Flying back to Los Angeles from New York on Wednesday afternoon, I was working on Thursday night’s mega-mailbag when a nice lady sitting next to me recognized me and said hello. We made small talk for a few minutes. She asked me what I was working on.
“A mailbag,” I told her. “I’m sifting through everyone’s questions and trying to figure out which ones should make the cut.”
“Really?” she said. “I always thought you made the questions up.”
Nope. Not for 13 years. Never have had to. My readers have always delivered the goods. And that’s why every mailbag has started the same way: “As always, these are actual questions from actual readers.”
Q: LeBron made announcement at 6:27 pm PT. Surprised he didn’t do it at 6:24 so he’d be guaranteed to be Finals MVP next year.
— Ryan, Indianapolis
Q: For my 24th birthday, my roommates bet me I couldn’t take 24 shots. They were right and I only made it 6 shots before I blew chunks. Thankfully, my roommate is a Lakers fan and he still named me MVP of my birthday.
— Dan, Davis, Calif.
SG: (Shhhhhhhhh no talking in the dugout.)
Q: Given his postgame exuberance, I think that it is time to coin a phrase, “Ron Artest happy” to describe someone’s rare, but genuine, extreme joy. For example, on the birth of my third child, after having two daughters, I was Ron Artest happy when I saw it was a boy. Thoughts?
— Greg, Miami
SG: Damn it! We were 25 questions from an all “6-for-24” mailbag. That would have made me Ron Artest Happy. By the way, Greg left out the spinoff of Ron Artest Happy — Ron Artest Unhappy, which describes both Celtics fans after Game 7 and Indiana fans still bitter about the Artest melee destroying their franchise six years earlier (and now, as the ultimate ignominy, they had to watch him celebrate a title).
Q: Am I the only one who wants to see 20,000 Cleveland fans with fake knives stuck on their backs when Lebron arrives in his new Miami uniform next year?
— Avi, San Francisco
SG: At the very least, it’s going to make for a fantastic Halloween costume: Take your LeBron Cavs jersey you don’t need anymore, pour some fake blood on the back, tape a knife handle on it and you’re good to go. Voila! Instant 2010-11 Cavaliers fan.
Q: Has there ever been a Home Run Derby contestant without a son between the ages of 4 and 8?
— Mike, Long Island, N.Y.
SG: No. Never. But thanks for bringing this up. I went to the 2010 Home Run Derby and can officially report that it has passed NBA All-Star Saturday as the No. 1 sporting event in which you’re super excited to go, you show up, you find your seats, you watch about 15 minutes of it, then you remember, “Oh wait, I forgot, this totally sucks.” As opposed to the MLB All-Star Game, which everyone knows will suck even as they’re driving to the stadium.
While we’re here, allow me a second “by the way” on top of the previous “by the way” (and it’s an idea I came up with last year, but it’s worth mentioning again, and every year until they do it): Instead of voting on All-Star starters, we should be voting on All-Star closers. The best players should play from the fifth inning on (and through extra innings). The best starting pitchers should pitch from the fifth inning on. The best two closers should pitch the ninth inning. And if the game goes extra innings, you should be allowed to reuse players. Think about how flawed the current format is: The best 20 to 22 players in the game don’t decide the game. It would be like the NBA saying, “All right, for the fourth quarter of our All-Star Game, only the reserve guys can play.” It’s inane. It’s idiotic. It’s fan-unfriendly. Give me one reason they shouldn’t adopt my plan over the current one. You can’t.
Q: Who you got for the next “Child Actor who goes off the deep end” ala the 2 Coreys. I’m going with the kid from “Two and a Half Men.” He makes $500K per episode!
— Ryan, Indianapolis
SG: Way to go out on a limb. That’s like predicting Jessica Simpson is going to gain some weight over the next 20 years. I say, twist it around: Which current child star WON’T go off the deep end? I pick Justin Bieber, and here’s why: He’s Canadian. Canadians don’t go off the deep end. Lock it down. Sure, it’s going to be weird seeing him in 15 to 20 years when he’s the exact same size he is now (and has a comb-over). But I say he’s safe.
Q: Would you have disagreed with an Atlanta Hawks fan assassinating Joe Johnson before he could sign that max $120 million contract?
