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What ESPN’s Bill Simmons Superdeluxe Media Empire Means for Facts, Fans and Sports
Posted on Jul 7, 2010
By Mark Heisler
Cooling down “thanks to four shots of whiskey and a couple of Vicodin,” Simmons apologized (“I never wanted to become the proverbial turd in the punch bowl for a successful Boston team. After all, that’s Dan Shaughnessy’s job”), submitting it showed the outlook had been so bleak that “one of the team’s most avid fans briefly lost his mind before regrouping and continuing to support the team for the rest of the playoffs.”
Actually, the series was tied, 2-2, the Celtics still had home-court advantage and the Boston Globe’s Shaughnessy is deservedly respected for his determinedly anti-jingo approach that exposes him to heavy fire from the yahoos in the local blogs.
Meanwhile, “one of the team’s most avid fans” was off the bandwagon again by the Finals, predicting a Laker victory.
The Celtics won, resoundingly, 4-2.
By this spring, Simmons had given up hope for his battered team. Severing ties, he wrote, “I know the Celtics are going to lose in Round 1,” calling them “a decrepit, non-rebounding, poorly coached, dispirited, excuse-making, washed-up sham of a contender.”
The Celtics beat Miami, 4-1.
When they then surprised everyone, winning Game 2 in Cleveland to tie the series, 1-1, Simmons returned with no mention of his miscalculation.
He lasted one game, which the Cavaliers won in Boston, noting his father was so dismayed he sold his Game 4 tickets back to the team for face value.
Apparently mood swings run in the familty, but the son was back for the Game 6 finale, after the Celtics won Games 4 and 5—at least in spirit, orchestrating anti-James chants in the TD Garden (“New York Knicks! New York Knicks!”) ... from his couch in Los Angeles, via Twitter.
By the Finals, Simmons was a born-again die-hard, and hardly an apologetic one, demanding a courtside seat—with the rest of the press in the stands behind the baseline—saying he needed it to do his job.
He got it, too, a row behind the Celtic bench in Boston, after ESPN’s people went to the NBA’s people, who overruled their PR staff.
Actually, Simmons’ job didn’t even require him to write stories, just to conduct in-game chats on his handheld.
So, anyone who believes in karma now knows why the Celtics fell short.
Breaking Simmons’ oft-stabbed heart yet again, the Celtics went back to Los Angeles leading, 3-2, and were up by 13 points in the third quarter of Game 7.
It’s exactly what hell is like forever, or until the next morning, whichever comes first.
Mark Heisler is a sports columnist for the Los Angeles Times and Truthdig. His writing has been honored by the basketball hall of fame and he just won a 2010 L.A. Press Club award for his Truthdig column, “It’s Not About Tiger Woods, It’s About Us.”
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