A memory of Michael

Leave the Red Sox, take the cannolis, part 2

Mailbag: MJ as trade bait?

Page 2's Bill Simmons answers readers' letter and reveals a Michael Jordan conspiracy theory.

Please keep in mind, everything you’re about to read came from actual e-mails sent in by readers over the past few weeks.

MSullivan asks: Why would MJ play for the Wizards? I know he’s trying to drive up his financial stake in the team, but isn’t he worth enough money already? Why not sign with a contender?

bill simmonsThat’s the “smoking gun” question about Jordan’s comeback — nobody can understand why the most competitive athlete of this generation would return for a two-year farewell tour on a .500 team (at best). But my buddy Joe House and I came up with an intriguing theory:

What if MJ came back, played well for the Wiz during the first half of the season and then got himself traded to a contender for a couple of younger stars?

Doesn’t MJ’s remarkably cheap contract ($1.3 million) make him eminently tradeable? Remember, Jordan only needs to play a half-season in Washington to maximize his financial stake in the team (even if he divests that stake for the time being), and since fans purchase season tickets before the season, the Wizards wouldn’t get killed at the box office if they dealt him. And with Jordan signed for two seasons, the Wiz would be parlaying a commodity they didn’t have six months ago — namely, MJ — into one or two quality young players and maybe even create some cap room in the process.

And if that’s not enough, isn’t it in the NBA’s best interests to plant MJ in the middle of the playoff picture for as long as possible?

So here’s what we think: MJ plays for the Wiz through January, pushes himself into game shape, reclaims “All-Star level” status and then starts floating “I can’t stand playing for a losing team/I’d hate to do this to the city of Washington, but maybe I’d be happier playing for a contender” vibes. Then he starts shopping himself around in a deal that accomplishes two objectives for the Wizards: 1.) Free up cap space (by including Loy Vaught, Ty Nesby, Chris Whitney, etc. in the deal), and 2.) Find cheap, young talent.

(Lemme pull a Hubie Brown here …)

Now … you’re the Milwaukee Bucks. You came within a few breaks of beating the Sixers last June. You desperately need another go-to guy to complement Ray Allen. And the Wizards are offering you Michael Jordan and cap-filler for Tim Thomas. Do you pull the trigger and acquire the most recognizable athlete in history, especially if he’s proven that he has something left in his gas tank?

(I’ll answer that for you: Of course, you do.)

What’s a legend worth around the trading deadline, anyway? Will we find out next January? And was this MJ’s plan all along?

(Sure makes sense, doesn’t it? Just remember who predicted it first.)

TO’Neill asks: If Vince McMahon owned U.S. tennis, do you think Serena Williams would have nailed Venus over the head with the second-place plate
and grabbed the women’s trophy at the U.S. Open? It would have been a classic swerve.

Absolutely. I love these “What would happen if Vince were involved?” sports scenarios. Probably the best one of all-time would have happened after Mark
McGwire slammed his 70th home run, right after he had that awkward, interminably long moment with the Maris Family and gave Sammy Sosa the
full-body hug.

If Vince were involved, Sammy would have done the whole “pointing to the chest/kiss” thing, waited for McGwire to turn around, then nailed Big Mac
over the head with his bat as Jon Miller screamed, “Noooooo! Noooooooo! Somebody stop this!!!!!!”

Clynch asks: I loved the breakdown of Hickory vs. Carver in the last mailbag … how about another “Dr. Jack” analysis of a street fight between the ’89 Pistons and the Warriors (with Cleon)?

Too easy. Swan and Ajax could have taken on Laimbeer and company by themselves. Remember how they destroyed the Baseball Furies in Central Park?
And those guys had bats! Come on.

B. Kouretchian asks: Who was the better sidekick? Reed Rothchild (“Boogie Nights”) or Ricardo Tubbs (“Miami Vice”)?

Now that’s what I’m talking about! Let’s break this baby down, Dr. Jack Ramsay style:

Loyalty: Reed forgave Dirk Diggler even during Dirk’s “You’re not the boss of me”/coke binge era … Tubbs stuck by Sonny even after Sonny suffered
amnesia, when Sonny became a ponytailed drug dealer and shot Tubbs — not once but twice. Edge to Tubbs.

