Awards for ‘Rajon the Late Bloomer’ and others

A requiem for the S.S.O.L. Era in Phoenix

An über editon of The Links

After a few weeks on the road, Bill Simmons delivers an über editon of The Links. Story

Sorry for the delay with the latest edition of The Links. Unfortunately, I’ve been traveling for the past three weeks and kept falling behind on e-mails, so there wasn’t enough time to slap a decent batch together until this weekend. Thanks to everyone who keeps sending quality links along, especially those readers with the foresight to put “LINK” in the subject heading.

OK, now to the good stuff: With the one-year anniversary of my “B.S. Report” podcast coming up, I wanted to hand out some awards … an idea that would have been much easier if iTunes carried more than the past 20 podcasts and’s archive of my podcasts went back further than November ’07. We’re keeping it simple and going with four categories: “Celebrity Guest of the Year,” “Media Guest of the Year,” “Buddy of the Year” and “Podcast of the Year.” Since it wouldn’t be fair to have a one-man voting committee, you can vote for each of these awards by clicking on this special page. We’ll announce the winners next week.

One more note on the podcast that I keep forgetting to mention: If you subscribe to XM Radio, you can hear “The B.S. Report” every Friday at 3 p.m. ET, with a replay at 10 p.m. ET. On to The Links:

Make sure you watch or record “The Streak” on ESPN2 (9 p.m. ET Tuesday), a fascinating documentary about the 2007-08 season of a Florida wrestling team that had been undefeated for 34 years (439 straight matches). Really good stuff. We’re on a roll with documentary films — first “Black Magic” and now “The Streak.”

Over the years, I’ve written a few times about the Larry Bird/Julius Erving fight and how unfathomable it was to watch them strangling each other, then Doc nailing Bird with cheap punches while Moses Malone and Charles Barkley had Bird in a double headlock. Well, the actual Boston broadcast of that game finally made it to YouTube — unfortunately, it doesn’t show the part where they started strangling each other, but it did catch all of Doctor J’s cheap shots. And they WERE cheap shots.

Two fascinating things about that game other than the fight: Something happened to the second referee, so only Dick Bavetta was in charge (leading to an especially chippy game); and Bird was annihilating Doc up to the point of the fight (42 points to 6 with 1:38 left in the third quarter) and seemed like a legitimate threat to spring for 60 (which he did four months later against the Hawks). But beyond that, there was a passing-the-torch element to this game that made it a little more heated than usual, and I’ll always think that’s why they ended up getting into it.

Like so many others online, I was fascinated by the well-done “highlight” clip of the poor guy who was trapped in an elevator for 41 hours.

WHY ARE THERE NO OFFICE DRAFT POOLS??? Sports Guy! We have to get this started!!! $50 per person, everyone fills out a mock draft and points are awarded for players correctly matched to draft position. We’re looking to get the most players in the correct order, not necessarily players on the correct teams. Draft-day trades are player driven, therefore our scoring system will be as well. Help me get this started. ESPN has championed making the draft into must-see TV; it’s time we take it to the next level!
— Jonathan, Cincinnati

(Follow-up from Simmons: Let’s do it! Wouldn’t the best scoring system be 10 points for every correct pick from No. 1 to No. 10, seven points for No. 11 to No. 20 and five points for No. 21 to No. 30? Another way to do it, and I’ve done this with friends before — if you’re watching the draft with three buddies, you draw for the first through fourth picks, then you make selections before every pick and the winner gets $5 for the correct pick. For instance, as soon as the first pick goes on the clock, the No. 1 buddy makes a pick, then the No. 2 buddy makes HIS pick for the first pick, then the No. 3 buddy, then the No. 4 buddy. As soon as the second pick goes on the clock, buddy No. 2 gets to make that pick first, then buddy No. 3 and so on. Then you add up the correct picks at the end and everyone pays the winner the difference between their winning picks and his winning picks — $10 per difference of correct picks. Make sense? I have done it this way before and can vouch that it works.)

Have you seen ESPN Radio’s Dave Dameshek running during his own personal scouting combine? I thought he looked like Willem Dafoe getting gunned down at the end of “Platoon,” while our friend Raff thought he looked like Ron Kovic running on titanium legs. Any time somebody’s running style can spawn two references to Vietnam War movies, you know you have something special.

