Bill Simmons' emergence as a columnist may be the most interesting development in sports journalism in the last decade. As I've been reading his articles over the last few years he has become the number one reason I regularly visit the ESPN website.
But it was just this week that I realized why I really enjoy reading his work. Sure, Simmons is insightful in a way that Peter Vescey, Sam Smith and Screamin' Stephen A. Smith could only dream. Sure, Simmons is funny in a way that all of your local beat writers could only be if they had teams of writers with canned jokes. And most importantly, Simmons is consistent and dedicated in his production and entertainment value. (For example: Nobody but Simmons will stay on-line for half the day to field questions for an on-line chat, with half of the questions being about MTV shows only college burnouts should be watching.)
All of that is true. But this week I realized that is not why I really love his work. The real reason?
Bill Simmons is the new Sports Jinx!
Case in point: This week's NBA Draft Lottery and the Boston Celtics fall to 5th in the draft order. To quote Bill himself, "How did we not see this coming?"
I must confess, I watched the draft lottery because I just couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen to Simmons if the Celtics failed to get the top draft pick. The next morning at the office, all of us basketball geeks couldn't help but talk about what must be going on with Simmons. Was he in a drunk tank? Standing on a building ledge?
If he was sober, or mostly sober, what would his next article say?
Which brings me to a side-point: Why didn't it occur to somebody at ESPN to put a camera crew on Bill Simmons and his father during the draft lottery? Sure, they had some images of stunned Celtics fans in Boston bar. But who cares about those random yokels? I want to see Bill and his dad on a split-screen as the lottery unfolds!
I honestly checked the ESPN homepage no less than five times the day after the draft looking for a new Simmons article or any mention of his status. Finally, late in the afternoon a new article was published. I quickly copied the link and IM'd to one of my coworkers with the text "New Simmons article is up…" as if CNN had just posted a breaking news story about the capture of Osama Bin Laden.
And of course, the article was brilliant and funny. Simmons always delivers. But then I got to thinking about what he would have written if the Celtics had received the first pick. And that's when I finally realized it was Bill's fault. Bill Simmons is the new Sports Jinx.
Why? Because nobody wants to read 15 years of Simmons articles about how Durant or Oden saved his franchise and brought them championships. It isn't funny.
I, the reader, have no interest in a happy Bill Simmons.
There! I said it. I'm sorry Bill. It isn't nice, but it is the truth. Take away the bitterness and you just have another googly eyed sports fan like all of those annoying Lakers fans in the 80's that had never even seen their local team play and rooted for the Lakers because they were the team always on t.v. Real sports fans don't like these people.
OF COURSE the Celtics didn't get the pick. Of course the Celtics gave a contract extension to Doc Rivers. (That was karma's only choice since Tony Barone Sr. was already under contract with Memphis.) Of course they will have to deal with yet another season of "should they trade Paul Pierce" questions.
It is all Bill's fault.
Don't believe me?
What happened to the Clippers when he got season tickets and started to write about them consistently? They did just enough good things to lift some hopes! They made some noise in the 2006 playoffs and became, no kidding, one of the pre-season favorites to make the playoffs in 2007. And let us not forget that Bill started writing about the "upside" of Shawn Livingston and praising his potential.
How did that work out this year? The Clippers sank and bitterness was revived! Shawn Livingston floundered under the spotlight and suffered an injury sure to be replayed on Most Disgusting Sports Injuries DVDs for years to boot. Of course, they've been playing like that for decades. But they had to have that one good year to draw Simmons in, build up some hope and national attention and then… crush him and their fans again!
The end result… more great articles from a bitter Bill Simmons.
You still don't believe me do you? You say the Boston Red Sox won it all and Simmons even got to write a book about it. I grant you that point. I have three rebuttals though…
1) Even the SI Cover jinx is not 100%.
2) The Red Sox provided one of the most compelling sports stories via their triumph, with or without Bill Simmons.
3) What happened next? Did we have to suffer through a decade of Red Sox dominance and gleeful Simmons articles about their dynasty? Oh no. That team just about ripped itself apart at the seams and the ownership turned into Bill's worst enemy… The Yankees! Oh, and Baseball Jesus became Baseball Judas.
You know what I'm thinking there right? It is Bill's fault.
The SI Cover jinx is old news. We are now living in the Bill Simmons Sports Jinx era.
I can't wait to see what karma has in store next for Bill Simmons: Sports Jinx.