Sense of Humor: Tubbs was much funnier. And he had a better “obsequious sidekick” laugh. Edge to Tubbs.

Unintentional Comedy: Nobody was unintentionally funnier than Reed Rothchild … this was a man who ad-libbed the “Violence is something that plagues us as a society” speech … of course, nobody in the history of TV was funnier than Philip Michael Thomas when he was overacting … then again, Tubbs never came up with an alter-ego like Chest Rockwell. Edge to Reed.

Ability to drive the hero’s sports car: Tubbs has a big advantage here; Dirk never let Reed drive the Corvette. Edge to Tubbs.

Hidden talents: Reed could make margaritas, perform magic tricks, read poetry, cut pure rock cocaine, write music and play guitar. … Tubbs
wielded a killer Jamaican accent and could shoot two guns at the same time. Edge to Reed.

Ingenuity: Here’s where Tubbs gets the big edge — somehow he snuck onto the Miami vice squad even though he was a lowly NYC cop before Calderon killed
his brother. That always amazed me. He also foiled a plethora of drug deals, destroyed the Calderon family and avoided ever getting “recognized” by any
bad guys in the Miami area, even though he was working undercover for years.

On the flip side, Reed was a putz — he never should have allowed Todd Parker to rope the boys into that botched drug deal, and he couldn’t even
get Dirk’s record company to release their tapes. Big edge to Tubbs here.

Ability to get women: Reed was a porn star, for God’s sake. … If there was a black woman on “Vice,” you knew Tubbs was stepping in by the first
commercial break (he sealed the deal every time) … neither guy ever tried to compete with their “star of the show” buddy for women … Reed
bagged Rollergirl, which warrants mentioning. Probably a wash.

Willingness to accept “Second Banana” status: Never a problem with either guy. A wash.

Defining Moment: For Reed, it was either rattling off the “Sugar Tree” poem in Jack Horner’s hot tub, jamming with Dirk on “Feel the Heat” or screwing up the backflip during the pool party. None of them really stood out over anything else.

As for Tubbs, I would choose the moment in the second part of the unforgettable “Calderon’s Revenge” two-parter when the pre-Castillo acting sergeant said to him, “I heard this Calderon had something to do with your brother’s death in New York” and Tubbs took the dramatic pause, stared him down, waited for the eerie Jan Hammer music. to kick in and finally growled, “Ya heard right.” One of the all-time great TV moments. Edge to Tubbs.

My final verdict: As much as it kills me to choose, Tubbs gets the nod. But everyone’s a winner here. We’re all winners.

Shanlon33 asks: Has anyone yet made the horrid, unspeakable, and barely e-mailable connection between Cam Neely and Nomar Garciaparra?

This e-mail just about took my breath away. I don’t even want to think about this. Let’s move on.

EBMiller asks: What’s your favorite movie that takes place in Boston?

Either “Good Will Hunting” or “The Verdict.” At gunpoint, I’d probably pick “The Verdict” — because of the Boston footage and because it was a better
overall movie (just barely).

(My least favorite Boston movie: “Blown Away,” the terrorist movie with Jeff Bridges and Tommy Lee Jones. Had some good Boston scenes, but the ending was
too ludicrous. It featured a car going downhill in Beacon Hill for, like, 45 straight blocks — impossible because Beacon Hill’s very up-and-down — and
finally landing in the Boston Common, which was logistically impossible. That always bugged me.)

MKM14 asks: Which sports movie “event” would you most like to have attended? Personally, I think there’s no contest: you gotta go with the
final soccer game in “Victory.” No price would be enough for the chance to boo Nazis and watch Pele and Stallone all at the same time.

Excellent question. I actually found myself mulling this one over for a good five minutes. All of the “Rocky” fights would have been tremendous (especially Balboa-Creed II). The Roy Hobbs game … Daniel LaRusso winning the All-Valley Karate Championship … the Hanson Brothers’ debut … chanting “Let them play” for “The Bad News Bears” at the Astrodome … Jake, Willie and the Indians finally capturing the pennant in Cleveland … Hickory High winning the state title … Frank Dux beating Chong Li in
“Bloodsport” … I mean, all of those things would have been memorable.