— Jared, Milwaukee
SG: I disagree with premeditated murder in all forms. Just one of my controversial takes on life. But you did stumble upon a fantastic sports movie idea: A die-hard Minnesota fan tortured by years of losing finally snaps after bumbling Wolves general manager David Kane (played by Greg Kinnear) signs overrated franchise player Ruben Tugg (played by Drake) to a franchise-crippling $120 million deal, then vows on a sports radio show to murder Tugg in the 10 days leading up to July 15 (when Tugg can officially sign the contract), prompting Minneapolis police to send rising star detective Jennie Jamieson (played by Megan Fox) to protect Tugg for those last 10 days and, of course, Tugg and Jamieson end up falling for each other, much to the chagrin of Jennie’s boss (Bunk from “The Wire”). At the end of the movie, the fan somehow gets into the news conference and tries to shoot Tugg, taking down Kane instead, and eventually gets pardoned by the judge (a longtime Wolves fan) for saving the franchise. I like this concept because it could be a real movie (like a cross between “The Fan,” “Big Fan” and “The Bodyguard”) or a Skinemax thriller (and if that’s the case, we’ll make Jennie and her boss a divorced couple, leading to the climactic sex scene when they get back together at the end). The title of the movie? “Expired Contract.”
Q: The Decision had to be one of the five biggest days in the history of the NBA to not happen on the court. What would be your top 5 for this category? For me it goes like this: 1. Magic announces he has HIV; 2. Jordan’s first retirement; 3. The Decision; 4. Len Bias; 5. Jordan announcing he’s coming back. Your thoughts?
— Luke, Rochester, N.Y.
SG: Mine goes like this: (1) Magic/HIV; (2) Bias; (3) “The Decision”; (4) MJ’s 1995 comeback; (5) the day the Fab Five guys decided to wear loose shorts, which eventually persuaded everyone in the NBA except John Stockton to wear loose shorts (and ended the Nut-Hugger Era).
Q: I have a 13-year-old daughter. Despite my best efforts to raise her surrounded by quality music, movies and entertainment, she still walks around singing Journey songs and going to Robert [Pattinson] movies. My question to you is, what will you do when your kids become Lakers’ fans?
— John Klossner, South Berwick, Maine
SG: Disown them. Then disown myself. When my kids were babies, I thought about holding Yankees hats and Lakers hats over their heads in their crib, then pinching them until they started crying (to condition them to instinctively hate those logos/colors). Then I realized that was barbaric and probably would get me thrown in jail. Still, if your kids root for teams you hate, that means you’ve failed as a parent and you probably should just give the kids away and try again.
Also, it couldn’t be easier to brainwash young kids into liking what you like — they are easily impressionable and want to do whatever their parents are doing. My kids watch “Scooby-Doo” all the time. It’s their favorite show by far. Why? Because I told them “Scooby-Doo” was funny and fake-laughed my butt off the first three times I watched an episode with them. Really, I just thought it was the most tolerable kid’s show — I couldn’t stand any more passive-aggressive conflicts with androgynous animals as annoying music played — and was selfishly thinking of my own needs. But if I could brainwash them that easily to watch a handpicked cartoon, the Boston teams should be a piece of cake.
(Although a small part of me regrets not coming up with this idea sooner. You know, “Clockwork Orange”-style reinforcement. I really think that would have worked. Wait, am I saying this out loud?)
Q: Is “If you wrote it as a movie script, nobody would believe you” the most overused line in sports?
— @caffmeister (via Twitter)
SG: I would have agreed until “I’ve decided to take my talents to South Beach” became an iconic sports quote along the lines of Denny Green’s “They were who we thought they were!” and Mike Gundy’s “I’m a man! I’m 40!”
I think “taking my talents to South Beach” will be overused because it’s so malleable — in just the past two weeks, it became a phenomenal masturbation euphemism and replaced “I’m gonna go take the Browns to the Super Bowl” as the funniest way to announce to a group of people that you’re heading to the bathroom (and not to pee). On top of that, it’s a fun way to announce to friends that you’re moving, getting married or switching jobs, as my buddy House proved in a mass e-mail last week that started, “After eight years working for the government, I’ve decided to take my talents to the private sector.” And every time you use it comedically, you’re poking fun at the most narcissistic television event of this decade and something that’s become the scarlet letter of ESPN. What’s not to love? By the way, there’s a 13.4 percent chance you’re reading a printed-out version of this mailbag right now while taking your talents to South Beach. And nodding.
