Bill to do a retro-diary play-by-play of Game 7 in the Spurs-Clippers series without seeming like he's just writing a play-by-play of a sporting event?

Honorable Mention: 1978 Bullets-Sonics, 1980 Sonics-Bucks, 1981 Sixers-Bucks, 1988 Mavs-Lakers, 1990 Blazers-Spurs, 1992 Bulls-Knicks, 1993 Suns-Sonics, 1994 Suns-Rockets, 1995 Magic-Pacers, 2000 Knicks-Heat, 2000 Lakers-Blazers, 2004 Kings-Wolves, 2009 Celts-Bulls (lost its “Best Round 1 Series Ever” belt), 2010 Celts-Lakers, 2012 Celts-Heat.

Only three of these series involved the Celtics! That's it!

The Top 12: 1979 Bullets-Spurs (Ice blows a 3-1 lead), 1981 Sixers-Celtics (the championship belt holder), 1984 Celts-Lakers (four iconic games!), 1987 Bucks-Celtics (best second-rounder ever),

You'll never guess this, but Bill knows the 1987 Bucks-Celtics series was the best second-rounder ever because he WAS THERE.

Our lost great 1980s series — they averaged 242.5 points per game, played an OT game and a double-OT game, and Milwaukee led by eight in Game 7 with six minutes to go. Oh, and Jack Sikma’s hair, Paul Mokeski’s mustache, Larry Bird’s hair, Randy Breuer’s body and Kevin McHale’s body were involved! I went to Game 7 and it’s one of my 10 favorite games I have ever attended. So there.


1987 Celts-Pistons (insane), 1988 Lakers-Pistons (doubly insane), 1995 Pacers-Knicks (Reggie vs. Ewing), 1998 Pacers-Bulls (MJ taken to the brink), 2002 Lakers-Kings (the NBA goes WWE), 2006 Mavs-Spurs (the lost great 21st-century series), 2013 Heat-Spurs (a life experience) and 2015 Spurs-Clips.

Only 4 of these 12 series involved the Celtics. That's it!

That’s an unassailable list.

Don't even bother assailing this list. It's unassailable. Questioning Bill Simmons about this list of great series is like questioning the Pope about his commitment to God. I love how Bill states his own list is "unassailable." He's a guy who truly believes the bullshit he writes is the gospel on sports. The ego he has...

The Spurs blew Game 6 at home, couldn’t put Game 7 away and lost when a great player made an even greater shot. Either that was the best possible way for Duncan to go out (with a bang, still playing well) or the worst possible way (because it was, to borrow a poker term, something of an unlucky beat). Only he knows.

So … should Duncan retire?

Oh, so the supposed topic of discussion for this retro-diary is going to be discussed at some point?...but not right now of course.

If it feels like a sports movie moment, that’s because it’s basically the plot in For Love of the Game,

Except it's not the plot of that movie at all, because Kevin Costner threw a perfect game and his team won, while Tim Duncan's team lost. But anyway, I'm sure this is an unassailable comparison so I'm not sure why I bother assailing it.

everyone’s favorite baseball movie that’s locked in the basement of a reprehensible romance drama.

EVERYONE'S favorite! It's Bill's favorite, so of course that means he speaks for everyone else in the world also. The world revolves around Bill and his beliefs.

Like everyone else,


I love Vin Scully. I love Costner’s buddy on the other team who sold out and joined the Yankees. I love watching John C. Reilly pretending to be a catcher. I love the moment when Costner realizes he has a perfect game going. I love Vern Schillinger Whiplash Simmons as Costner’s manager. I love “Clear the mechanism.”

And again, this column is supposedly about Tim Duncan and whether he should retire. Right now, Bill is talking about a baseball movie though. Of course.

And I really love one particular moment, right near the end, when Chapel realizes that everything hurts too much. That he doesn’t want to pitch for anyone else. That he’s too expensive to keep but too stubborn to switch teams. Everything just falls into place for him during that game. He doesn’t want to pitch anymore. He wants to leave on a high. 

This is what is wrong with Bill's writing. He writes, "So...should Duncan retire?" and then immediately does not answer the question, instead going through a long tangent about a movie that he----sorry, I mean everyone---likes in order to answer the question in the most convoluted way possible.

