Listen to this podcast here.
Listen to this podcast here.
In Part 1 of 2, Bill Simmons calls up Jon Hock, the director of the latest 30 for 30 film, Survive and Advance, which chronicles the legendary national championship run of the 1983 NC State men's basketball team. Bill then calls up Chuck Klosterman to discuss the changes they would make to NCAA basketball and the real impact coaches have on basketball teams.
I tend to root for Duke University in the NCAA basketball tournament. They’re not my favorite team, but I’m happy when they succeed. People are sometimes mystified by this affinity, since the Internet has conditioned us to believe we’re ethically obligated to hate every player who has ever contributed to that particular program. As such, on days like today, I am often asked, “Why do you root for Duke? Why would anyone root for Duke?”
Here is my reasoning, in seven ascending steps:
Chuck Klosterman calls in for one of the best podcasts to date, as he and Bill focus on Royce White and performance-enhancing drugs.
Chip Kelly is the new head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. This is more exciting than it probably should be; obviously, coaches change jobs all the time. But this feels different, somehow. Kelly is the best contemporary offensive mind in America (that’s an arguable designation, but it’s certainly the argument I would make if you put a gun to my head and started asking bizarre, subjective questions about football strategy). The Eagles are an elite NFL franchise in total disarray, habitually hounded by a fan base that despises everything (including themselves). There are landmines aplenty, all in the form of questions. Here are the main ones:
Grantland's Chuck Klosterman and Alex Pappademas explore Alex's newfound football fandom and discuss his column, I Suck at Football.
Listen to this podcast here.
So much amazing is happening, and the Shootaround crew is here to help you keep track of it all. Here, we make some predictions about the coming NBA season, ranging from the well-founded to the outlandish.
Welcome to my island of asinine predictions, where I base outlandish claims on very brief NBA preseason YouTube highlights. Your room is ready for you. From this island, I can see, off in the distance, a place where we talk about Rajon Rondo as an MVP candidate. I don't think he'll win it — I don't think anyone besides LeBron or Durant can — but I think he'll be in the conversation.
We're going to be talking about Rondo in a new way this year. I have no doubt there will be moments when he is a petulant, distant, and sometimes awkward presence — the one we've come to know, love, or hate over these last few years. But reports coming out of Celtics camp fill me with nothing but where's-my-fainting-couch anticipation. Rondo organizing offseason flag football games for his teammates? Because he "wanted to take everyone out there, so we could play together, get a little chemistry before we start and have a little fun"? Who is this guy? And when can we go play paintball together?
On any given Sunday (or Monday, or Thursday), your NFL Run & Shootaround crew will be gathered around multiple televisions, making inappropriate jokes and generally regressing to the mean. Catch up on all the NFL action right here.
Sunday afternoon wasn’t Andrew Luck’s first game-winning drive. That was in Week 2, when Luck completed two 20-yard strikes before Indianapolis kicked a go-ahead field goal to sneak past a Minnesota team that hasn’t lost since. But what Luck put together against the Packers yesterday was a little more than two deep outs against coverage begging for them. Down five, with four and a half minutes left, Luck would face three third downs with at least seven yards to go, and he delivered on each.
The signature play came on the second of those third downs, just after the two-minute warning, as Indianapolis faced a third-and-12 from Green Bay’s 47. With Clay Matthews wrapped around him, Luck, falling back and to his left, delivered the ball over the middle to Reggie Wayne for what seemed like his 30th catch of the day. Luck hit Wayne again on the next play, another deep "in" that took the Colts down to the 14, and after a third-down scramble got Indy a first-and-goal inside the 10, it was Wayne who finished things off.
I never met Steve Sabol, but I wish I could have worked for him. His father, Ed, founded NFL Films, but Steve defined what it became: the finest cinematic reflection of a sport in absolute totality, consciously designed to amplify an intellectual viewing experience through emotional means. If that sounds unnecessarily complicated and verbose — fine. It’s still the truth. With the possible exception of Pete Rozelle, no other men influenced the way casual audiences think about football as deeply as Ed and Steve Sabol. And while it was the father who built the foundation, it was the son who erected the superstructure.
The Shootaround crew returns to give their quick takes on the Dwight Howard blockbuster.