Q: (Off the NBA draft.) Don’t you wish we had a “must improve” caption in real life? For example, meeting a potential girlfriend for the first time, you’d get to see a “must improve: sanity” graphic. Could save 10 years of your life. Where else would you like to see it?
— Ted, Wilmington, Del.
SG: Just with women. All women should be forced to carry a “MUST IMPROVE” card along with their driver’s license.
Q: Soccer still isn’t going anywhere in America for this reason: People like me, who only watch soccer whenever the World Cup is on, are hated by actual soccer fans. They would rather have us not watch soccer at all rather than start watching soccer and rooting for the U.S. during the World Cup. It kills them to see people watching who don’t normally. I have heard people say things to other people along the lines of “you don’t even know the rules” and “if you don’t know what’s going on then don’t watch.” Ironically, diehard soccer fans here are actually hurting soccer’s progress here in the U.S..
— Brandon P, Zanesville, Ohio
SG: You just introduced a premise called “The Cult of Status Quo.” Sometimes when people become die-hard fans of something that isn’t mainstream — a writer, a band, a player, a TV show, a sport or whatever — they want to keep that thing the way it is over seeing that thing take off. Why? Because it’s cooler to like something that isn’t mainstream popular. Because mainstream popularity begets bandwagon fans and people who aren’t as sophisticated about that product. Because it’s more fun to love something before it takes off than after it takes off.
Hence, it’s easier for original fans to dump on newer fans than to tolerate them and hope they advance the cause of whatever they like. I notice this every time I mention the UFC or poker — there’s this bizarre (and totally dismissive) backlash, as if I’m not allowed to watch those sports or even mention them because I’m not a real fan. Well, how do you become a real fan? By liking a sport without disliking the core people who like it. So it’s a self-perpetuating cycle, and as weird as this sounds, the original fans like it that way. It maintains their ownership of the product. When the product outgrows them (specifically in the case of a creative entity), that’s when the core fans start throwing around phrases like “jumped the shark” and “sold out,” mostly because they’re bitter it’s not just them and the product any more.
With soccer, die-hard American fans love the World Cup itself, but they hate everything that comes with it; the World Cup drudges up the same storylines they’ve learned to despise (“Soccer can’t take off unless X, Y or Z happens,” “Our best athletes don’t play soccer,” “It can never be big here unless there’s more scoring” and “They should get rid of offsides,” to name four). I don’t blame them for reacting negatively to that stuff, but you wouldn’t call them welcoming, either. And they have taken a ton of crap over the years, which tends to harden the line between real fans and everyone else. I can tell you that in the past 15 months, when I wrote about soccer a few times and it became clear that it was more than a bandwagon thing, and that I was actually starting to understand what I was watching — the feedback from die-hards has been tremendous (and much appreciated). They just need to be a little less condescending with neophytes.
For fun, I asked David Hirshey (soccer historian, author of “The ESPN World Cup Companion”) and Michael Davies (TV producer, World Cup blogger) for their takes:
Hirshey: “The question of authenticity among fans is hardly soccer-centric. I started watching ‘Mad Men’ after the third episode had aired. I have a friend who became obsessed with the series once the first season DVD came out. Now he never misses an episode. Are we bandwagon jumpers? Sure, if you want to view it that way. Me, I just want everyone to love soccer the way I fell for it back in the late 1960s — when you had to walk 10 miles (OK, blocks), in the snow, just to hear the score of a Man U-Arsenal game. Does being a fan for the past 40 plus years make me any more legitimate than someone who embraced the sport this summer because Landon Donovan scored a dramatic goal in the World Cup or Diego Forlan has great hair? Absolutely not. Are there still so-called ‘die-hards’ who want soccer in this country to remain a kind of secret Skull and Bones society where membership is passed down through generations? Sadly, yes. I say De Jong them in the chest and tell them to get over themselves.”
