If you caught my Reggie Miller reference in the Pacers game preview, you know I've been reading Bill Simmons's Book of Basketball. I can't find exactly where I read the observation, but I've come to agree with the assessment that Simmons is a top-notch memoirist and, at best, a hit or miss analyst. For instance, he lists Robert Horry as his 85th best NBA player of all time. All. Time. He also leaves guys like Chris Bosh out of the Top 96, but makes Tom Chambers his number 96 and puts Kevin McHale in one of his higher levels, even though Bosh compares favorably to both.
Why? Because Simmons privileges his emotions and his personal feelings over basketball production. You'll drive yourself crazy if you count how many times he uses the phrase "when it mattered". You'll also drive yourself crazy trying to parse which players he thinks were capable of leading their teams to championships. See, Dirk Nowitzki hasn't done it, so he can't. If he was capable, he would have done it. Clyde Drexler couldn't do it. Bill Walton could when he was healthy for most of a season, so, in one of the most ludicrous passages of the book, Simmons says that even if he knew in advance how it would play out, he would choose Walton as his franchise center over David Robinson, who missed significant time once in his career, was All World for his first seven seasons, merely really, really, good for four more and passable for two more.
You can't convince Simmons otherwise, because Walton gives him fuzzy feelings. He was, essentially, as good as Robinson was for the Admiral's second title, but because Walton did it for the Celtics, that's a bonus, and Robinson was just riding Tim Duncan's coattails.I think he's utterly wrong about a lot of this, but that's okay. As long as we all know it, and acknowledge it, we can make our appropriate adjustments when listening to someone's opinions. The same thing happens to everyone. I can explain to the Official Roommate of Rufus on Fire why Gerald Wallace might be a top thirty NBA player right now, but he'll hear none of it. Try to tell him that Devin Harris isn't nearly worth his contract and might barely crack the top ten point guards, though, and he'll go on a rant about how wrong you are and scurry off to Basketball-Reference to prove you wrong.
My soft spot is for super-athletic combo forwards, both skilled and unskilled. Derrick Brown fits in that category. Joe Alexander. Crash. Josh Smith. I could go on for hours about what Michael Beasley brings to the table. I'm convinced that Cleveland could have a non-zero chance at going undefeated if they'd only play LeBron at the four. Yes, I'm totally unreasonable when it comes to these guys, and they'll always get the benefit of doubt from me. I like to think I use my Rational Hat 999,999 times out of a million, but it's impossible to get away from biases.
What's your soft spot?