I am an NBA addict. I will watch any and all NBA content at just about any time. If it wasn’t for my job and my fiancee and the rest of life, I would be watching it every waking hour.
I enjoy Bill Simmons. I know the popular thing with Simmons, as it is with many things that get popular is to talk about how much it/he sucks. He’s part of the reason I like writing about sports and he’s pretty much living every blogger’s dream. I think he knows basketball, and I think his book is proof of that.
When Simmons was added to the NBA pre-game show on ESPN, I wasn’t all that thrilled. Simmons is best, whether it be on a podcast or in writing, when he has the space to spread out. Thousands of words in each column, at least 60 minutes in each podcast. He’s verbose, and that’s what he’s good at. Television, like he’s doing now, is pretty much the oppposite of that. Get your point out in 20 seconds, and it better be a different/opposite point of someone else on the panel. You can see Simmons struggling with it, as he tries to explain one of his three thousand word theories in 15 seconds. I’m not saying this is a positive or a negative of television, it just is. Simmons has gotten better, but I still don’t think it’s what he’s best at.
The show itself I think needs work. There’s no host; Wilbon, Rose, Simmons and Magic all sort of share that duty and I’m not sure it works. Wilbon often times doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and Rose and Magic, for guys who actually played in the NBA, seem to have a less than stellar knowledge of how the NBA works. At the very least they’re not great at expressing it.
All of that said, the most uncomfortable thing about the show is how Magic Johnson treats Bill Simmons. I’m not imagining this. I mentioned it on Twitter Tuesday night and several agreed with me. Magic disagrees with every single thing Simmons says. Sometimes, even if he agrees, he agrees in a fashion that makes it seem as if he’s disagreeing. Simmons mentioned Tuesday night that he thinks the Grizzlies must be kicking themselves for not winning the game. Johnson literally said he disagreed, and then went on to make the same point. Johnson is often times condescending, as if there’s no way Simmons’ point could be valid.
It’s uncomfortable to watch, especially knowing that Simmons is probably ecstatic that he gets to sit there and talk basketball with Magic Johnson on television. Simmons has mentioned as much, maybe not in those words, but certainly alluded to it in podcasts.
My inclination is that Johnson isn’t respectful of Simmons’ opinion because he didn’t play in the NBA. But Magic doesn’t do the same thing to Wilbon, who neither played in the NBA nor seems to make too many valid points about it during the show.
Maybe he’s not doing it on purpose, and maybe he means no ill will, but it’s sort of hard to watch, and I wish they’d change it. I end up feeling bad for Simmons because I know it must be a bummer to be talked to that way, especially when you’ve written a very coherent, very impressive 700 page book about the history of basketball, including several pages on Johnson.
If I was Deadspin or something I would put together a video megamix of this happening, but I’m not Deadspin.
Am I crazy?