Bill Simmons aka The Sports Guy

Do I think he's funnier/better than he actually is?


  1. For years, Simmons has been the only MUST READ for me anywhere on the internet. There are other writers that are close; Peter King, Don Banks, Rick Reilly, Ross Tucker, Gregg Easterbrook...but those are guys I find time in the day to read. Simmons is the only guy I drop everything to read his latest piece. I never watch NBA game, but I guarantee you I will be buying his 700 page NBA book and reading every word. I think he's an amazing writer, from his point of view and ability to intertwine humor with intelligent observations.

    I know he's incredibly popular, and at this point, he knows he is incredibly popular, but do I think he is more popular than he actually is? I have told so many of his stories to friends and family, that all the non-sports fans I am related to now know who Bill Simmons is. But is it even possible that a sports writer can be more popular than writers from other formats? I once posed question that I thought he could be the most read writer on the internet and asked others to identify another writer who might be as popular. The only response I remember was the guy from PerezHilton or TMZ. I have had many conversations dissecting his humor, writing styles, and sports analysis, and I am sure I will have many more...but to get things started...

    Do I think he's better than he actually is? Can any of us even answer that question, considering we are all sports fans?

  2. because there's just so much I want to quote right now...

  3. Damnit! I was actually getting work done!

    I'm somewhat in your boat. While he's not a mush drop everything read for me, I think he's the closest to such a thing. There are 4-5 others (mostly blogs) that I will check regularly, and these span all topics, but he's the closest thing to a 'must read'.

    I can't think of anyone out there that I'm familiar with who'd be more read then Simmons, but I also can't imagine a world in which he is the most read. All of this leads me to think he's full of himself sometimes (he's earned it, that's for damn sure), but I think he's done a decent job not getting too carried away.

  4. Here is a link to Simmons' new mailbag for anyone who hasn't read it yet:

    In reading this mailbag, I do notice that he has been around long enough to develop several "shticks," but he doesn't over-rely on them and mixes in a lot of funny new material as well. And he's always adding really good insight as well.

    In fact, for NBA analysis I think he's the most insightful writer around. He and John Hollinger are the only two NBA writers I will read every word of just for their opinions. And Simmons isn't even an "NBA guy."

    I think he completely dominates the sports blog scene because of two things: he's way funnier than anyone else, and he writes from the fan perspective. He is the ultimate "I totally was thinking that!" writer for sports.

    But it's tough to compare popularity outside of a sector like sports. You can't throw in whole blogs like TMZ, cause they have teams. By that methodology you'd have to compare ESPN and TMZ, and ESPN crushes everyone. But Perez Hilton or the Pink is the New Blog guy (my girlfriend's must-read writer) are probably as dominant as Simmons in THEIR spheres, the gossip arena.

    Can you cross-compare different genres or spheres or sectors though? I don't know if you can

  5. I'm sure there are publicly available metrics out there (page impressions, etc.) to quantify the "popularity" of an author; I'm just too lazy to find them right now.

  6. Here's another question: how much does Simmons owe to his followers? I ask this for 2 reasons:

    1) In light of today's mailbag, much of Simmons' work seems to come at the behest of his fans (possibly even spurred on by their requests/insights).

    2) The obvious fact that word of mouth is HUGE in the online age of a billion kazillion blogs.

    To me, I think he owes more to his fans than any other author I read regularly, and I can't think of another author out there who would owe more. Can you?

  7. Can you expand on why you think he "owes more" to his fans than any writer? Cause aren't all artists and authored completely in debt to their fans, who validate all their work?

  8. First, Royce I posted the exact same link 27 minutes before you...there's a time stamp and everything.

    Second, I think Scott is right that page hits would be a prefectly quantifiable way to judge popularity. Unfortunately, I don't know if those numbers are ever released anywhere.

    Third, I don't think he owes his success to his fans. He started off without any, but he was talented and funny enough to build up a fan base and now he uses that fan base to build on his success. He'd still be funny and entertaining without a mailbag, but he is even funnier with the mailbag.

