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The NBA playoffs mailbag, Part 2

Bill Simmons breaks down all things playoffs in Part 2 of his NBA mailbag.

If you missed Part 1 of the two-part mega-NBA playoff mailbag, click here. As always, these are actual e-mails from actual readers.

Q: LeBron’s stats through nine playoff games: 34.7 ppg, 6.9 apg, 9.3 rpg. Add those three numbers together and LeBron is blowing out your 42 Club and thinking about the 50 Club (current population: Jordan). Repeat, THE 50 CLUB!!!! I’m only 19, so I really only got to see Jordan in the ’98 playoffs. I can’t describe what it was like to see him in his prime, but watching LeBron enter the Bird/Magic/MJ pantheon is truly incredible.
— Cliff, Fall River, Mass.

SG: Agreed. … Although he needs a few rings before the pantheon door opens for him. If you missed my 2006 column introducing the 42 Club, click here. It’s a club for every NBA player who played at least 13 playoff games and averaged 42-plus points, rebounds and assists combined. I love it because the 42 Club has an uncanny way of weeding out alpha dogs from pretenders — with the exception of Karl Malone — and blessing the quality of their playoff performance in a way. The best example: In 2006, Dirk Nowitzki (the impetus for that 42 Club column) ended up falling just short at 41.6. Couldn’t have worked out better. Since the merger, here’s who made the cut:

Michael Jordan (6 times): 49.4 (’89); 50.7 (’90); 45.9 (’91); 46.5 (’92); 47.8 (’93); 43.8 (’97)
Shaquille O’Neal (4X): 43.6 (’98); 49.2 (’00); 49.0 (’01); 43.9 (’02)
Larry Bird (4X): 42.0 (’81); 44.4 (’84); 43.4 (’86); 44.2 (’87)
Moses Malone (2X): 43.0 (’81); 43.3 (’83)
Magic Johnson (2X): 43.8 (’86); 42.5 (’91)
Karl Malone (2X): 43.0 (’92); 42.9 (’94)
Hakeem Olajuwon (2X): 44.2 (’94); 47.8 (’95)
Tim Duncan (2X): 42.7 (’01); 45.4 (’03)
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1X): 47.1 (’80)
Charles Barkley (1X): 44.5 (’93)
Kobe Bryant (1X): 42.8 (’01)
Allen Iverson (1X): 43.7 (’01)
Kevin Garnett (1X): 44.0 (’04)
LeBron James (1X): 44.7 (’06)

By the way, if we made a platinum wing in the 42 Club for any member who also topped 50 percent FG shooting and 80 percent FT shooting in the same playoffs, our members would be Jordan (4X) and Bird (2X). That’s it. Gotta love the simplicity of the 42 Club.

Q: Now that the Clips have secured the No. 1 pick and proclaimed their intentions, we have been arguing about which one of us will go first. I, Left ACL, think it will be me because I’m his dominant leg, but Right ACL thinks it will be him because Blake jumps off him more than he does me. Blake’s Will to Live walked by and overheard our argument. He said he and Blake’s All-Star Potential had been lamenting the fact that they’re both screwed as well. I guess we’re all in pretty bad shape. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen Blake’s Work Ethic all day, though I heard he was trying to look up a phone number for Josh Childress’ ‘Fro. Something about dollar-to-Euro exchange rates.
— Blake Griffin’s Left ACL, Oklahoma

SG: You know what’s really frightening? At least 15 readers thought of the “Blake Griffin is so screwed by going to the Clippers that I’m going to send Simmons a fake e-mail from Griffin’s knees” idea independently of one another. Ladies and gentlemen, your Los Angeles Clippers!!!!

Q: A couple of buddies and I were discussing how anticlimactic Game 7 of the Bulls-Celtics series was, when we began to discuss all-time greatest anticlimactic moments. We decided the No. 1 had to be USA vs. Finland in 1980, and that this was such a defining anticlimactic moment that all anticlimactic moments in sports should now be referred to as “USA vs. Finland Moments,” which was then shortened to “Finnish moments.” We could not come up with many other Swedish moments, other than the 2004 Red Sox-Cardinals World Series, so our challenge to you is this: Can you give us a list ranking the top Finnish moments in the history of sports?
— Sean, Columbus, Ohio

Magic and Bird

SG: I would add the following as the inaugural class: The 1979 NCAA title game (Bird vs. Magic, an awful game if you actually watch it); the 2003 World Series; Frazier-Ali II; Leonard-Duran II; Leonard-Hearns II; the 1986 NBA Finals; the second and third Bills-Cowboys Super Bowls; Game 7 of the 1985 World Series; the 1996 Eastern Conference finals (Orlando-Chicago); the 1951 World Series; McEnroe-Sampras (U.S. Open semis, 1990); Courier-Connors (U.S. Open, 1991); the 1988 Super Bowl; every Mike Tyson fight after he bit Holyfield’s ear; and the release of “Blue Chips.” I don’t think I have ever been more let down by a sports movie than “Blue Chips.”

