Bill Simmons Thinks Memphis Fans Get Tense Because MLK Was Shot There

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

For many years now, Bill Simmons has positioned himself as a kind of ULTRA fan. He's not simply the voice of the fan anymore. He is more fan than you. He understands fandom in a way that you could not possibly understand. He understands that when fans get loud, things are going well! And when fans get quiet, things get very DARK and EERIE. He knows things about you fans that you don't know about yourselves. And so while many of you Memphis Grizzlies fans out there may THINK that you were nervous during the Western Conference Finals because you were a young franchise with a lackluster history going up against one of the best-run franchises in all of sport, Bill Simmons—GOD OF FANS—has a MUCH better explanation (audio is here, about nine minutes in):

I didn’t realize the effect [the MLK shooting] had on that city…I think from people we talk to and stuff we’ve read, the shooting kind of set the tone with how the city thinks about stuff. We were at Game 3. Great crowd, they fall behind, and the whole crowd got tense. It was like, 'Oh no, something bad's gonna happen.' And I think it starts from that shooting.

Of course it does. NO ONE DENIES THIS. I'll never forget how James Earl Ray whispered "sweep the leg" to himself right before pulling the trigger. This is nothing a U2 concert at the Grindhouse can't fix, people.


In Bill Simmons's world, there must always be a unified theory that explains how and why everything happens. And that theory must be something dreamed up by Simmons, and Simmons alone. And that theory is NEVER wrong. And if it includes a grand theory about why a star actor isn't a star actor anymore, then all the better. It wraps up the entire sociology and psychology of a fanbase or a team in a tidy little package designed for stupid people to accept unconditionally. Deep down, beneath all the pop culture references and trips to secret Chinese restaurants with his friends (my friend can eat a plate and a half of food! He's hungrier than your friends!), Simmons is just like the Lupicas and the Mariottis—someone who fancies himself an oracle for reducing sports to a series of linear equations and who's here to bestow his breathtaking knowledge upon you, the little people.


If this goes anything like his "Tiger had it rougher than Ali" mini-controversy, I assure you that Simmons will defend himself by saying that podcasting is like playing speed chess and then blaming the Internet for being so gosh darn picky. I GUESS WE CAN'T SAY ANYTHING ANYMORE, EH, INTERNET?! Bill Simmons doesn't even know why he bothers with the likes of you.