  9. 11:19 AM me: i think my favorite part of the mailbag was the height comments
    too long to copy/paste, but he was right
    11:20 AM there was no way i thought he was taller than me
    6'1 1/2"?
    Royce: haha yeah
    ive heard him say it before is the only reason i wasnt floored
    but wow
    thats my height! haha
    pretty surprising
    apparently chuck klosterman is also his height
    which REALLY surprised me
    11:22 AM me: celebrity heights, column in the men's room, playoff nails, Crap Pack, NHL Zone
    11:23 AM Royce: oh come
    come on
    Bon O'Briduchi is no doubt the best part
    11:24 AM thats hilarious
    thats something i feel like i would do with my friends sometime
    me: foul ball, Proof of Life, And You Wonder Why We Think Women Are Crazy, ok go have sex with Ray Allen and tell me how it is...I wasn't offended
    Royce: his column in the men's room response was hilarious too
    me: yes, but you mentioned it first
    Royce: and the proof of life is actually interesting
    AND funny
    me: there was so much great stuff in that mailbag
    Royce: thats the perfect example of a simmons idea
    11:25 AM we could break that down on the blog if you really wanted to
    although usually breaking something down kills it, at least in comedy
    5 minutes
    11:30 AM me: i agree that breaking it down kills instead, try to expand on it
    try and come up with another Don O'Briduchi joke
    how far would you go?
    11:31 AM order a 5th beer? order an extra movie ticket? play a 5th hand at a blackjack table (which would be awesome if Don was doing well)
    Royce: well i meant the proof of life is brilliant AND funny, i mean imagine if we had moratoriums on things until after they happened (72-hour commentary window)
    just to be clear, his name is Bon
    not don
    LOL which is even better
    11:32 AM me: dammit

  10. I must say that Simmons has significantly increased his female readership. Do you think incorporating a mailbag or getting married had a greater affect on his growth as a writer?

    I am leaning towards getting married. The Sports Gal competing in his NFL picks was great. "Boobs benedict", getting a female opinion before clicking send, learning that there are a lot of hot, single women in Atlanta...

  11. Rather than distilling our discussion into its essential parts, Aaron made the bold stroke of reproducing an entire gchat... classy

    The essential thing is that you want to expand upon the funny stuff, not break it down. If we really had it going, you'd almost HAVE to buy a fifth plane ticket and make up a fifth bed in the room you're staying in for Bon O'Briduchi on your Vegas trip. When ladies came back to the room you'd point to the bed and say "Bon hasn't been back in the room for 37 straight hours running, he must be on one hell of a blackjack kick!" or "Ever since Bon disappeared with that tranny we haven't seen him, but there's his bed."

    I also like the fictional 5th hand at a blackjack table - can you do that? If Bon won big he'd be obliged to buy the whole table a round.

  12. Hey I started writing my post well before you, but because I wrote a substantially more interesting post than you the link came out 27 minutes later. You can't rush genius.

    The Rod Benson blog about his pee is incredibly awesome by the way. A series of escalatingly terrible questions - Is that urine? In a glass? On my desk?

  13. So you have four guys sharing two beds in Vegas, you call down to have a cot sent up for Bon.

    On multiple occasions, at different employers, I have found a printed out copy of a Simmons column in the men's room stall.

  14. This could go in about 12 different directions right now. Is it okay if I take off on a bathroom stall reading material rant?

    Do you take printed materials in there? Simmons would be great for it, but I don't want to print it. I usually bring a magazine of my own (Motor Trend, Nat'l Geographic) or my iPod. There are no previously viewed reading materials in our bathroom, and even if there were I'd be weird about grabbing a used one... is that weird of me?

  15. Ok since you spun off the bathroom reading idea, let me stick to Simmons and blogs. I think you were totally right about angles before and I just didn't fully get it. But Simmons' trait is that he stokes his readers' imaginations. That is a winning trait of most writers, and should be a defining feature of any good blog.

    Let me ask this - how is Simmons different from a columnist for a paper, magazine, or website? Is he different from a columnist? Is it a format thing? A mindset? The type of varied content he covers?

  16. I would still describe him as a columnist, but his focus is on humor, not to make an argument and convince the readers. The closest comparison I can think of is Dave Barry, a humor writer who writes a regular column for a Miami paper. Their styles are similar from a format perspective but are entirely different in terms of content.

    We are not striving to be a collective column...we are striving to be a blog that people check multiple times a day to see of there is anything new...which brings us back to the visual format. It is too hard to see if there has been an additional comment, without trying to remember how many comments have been made, or manually clicking every topic... but I don't have any new ideas yet.