"Bill Simmons" has been the most commonly used label on this blog for at least a couple of years. I write about him so often that, as is the case with Easterbrook, I'm sort of running out of things to say about him. Part of what causes that, not that I'm trying to be like Klosterman and use a nonsensical contradiction to sound smart, is that I write so much that it's hard to say everything I want to say. By which I mean I have written about Bill so many times that I can't really crystalize everything that makes him horrible into one short essay at this point. The best I can do is direct you to the 140 essays I've done, and hope you can take away an overall understanding of why Bill sucks should you decide to waste 6 hours reading them all. Well, much as I hate to give Deadspin credit, they did a year-end feature about everything in the world of sports that should go away forever in 2014. Tim Marchman selected Bill's career, and man, did he ever get some work done. Allow me to copy and paste it in full, because he says it better and more succinctly than I ever could at this point. (Bonus: Albert Burneko, who writes the insufferably pretentious Foodspin columns, leads off the year end column in that link with an excellent little essay about why the NFL sucks balls. Check that out as well.)
Yes, I told you this would be a lazy post. Happy New Year everyone.
There comes a point in the career of every writer-turned-multiplatform brand at which, faced with the insatiable demands for content presented by his corporate overlords and his own vanity, he stops being a writer and turns into something else. In 2013, a year that saw him serving as an analyst on NBA broadcasts, making forays into Hollywood, and overseeing Grantland—exerting power, in all, in ways that made ESPN and the sports-industrial complex better than they would otherwise have been—it happened to Bill Simmons.
Unfortunately, he kept writing anyway, with bizarre results. Just run through his archive. Here he is going on about Calvin Johnson as if no one before him had ever noticed that Johnson is a very good football player, opening with a column-length piece of fanfiction about a Calvin Johnson Nike commercial. Here he is paying tribute to David Ortiz by telling a long story about how he, Simmons, hung out with Bill Russell this one time. [Larry B note: I posted about this.] Here he is going on for 9,000 words about a documentary about the fucking Eagles. Here's part one of a two-part series that came in at around 15,000 words comparing the NBA offseason to the justifiably forgotten Midnight Run. [Larry B note: this too.] Here's part one of a two-part series of nearly equal length, in which various notable moments in Tim Duncan's career are viewed mainly through the prism of what Bill Simmons thinks of what Bill Simmons thought of them as they were happening.
It just goes on like that. There's nearly nothing there but banal assertions about the most obvious possible subjects, gestures at fitting them into some comprehensive schema in which everything in the known universe is tagged as over-, under-, or properly rated according to a vaguely defined sense of what the masses think, declarations that suggest Simmons may not realize the world remains in place when he closes his eyes, and allusions to forgotten junk culture.
Of course all of this is how Simmons built his brand in the first place. The main differences now are that he's a producer of sports culture, rather than a consumer of it—hence the Nike fanfiction, written as one salesman's critique of another's strategy for market positioning—and that it's not clear he's in on the joke at this point. A man who seems to consider it truly important that people understand how everything in sports that he deigns to notice relates to his own view of how others might view the fact that he views it is operating on something like the third derivative of reality. That doesn't work for someone who's writing from the perspective of the common fan, especially when he's a wealthy, middle-aged man who's impossibly out of touch with the world around him, so that his columns increasingly read like dispatches from Xanadu. I mean, Midnight Run? The fucking Eagles? Somebody stop this man before we get a 27,000-word exegesis of Chris Paul's State Farm commercials as viewed through the interpretive lens of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.