(By the way, here’s my “Blue Chips” review, if you never read it. After you finish plowing through a 10,000-word two-part mailbag, I thought you might want something to read.)

Q: Watching the Nuggets-Lakers game and I just realized Andrew Bynum has a boyish sadness in his eyes I haven’t seen since “Dukie” Weems. That can’t be good for Lakers fans, can it?
— Daniel, West Palm Beach, Fla.

SG: A veiled “Wire” reference combined with a Lakers dig! What a way to make the mailbag. You guys know me too well.

Q: Have you noticed that Barkley has quietly returned to form as the best and most entertaining broadcaster these last few months? He seems engaged, like he’s working harder than he has in years, and actually is giving some pretty good insights (in addition to the always good entertainment value he provides). Are you ready to eat your negative words about Sir Charles, and return to your bromance with the Chuckster?
— Jeremy, Fullerton

SG: Absolutely. The difference in quality between pre-DUI Chuck and post-DUI Chuck has been jarring. In a good way. He even looks lively during TNT’s integrated commercial spots when he’s trying to seem excited about “X-Men.” And he was singing the praises of Orlando and Denver well before it became chic to do so. We’ve come a long way since the days when he was praising Dallas and Detroit for the Kidd/Iverson trades. On the flip side, Reggie Mill-

(Ahhhhhhh! Ahhhhhhhh! Turn the current down! OK, OK, I’ll leave it alone! I won’t take the six potshots at Reggie that I had been planning on, and I won’t make the joke about how they should just move him to the cast of the sure-to-be-doomed “Dark Blue” and kill two birds with one stone! Fine! TURN THE CURRENT DOWN! I CAN’T BREATHE!!!!! STOP IT!!!!!!!!!)

Q: I was re-reading that marathon chat you did for the Jimmie V. Foundation a few years back (yes, I’m THAT bored at work). Anyway, there was a part where you listed the one forgotten NBA great from each decade (Hakeem in the ’90s, Moses in the ’80s, etc.) Well, the 2000s are almost over … have we figured out who is the forgotten great player for this decade or do we have to wait another five years or so to see how the media looks at this decade historically?
— Steve B., Detroit

SG: We probably have to wait a few years and see who fades into superstar Bolivian (as Mike Tyson would say). But the heavy favorite would be Tim Duncan, as strange as that sounds. Which brings us to the next e-mail. …

Q: The NBA should start keeping track of players’ winning percentages. Wouldn’t this give us at least a decent idea for who are the biggest “winners” in not just basketball but in all sports?
— Stephen, Baltimore

SG: Very cool idea. I brought out the heavy hitters for this one (Steve Hirdt and the Elias Sports Bureau) and asked them to check the following 14 guys. Here’s what they found.

Larry Bird .736 .604
Manu Ginobili .724 .654
Sam Jones .718 .649
Bill Russell .717 .648
Tony Parker .716 .615
Tim Duncan .712 .631
Scottie Pippen .688 .654
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar .688 .650
Magic Johnson .674 .740
Shaquille O’Neal .672 .601
Robert Horry .671 .635
Michael Jordan .659 .665
Bob Cousy .655 .578
Jerry West .638 .569

Some follow-up thoughts: First, the Legend! Second, the playoff numbers for the post-merger guys are skewed because there were extra rounds (and easier matchups). Russell’s .649 playoff percentage would be like a .725 under today’s setup. Third, nobody did more with less than Duncan, and his performance from 2001-03 becomes more remarkable with time; he won 203 games, two MVPs and an NBA title playing with role players, has-beens, castoffs and young guys who weren’t quite ready. Incredible. Fourth, Robert Horry’s career is going to be studied for months by John Hollinger’s perplexed great-great-great-great-grandchildren in the 2100s, and ultimately they’re going to throw their hands up, shake their heads and move on to a topic that actually makes sense. And fifth, the Legend!