OK, want to see a solid 11 on the Unintentional Comedy Scale? You HAVE to look at the photo in this article. Where does one even begin? Look at the expression on Sam Cassell’s face! Look at the expression on the trainer’s face!! Look at where the trainer’s hand is located in the photo!!!
— Ilya A, New York

Kenny Smith and Bill Simmons
Not only did Kenny Smith beat me in the finals of’s “Celebrity” Fantasy League (I used quotation marks because I’m not a celebrity), but they ran a “Gone Fishing” segment about it on TNT (see picture to the right). Look, I could complain about losing Dwyane Wade in February for the season, or having six fewer games than Kenny’s guys did in the finals, or even that Kenny was near the bottom of the pack for most of the season and kept cherry-picking free agents while I was stuck with the same team for seven months because I was too high up to get anyone … but that would sound like sour grapes. Congratulations to Kenny and the P.A. at TNT who picked his team.

It was bad enough that Entertainment Weekly tried to figure out the MVPs for every “Real World” season, but it was worse that I vehemently disagreed with pretty much every choice. Too many dumb picks to count. You’re going to hate me for linking to this, and you’re going to hate yourself for clicking on all 22 seasons.

This book about beauty secrets for older women was written by Valerie Ramsey, the mother of my buddy Gus and the wife of my ninth-grade basketball coach and eighth-grade English teacher (as well as the creator of the Hall of Fame Pyramid), Wally Ramsey. Come on, your mom would love this book!

This is the second time I have written you about requesting transcripts for the podcast shows you do. You are my favorite sportswriter and I hate the fact that I cannot enjoy your podcast shows because I am deaf. All I am asking for is a transcript of the shows. You have a lot of fans of your work that are deaf or hearing impaired who cannot enjoy the podcasts you do, and I hope you figure out a way to arrange for transcripts to happen. It would mean a lot to a whole bunch of us.
— Dan, Palm Coast

(Note from Simmons: We’ve gotten this request a few times and I did ask my bosses about it — unfortunately, we just don’t have the manpower to provide transcripts for podcasts at this time. Down the road, hopefully that will change. Wish I had a better answer for you.)

When Bill Buckner threw out the first pitch at Opening Day, a bunch of readers wondered if I was ready to forgive Billy Buck. Back in 2003, I wrote a magazine column urging Sox fans to forgive Billy Buck — you probably didn’t remember it because it was only 700 words, which was the ridiculously skimpy length of my mag column back then. That was an awesome idea.

I just found out on Wikipedia that Ray Allen’s actual name is Walter Ray Allen. Has there ever been a world-class bowler and a world-class basketball player who have ever shared the same first and middle name? Can this ever possibly happen again? Also, now that I know what his real name is, I wouldn’t be surprised if Walter Ray retired, became a reclusive psychopath and greased off some politician at some point in his future.
— Eric, Dallas

In case you missed it, the LeBron James/DeShawn Stevenson feud heated up last weekend after Jay-Z slammed Stevenson with an entire song during a performance in D.C. (for the details, click here). Oh, and LeBron isn’t headed for the Nets some day? Right. I’m becoming more and more convinced that an NBA player will shoot another NBA player within the next 10 years. Of course, I predicted that 10 years ago.

Thanks for linking to that Apache video starring Tommy Seebach. It’s been a favorite for me and my friends for years. A buddy once described it perfectly: “This is what happens when you have $10,000 to shoot a music video and spend $9,900 of it on cocaine.”
— Tom, Charlotte

Check out the 1:20 mark of this clip when Kareem sucker-punches Happy Hairston after a hard foul. It’s also worth mentioning that Kareem punched Kent Benson from behind in 1977 and broke Benson’s jaw (as well as his own hand), and tried to take Larry Bird’s head off with an elbow in Game 4 of the 1984 Finals. Good guy, that Kareem.

Did you see that the guy who played key roles on “90210” (as Dylan’s evil father-in-law) and “Melrose Place” (as the head of D&D Advertising) passed away
two weeks ago
? If he wasn’t in the That Guy Hall of Fame, we have to induct him posthumously.

On Sports Guy’s World, we linked to the guy who can imitate every Red Sox batting stance from the past 30 years. Well, did you know he did the Yankees, Cardinals and a variety of ’80s batters? The Jose Canseco one from the last link was my favorite. Do the over-blinking jokes about Jose ever get old?

I know you’ve stopped caring about hockey, but you would be doing a huge disservice to your readers if you don’t post this link to the most painfully awkward opening to any sporting event ever (including pro wrestling). Forget losing in Round One — this gladiator opening is what’s going to traumatize Senators fans for years to come.
— Sumeet D., Toronto

(Follow-up note from Simmons: In the age when everything gets mocked and there’s practically no such thing as new unintentional comedy, it’s absolutely incredible that this happened. This feels like it should have happened in 1992.)