But I think you’re right — the Nazis-Allies game has to get the nod here. Watching the Allies bounce back from a 4-0 deficit, seeing Pele’s bicycle kick, chanting “Victory!” in French with 60,000 other people, seeing Stallone catch the climactic penalty kick, and then being able to overpower the Nazi guards and escape after the game without getting shot at … I’m not sure you could put a price on that kind of fun. That has to be No. 1.

AGray35 asks: What do you think of Jimmy Chitwood as a fantasy player? I see him getting a lot of points and shooting high percentages, but not much
in the rebounds, assists and steals department.

I see him like Reggie Miller or Jeff Malone in their primes (23-24 ppg., good FT’s and not much else). I think Rade would have been the driving fantasy force
on that Hickory team — assists, 3s, steals, rebounds… he was like a young Fat Lever.

Tslade asks: How could you leave out former Celtics coach Jimmy Rodgers — the original “Coach Fredo” (before Pete Carroll) — from the inaugural class of the Blonde Afro/Mullet Hall of Fame?

And I left out former Minnesota Twin Dan Gladden! We’ll add Dan and Jimmy to the nominees for the second class, along with Sid Vicious, Lenny Dykstra and
Wally Backman.

Buster331 asks: Can we all agree now that the Carl Everett Era was a bust, an unmitigated disaster in Boston?

Absolutely. The phrase “unmitigated disaster” sums everything up; even Cousin Oliver didn’t wreak this much havoc on the “Brady Bunch.” On the
bright side, if Everett gets traded to an American League team, at least it will be fun to boo him next season at Fenway … um … right? We haven’t had
a good old-fashioned villain in Boston since Ulf Samuelsson retired and moved back to Hell.

T. Rogers asks: Have you ever noticed nobody buys anything at the Sharper Image? I think they’re a front for the mob.

MBRUCKER adds: Didja ever notice that the bathroom handicapped stall is always the farthest from the entrance? It’s as if they’re saying to the
wheelchair guy, “You get your own stall, but we’re gonna make you work for it!”

Yup … these are my readers.

S. Terrell asks: Where are the Morgannas of the world? Do you think there will ever again be a time when women with gigantic breasts run out of
the stands to kiss players during a game?

Let’s hope so. It’s too bad that the general public can’t elect the next baseball commissioner. That would be one of my platforms. In fact, here’s
are some of the changes I would make:

  • Women with gigantic breasts will be allowed to run out of the stands and kiss players during games again.

  • The Tomahawk Chop will be outlawed, punishable by death.

  • The fact that a Canadian team won consecutive World Series will be wiped from the record books. It never happened.

  • Second basemen can’t wear gloves.

  • Montreal, Minnesota, Kansas City, Anaheim, Toronto will merge into one uber-team based in Las Vegas.

  • All relievers have to grow fu manchus and goatees.

  • Anyone over 18 who brings their baseball glove to a game will be stripped and forced to stand naked on the pitcher’s mound while everyone laughs at
    them for five full minutes.

    DFS3 asks: I was riding the subway last week with Philip Seymour Hoffman (one of the charter members of the That Guy Hall of Fame, as you
    well know). When he got on the subway I was dying to drop a “Boogie Nights” reference and say “Scotty J, how are ya?” but I chickened out. Should I

    You should have paid homage to his performance in “Talented Mr. Ripley” and given him the old, “Hey, Phil … how’s the peepin’? (pause) Hey,
    Phil? (long pause) How’s the peepin’?”

    Juicemixer asks: Who’s your dream “Sports Reporters” panel?

    Mitch Albom, Norman Chad and Jeff Cesario.

    W. Rigazzi asks: What would be your first order of business if you bought the Red Sox?

    You mean, after electro-shocking Dan Duquette for six to eight weeks straight? I’d immediately start searching for locations for a new ballpark — they could
    tear down Fenway yesterday, and it wouldn’t be fast enough for me. The place is a dump. And it’s not like we have any good memories there — maybe Fisk’s
    homer in the ’75 World Series, Lonborg winning the pennant and Clemens’s 20K game, and that’s about it. Don’t even get me started on this one.

