So I finally read the epic, gigantic, 750 page book on basketball by Bill Simmons, almost to the date when it debuted before the 2009 NBA season. I realized half-way through reading it that I was having Simmons podcast withdrawal and kind of missed the guy when he was suspended for no apparent reason by ESPN for 3 weeks. So to get my Simmons fix, I finally read his book – which took me the exact amount of time his suspension was. It was my elliptical exercise bike book to read and I burned a lot of calories sifting through this monster!
I guess there was a reason he was suspended from ESPN, and that was because he called NFL commissioner Roger Goodell a liar on a podcast and claimed he tried to cover up the Ray Rice elevator video. His podcasts don’t really fall under the journalistic umbrella as he was just spit-balling with Cousin Sal from Jimmy Kimmel’s show. And the amazing part about that podcast was that ESPN was promoting it on their PODCASTS page the entire 3 weeks he was gone. So they were making money for the exact thing they suspended him for because it didn’t fall under their “moral” code. That’s like a museum announcing it was removing a painting from their showcase because it was to profane, but still showing the painting at the museum because they knew that exact painting was causing more people to see it! It made no sense unless you’re a smart businessman, which ESPN is.
So, back to the book. You can argue that it’s a little long and Simmons has never met an editor he listened to because all of his podcasts and columns are a little on the long side. That’s what makes him, him. Ask Martin Scorsese to make a film under 2 hours – he can’t do it. And Simmons HAD to write a book on his favorite sport that was as long as War and Peace.
The opening chapter is a delight as it talks about his love for the game and his love for his father and how the two kept merging and overlapping through his development years. It makes total sense how he became the iconic person he became – a little Malcolm Gladwell “Outliers” feel to it (which of course is fitting because Gladwell wrote the intro of this book). And his footnotes are both insightful, pure genius for adding in, and very funny.
It was interesting to read his thoughts on LeBron James in 2009 as a lot has happened to him in the last 5 years. He’s come full circle in that time with two rings and hatred from the nation (and back to love). I think Simmons now has to write a sequel to this book as soon as LeBron retires because he’ll move up in his rankings to either #1 or #2 of the greatest basketball players.
In summary, I love reading about things that people are obviously passionate about. And Simmons LOVES basketball. His passion is contagious and it has already had me watching more basketball that I normally would.
Now he’s back from his suspension and I’ll enjoy his Grantland.com articles.