A day after Charlotte’s largest employer, Wachovia Corporation, announced troubling first-quarter earnings and ensuing layoffs, Bobcats owner and all-around [expletive] Bob Johnson had the unmitigated GALL to slam the Charlotte business community for not backing his failing franchise. Are you freakin’ kidding me!?!? This clown can’t do his job, so he decides to contact the newspaper himself to blame everyone else (that’s right, he called them). If I saw him or his invisible partner Michael “Isiah in Training” Jordan on the streets of Charlotte, I’d punch them in the back of their arrogant heads, but hey, I don’t have to worry about breaking the law, since they ARE NEVER HERE. Luckily local writer Tom Sorenson put Charlotteans’ justified anger nicely into words with his commentary on the situtation. Hey Seattle, you guys need a team? Make an offer!
— Scott, Charlotte

New York Magazine’s incredible feature on an Internet scandal at Horace Mann (an acclaimed prep school in New York). … The New York Times with a detailed piece on H.C. alum Chris Matthews. … Two worlds collide (smart and inane) as the New Yorker tackles “The Hills”. … RIP, former Sox catcher, Philly tough guy and Paul O’Neill puncher John Marzano. …
Jackie MacMullan’s feature on Ray Allen and his borderline OCD. … A riveting ESPN The Magazine piece about an ongoing feud
between Columbian natives Orlando Cabrera and Edgar Renteria
. … Tim Goodman on Jimmy Fallon’s prospects to replace Conan O’Brien.

On opening night of the ’95-’96 season, the commish raved about the improvements to KeyArena on TNT. And there’s video! Um … that was only 12 years ago!

I’m the founder/CEO of the initiative — a non-profit exchange where I provide fodder for the TRUTHERS to send our undeserving Coach of the Year to greener pastures. Anyway, my lil ole site has sparked some TV outrage, without them dignifying the site name. “There are some sites out there …” and some media outrage as well. Two homer, embedded, Fox News-ish Raps beat writers have exchanged lengthy heated e-mail dialogues with me, for calling them out, albeit civilly. I will air these soon. Wonder if you could plug me, given our collective sorrows of suffering through the (Isiah/Lenny/Vince/T-Mac/Billups/Camby) trauma — so we can get this latest impediment off our bench.
— Reagan, Toronto

(Note from Simmons: This guy is right — Mitchell still hasn’t figured out a rotation 85 games into the season, and he keeps giving Sam Cassell minutes even though he’s been such a ballhog that the entire team went into I’m-getting-mine mode in Game 3. Is there a reason Sam is allowed to launch 20-footers once per minute with no repercussions? Wait, I’m thinking of the wrong coach.)

According to Sal, “This announcement makes up for the crappy new facemask rule.”

1. Immediately after the Sox won in 2004, one of the schlubs went into the clubhouse trying to interview someone, anyone who would talk to him. He couldn’t get into the clubhouse until Curtis Leskanic comes out of nowhere, drenched in champagne, wraps his arm around the guy and says, “Hey, have you ever won a World Series? No? Well, let me tell you … it’s great!” And then he heads off. This was the epitome of how awesome winning the Series was, and I saw the video posted on for a little while before they removed it. If anyone could find a copy of this, one of the endless readers you have (as I’m sure some other Sox fan saved it to their computer), could you post it to your YouTube collection?
— Luke, Ithaca, N.Y.

2. I won my NCAA pool and wanted to send a celebratory YouTube video to all the other participants whose money I will be spending on strippers and blow. I was shocked and disappointed to find out, however, that Sam Cassell’s “testicle dance” is not on YouTube. Why even have YouTube if that clip isn’t on there? It should be part of the Sports Guy Collection so others won’t have “Sam Cassell juggling nuts” and “Sam Cassell huge testicles” in their search histories.
— Jay, Columbia, S.C.

Remember the cover story from the summer of ’94 about how hockey was about to pass the NBA in popularity? A few months later, Gary Bettman let half of the season get canceled and has continued to move teams to southern markets that do not care. Is Bettman one of the few people to do as much damage as Isiah?
— Liam in Philly

In last week’s hockey column, I mentioned the fights during and after the Bruins-Canadiens games in Boston but didn’t know about the fan who was brutally beaten up after Game 3 — obviously, I wouldn’t have made the Murph/Sully joke had I known someone was hurt. Here’s a Boston Herald column that explains what happened. Not Boston’s best day.