Davies: “I completely agree that many die-hard soccer fans in the U.S. have learned to become just as annoying and condescending as die-hard soccer fans in England and all over the world. Globalization is a wonderful thing. But that doesn’t seem to be the main premise of the Q from Zanesville. What BP is actually arguing is that soccer still isn’t going anywhere in the U.S. And whatever Glenn Beck says, it’s just tough to argue against the empirical data — TV ratings, website traffic, bar tabs. They’re all going up during and around soccer games. That seems to indicate that however annoying or casual the fans are, or however annoying they are to each other, they are still watching. Yes, the World Cup more than anything else. But U.S. interest in the English Premier League and Champions League and the ratings and website traffic surrounding those leagues is growing significantly, too. There are even people who watch Major League Soccer. And that may be the biggest miracle of all. And the biggest proof that soccer must be going somewhere here. It’s like Daniel Kellison’s [former executive producer of ‘The Man Show’ and ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’] heterosexuality test: Any man can have sex with a model, but only the most heterosexual of men can bring himself to have sex with a truly unattractive woman. The fact that American soccer fans can sit through 90 minutes of MLS is proof of a love of soccer beyond anything the rest of the world can possibly fathom.”
Q: You’re missing an essential ingredient to American interest in the World Cup: For once America is the underdog, and by quite a bit. It taps into that “little train that could” American desire that dates back to the Revolutionary War. Remember America’s greatest sports moment is the ’80 US hockey team beating the Russians
and really no one here gives a flying F about hockey.
— Brett, Los Angeles
SG: A great point. This is the WNBA’s big mistake: If it ever wants to get people talking in America, it needs to start challenging men’s teams and trying to pull its own version of USA 4, USSR 3.
My idea: Instead of the WNBA All-Star Game, let’s say the league held a six-team, three-day tournament featuring the 2010 McDonald’s High School All-American boys, a team of retired NBA players, the reigning Division III men’s hoops champs, the Harlem Globetrotters, a team of celebrities and famous athletes (Terrell Owens, Floyd Mayweather, Michael Rapaport, etc.), and the 2010 WNBA All-Stars. First of all, would you watch? (Yes. Of course you would. I would, too.) Second, would it be the biggest moment in WNBA history if its All-Star team won this tournament? (Yes. Indisputably.) Third, if that team got waxed in such a tournament, would anyone hold it against the league? (No way.) Fourth, after 14 seasons and little traction, what does the WNBA have to lose? We’re at the “running out of poker chips and starting to make overly aggressive wagers” stage of this WNBA experience. Time to go all-in with a pair of eights.
Q: As a female, I usually have a hard time admitting that I read your articles. I have a harder time admitting that I think you’re hilarious. I feel like I should despise you on principle, because let’s be honest, you’re a pig. But I do like you. More than I care to admit. I find myself referencing you in everyday conversation. If I can use you to back up what I’m saying, I think it has more weight. And when guys find out I like you, they love it (thanks for that). So my question is, how do you do it? How have you managed to make a self-respecting woman eagerly await your next column, even though I’ve come to expect you to have at least one disrespectful comment in there?
— Amanda, Richmond
SG: Typical e-mail from a female reader: expresses her disgust, insults me, changes her mind three times and ultimately admits that she can’t live without me. I don’t blame Amanda because she’s been weaned on 20 years of chick flicks, and the one rule of chick flicks is this: “Find the one guy who either drives you crazy or you can’t have, then fall madly in love with him even though you know it’s completely wrong.” So she’s been brainwashed to some degree. She thinks I’m a pig; she thinks I’m hilarious. She can’t live without me. She’s a woman.
(Was that disrespectful enough? By the way, I didn’t believe anything in the previous paragraph; I was just trying to rile you up, Amanda. I swear.)
Q: Do you realize that, in Eddy Curry, Cuttino Mobley, and now Ronny Turiaf, the Knicks have traded for three guys with serious heart conditions in the last 5 years?
— Kevin, New York
SG: Sadly, this doesn’t even crack the “Top 10 Reasons The James Dolan Era Has Been a Colossal Failure in New York.” Here’s where I thank God one more time that he didn’t buy the Red Sox 10 years ago.
(Hold on, I’m not done thanking God yet.)
(And we’re good.)
