He wrote a column about the sorry state of the NBA's Eastern Conference--calling it the worst conference in sports history (and with the 5-11 Knicks one game out of a playoff spot, he's probably right).
Now, let me be clear about this. I love Bill Simmons. Yes, I think his act has gotten a little bit tired over the years. I don't laugh nearly as often as I did back about 4 years ago, since a fair portion of it is the same material rehashed over again. But when the guy is on, there's still no one better. And I check ESPN.com every day to see if he's written something new. The Mailbags, chat transcripts and the NFL Picks alone are worth it.
There's also not a lot of things that I like more than when he cracks on how dumb NBA teams can be. I'm not blown away by his general sports knowledge, but he definitely knows his stuff when it comes to the NBA. So I love columns like this.
There were some great lines in there, and I had a great 15 minutes reading it. Until I got toward the end and he started cracking on Joe Dumars again.
Worst-case scenario: They lose in the second round, Billups leaves after the season, Melo wins the MVP and Pistons fans still refuse to admit that Joe Dumars screwed this entire decade up for them.
Earlier in the column, he recapped some of the things that Dumars has done "wrong": "Now here's the team that should be kicking itself, between passing on Melo and Bosh, giving away Arroyo and Darko, screwing up the Wallace situation and everything else."
First let's address the Darko pick. He's harped on it for years. Yes, Anthony, Bosh, and Wade are better players than Darko. Yes, we passed on 3 of the top 15 players in the NBA for Darko. That being said: It's unfair to kill Dumars for that move. The fact of the matter is that no GM in the entire league would have taken Bosh or Wade over Darko, and pretty much everything I read indicated that there were only a few that preferred Anthony. In addition, I'm positive I heard reports leading up to the draft that some GMs liked Milicic more than LeBron. Dumars didn't screw up more than any other GM in that situation would have. Also, we needed another big man at the time because, remember, we didn't have Rasheed Wallace at that point. And Tayshaun Prince just had his breakout playoff, so we really didn't need a small forward.
Not to mention the possibility (which is a fairly likely one, in my opinion) that Anthony wouldn't have gotten along with Larry Brown, since he didn't play defense and all. Which was kind of important on that team.
So was Darko a great pick? No. Does it look awful in hindsight? Absolutely. Would 80% (at least) of the GM's in the league have made the same mistake? Yup.
As for Darko and Arroyo: It's very questionable if this team a whole lot better with them here. And we got a first round pick in one of the deepest drafts ever (and some cap space) for them.
Onto the Ben Wallace situation. It seems awful funny to me to kill Dumars for "screwing up the Wallace situation" when earlier in the exact same column, Simmons wrote that: "It might have been a mistake to hand out $60 million to a past-his-prime, mercurial, 34-year-old rebounder/defender who can't score, hadn't been an impact player since the defensive rules changed and had just about no chance of getting along with a control freak like Scott Skiles".
It's one or the other. Either the Bulls are stupid for signing him or Dumars is stupid for letting him go. Because it seems to me, that if he's past his prime, he can't score, and he's not an impact player defensively, that maybe Dumars didn't screw us by letting Wallace go. He just refused to overpay and get locked into one of those bad contracts. Keep in mind that Wallace didn't like Flip Saunders at all.
Short-term, it absolutely hurts to have lost Ben Wallace. This team would be better with him (provided that the Wallace/Saunders feud didn't turn into a major distraction--which it VERY well could have). Long-term, we're going to be really happy that that contract isn't on our books. Signing him long-term would've done as much to "screw up this decade" as anything.
It's just another case of Simmons throwing jabs at a team that he has never liked (probably due to the feud with the Celtics back in the day). It's too bad, because otherwise that was a pretty darn entertaining column.