Friday, April 17, 2009

Le Rodman

There's so much to like about the upstart (Current) Sports Guy, Bill Simmons. Funny, smart, passionate. But damn, he can be frustrating to read sometimes if you grew up hating the Boston Celtics, as I did.

I get it. He's not a journalist; he's a columnist and needs a voice. But enough with the cheerleading already.

I absolutely love that he writes great, juicy long columns on the world's best sport, basketball, and the NBA. But sometimes he gets to me. Maybe it's because I never had a hometown team to cheer for that I can't relate to his unabashed glee at all things Boston. I used to bleed Laker blue during the Magic Johnson era. When Ralph Sampson hit that fluke shot at the buzzer to knock the Lakers out of the playoffs one year, not only did it knock the life out of Michael Cooper, who collapsed to the floor, it physically and psychically depressed me for at least two weeks. Then I grew up and didn't feel the need to stick with that team forever. I still loved them after all the good players retired. I cheered for Vlade Divac, Nick Van Exel and Eddie Jordan even when they weren't making the playoffs, like all true fans should. I can root for a loser no problem. Wally Cox is my idol.But when the Lakers got the smug Phil Jackson, former coach of the despica-Bulls, things started to sour. How could I cheer for that guy? He's a front-runner, padding his stats by only taking jobs with contenders. I'm not clear on the chronology, but I think Shaq came next. Come on. Really? Who likes a Goliath? What fun is there in cheering for the mack truck who mows everyone down and shoots everything from two feet and in? I'll answer for you: None.

The piece de resistance, though, was the acquisition of Dennis Rodman, formerly of the hated Piss-tons and then the aforementioned despica-Bulls, a human self-promotion machine who hustled like nobody's business but had almost zero basketball skill. That's it. I was outta there. I never looked back. Laker fan no more.

So I always wonder about guys like Simmons who will stick with one team no matter what. I don't know how he felt about Kevin Garnett before KG joined the Celtics, but Garnett was another guy I couldn't stand. Sure, he's a great player, but I always disliked his phoney intensity and scowl. Had it been Garnett joining my Lakers, I think I would have bailed on them, too.

But that's my problem. The question I have is this: Is there a player Simmons hates enough that he would stop cheering for his beloved C's if they acquired him? I don't think so. He's said some horrible things about Kobe Bryant over the years, but I'm guessing that if Mr. Bryant signed with Boston, Simmons would be his biggest fan. I just don't get that. (I know, I know, conjecture, but I'm pretty sure I'm right.)

So now "his" team has Kevin Garnett and Stephon Marbury. Yes, that Stephon Marbury, he of the tattooed, lightbulb-shaped head, hands-down one of the most selfish players in the game. You'd think it was Mark freakin' Price, a choir boy, judging from Simmons. Is there not a point where you go, "I can't root for this team anymore"? Or do you blindly just keep on keeping on because, well, that's just the way you've always done it?

I mention it being "his" team, with quotation marks, because Simmons does the absolute worst thing any fan can do, let alone a member of the fourth estate. He says "we" when discussing the Celtics. I've never understood that, either. Even when I was living and dying with every Laker victory and loss, I never once uttered "we" when referring to them. Check out Simmons' latest column on... surprise!... the Celtics:
Anyway, about four weeks ago, it became clear that we were headed for a Cavs-Lakers Finals unless Garnett came back.

Was one title (and a memorable season) worth giving up Al Jefferson, a few first-rounders and Ratliff's expiring deal that maybe could have been used to trump the Lakers for Pau Gasol? Yes. Yes it was. The goal is to win the title. We won a title. I would do it again.

This season, Garnett disappeared but Powe and Perkins stepped up, then Davis did the same when we lost Powe.
So anyway, where were we? Ah yes, Sideshow Dennis. I wrote about him once. After ripping apart Simmons, I feel silly offering it to you. But feel free to rip it apart, too. Whatever. It was about 15 years ago.
The Sports Guy
Sports Vue magazine

by Guy MacPherson

I love opinionated people. It matters not whether I agree with them. It is my humble opinion that Trevor Lautens of the Vancouver Sun is the best columnist in the country. He has a beautiful way of phrasing and writing that is seldom seen in daily papers (you have to go to weekly sports publications for prose as proficiently proffered). He also has an annoying propensity for pomposity, which is expected in a person of opinion. Unfortunately, his opinions are directly opposed to mine 99 percent of the time. But what can one do? The man writes like a charm.