As I slowly progress toward the end of my life, I find myself more and more impressed by the (seemingly limitless) tenacity of the Lakers franchise. They are the only team in the NBA who is continually like this; they are the only team who flat-out refuses to have an average, uninteresting roster. In 35 years, they've been under .500 just three times. They never rebuild. They always go for it. I'm not sure if Dwight Howard will ultimately prove to be a massive upgrade from Andrew Bynum (and I can even imagine a scenario where it makes things worse), but there's no way you can argue over the intention behind this move.
It feel weird saying this, but it's true: As it turns out, The Decision was great for the culture of the NBA. It shoved the idea of building a super-team directly in everyone's collective face, and now there's no other way to be ultra-competitive. If you want to run with Miami, you have to mortgage practicality and simply acquire three of the league's best 25 guys by any means necessary. There are now two incredible teams in the West and one and a half incredible teams in the East (until Derrick Rose plays again, Chicago is on the fence). The NBA has instantly evolved from a sport that wasn't even that interesting in February to a sport that is totally worth following in August. I suspect L.A. may still lose to Oklahoma City in the playoffs, but at least there's something to daydream about until that happens. I'm ecstatic this trade happened. — Chuck Klosterman
With Bill Simmons still in Europe, Chuck Klosterman talks about the future of college football with ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit. Topics include: Why the SEC dominates, how the game is evolving, what the playoffs will mean in 2014, and what it's like to have dinner with Brent Musburger.
It's been a while since Chuck Klosterman and I banged out one of our marathon "We thought it would be 45 minutes but ended up going for nearly two hours, so we had to belatedly record an 'out' for Part 1 and an 'in' for Part 2" podcasts. Discussed in detail this time around: satellite radio, best music books, The Doors, the concept of eras for music and movies, Joe Paterno/Jerry Sandusky/Penn State, the NCAA versus Roger Goodell, Kentucky basketball, Jeremy Lin, the upcoming Olympics, our favorite Olympic sports and David Stern. I know, it's just as weird as it sounds.
Over the weekend, news broke that the New York Knicks were dragging their feet in matching the Houston Rockets' $25 million contract offer to point guard Jeremy Lin. As the nervous laughter of Knicks fans ("Ha, this is hilarious ... can you imagine? No, but really, guys. Sign him") turned into acts of hair-pulling and fist-shaking and full-blown Twitter meltdowns, our fearless leader, Bill Simmons, posed the question: If the Knicks, following the apparent financial advice of Carmelo Anthony, turn their backs on the most exciting, well-liked player to rock blue and orange since [insert beloved Knicks player Sprewell, Starks, Ewing ... Renaldo Balkman], would New York fans be wise to turn their backs on the team and become fans of the other New York franchise, the Brooklyn Nets? Simmons certainly thought so. We asked several members of the Grantland family, some of whom count themselves as Knicks supporters, for a verdict.
In their eight years of existence, the Charlotte Bobcats have drafted three players from UNC, one from Duke, and one from Boston College, a school that plays up to seven games a year in the state of North Carolina. They have drafted one player from Texas, a Naismith runner-up from Gonzaga, and two UConn greats. Outside of trading for Alexis Ajinca’s draft rights in 2008, the Bobcats have found nearly every undersized or questionably athletic college star in the country. Some, like Jared Dudley, turn out to be valuable players on other teams. Others, like Sean May, quickly confirm that college post moves sometimes don’t translate to the NBA. The Bobcats haven’t fully developed a player since their inception in 2004. They handcuffed Raymond Felton, they didn’t tell the managers of all Charlotte-area Waffle Houses to stop serving May, they turned Gerald Henderson into the worst version of Kobe Bryant in the history of versions of Kobe Bryant.
Grantland is brimming with NBA playoff excitement. You may have already noticed. Since we couldn't wait for the games to get going, we asked our staff to make three predictions — one realistic, one reach, one pipe dream.
Realistic: Whoever ends up playing Dallas (Ed. note: It's Oklahoma City.) loses (or very nearly loses) in seven games. I realize they've had a bad season. But they have a guy who can score with his back to the basket from 10 feet away, and that's the single-most important aspect of any playoff series.