Q: Did the disallowed handball goal in the Ghana-Uruguay game go down as the most blatant exploitation of rules in sports history? It was like if goaltending was called on the game winning basket of a Game 7 and instead of counting the basket, the rules dictate that somebody has to make a free throw to win the game. Are there other rule loopholes like this?
— Brad Armstrong, Indianapolis
SG: Only one that I could think of: If a player were running the winning touchdown down the sideline, then someone on the opposing sideline jumped onto the field and tackled him. But in college and pro football, I’m pretty sure that’s an automatic touchdown. (This actually happened once: in the 1954 Cotton Bowl.) But that’s the parallel. Seems like the easy rule fix would be this: If you commit a goal-line handball in extra time in the World Cup, it’s an automatic goal. Given that we can’t even get instant replay for the World Cup, though, I’m not holding my breath.
Q: What the Knicks and everyone else should have realized is that nobody cares about their history or playing in MSG. The only thing athletes care about is playing somewhere warm and having enough space to put their 10,000 sq ft mansion and huge swimming pool for their entourage. Nobody cares about New York City anymore. Los Angeles, Phoenix, Orlando and of course Miami are much more attractive destinations for modern athletes.
— David, San Francisco
SG: This goes back to Colin Cowherd’s Notre Dame Corollary: Everyone older than 35 is amazed that Notre Dame’s football team isn’t good, but really, if you’re a high school recruit, it’s not as if you would ever know that Notre Dame was good. You grew up hearing about Miami, Florida and USC so those are the schools for which you would want to play. The Knicks have been relevant twice in the past 30 years: the Bernard era (1983-84) and the Ewing era (1989, 1992-1995, 1999). They haven’t won a title since 1973. If you’re LeBron James — only 25 years old, remember nothing before Jordan’s Bulls — what’s special for him about the Knicks other than the bright lights and that ubiquitous Jay-Z song? Nothing. Sad but true.
Q: Right after watching the LeBacle, I couldn’t help but imagine Jordan’s reaction to the announcement. I picture MJ chilling in a Vegas lounge, and right after Bron Bron uttered the words “I’m taking my talents to South Beach,” him taking a puff on a giant cigar, turning to Oak, grinning ear to ear, and smugly saying “What a [derogatory name also used for cats].” And he’d be right.
— Joe, Charlestown, S.C.
SG: Jordan intimated as much this past weekend. As for me, I figured out why the LeBron/Wade alliance bothers everyone beyond the irrefutable “Jordan would have wanted to beat Wade, not play with him” argument. In pickup basketball, there’s an unwritten rule to keep teams relatively equal to maximize the competitiveness of the games. That’s the law. If two players are noticeably better than everyone else, they don’t play together, nor would they want to play together. If the two guys have any pride at all — especially if they play similar positions — then getting the better of each other trumps any other scenario. They want that test. Joining forces and destroying everyone else would ruin the whole point of having the game. It’s like a dad kicking his young son’s ass in a driveway one-on-one game. What’s the point? When LeBron and Wade effectively said, “Instead of trying to whup each other, let’s just crush everyone else” and “If these teams end up being uneven, we’re not switching up,” everyone who ever played basketball had the same reaction: “I hate guys like that.”
So when my wife asked in all sincerity, “What’s the big deal if they play together?” I couldn’t really explain it to her other than to say, “It’s a basketball thing. You just don’t do it.” Your goal as an alpha dog is to assemble the best team you can and beat the other alpha dogs. There are five alpha dogs right now: LeBron, Wade, Kobe, Howard and Durant. If two ended up on the same team by coincidence — like Kareem and Magic, Shaq and Kobe, or Michael and Scottie — that’s one thing. That’s sports. S— happens. But willingly deciding that it would be easier to play together than beat one another? Even two weeks later, I can’t get over it. LeBron’s last two Boston games were a massive disappointment to anyone who truly cares about basketball, but for me, copping out by joining forces with Wade was even worse. And also
Q: Game 7, Bulls v. Pistons, 1990. If LeBron gave us “The Decision,” then at 10:15 in the clip, Michael Jordan — the unequivocal greatest basketball player of all time — shows you “The Difference.” In defeat, in 30 seconds with Pat O’Brien.