The fun is in the argument. I’ve been called a devil’s advocate, among other things. Like Robert Frost, I never take my own side in a quarrel. I’m told it’s my French heritage (and you thought MacPherson and Frost were Anglo names).

We French love to argue. It’s never personal. It’s just a way of life. If the rest of the world believed Jerry Lewis to be a comedic genius and auteur, we French would call him un imbecile. See? That’s how it works. You don’t want us to do nuclear tests? Ha! We laugh in your collective visages. Greenpeace is altruistic, you say? We spit on them. A little bit of reverse psychology would do wonders to get the French in line.

Mais je suis digress. I was reading the other day about Dennis Rodman’s comments in a radio interview. He said his teammate, NBA MVP David Robinson can’t win a championship. He said he himself is among the three best power forwards in the game today, and should be paid thusly. He said he’s better than Derrick Coleman simply because he has won championships – neglecting to mention that he was on stacked Detroit Piston teams, while Coleman has played alongside such future Hall of Shamers Dwayne Schintzius, Benoit Benjamin and Chris Dudley.

My first reaction to anything Rodman says or does is to look down my snotty French nose (cold season, doncha know) and think, “This man has green hair at the best of times, pierced body parts I don’t even want to imagine, and tattoos as big as HervĂ© Villechaise. Il est tres amusant, mais un tres, tres freaky hombre.

Then the real Frenchman in me comes forward. "Hang on there just one second,” I’ll say to myself in perfect anglais so as to understand what I’m saying. “Everyone hates Dennis Rodman. You are not Everyman. You are French-man. Do your people proud. Don’t go along with the crowd. The crowd is what gave you The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Denny’s, and Kenny G. What do they know?”

I have a point, I tell myself reflexively. Rodman used to be detestable back when he was winning championships with the hated Pistons. It’s easy to loathe someone when they are on top (unless, of course, they’re your lover, in which case you shouldn’t loathe them at all. Take it from me. I’m French, remember?). Now he’s just an overall average player who, like Colonel Sanders, does one thing really well – rebound (the Colonel was one tough mother on the boards despite the greasy fingers).

Rodman is no threat now. He’s old and needs attention. We will excuse his quirkiness (only don’t ever call him Your Quirkiness to his face).

Rodman brings excitement to the land of dull locker room interviews. He speaks his mind, and that disturbs a lot of people. You don’t have to agree with him. Just appreciate him for what he is.

He’s opinionated. He’s arrogant. He’s different.

Sacre bleu! He must be one of us!

Vive le Rodman!


  1. Colonel Sanders was a good rebounder, but it was his set shot that was the better known part of his game.

  2. I always kinda liked Rodman the uni-dimensional b-ball player cuz he was easy to spot on the court. I LOVE Rodman the mouthpiece cuz he flunked every media course offered and refuses to be handled or managed. He's his own man.

    That said, if I saw him walking down the street, I'd cross to the other side.

  3. As for unquestioning allegiance to one team, I think that in the case of the new Sports Guy his allegiance is to the home team whereas yours was to a team that was definitely not your home team. I've like lots of teams over the years and over time I've lost interest in them. Not so much with the home teams (Canucks, Seahawks, Mariners). Although I did find it hard to cheer for the Canucks during the Bertuzzi years. I really didn't like that guy and I mean even before he piledrived that guy into the ice.

  4. Hey Guy, I showed your blog pic to my partner Andrea and she said you looked really young--mebbe 38 years old. I explained that you were bald, so she upped it to 42.

    Unless this is a really old pic of you, I figured you would be flattered.

  5. I forget when it was taken, but I was probably about 42 then. But for the record, I was bald when I was 38, too.

  6. Well, nevermind then.

    Perhaps it is time to fall back on the ol' Groucho-ism, you are only as old as the woman you feel.