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Zhiving the Doc Rivers-Bill Simmons Feud

Citizen Zhiv weighs in on the Doc Rivers-Bill Simmons Feud.

Jeff Gross

This is Citizen Zhiv's excellent response to the Doc Rivers-Bill Simmons "feud". He left a 1,200 word comment in a previous article and it seems appropriate to promote him to the front page. It should be noted that his words specifically respond and refer to Steve Perrin's previous article regarding the situation, so you should check out Steve's article first. -Lucas

Really great stuff by SP here, mainly the background on Simmons as living the blogger dream, and taking a clear look at the obvious conflicts involved. I'm a big Simmons fan, and I'm probably a bigger fan of Grantland at this point, but he deserves the credit for the concept and the execution. It's really an extraordinary net entity, although I'm hardly an expert on such things, but it has a lot of really good writers and content.

Simmons himself makes for an interesting study at this point. The place where I would differ with SP is where he says that Simmons is not an expert. I think he knows his stuff. He has put in the intellectual work, and done exhaustive research and study, and he really knows the NBA. He's just as entitled to his opinions as all of the other commentators. I consider SP, for instance, a true expert on the Clippers and to be extremely knowledgeable about the NBA and its history, and he's obviously more than a blogger. There are a few leaps involved here, from blogger to journalist, to NBA insider with deep, reliable sources, to expert and TV personality. SP is a legit journalist at this stage, covering the Clippers in person at press conferences and before and after games-and he happens to be the fearless leader of this awesome blog/Nation. KA took two big steps, to legit journalist and now heading towards NBA insider, with the help of Henry Abbott and ESPN-and his own excellent skills of writing and analysis, along with a knowledge of the game.

Simmons is just flying a little close to the sun these days. His situation would be difficult for anyone to manage, as there was no clear road map for his success. I disagree with the commenter above who notes that Simmons seems to have a tense relationship with Magic-they seem to get along really well, and Simmons has great respect for him. One big thing with Simmons, something that was pointed out in the NY Times story on him a few years ago, is that while he has done a masterful job of creating the persona of the guy you could be watching the game with on the couch, he is actually quite ambitious, and nothing he has accomplished happened by accident. Not only has he risen to a precipice of sorts as an NBA expert, but his combination of sports and pop culture, the twin heads of Grantland (and things that a ton of people care about and chat about, again, from the couch), is also his own creation in many ways.

Simmons has all sorts of flaws and blind spots, but no more than anybody else. He's not a natural on TV, and he has written about how easy some people make it. But with the season ending he seems to have gotten over most of the bumps and hurdles, and he's getting more comfortable, which is most of the trick anyway. If you can just be yourself, you'll be successful. Yes, his self is a bit obnoxious and snarky, but he's also smart and respectful and, like I said, knowledgeable.

But then you get to the fact that he has a bit of a Boston problem. SP seems to trace his career according to this element, that he started as the Boston Sports Guy and he'll always be the Boston Sports Guy. That's true to a degree. And yes, it's not the same thing as Magic always being a Laker, since Magic actually wore the uniform. But Simmons' observations and knowledge go well beyond a parochial point of view. He moved to LA for a reason, and because of the aforementioned ambition. Sometimes he reaches back and wants it both ways, and he obviously prides himself on his loyalty and passion.

The thing with Simmons and the Clippers is really interesting. He goes out of his way to distance himself from them, because he needs to maintain his Boston loyalty. He's the one who works the term sports bigamy, and he's like the guy who talks a little bit too much about his wife and how great things are in the relationship. The attraction of the Clippers has been very strong, starting with them as the non-Lakers, and he goes to a bunch of their games as a season ticket holder, but sometimes he goes out of his way to degrade them and disbelieve. DTS makes a lot of that easy. But Simmons, like a lot of citizens on this blog, has witnessed the steady new century rise of the Clippers, which has corresponded to his own professional ascendance and advanced punditry. He was unsteady on his feet and leaning in over at a shady corner of the bar when his later nemesis MDSr got cute and let Raja Bell hit the heartbreaking 3 in Phoenix, which happened right after he got his first taste of championships with the Red Sox and Patriots, all of this before the Big 3 was assembled in Boston. That, and MDSr's red face and bad luck with Griffin's injury (ZBo, Camby, Kaman, Griffin, in shape and motivated BD-oh my!), sobered him up and he cultivated the habit of looking for the niceties of Clipper dysfunction (like virtually every other NBA journalist, btw) from his up-close view.

A couple of notes, evidence of Simmons' fallibility. He might want to own it (he sometimes does talk about getting most things wrong, which is nice), if he's calling out Doc Rivers to own the fact that he jumped ship on the Celtics. He thought that ZBo was untradeable and a horrible albatross for the Clippers, something a whole lot of pundits obviously got wrong. He thought the Clippers would implode horribly somehow this season, and win 43 games. Didn't happen, and he seemed to be going out of his way to be negative, again, probably so that his Celticwife/fans wouldn't know the clandestine power of his attraction to Lob City.

But the biggest one, which SP makes completely clear, is the way that Simmons wrote and felt about Doc Rivers before the arrival of the Big 3. And that's probably behind the obvious, really weird tension that was all over Simmons as he got caught in the headlights on TV. I didn't see any of this live, and the clip is pretty intense.

It comes down to the fact that the Celtics are gutting their team, and that makes Simmons feel bad and defensive. Doc calls him out-since he remembers that Simmons tried hard to bury him at one point-, while Simmons remembers that Doc wasn't always his favorite guy in the world. Simmons calls for Doc to own jumping ship, and that's fair enough. But Simmons, sitting on the public stage, would do well to own the fact that he's emotional and devastated and things aren't going down the way that he would like. Tough times for Celtic fans, and that includes Simmons, and they're not going to get better very quickly.