Q: Do the Clippers really know what they’re getting into when they posted this link asking fans to create a caption on their Web site? I can’t see anything but funny insulting comments about the franchise. What’s your post gonna be?
— Paul, Ames, Iowa

SG: Mine would be one word: “Suckers!!!!”

Q: I just saw the headline “Yao (broken foot) out for season” on the front page. Do you guys have a macro for this story or does someone have to rewrite it every year?
— Philip, Kansas City

SG: No, our editors insist that we rewrite the story manually every year. I’m with you; I think we should create a page called “ Mad Libs” that features templates for the following stories: “Fading Slugger X was just diagnosed with a torn labrum and is out 2-4 months” … “Women’s Basketball Star X is out for the season with a torn ACL” … “Brett Favre is considering a comeback with Team X” … “NBA commissioner David Stern announced today that Crisis X isn’t a big deal and the league is in better shape than it’s ever been” … and “Yao Ming is out for the year with Injury X and will be ready in time for the 20XX-XX season.”

Q: Help me to understand Rajon Rondo. I don’t think I’ve ever heard him speak. No postgame interview I can recall … nothing. He’s a physical freak and looks a little bit like an alien. I’m convinced he communicates with everyone via ESP. I can’t even imagine what he’d be like hanging out with friends or family outside of basketball. Any thoughts here?
— Skip, Royal Oak

SG: I think it’s like a modern-day version of “The Coneheads.” Rondo tells people he grew up in Kentucky but he’s really from outer space and eats beer cans for food. I also think he might have been created by the illicit cross-gender/cross-teammate relationship between D.C. Dacey and Swish in “Fast Break” (he’s even a dead ringer for Swish).

You got me thinking though: You know how certain savvy Internet sites will tease a story with an especially provocative headline that leaves you no choice BUT to click on it? AOL is famous for this; you’ll log on and see a headline like “‘Friends’ star found dead,” you click on it, then it turns out to be the actor who played the old neighbor who lived above Chandler and Joey. Just an evil trick to get traffic that works. But let’s say you saw a headline that read “NBA shocker: Star reveals he’s an alien.” Who would be the first name that jumped into your head? For me, it would be Rondo or Chris Kaman … plus, I wouldn’t be fazed at all.

Q: In one of your playoff columns, you ended a sentence with the phrase, “especially given this economy.” This is becoming an awkward conversation-filler in society these days. I think at this point it can be used in any conversation, to end any sentence. Example …

Friend: “I can’t believe you hooked up with that awful-looking girl last night.”

You: “It was just one of those nights, especially given this economy.”

The possibilities are endless, right?
— Gary, Tampa, Fla.

SG: Love it. Lemme see if I can work it into this mailbag somehow. Hold on.

Q: Thanks for praising Ray Allen’s amazing performance in the ’01 Eastern Conference finals. You forgot to mention one thing: On the final play that could have put the Bucks in the NBA Finals, George Karl drew up a play for Glenn Robinson instead of Ray-Ray or Sam Cassell. What happened? Big Dog missed an open baseline jumper. Of course he did. It’s the Bucks. It was Big Dog. Ray takes that shot and the MILWAUKEE EFFING BUCKS make the NBA FINALS! The entire course of the franchise is altered forever. I hate George Karl. Now, let’s say the Western finals comes down to one final possession. The equivalent to the ’01 series would be to draw up a play for Kenyon Martin, using Chauncey (Cassell) and Carmelo (Allen) as decoys. Again, I hate George Karl.
— Dan, Oshkosh, Wis.

George Karl

SG: Just for the record, I received that e-mail three weeks ago … you know, before Karl blew Game 1 of the Lakers series by having his shortest player (Anthony Carter) inbound the ball on Denver’s biggest possession with 6-foot-9 Lamar Odom hounding him (and forcing a bad pass that Trevor Ariza swiped). Nuggets fans, before you get your hopes up for the Finals, please read the e-mail above; please remember that Karl feuded with Ray Allen (by all accounts, one of the nicest guys in basketball) to the degree that he talked Milwaukee into giving him away; please remember that he presided over the 2002 World Championships debacle; please remember that Karl remains one of two coaches who blew a Round 1 series to a No. 1 seed; please remember that he gets covered in mostly gushing tones because he’s spent the last 20-plus years giving everyone access and great quotes; and please remember that it took him until Game 4 of the 1996 Finals to defend Michael Jordan with the best defensive guard of that decade (Gary Payton, who subsequently hounded MJ into the worst three-game playoff stretch of his career). George Karl is like President Taylor’s daughter on “24” this season: You always knew it would end badly, you just didn’t know how. Especially given this economy.