— Craig H, Los Angeles
Q: What really bothers me about LeBron’s decision is the effect it’s going to have on the younger generation. Young kids everywhere are going to see this and think that it’s better to take the easier road to success instead of taking the chance at being great. If you have a chance at transcendence but it seems just a little too hard or too much for you to handle, then don’t go for it. Take the easy road. That’s the lesson learned and the trend set for this generation. But then again, this is also the generation that airs out their beef on Facebook/Twitter. This is the generation that could never understand what JFK’s quote “We do this not because it is easy, but because it is hard” really means. Hell, this is the generation that thinks the greatest rapper of all time is a Canadian who got famous because he was on a Nickelodeon show. So maybe LeBron’s just a product of his time and he’s just doing what he thinks is right. But what do I know? Call me old-fashioned, but then again I’m only 21.
— Sopan, New Brunswick, N.J.
SG: (Still nodding.)
Q: Dr. Drew has a theory about the impact of reality TV, and that it has created a generation of people who want to be famous, but don’t want to put in the work to develop the skills or talent to be famous. Why study or practice or go to acting school or music school, etc., when you can just get on a reality TV show and be famous instantly? Isn’t that theory exactly what we have in LeBron? He wants to be the greatest of all time, he wants to be a global icon, he wants to be the King, yet he has shown no evidence that he wants to put in the work to really achieve those things. Instead of spending this offseason working on developing a low post game, or a midrange offense, he spent his time developing his media machine. He knows the key to being an all-time great is winning titles, but he thinks there is a shortcut to getting there. Why improve your own game and find a way to make everyone around you better, when he can just piggyback on Dwyane Wade to get there.
There is a scene in “Good Will Hunting” where Dr. Lambeau is talking to Will, and says there are only a handful of people in the world who can tell the difference between Will’s intelligence and his own. I feel like right now that is LeBron — talent wise, he is right there with Kobe and potentially he could be right there with the other all-time greats. But this act of his over the last few months is showing us just what that difference is between LeBron and the others.
— Andrew Gordon, Washington, D.C.
SG: (Nodding violently.)
Q: You realize you cited the wrong psychological phenomenon when you reference the vuvuzelas in your World Cup column, right? You respond like Pavlov’s dog did to a bell ringing. Dog heard bell, he knew food was coming. Simmons hears vuvuzelas, he gets excited for World Cup. Stockholm syndrome is when hostages develop a reliance on their captors. Kind of like your relationship with ESPN.
— Chris Rath, Aberdeen, N.J.
SG: (Struggling for a comeback )
Q: Have you ever seen who Chris Johnson follows on Twitter? It’s rapper The Game, ESPN’s Michael Smith and an unreal slew of hoochies. Roger Goodell should monitor who his players follow on Twitter and use it as an algorithm to predict who he will have to suspend for six games in future years.
— Eric A., New York
SG: I like it! Sounds like a presentation for the next Sloan conference at MIT. By the way, has it ever been easier to hook up if you’re a celebrity? Just find some hoochie who’s following you, follow her for one day, DM her a couple of times and BOOM! You’re in a hotel room banging boots the next time you pass through her hometown. If it goes well, you keep following her. If it goes badly, unfollow and you never have to hear from her again. I predict the number of illegitimate kids will skyrocket these next few years and we’ll be calling it the Twitter Boom.
Q: You missed one thing at the NBA draft that only a hypersensitive Seattleite still mourning the loss of the Sonics would catch: Kevin Durant was seated in section 206 at last night’s draft. 206 is Seattle’s area code. Kill me now.
— Ben, Seattle
SG: Remember, Cavs fans — things could be worse. You could live in Seattle.
Q: When you were creating the Hall of Fame of Faces, how did you fail to push Michael Douglas through on the first ballot? In “Fatal Attraction” alone, Douglas manages to put together a Stephen Strasburgian performance, a series of faces that touch upon utter astonishment, terror, rage and bewilderment, often all at once. You’ve got the “She’s Unzipping My Pants in an Elevator, and I Look Like I’ve Just Been Shot by a Sniper” Face, the “Wait, Did She Just Say She’s NOT Getting an Abortion?” Face, the “My Home Telephone Keeps Ringing, and I Can’t Make it Stop” Face, the “Seriously? She’s Calling My Office? Doesn’t She Realize This Was Just a Freakin’ One-Night Stand?” Face, the “Oh God, She’s in My Apartment, and She’s Talking to My Wife” Face, the “I’m Feeling Completely Impotent as I Hold a Rabbit in a Cage and Slowly Come to the Realization that My Car’s Been Vandalized” Face, the “I’m Listening to Her Taunt Me on a Cassette Recording and Saying Things Like ‘I Bet You Don’t Even Like Girls!!!! Ha!!!’
