Thursday, June 4, 2009

Bill Simmons is Smarter Than You Are

That’s why he sees all the real stories. Behind the numbers. Behind the uniforms and canned quotes, Simmons is able to break it all down for us. Why did Lebron have a great season in ’08-09? Give up? Kobe Bryant played in the Olympics.

From the mailbag.

I'd bet anything that Kobe secretly regrets being on the Redeem Team. He gained nothing exposure-wise because they showed every game in America in the wee hours;

But he gained something exposure wise with the tens of millions of people around the world who watched Olympic basketball. Is there anyone in the US who doesn’t know who Kobe Bryant is? Also, wasn’t that first game against China on at like 10AM Eastern time on a Sunday?

all he did was put unnecessary mileage on his knees when he could have been resting.

That’s all he did. That’s all that was accomplished in Beijing. When Kobe Bryant is 60 and his grandchildren ask him about the Summer of ’08, his first memory will be…. “Oh that was the summer I put some more mileage on my knees. Nothing else of substance happened. Next topic.” Then they’ll probably ask him about Shaq or about winning the dunk contest in ’97 or being accused of rape or something.

If that's not bad enough, he SINGLE-HANDEDLY altered the course of his main rival's career.

SINGLE-HANDEDLY! This needs to be in all caps, so you know how important it is to his point. That rival? None other than Lebron James, who was an underachieving, underperforming pile of crap before the Beijing Olympics. Lebron James...the guy whose high school games were nationally televised. The number 1 pick in the draft a few years back. That guy. His career path was altered by the Olympics. Right.

Fun fact – Lebron’s per game averages for Points, Rebounds, Assists, Steals and Blocks either stayed the same or decreased from the season prior to the Olympics. Although he did play a couple less minutes because there were more blowouts. Still, his course was not altered any more than it would have been if Lebron had stayed home.

LeBron intimated as much himself: Only after watching Kobe's daily workout routine and nonstop commitment to defense did LeBron realize that he was selling himself short to some degree.

Did playing with Kobe Bryant (and Dwyane Wade, and Chris Paul, and…) make Lebron James better? Probably. How could playing with those guys not help your game? Is this something that we should credit with making him turn some sort of corner? No. This is like saying that Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Paul Pierce all wouldn’t have been the players they are today if they were drafted 1-3 slots higher. Oh wait, Simmons is convinced of that point too. He and other sportswriters love to take small, innocuous parts of the story, and make them the story. Because that’s what they think they are paid to do – point out the little things that dummies like you and me (especially you) miss because we aren’t as perceptive.

And when Kobe took over as the alpha dog in the gold-medal game (and everyone let him do it), that made LeBron realize, "I'm not quite there yet."

I bet a million dollars that Lebron James didn’t realize this, or think this after the gold medal game, and Bill Simmons is making up that he did so that he can tie it into his nice little bullshit anecdote.

Of the many reasons MJ skipped the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, I guarantee these were two of them:

The 1984 Olympics and the 1992 Olympics? Those are the two main reasons. He already had two gold medals. Just kidding. Bill is right. He was afraid that people would realize why he’s really good at basketball, in 1996, when he was 33 years old and had just unretired and led the Bulls to 72 wins.

"Why should I show these guys I'm trying to beat how I prepare every day?"

Double or nothing on the million dollars that Michael Jordan being afraid to show these guys how he prepares every day had nothing to do with him not playing in the 1996 Olympics.

and "Why should I give my foes any insight into what makes me me."

That’s the same thing as reason one. But very true, I doubt any of those guys knew much about Jordan in 1996. He had 4 rings, 8 scoring titles and 4 MVP's at the time .

He remembered how the 1992 Dream Team experience rejuvenated Barkley's career and didn't want to make the same mistake twice.

Um, I’m pretty sure the 1992-93 season coinciding with Barkley being traded to a good Suns team with a good blend of stars (KJ, Majerle) complementary players (West, Ainge, Chambers, Ceballos) and young guys who would pull productive years out of their asses (Oliver Miller, Richard Dumas) had more to do with his success in 1993 than the Olympics OR MICHAEL JORDAN PLAYING IN THE OLYMPICS. Barkley didn’t play remarkably better in ’93 than he had before; he just played with a better team than he had been dealt in Philly.

Anyway, if Kobe never plays in the 2008 Olympics, then LeBron and Wade become alpha dogs by default and spend the whole time playing poker or Bid Whist in Worldwide Wes' hotel room ... and Kobe is cruising to the title right now. He has to be kicking himself.


Do you think Kobe has spent 5 minutes since he left Beijing thinking about the impact his presence at the Olympics may or may not have had on the other players? I don’t.

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