Q: A couple weeks ago a buddy of mine (we’ll call him Danny) saw Craig Sager at a bar in Chicago. Danny knew who Sager was, but couldn’t remember his name. Regardless, Danny decided to take a shot and asked Sager, “Hey, are you Kevin Harlan?” Sager wasn’t very happy about it, but it got me to thinking that more people should start mis-recognizing Sager … you know, just to send a message. Maybe something to start?
— Chris, Minneapolis

SG: See, I can’t condone this because people will start coming up to me saying, “I love your work, Rick.”

Q: Can you please explain your asinine trade suggestion from your May 20 chat that the Spurs should throw away Duncan’s last chance at a title by trading Tony Parker to Minnesota? I just want to make sure you’re the dumbest writer on
— Anthony, El Paso, Texas

SG: Sure. I’ll even go with Hubie Brown’s second-person hypothetical tense for you.

OK, you’re San Antonio. Your Duncan window is closing and so is your chance to contend. You’re in NBA no-man’s land, a little like Utah from 1999-2002: 45-50 wins guaranteed, no real chance of contending, no way of getting better because they spent too many years picking at the bottom of the first round. So what do you do? You can’t trade Duncan; he’s an icon and has to finish his career in San Antonio. You can’t get fair value for Ginobili because of his injuries and because he’s an expiring contract. Your best trade chip is Parker, a good character guy coming off a career year. He’s also your most replaceable guy: a gifted scorer who can’t shoot 3-pointers, isn’t a traditional point guard and struggles to defend certain points. You only need to replace him with someone who can provide 80 percent of his numbers and you’ll be OK. You also need to turn him into multiple pieces.

Now, you’re Minnesota. You have three keepers: Al Jefferson, Kevin Love and Randy Foye. (Note: I still like Corey Brewer but let’s see how he recovers from his ACL injury.) You are a joke of a franchise with an owner who has one of the poorest reputations in the league and a fan base that doesn’t care, namely because you hire failed GMs and coaches, recycle them, then expect the fans to care. Jefferson could be the best guy on a contender, Love could be the third-best guy and Foye could be a starter or a sixth man. But you’re not winning anything if that’s your top three. Too young, not quite talented enough. You need to acquire an experienced blue-chipper who can show everyone else the way (shades of Ray Allen and KG in Boston). And you have no chance of landing a marquee free agent because NBA players want no part of Sota when they can play for a well-run franchise in a warm city. Thanks anyway.

So what do you do? You have to bowl someone over with a big-time offer. That’s why you call San Antonio and say, “We’ll give you Foye, our No. 6 pick and Brian Cardinal’s 2010 expiring contract for Parker.” Note: The deal can’t work until July 1.

OK, you’re San Antonio again. Foye is a scoring point guard like Parker (his January/February splits: 27 games, 19.3 PPG, 40 percent 3FG), he’s four years younger, he’s a quality 3-point shooter, he’s on the books for cheap ($8.3 million combined in ’09-10 and ’10-11), and between Foye and George Hill, you have a shot of replacing nearly all of Parker’s numbers. Plus, you’re adding the sixth pick and some much-needed young blood (maybe swingman James Harden, power forward Jordan Hill or shooter Stephen Curry); you’d have $27 million of expiring deals (Cardinal, Bruce Bowen, Fabby Oberto, Kurt Thomas, Matt Bonner and Roger Mason) for a possible mega-trade during the season; and you’re selling high on Parker, who will never have more value than he does right now. You’re telling me that trade doesn’t make sense?

(Well, it makes sense to everyone but Parker and Eva Longoria, who just read the last few paragraphs screaming, “Nooooooooo! Noooooooooooo!!!!!”)

Look, the biggest mistake fading contenders make is not audibling near the end of the run, when they can turn an expensive chess piece into multiple guys and an infusion of young blood. The Celtics had a chance to deal Kevin McHale (just a tad past his prime) for Sam Perkins and Detlef Schrempf in the late ’80s and wouldn’t do it; they could have headed into the ’90s with a nucleus of Reggie Lewis, Perkins, Schrempf, Danny Ainge, Robert Parish and Larry Bird. Instead, they played the loyalty card with McHale and made the fatal mistake of dealing Ainge for Joe Kleine and Easy Ed Pinckney. You should only be loyal to franchise guys in a 30-team league. Everyone else is expendable. That’s how the Spurs should be thinking. If they want to breathe new life into the Duncan era, Parker is the play. Sincerely, the dumbest writer on

Q: Who at the Worldwide Leader convinced you that your new picture was a good idea? You look as though you just shot up heroin for the first time in your life.
— Kyle, Chicago

SG: And it was wonderful.