And I Can’t Do Anything About It” Face, the “I’m Staring Pensively at the Rain Because I Now Know I’m About to Lose Everything” Face, and my personal favorite, the “I’m Trying to Strangle Glenn Close, and For Some Reason I Look Like I’ve Just Eaten a Bad Batch of Oysters” Face. Now THAT’S a body of work. Mix in Douglas’ strong Face performance in “Basic Instinct” (the “She Just Uncrossed Her Legs and Flashed Me Her Privates” Face, anyone?), and this guy needs a wing in the Face Hall of Fame.
— Scott Davis, Greenville, S.C.
SG: Great e-mail. One of the best one-paragraph rants in mailbag history. But how good was it? Let’s go to the guys from ESPN’s NBA studio show for their thoughts.
Stu Scott: Thanks Bill. I’m here with Michael Wilbon, Jon Barry, and five-time champion and Hall of Famer, Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Guys, Bill Simmons has written an astonishing 53 mailbags for ESPN.com. How many times have they allowed him to parody an ESPN show with one of these fake transcripts? That’s right only three times. But fellas, Scott Davis was KILLING it in the Simmons mailbag this week.
Jon Barry: You’re right, Stu, he absolutely was. (Turns to camera as we close in on his face.) And what I loved about that e-mail was that Scott Davis just brought it. He just brought the thunder. He didn’t just tell us that Michael Douglas had a lot of faces in “Fatal Attraction,” he described them to us, and that’s what made that e-mail so special, Magic.
Magic: I’ll tell ya what, I wouldn’t want to be Michael Douglas right now! (Everyone laughs hysterically. Magic turns to the camera as we close in on his face.) But seriously, that was a great e-mail. That was a great, great e-mail. I don’t know where Scott Davis came up with that stuff, but that was a great e-mail. We didn’t have e-mail when I played with the Lakers, but if we had it, I think I would have sent Kareem an e-mail saying, “Hey Big Fella, I need 15 rebounds from you tonight. Not 10. Not 12. FIFTEEN! (Cut to wide shot of everyone laughing hysterically.) But that was a great e-mail (turns to Michael Wilbon) and I thought that was just a great e-mail, Michael.
Wilbon: Guys, I gotta be honest. I liked the e-mail but I didn’t love it.
Wilbon: I really didn’t. (Wilbon turns to the camera as we close in on his face.) I’m not crazy about people writing into Simmons’ mailbag who try to sound like him IN PRINT, and if you’re gonna criticize ANYONE here, maybe it’s Simmons for rewarding people who are TRYING TO SOUND LIKE HIM. I just think it’s a little narcissistic.
(Everyone laughs hysterically.)
Wilbon: And if you’re gonna do an e-mail like that, JB, you have to include EVERY Douglas face.
Barry: He didn’t do that?!?!?!
Wilbon: Nope! No, he didn’t. He missed Douglas’ “This crazy chain-smoker just told me she wants to have sex with me, I’d better ask for the check” Face. He also missed the “I can’t believe I’m sucking it up and telling my wife that not only did I have an affair but I knocked someone up” Face.
Barry: Great point.
Wilbon: I don’t see how you can spend THAT MUCH time on THAT e-mail without including those two faces, guys. I really don’t.
Stu: Speaking of faces, Michael Douglas is the only Academy Award-winning actor to have a sex scene in a movie with EIGHT different actresses. He’s also one of three actors to do a nude scene within six years of winning an Oscar. The other two? Marlon Brando and Kathy Bates. We’ll be back on the Kia Mailbag Halftime Show right after this.
Bill Simmons is a columnist for ESPN.com and the author of the recent New York Times best-seller “The Book of Basketball.” For every Simmons column and podcast, check out Sports Guy’s World. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/sportsguy33.