ESPN NBA analyst and Grantland honcho Bill Simmons is the center of even more Twitterverse vitriol than usual today after he made a statement about Memphis Grizzlies fans on his latest podcast that was a bit of a leap, to be nice. Of Grizz fans and their apparent tendencies to get down in the dumps when their team is losing (or is swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals), Simmons said:
“I didn’t realize the effect [The MLK assassination] had on that city… I think from people we talk to and stuff we’ve read, the shooting kind of sets the tone with how the city thinks about stuff. We were at Game 3. Great crowd, they fall behind and the whole crowd got tense. They were like, ‘Oh no, something bad is going to happen.’ And it starts from that shooting.”
Now, I’ve been to Memphis a few times and imbibed at some bars on Beale Street, and not once did anyone say, “Excuse me, is this the line for the bathroom? Of course it’s long, it’s been long ever since MLK was assassinated” or “I’m sorry, we’re out of Coors Light just like the day that MLK was assassinated”. My point being that if people in Memphis carry the burden of that horrible day in 1968 through all of their day-to-day activities, from making awesome BBQ to watching NBA games, I have never seen or heard it.
But in his defense, maybe Simmons has. After all, as the Godfather of this sports blog game, he’s traveled from city-to-city as ESPN’s Johnny Everyman while spitting awkward fire with Magic Johnson and Mike Wilbon for pre-game HOT SPROTS TAKES. So maybe Simmons has interacted with actual Memphis fans and they’ve told him that when the Grizzlies lose basketball games, they’re reminded of MLK’s assassination.
We honestly don’t know unless we ask the man himself, so I reached out to Bill Simmons* and he provided a more elaborate explanation of what he meant by that strange jump to conclusion.
The Memphis Grizzlies fans and the Martin Luther King Jr. Assassination are just like that episode of Beverly Hills, 90210 – the original series and not the watered down, newer version that was like the Emily Valentine to the Valerie Malone, but that’s a whole different 5,000 words that I’ll probably write next week in six installments, comparing both girls to California’s earthquakes with footnotes – in which David decided that he wanted to go on tour as the opening act for Take That, but Donna was entering rehab for morphine addiction and Kelly had just suffered simultaneous miscarriages, so they wanted him to stay and keep them company since Dylan and Brandon had been kidnapped by Mexican drug dealers and forced to fight each other to the death if they couldn’t come up with the $6 million that they borrowed to host the charity Color Me Badd show at the Peach Pit.
David and the Grizzlies are like MLK in that they had a dream, but Kelly and Donna and the Spurs are like James Earl Ray, because they ended that dream. And the people of Memphis are like the kids who paid $50 each to see Color Me Badd perform, but when Nat didn’t pay the power bill because he spent his money bailing Steve out of jail after John Sears framed him for murdering that stripper at a rager in the KEG house, everyone was reminded how horrible life is because they didn’t get to hear “All 4 Love”.
But my point was that Memphis fans become quiet like James Farmer and take the easy way out like Scott Scanlon, while they should be more like Noah Hunter and surprise Valerie – or in this metaphor, the rest of the league – and by showing everyone how wealthy they are.
SIDEBAR: The Sports Gal breaks down the Mad Men MLK assassination episode and asks why Betty Draper wore that.
*I didn’t actually speak to Bill Simmons. I know, you’re super shocked. Like when Brenda Walsh…