Following up on my Barry Bonds column, here are the clips of that infamous “90210” episode that I referenced where Barry and Ian Ziering battled on the golf course: Part one and part two.

Some other follow-ups from the readers:

1. A new entry into the “Rules named after a player” category: The Sean Avery Rule. And the video of the play.
–Craig L., Highland Mills

2. Here’s the Greg Papa call of the famous Sleepy Floyd game, which you wrote about four years ago.
–David, Tucson, Ariz.

3. Hopefully I’m the 100th person e-mailing you about MAURY Levy, not MURRAY Levy. But was that an interesting Freudian slip? Because when I googled “Murray Levy” I found a Maryland congressman, almost certainly the inspiration for the name. So thanks for the new knowledge, but Eff you for screwing up “Wire” facts.
–Matt, Hadley

4. I’m sure you’ve gotten many e-mails regarding this, but the little girl in “Little Miss Sunshine” (referenced in your Rondo/First-Round Awards column) was named Olive, not Violet. Love you still!!!
–Samantha, Los Angeles

5. Just to clarify, the guy who played the Gimp didn’t act in “Boy Meets World,” he actually penned some of the shows. Which goes a long way to explaining the sexual tension between Sean and Corey.
–James in Akron

6. Following up on your question about how to tell Andrea Bargnani, “I’m incredibly disappointed in you” in Italian — the Italian phrase is “Sono incredibilmente deluso,” but a Raptor fan could also say, “We thought we were getting Sonny but got Fredo instead” and probably get the same point across.
–Chad, Madison

7. I know you think Guy Lafleur was the Grim Reaper, but honestly, doesn’t this disco clip make him seem a little less scary? Admit it, you love it.
–Matt R., Toronto

8. As a kid, I remember being shocked that Guy Lafleur smoked a pack a day and could then fly down the right wing with that much speed. There’s a great lengthy article in this week’s Macleans magazine that not only recaps his roller-coaster career, but also touches on the comedy (a disco album?) and tragedy (a drug-addicted and violent son) that has touched his life since he retired.
–Darcy, Vancouver

9. You missed the lowest point of the Bruins’ collapse — when almost every Bruins fan hoped and encouraged Raymond Bourque to be traded to the Avalanche so that he could have a chance to win the Cup. Nothing I can think of is more pathetic, unless of course, the city gives Bourque a parade for winning the the Stanley Cup with another team! Which the city of Boston did!
–Bill R., Los Angeles

1. Hope you had the under on the “When will Lindsay Lohan get naked in a movie?” bet from a few years ago. Check out her new movie: “The 21-year-old, who previously played a pole dancer in the box-office flop I Know Who Killed Me, has reportedly agreed to ‘full frontal’ nudity in her role as a nymphomaniac waitress in the drama. Another source added: ‘She is fully aware of the potential of her body.'”
–Adam in Boston

2. Check out the new policy the L.A. Dodgers set up so that only the rich people could get autographs at the games this year. Here’s the link. How ashamed are you to be living in that city, and how would you explain this to your kids if you brought them to a game? I personally find this offensive. What does it hurt to let kids try and get autographs before a game? I remember doing it myself, and hopefully my team, the Phillies, won’t adopt such a policy, or I would have to find a new team.
— Ken J., Washington, D.C.

3. Highlights from C.J. Watson’s blog posting immediately after his call-up to the Warriors:

A. “In my first NBA debut against the red hot Portland Trailblazers, I was excited. I finally made it to this big stage, and when the coach called me to go in, I was shocked and overzealous at the same time. I didn’t know any plays, but in Coach Nelson’s system you don’t have to. They don’t run any plays. They just get the ball and go.”

B. “One thing that shocked me was during a timeout Coach Nelson doesn’t say nothing. He just sits there and rubs his head.”
–Rich S., Chicago

4. and IFC have compiled a list of the Top 50 Comedy Sketches of all time, complete with video clips. There are quite a few that I was not familiar with, but it’s definitely interesting to watch them all.
–Jon B. in Vernon Hills

5. Here’s Antoine Walker’s official Web site. Much like ‘Toine’s career, however, the site has been grounded in terms of recent updates. Can someone tell the webmaster that he’s been traded and his carcass is now rotting on the T-Wolves DNP list?
–Gabe G., Minneapolis

6. Did you know that the state of California is required to publish a list of the persons with income tax delinquencies over $100,000? See if you recognize the name of the guy who owes just over $1.5 million.
–Steve, Los Angeles