Always gets me. Well, couldn’t you see Duncan leaving that way next month? No press conference, no fanfare, no farewell tour, no exit interviews. Just tell ’em I’m done.

Yes Duncan will not make a big deal out of retiring, not because "For the Love of the Game" is a parallel to Tim Duncan's situation, but because Duncan has done everything without fanfare through his entire NBA career.

When you know it’s time to go, it’s not about the games, the locker rooms, the camaraderie, the charter planes and the salaries anymore. All of that stuff makes you want to keep playing, actually.

But preparing to play — that’s the culprit.

It’s the mental burden that saps you. You start missing your freedom. You have to eat a certain way, sleep a certain way, prepare a certain way. You learn to dread those mornings after back-to-backs. You hate those early wakeup calls, hate being at the gym for hours by yourself, hate working on things that you already learned a million years ago. You already peaked, and you know it, so it’s all about killing yourself so you can be 70 percent as good as you once were.

Bill knows this from his vast experience of never having played professional sports. It's funny how Bill states "we" know things when he cares to speak for everyone else, but when Bill wants to be the expert on the topic he is discussing all of a sudden "we" don't know something and Bill is the only one who has the experience enough to know. "We" thought Kawhi Leonard would be a superstar or "we" love a certain movie, but only Bill knows how good the crowd at the Staples Center was for Game 7 because he WAS THERE.

You have young dudes coming at you left and right, always looking to prove themselves, doing anything possible to put themselves on the map against you. Shit, you could see it with Blake Griffin in Round 1. He didn’t just want to win, he wanted to take it to Duncan. Again and again and again.

So it’s not about one more year. It’s about 18 of them, and how they add up and start subtracting from the current product.

Bill's writing is always very weak when he tries to be serious and insightful about sports. He tends to over-rely on hyperbole and unanswerable questions. These are the things that happen when Bill has 10% of a column idea and has to dream up the other 90% of the content.

Could the Spurs have beaten the Clips with a healthier Parker? Will free agency help? Will Kawhi make The Leap? Could Duncan have blocked that CP3 shot? Did he get there in time? Was he a split second late? Did his brain see it coming, completely and totally, only his body couldn’t quite get there?

As I said, he over-relies on unanswerable questions and hyperbole when he tries to be serious talking about sports.

He will disappear this summer, like he always does, and he will remain in shape by swimming and eating plants and doing whatever else aliens do. Some time before July 1, he will share his plan with the Spurs. Only Duncan knows if it will be one year too early. I just know that he’s one of the best basketball players I have ever seen.

This is the "insightful" ending of the column. I feel insighted.

I hope he comes back. And I hope he doesn’t come back.

Bill ends the column (and perhaps his last column with Grantland) with a reach for a thought-provoking comment. So, Bill doesn't give a shit what Tim Duncan does? That's my conclusion at least. It's funny, because if this is Bill Simmons' last column/mailbag/retro-diary for Grantland, then this last sentence is how I feel about him as well. 


Frank said...

"Gregg Easterbrook is out at ESPN and I have no clue if TMQ will show up anywhere else."

This saddens me; I had no idea. I look forward to your weekly slaughtering of this man. I certainly hope his terrible writing ends up somewhere else.

Bengoodfella said...

Saddens you? I used to think, "Damn, I don't have time for a Simmons column this week" and now TMQ and Simmons are gone. I always look forward to my blood pressure rising as I read Easterbrook's work. Hate reading...

Anonymous said...

Your blog has ruined my reading of sports articles. LOL. It seems like every time I read an article on ESPN I think, "That should be on Bottom of the Barrel." Like you have nothing better to do.

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, hey you can always email it to me. I do have a few better things to do, but I'm always open to bookmarking articles. This is especially true during the long months of the summer w/o TMQ, Simmons and PK for a month.

I've ruined my own enjoyment of sports journalism as well at times. I now look for the negative in columns!

Anonymous said...

How old was Simmons when the Hondo triple overtime game happened? How could his insight (and memory) even be considered relevant?!?!?

The only reason I will miss him is because you guys do a tremendous job making fun of him.