Q: Let’s pretend that LeBron put his name in the NFL draft 10 weeks ago. He went through all of the combines and, predictably, his numbers were off the charts. He played in high school and was apparently very good, but hasn’t played in years. Where would he have been chosen, and what position would he play? I say he gets picked in the mid-first round and plays safety. My buddy says he gets picked on Day 2 and plays WR. Thoughts?
— Brian C, Sacramento, Calif.

SG: I think it’s like a Matt Jones-type pick, but with a twist. He’s such an athletic freak that teams would work him out and think “My God, not only is this the greatest pass-catching tight end prospect of all time, but we’re blocking 10 field goals a year minimum.” If Vernon Davis can be the sixth pick of an NFL draft then LeBron could go top-three. By the way, this would be an amazing variation of MJ playing baseball: LeBron winning three straight titles and MVPs, then deciding “I’m bored, I think I want to play for the Browns for a year.” Arguably this would be the biggest sports story in the history of the Internets, right?

Editor’s note: On Tuesday, examines the question of whether LeBron James could play in the NFL. We talked to Bill Parcells, scouts, LeBron’s high school coaches and will have video of LeBron playing high school football.

Q: In a Mavs-Nuggets game last week, Jason Kidd was bleeding and they stopped play while Carlisle called the team over. Basically, it’s a free timeout. How long before players start putting razors in their wristbands, a la Mickey Rourke in “The Wrestler”?
— Reed, San Francisco

SG: I vote for this round. You’re telling me Delonte West wouldn’t volunteer to mutilate his body for the good of the team?

Q: Rob Thomas should be nowhere near an NBA game. We need to genetically implant a shock collar in him so that if he even thinks of the NBA 100,000 volts of electricity ravage his body. Let him go ruin some NHL playoff highlights with his adult contemporary songs.
— Alex, San Luis Obispo, Calif.

SG: I like it. Reminds me of how they kept Natasha Henstridge in that cage with poisonous gas that would release in her brain if she ever escaped. Which reminds me, I watched “Species” and “Species II” recently and have four absolutely crucial comments. First, we need to vote “Species” into the Rewatchable Cable Classics Hall of Fame, and frankly, it’s been long overdue. Great premise, solid acting, a couple of scares, lots of nudity, Natasha in her “Doc Gooden in 1985” season. What’s left? Name me a reason why HBO hasn’t turned “Species” into a series yet: Just the 2009 version of Natasha making it on her own as a hot alien, getting a job as a stripper to make ends meet, trying to mate every week and ultimately having her sex plans foiled in some way … but not before getting naked seven times in an hour. I’d even hire Dirk Nowitzki’s fiancee as her best friend, a fellow stripper who’s getting on in years and trying to rope one more athlete into a relationship. This would work, and you can’t tell me differently. You would watch “Species: The Series.” You would.

Second, the drop in quality from “Species” to “Species II” rarely gets mentioned in the “worst sequels ever made” discussion, which is really unfair, since it’s an absolutely atrocious movie in every respect and a complete betrayal of the first one. And on top of that, Natasha submits a 1988-type Doc Gooden season in it: Still good, but there’s something missing, and it ends with her killing the Mets’ season by letting Mike Scioscia take her deep.

Third, Michael Madsen’s performance in “Species II” remains the defining mailed-in performance of my generation. He’s literally squinting at the cue cards the entire time and delivers everything in the same monotone voice. The one problem (blessing?) is that Marg Helgenberger is trying to outdo him in the mailing-in department, which leads to a Bird-Magic type situation in which they’re both mailing it in at the same time and upping the stakes, and the last half-hour turns into the 1984 finals of mailing it in (with Madsen as the Celtics winning in seven).

And fourth (my favorite wrinkle), there’s an unbelievable “movie scene mirroring real life” moment near the beginning, when an Army corporal tries to convince Madsen to find a group of astronauts who were possibly infected with alien DNA, only Madsen doesn’t want any part of getting involved, so the corporal says to him, “Maybe a million dollars tax-free will change your mind?” Madsen gets the exact same twinkle in his eye that he probably had when the producers of “Species II” told him “I know you don’t want to do a sequel, your agent already told us … but maybe a million dollars tax-free would change your mind?” It’s my favorite moment of either “Species” movie, other than the 47 times Natasha Henstridge gets naked. Maybe the sequel isn’t all bad.

