ESPN's Bill Simmons brought his "The Book of Basketball" signing tour to annoying East Village bar Professor Thom's last night and our NYC Deadspin operatives waited in line so we wouldn't have to. Bless their little hearts.
Tears, anger, underage drinking. Last night apparently had it all. Pictures and stories from the front lines ahead. Everything [sic] of course.
[Top photo from David, aka "Cecil's Wielder"]
[Tweets via The Stephen A. Smith Heckling Society of Gentlemen]
7:02 p.m. from David, aka "Cecil's Wielder":
"The line for the bill simmons signing at professor thom's is absurdly long. Lots of people hoping that they are selling books at a bar."
9:22 p.m. from Joe M. From Brooklyn:
"i am happy to say, without any reason to lie, that i have the FIRST book bill simmons singed in the entire NYC!!!
It was tough to get it but i did, i was 10th online and wasnt allowed in the bar because i was underage, but i did not let that stop me! Thanks to Bill's publicist she told bill he should sign my book (and a couple of other underage fans) right inside the bar before he actually walked in! it was amazing, there were hundrands of ppl and i was out of there by 7:15!!
I got him to write "this is ourrrrrrrrr country"! Havent put the book down since i got it!!
Love you bill!"
10:44 p.m. from Phil, aka "Peter Cavan":
"Subject: I met Bill Simmons!!
Ok, not really, since I didn't get to shake his hand. But he did sign his book for me.
I got to Professor Thom's at 6:45 pm and the line was already around the corner and down the block. They handed out wristbands around 7 and told us that if we already had the book we could go inside the bar. I didn't have the book yet as I hadn't decided until 5 today that I was going to the signing. So I waited in line with a few other Deadspin readers and several hundred strangers. The line behind me continued to grow until it reached 3rd Avenue.
By 8 pm we had turned the corner and could see the WS game through the windows of the lounge next door. At 8:30 I was inside the bar. That's when we learned how they were running the signing. They called us up in blocks of 20 based on the numbers on our wristbands. My number was 5872 and they had just reached 5700. It took about 10 minutes per block of numbers so I figured I had about another 90 minutes to wait. The bar was ridiculously crowded. People were pressing in from outside, people with signed copies were trying to get out, and many, many people were sitting at the bar watching the game. Surprisingly, the mood wasn't all that bad. I got to meet CPSL as he and his girlfriend were leaving. Around 9 pm they told us that if our numbers hadn't been called yet we should wait outside, so I went around to 14th St, got a sandwich and came back about 20 minutes later. At 9:45 I went back into the bar and bought my copy of the book from the Borders staff working at the back. A few minutes later and it was my turn to meet the man himself.
The signing itself happened so fast I hardly had time to think about it. They had Simmons and a few other guys sitting at a table at the back beneath a large TV. One of the guys looked like Jack-O. Simmons was standing up and signing a book for someone who seemed like one of his friends (based on the conversation that was wrapping up). He was taller and thinner than I expected. He sat down again and I stepped up to the table. He said hello and I thanked him for taking the time to sign for all these people. Then I told him I'm not really an NBA fan but that maybe I'd become one after reading the book. He said he thought I'd like it. He handed me my book and I made a quick exit from the bar.
My legs are tired from standing, I'm $23 poorer and I missed half the WS game. And I suppose I have to read the book now. On the other hand, I did get to eat a great sandwich from Thai Me Up. So I got that going for me. All in all, not a bad night."
11:22 p.m. from "Taish":
"I wore my Knicks Starbury jersey and Simmons let out a big laugh when he saw me wearing it. I was one of the first 30 people to get mine signed but I heard he stayed for 4 hours until everyone had a chance to get a signature. He even signed books outside of the bar for those who weren't 21 and couldnt get in. He's a good guy."
11:37 p.m. from Jeremy C.:
"I'm a Cubs fan (was wearing a Cubs jacket) and had the Sports Fella sign my book thusly (calling back his post '04 column to Cubs fans). The line / bar situation was a bit fubar, but once things got rolling, he got through 20 people every 9-10 minutes."
11:42 p.m. from David, aka "Cecil's Wielder" (again):
"After a three hour wait, a bouncer that looked a lot like ving rhames, several smoke breaks and chickening out on having simmons inscribe "avoid the clap" I finally got Jacko to sign a copy of a book right before the Phils broke things open in the 8th. What a magical night."