Bill Simmons' new doorstop of a book arrives in stores tomorrow. In a canny move, he had Malcolm Gladwell pen the foreword. And what does Fry Guy do in that foreword?
Why, tell the entire world that Bill Simmons is only the super smartest basketball expert on Earth who really SHOULD be a GM, of course. I took a look at a copy of the book this morning. It's girthy, that's for sure. But it's clear right from the get-go that this is less a book than it is a resume for Simmons' basketball credentials. Let's go right to the opening paragraph of Gladwell's little reference letter…
Not long ago, Bill Simmons decided to lobby for the job of general manager of the Minnesota Timberwolves. If you are a regular reader of Bill's, you will know this, because he would make references to his campaign from time to time in his column.
Let's stop Gladwell right here and correct him. Simmons has been pimping himself as an NBA GM candidate since well before that Timberwolves job opened. He devoted plenty of column space to demanding the Milwaukee Bucks hire him. And he didn't just lobby for the T-Wolves job from time to time. He tweeted about the idea incessantly, and even devoted podcast time to it. He interviewed with Mike Rand to lay out his qualifications. There was even a Facebook group created specifically to advance the cause.
But if you are a regular reader of Bill's column, you also know enough to be a little unsure about what to make of his putative candidacy. Bill, after all, has a very active sense of humor.
Indeed he does, for someone who has seen a grand total of eight movies in his lifetime.
He likes messing with people, the way he used to mess with Isiah Thomas, back when Thomas was suffering from a rare psychiatric disorder that made him confuse Eddy Curry with Bill Russell. Even after I learned that the Minnesota front office had received something like twelve thousand emails from fans arguing for the Sports Guy, my position was that this was a very elaborate joke. Look, I know Bill.
No. Apparently, you do not. Because it's a classic Simmons move to do something like lobby for an NBA GM job, go to great pains to illustrate how many people support him and why it would be crazy awesome for a team to hire him because he inherently makes things more interesting, and then deflect all criticism of his efforts by saying he was only joking. He does this constantly, and it's one of his worst qualities. Because it means he's either being disingenuous, or just fucking obnoxious. Even in his excerpt from the book…
I explained the purpose of my column, how I write from the fan's perspective and play up certain gimmicks — I like the Boston teams and dislike anyone who battles them, I pretend to be smarter than every GM…
He keeps up with the "pretending" bullshit. Let's go back to Gladwell:
He lives in Los Angeles. When he landed there from Boston, he got down on his hands and knees and kissed the tarmac. He's not leaving the sunshine for the Minnesota winter. Plus, Bill is a journalist, right? He's a fan. He only knows what you know from watching games on TV. But then I read this quite remarkable book that you have in your hands, and I realized how utterly wrong I was. Simmons knows basketball. He's serious. And the T-wolves should be, too.
ZOMG! He was serious?! I'm SHOCKED! That wasn't the impression I got at all when I first thin sliced him!
Let's get a few things straight here. I don't think many people doubt that Simmons is a devoted basketball junkie who knows the minutiae of his favorite sport as well or better than most people. I certainly don't doubt it. The NFL is another matter. But yeah, I'd say the Sports Fella knows himself some basketball. And I don't even need to read his book to tell you it will be both entertaining and informative, and that it deserves to sell the zillion copies it ends up selling.
But the guy has spent his entire adulthood being either a writer or a fucking bartender. And wouldn't you know it: NBA General Manager is a job position that requires you to fucking MANAGE people. Isiah Thomas knows a shitload about a basketball. But guess what? He was the fucking worst manager of people in the history of everything ever. So while Simmons may clearly have the basketball IQ to warrant consideration for such a position, that's not the only skill you have to master in a job that requires hiring people, firing people (perhaps people you may feel affection towards), getting people to work together in harmony (Simmons feuds with his editors all the fucking time), being a canny marketer, not banging the office Hundley, and dealing with striking beer vendors or whatever the fuck else those poor schlubs have to do.
Oh, and it probably requires one other thing Simmons may lack: fucking humility.
Special thanks to Craggs, who provided the book excerpt and Napkin Gladwell.