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Pundits place podes in pie-holes

By Daniel Strickland on March 19, 2006.

In the last few days two articles by noted basketball pundits have left me a tad disturbed. (Both of them, by the way, are examples of the media’s – and the NBA’s – radical anti-Spurs agenda, a topic on which the sleuths at SpursDynasty will be offering a complete expose in the coming weeks.)

I would feel sorry for these victims of foot-in-mouth disease, but they obviously hate the Spurs and worship the devil.

One problem that both of these pundits have is that they often make harsh judgments about teams based on a very small sample of their play. While this is somewhat understandable, given that they have 30 teams to keep up with, they should be careful about making broad generalizations based on such a limited sample of data – especially when they’re talking about the defending champions.

The lesser of these journalistic travesties occur in an article written by Charley Rosen, whose point-by-point breakdowns of individual games is by far the most exhaustive analysis of NBA basketball available on the Internet, as far as I know. Although I don’t always agree with his conclusions or the way in which he expresses them, I have nothing but respect for his ability to analyze games. However, there are two things about this article that should bother any true Spurs fan.

First, the title of the article is “These Suns just won’t stop rising,” even though the Spurs won the game in question, have more or less dominated the Suns the last two seasons, and are the defending champs. The Suns are very impressive, and unquestionably fun to watch, but they haven’t won anything yet, Charley.

Second, in his zeal to give evidence of the Suns’ admittedly beautiful passing, he states that the Suns had 28 assists to the Spurs’ 21. Actually, Charley, you’ve got it backwards: the Spurs, as a team, are at least as unselfish and skilled at passing as the Suns, and they were the ones who diced up the Suns’ “defense” to the tune of 28 assists. But then, that sort of information wouldn’t fit the media’s anti-Spurs bias, so they rarely play up this aspect of the champs’ greatness.

These are relatively minor transgressions in comparison to some of the ridiculous and completely unfounded comments made by Bill Simmons in his monthly “Big Picture” feature, which he posted on Friday, before the Spurs’ game against the Suns:

B) Stick a fork in Nick Van Exel. He’s done. Same for Michael Finley. Brent Barry was never good for them in the first place. Neither was Rasho Nesterovic. Beno Udrih stinks. And Big Shot Rob is on cruise control until May, as always … one of these years, he’s not going to have anything left in the tank. By the way, I just listed six of their 10 best guys.

C) At halftime of the Clips game, I wandered down to the court to talk to my friend Strik, and we ended up watching the Spurs warming up for the second half … the players were just going about their business in silence, like 12 businessmen quietly filing through an airport on their way to baggage claim or something. Watching them interact (or not interact), I said to Strik, “Look at that, they’re like an old married couple.” Strik joked, “You can’t blame ’em, these guys speak like nine different languages.”

But their whole season has been like that: They seem tired of each other, tired of their coach, tired of playing these 110-game seasons. Poor Duncan looks like he just wants to climb into a jacuzzi and disappear for about 10 months. Even when they rally to the occasion, like with
the Dallas game a couple of weeks ago, you never get the sense that they’re having that much fun. It’s just a grim team. You can win one playoff series like that, and maybe even two, but not four. At some point, somebody else will have too much energy for you. I bet this is Popovich’s last season. Just a gut feeling.

Obviously, I don’t need to tell you, the Spurs’ faithful who have bothered to watch more than one game in the last month, how wrong he is on just about every count. But in response to these ridiculous claims, I sent the following e-mail to Mr. Simmons (and in reading over this again, I must compliment myself on the remarkable degree of restraint I showed):

Mr. Simmons:

I suggest you watch the Spurs a little more before coming to the sweepingly dismissive conclusions you shared in your article today (“Tuning in the NBA’s big picture,” March 17, 2006). Your comments about Finley, Barry, and Udrih were especially inaccurate (as even a glance at recent box scores would prove), as were your observations about the mood of the team and your conjecture about Pop’s impending retirement. You caught the Spurs on a bad night, to say the least. Don’t forget that despite a number of factors that have gone against them this season, they still have the best record at this point in the history of the franchise. Given Tim and Manu’s struggles, how could they have possibly achieved that with “six of their best ten guys” stinking it up? Tony Parker is good, but he’s not THAT good.

Based on your logic, last year’s Spurs would have been disqualified from championship contention after their horrendous early-season loss to the Raptors, who came back from a
19-point deficit and outscored the Spurs by 24 in the fourth. Anyone who saw that performance (which at least gave me a chance to refurnish my living room) would have had a hard time believing that the Spurs would win the championship that year. And we both know how that turned out.

Obviously you can’t be expected to watch every Spurs game and read every seemingly
insignificant scrap of Spurs-related news, as I do, so I’ll make things easy for you: check out once a week, and we’ll sift through all of that media noise to give you the crucial information that will prevent you from having to eat your words in the playoffs. In the process of doing so, we’ll also try to give you a bit of entertainment. You might find our recent “SpursDynasty Purity Test” particularly interesting. (But don’t be dismayed by your inevitable
low score – we’ll make an exception to our unjustifiably exclusive standards for you.)

I appreciate your humor, Mr. Simmons, but next time, please do a little more research before making outlandish claims about the reigning NBA champions.

Yours in hoops,


Bill Simmons, if you don’t come to our website, you’re a coward.

Edit, 3/22/06: Now that Mr. Simmons has retracted the following statement,

“It’s officially the end of an era: I found out that Pearl Jam has a new album coming out and wasn’t even remotely

with the following response to a fan in a chat,

Pat (Newark, NJ): I know you’re not excited about the new Pearl Jam album, but the new single is good. Think you’ll try to see them live?

Bill Simmons: (2:12 PM ET ) Wait a second… I never said that I wasn’t excited about the new Pearl jam album. I said that, for the first time in my life, I heard that Pearl Jam had a new album coming out and didn’t think, “Holy crap, it’s a new Pearl jam album! Yippee!” Doesn’t mean I won’t buy it and hope it’s good. And by all accounts, this has all the makings of a major comeback album. Now I’m excited about it.

I’m giving him a free pass on his comments about the Spurs…THIS time. But I still have a bone to pick with your suggestion that Pearl Jam need a comeback, Mr. Simmons. A comeback in the minds of the masses who either (a) have no taste or (b) can’t get over their mistaken preconceived notions about Pearl Jam, yes, but in the minds of those of us with functioning brains and sensory organs, they never left.

For this sin, my son, you must repent by isolating yourself in a soundproof room and listening to “Binaural” and “Riot Act” ten times each.

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