Lately, I’ve been busy finding things to do. My father came into town for a week – a much needed visit for the both of us where we got to see two Drake games and hop around town finding things to do. I’ve been heading to the gym regularly. I’m fortunate to have Drake’s strength and conditioning coach Mike Burch help whenever he can. And then of course spending time with Lindsay and my friends. However, instead of watching TV or movies, I’ve made a conscious effort to read.
What has that meant so far? Well I’’ve read a few books – all of which I recommend – which span widely different interests. Especially considering I haven’t been much of a reader in the past, this is a very welcome change to my lifestyle. Completed titles from my list include: Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons and The Lost Symbol, Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, Game of Shadows by Fainaru, Wada and Williams, and my current undertaking, THE 700-plus page synopsis of the NBA called The Book of Basketball by Bill Simmons.
Each book represents a different challenge, but Simmons is unbelievable. He is such a perceptive writer with an uncanny ability to relate sports-moments and pop-culture without watering down his sports analogies. He is almost always dead-on and doesn’t seem to leave out a single fact since the beginning of his experience with the NBA. This type of sports writing has changed athletics journalism and introduced “color” writing (not black-white color but creativity, think color commentary) in a new form.
So far, I’ve been flying through the book, completing almost 400-pages in just over a week. I love the attention to detail. I’ve learned more about the history of the NBA with this book than ever before. The insight is insightful (and my redundancies redundant). The footnotes are hilarious. It’s really a hard book to put down. Simmons has some sort of innate ability to turn casual NBA fans (like myself) into rabid NBA fans (I think the transition is beginning). His comments make you want to watch the games just to see how players like Vince Carter mail-in performances (Simmons is not a big fan of Vince). Or how his season-tickets for the Clippers and distrust for Isiah Thomas’s General Managing abilities could turn into the perfect storm if LA can entice Thomas away from FIU. Simmons just makes the NBA more interesting.
With such a large following, Simmons needs to start getting more credit for fans interest in the NBA. Yes we have LeBron and Kobe, ESPN highlights, and a ton of games on TV. But, Bill Simmons does something that the NBA doesn’t have otherwise -– he makes millions of readers care about the teams he cares about. He has thousands of fans write to him about their hometown teams. Who else can do that? It makes people care on a personal level. It makes the game theirs.
Brent Heemskerk, the Webmaster, and I follow Simmons so much that he even influences our television choices. When Bill said MTV’’s Jersey Shore would be a fantastic show to watch, we knew we had to tune in to the premier. And what happened? We watched Jersey Shore episodes every week (sometimes every day), taking phrase like “the situation” and getting “fresh”, applying them to our everyday lives.
Bill Simmons has not only become the best and most sought after sportswriter for ESPN, he’s become a cultural icon who influences the everyday lives of thousands if not millions of people. By the way, read his book.
Big Z. Great MVPuppet, or the Greatest?