    J. Shapiro asks: When Steven Seagal dies and they put a clip of him in the “Year in Death” montage at the Oscars, will it show him 1.) snapping a
    guy’s forearm in half, 2.) throwing a guy through a pane of glass, or 3.) running like a girl?

    That’s funny. Just for the record, I would choose the moment in “Hard to Kill” right after he snaps out of his seven-year coma and he’s watching a
    commercial for the evil politician who almost killed him — the politician finishes the ad by telling the camera, “And you can take that to the bank.”
    So Seagal sneers, “I’m gonna take you to the bank … the blood bank.”

    dominicb asks: As a fellow sportswriter, I wish I could convince my editor to allow me to run my “Brandon Walsh — the athlete America forgot” column. Who will ever forget the classic episode, circa season two or three, when Brandon goes undercover for the Blaze to report on steroid use in the track program? Or the episode where Brandon goes out for the hoops team? Or the countless times he is seen rollerblading? I’m telling you, we never saw his true potential.

    And you’re forgetting about his college years. What about the time Brandon carried Steve Sanders’s Keg House intramural football team? Or the three-on-three hoops tournament championship run in college that was tragically derailed by his friend Dick’s overdose? Or the time he was admonished by Cam Neely for roughhouse play during a chairty hockey game? I think you’re onto something here.

    J. Duke asks: Is it just me or is Al Gore (with beard) starting to look like Rocky in “Rocky IV” when he’s training in Siberia? Just picturing Gore pulling logs and running up snowy cliffs makes chuckle.

    You think Bill Bradley will fly to Gore’s complex and give him the old, “When Clinton’s presidency died, a part of me died, too … but now you’re the one” speech?

    Cournoju asks: I read and enjoy your column every week, but there is one thing I can’t get over: When I look at your head shot, all I can think is one thing. “The BSG has a cheesy little mullet.” You could also be wearing a backward cap, or it could be a shadow, but if you have a mullet, could you let your readers know?

    That’s actually a backwards Red Sox cap. Who do you think I am, Doug Flutie?

    MJ Jackson asks: If you had to play one professional sport, which one would you play, and why would you choose that sport? For me it would be
    basketball (guaranteed contracts, unlimited endorsements, lots of chicks, travel, etc.)

    I’d be a baseball pitcher. Like a No. 4 starter — someone like Frank Castillo. You only have to pitch once every five or six days; the team’s only looking for 175-200 innings from you; you get to hang out in the bullpen on your off-days; you can hit the town as much as possible; you get October-January off to rest your arm; and you can pitch into your late-30s if you’re competent enough. Sounds good to me.

    The worst job? Either a “wedge buster” in the NFL or a catcher in baseball. Being a baseball catcher just seems like a horrible job — hot equipment,
    squatting for three hours a night, tons of pressure, occasional collisions at home plate, etc. They should have support groups for those guys.

    Jgerson asks: I’m wondering if you feel that Clemens’ success recently has changed the way New York embraces him? … Is he no longer “the hired gun,” as you referred to him in your Clemens column last May?

    Absolutely. I re-read that column recently and it seemed pretty dated. Funny how things have changed. But let the record show that Clemens had to have
    the greatest start in baseball history — 20-1 — for Yankee fans to warm up to him.

    twells asks: If they were to do a DVD Special Edition of “Larry Bird: A Basketball Legend,” what added features would you want on the disc?

    I’d just want them to expand it — instead of one hour, add another 45-60 minutes of highlights. I’d probably include a “Ten Greatest Games” section,
    featuring extended highlights of the Bird-Dominique shootout, the 60-point game and so on.

    I’d bar Magic Johnson from the director’s commentary, the interview section or any other aspect of the DVD. I’d have Charles Barkley, Bill Walton and myself on the Director’s Commentary. I’d have the sound come in three different languages: English, Spanish and Moses Malone. And I’d show rare footage of the time Larry walked across the Charles River in 1984.

    Bill Simmons writes three columns a week for Page 2

  • Filed Under: Series, Sports, The Sports Guy

    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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