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Court of Opinion

  • The Book of Basketball
  • By Bill Simmons, October 27, 2009
  1. 1.Sam Anderson:The wisdom, the blasphemy, the stripper anecdotes ...
  2. 2.Sam Anderson:The inconsistency drives me crazy.
  3. 3.Sherman Alexie:The genius of Simmons: He is an obsessive-compulsive basketball populist.
  4. 4.Bethlehem Shoals:Simmons mistakes going too far, and wallowing in excess, for taking risks.
  5. 5.Jonathan Lethem:I felt starved for something booklike in this book-resembling object.
  6. 6.Tommy Craggs:The Secret: A hopelessly banal point about chemistry and sacrifice.
  7. 7.Ben Mathis-Lilley:Some thoughts on the book's horrible sexism.
  8. 8.Sam Anderson:I think Bill Simmons is a very good writer.
  9. 9.Bethlehem Shoals:I'm reluctantly raising an issue that could swallow up this discussion whole.
  10. 10.Sherman Alexie:The Last Great White American Player Syndrome?
  11. 11.Jonathan Lethem:Let me try a small stunt here.
  12. 12.Tommy Craggs:Placing the NBA in the heart of a certain kind of white-bread Americana.
  13. 13.Ben Mathis-Lilley:We can’t knock Simmons as an overcompensating tourist in hip-hop culture.
  14. 14.Sam Anderson:Good-bye to the soul-searching, the Vonnegut references, the Iverson jokes.
Sherman Alexie
"The Last Great White American Player Syndrome?"
12/14/09 at 14:00

Micro Simmons: Tom Chambers was not that good. Oh, he was a great scorer, but I don't recall him as a great rebounder, defensive player, or passer. Could he have been something other than a scorer? Somebody look up the stats. I wonder if Simmons overrates Chambers because of the Last Great White American Player Syndrome. Of course, John Stockton was truly the Last Great White American Player, but I think Chambers might be benefiting from Simmons's nostalgia.

Recently, a friend here in Seattle extolled college hoops and said he'd stopped watching the NBA because it had become such a one-dimensional game. But then he fondly recalled the Tom Chambers years in Seattle. And I replied that I think Tom Chambers, a one-dimensional power forward, probably averaged four rebounds and one assist a game (I just looked it up; he averaged six rebounds and two assists during his career), and was hardly the symbol of holistic hoops skills.

Macro Simmons: I've been adding up all the weaknesses of Simmons's writing (his sexism, pop-culture addiction, lazy reportage, and mixed metaphors) and all of his strengths (his populism, obvious fandom, and obsessive-compulsive disorder), and I think it all comes out in Simmons's favor. But I've decided that his biggest problem is that he avoids sentiment. I think he uses his weaknesses to run away from displaying his unabashed, non-ironic, utter love for the pro game.