7. I know you never watched the New York “Real World” but Kevin Powell probably is easily the most legitimately successful person to ever be on the show (and not the Miz, as you claimed in your “Real World” podcast). He has produced shows for HBO and BET and is currently running for Congress, check out his bio.
–Kwame, Queens

8. You have to check out this link (which links to local Houston footage from the postgame of the Rockets beating the Lakers in ’86). Unreal to watch how local the NBA was then. I think that is the real difference. Nobody cared about ratings or what CBS wanted to happen. Your city versus their city. Check out the refs getting pushed out of the way and a swinging superstar Akeem not getting suspended for the Finals. Anyhow, super entertaining to see from the Rockets’ side — check out Rodney McCray, he actually says — they must be going crazy at Fridays in Houston. Yes, TGI Fridays and he said it like it was a special place and apparently it was the place to be. That is the ’80s.
–Michael H., Houston

9. She may have not written much thus far, but if there ever is someone to get you interested in the NHL again, it’s got to be LC right? Let’s hope she actually follows through and writes this thing throughout the two-month long NHL playoffs, as I think we may have to re-calibrate the unintentional comedy scale if LC were to get into in-depth hockey analysis.
–Ryan, Pittsburgh

10. First, read Peter Vecsey’s anecdote about Sam Mitchell not knowing Andrew Bynum was hurt in his April 27 column. Then check out the response from Doug Smith in the Toronto Star (who would know) pointing out that Vecsey made the whole thing up.
–Mike K, Toronto

11. Did you know you could hire C.T. from the “Real World” for stuff? Best part — fourth paragraph.
–Darren, Roanoke

12. As if we haven’t suffered enough with the Johan trade — NOW our own ticket people are doing their best to stereotype us Twins fans with the All-You-Can-Eat seat promotion! I haven’t decided what’s worse — that we came up with this idea first, or that Milwaukee DIDN’T come up with the idea first.
–Kirk, Chaska, Minn.

1. Given that it’s almost impossible for a professional athlete (sans female tennis players) to come out of the closet, it’s truly amazing how Gene Rayburn from “Match Game” fame could practially hit on all the good-looking male contestants and get away with it. How was this possible when the networks were so homophobic back then? Check out the 2:50 mark of this video for proof.
–Michael, Santa Monica, Calif.

2. I’ve never sent something like this in, but once a friend referred me to the Star Wars Holiday Special from 1978, well … I had no choice. And yes, that’s Bea Arthur singing in the Cantina. A shocking level of hilarity. Enjoy.
— John Lewis, Calgary

3. This YouTube clip of the “Inside the NBA” guys’ parody of Kobe’s impossible jump over the Aston Martin is an instant classic. Kobe is laughing the entire time.
–Tom, East Lansing, Mich.

(Note from Simmons: This clip also qualified Kobe for the 2008 Fake Laughing Olympics, in which Eva Longoria remains a heavy favorite.)

4. You must watch this surreal video of a crazed Mad Dog Russo on Letterman. Where does this appearance fall on the unintentional comedy scale? When you become president of ESPN6 your first priority needs to be getting Dog a TV show. Here are part one and part two.
–Andy, the Bronx

5. In your last Links column, you had a link to the “Quincy” theme song, which I’d agree has always been the most inappropriate theme song to any show with that subject matter. Anyway, on that same YouTube page, did you happen to notice the version of the “Quincy” theme song WITH LYRICS? It’s wet-your-pants funny!
–Mike B., Warrenton, Va.

6. I know you love Blair Witch videos from games — here’s the Chalmers shot being shown live at Allen Field House.
–Alex A., Leawood, Kans.

(Note: As always, you can check the Sports Guy Collection for all my favorite YouTube clips.)

Before we go, best of luck to the great Matt Bourne, who leaves the NBA this week to work for Major League Baseball as the league’s vice president of business relations. Matt easily cracks the top 10 on the “People Who Helped Me The Most With My Column Over the Years” and “Yankee Fans I’ve Befriended Because They Had Just Enough Redeeming Qualities To Make Me Overlook the Fact That They Liked the Yankees” lists. Let’s hope the NBA doesn’t move his farewell party from New York to Oklahoma City at the last minute.

Bill Simmons is a columnist for Page 2 and ESPN The Magazine. For every Simmons column, as well as podcasts, videos, favorite links and more, check out the revamped Sports Guy’s World.

Bill Simmons is the founding editor of Grantland and the author of the New York Times no. 1 best seller The Book of Basketball. For every Simmons column and podcast, click here.

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