Q: I just finished reading your back-and-forth with Malcolm Gladwell, and I don’t think your writing is like Doug Moe’s Nuggets or the ’85 Lakers. I’m going to have to go to the college ranks, but I’m putting you on the ’89-90 Loyola-Marymount Lions. Think about it. The comparisons are everywhere: They put up a ton of points; their games were fun to watch; they loved to press; they never won much of anything but the WCC regular-season title and, of course, the hearts of fans everywhere; and when Bo Kimble shot those left-handed free throws you had tears in your eyes. You put up tons of words; your columns are fun to read (especially when you should be working); you love the press; you never won much of anything but a few “Best of Boston” awards and, of course, the hearts of fans everywhere; and when you wrote the tribute to the Dooze, tears were shed.
— Sloan, Seattle

SG: I’m almost positive that was a backhanded compliment. But thank you.

Q: I knew deep inside that the Celtics’ season was done the minute they signed Stephon Marbury. What I hadn’t quite anticipated was that he would effectively ruin the rest of the Boston sports landscape. Prior to him joining the C’s, their record was 47-13 (a .7833 winning percentage). The rest of the way they went 22-15 (winning percentage of .594). Prior to Feb. 27 (a day that will live in Boston sports infamy), the Bruins were 42-12-9. After that, they went 18-11-1 (they had almost as many losses in less than half the games). You just can’t sign a guy who absolutely robbed another team AND who has a tattoo ON HIS HEAD and expect that good things are going to happen. I’m anxious to see what types of horrific things happen to the Sox and Patriots in their respective seasons.
— Kenny, Columbia, S.C.

SG: You mean, like Big Papi’s career being effectively destroyed, Garnett re-injuring his knee and missing the playoffs, and Belichick trading Matt Cassell for the No. 34 pick instead of waiting a couple of days and getting a better deal from Denver? I feel sick.

Q: You ran a column a while back in which you listed the greatest “No way!” moments in movie history. Here’s the No. 1 all-time: In the movie “Conan The Destroyer,” Wilt Chamberlain is tasked with making sure a young, hot blonde girl completes the journey with Conan with her virginity intact. Could you pick a person less qualified for such a job?
— David, Doha, Qatar

SG: Either Calvin Murphy or Dina Lohan. Wilt would be third. By the way, I always thought “Conan The Destroyer” should be factored into the “Kareem vs. Wilt” argument. Wilt only appeared in one movie: the third Conan flick, which was so appallingly bad that Criterion should make it the first release in their Unintentional Comedy Series. Wilt spends the entire movie riding around on a horse and staring off in the distance like he can’t quite read the cue cards. Even the horse was a better actor than Wilt. Meanwhile, Kareem had an unforgettably surreal fight scene with Bruce Lee in “Games of Death;” he STOLE SCENES in “Airplane” as Roger Murdock; and he even played Arnold and Dudley’s substitute teacher on “Diff’rent Strokes.” His résumé is mildly amazing. Will you ever forget his performance as “Man Stuck In Car” in that 1971 episode of “Emergency?” I sure won’t.

(One other Kareem note: The teacher he played on “Diff’rent Strokes” was named “Mr. Wilkes.” Couldn’t they have called him Mr. Kabaar or Mr. Jabbarski? How did they come up with Mr. Wilkes? And do you think he ever taught Rumeal Smith in a New York City classroom? Inside joke for people who pay attention to my mailbags.)

Q: How clutch is Ray Allen at the free-throw line? You calling him a cooler doesn’t even do it justice. Let’s put it in perspective: From 15 feet he hits the basket 95 percent of the time, probably even higher in the clutch. From 15 inches I don’t even hit the toilet bowl that often. Never mind him chewing gum while shooting; you can’t ask me to do that.
— Eric, Ann Arbor, Mich.

SG: Almost there. …

Q: I just wanted to say you suck. We’re all sick of the weekly NBA articles, and they’re so long that I have to go back to the homepage to see if Rick Reilly is up to anything new. Chances are you’re also going to write an NBA article in freakin’ August (nowhere near NBA season) discussing topics such as the number of hairs on Ben Wallace’s head and Iverson’s newest tattoos. The only reason I click on your face is for the bi-monthly mailbags. I am also drunk and watching “Hoosiers.” I love you. Peace.
— Joe, Annapolis, Md.

SG: Yup … these are my readers.

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.