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Friday, May 19, 2006
Welcome back, mailbag

By Bill Simmons
Page 2

I think LeBron comes through tonight.

I think he finishes off Detroit. I think the crowd in Cleveland gets behind him and carries him to another place. I think this will be one of those rare games when you know something momentous is happening as you're watching, even though it's not finished happening yet. I think LeBron seizes the moment, embraces it, crushes it, makes it his own.

Born to Run
LeBron is the league's new Boss.
I think tonight becomes his version of MJ's 63-point game in the Boston Garden, Springsteen's "Born to Run" album, Ali's KO over Liston, Pacino's scene in Louis' Restaurant, Tiger's minus-18 in Augusta. I think the Pistons walk off the court in a fog, wondering what the hell just happened. I think LeBron stands on the scorer's table, pounds his chest a few times, soaks in the cheers of the crowd, nods a few times for good measure. I think the delirious crowd remains for 20-25 minutes after the game, celebrating, hugging, high-fiving, celebrating some more. I think nothing in the NBA will be the same for another 12-15 years.

I think I will be watching. Actually, I know it.

In the mean time, let's plow through a long overdue edition of the mailbag. As always, there are actual e-mails from actual readers:

Q: I feel like a teenage girl who was saving myself for Mr. Right but through no fault of my own ended up pregnant in the trailer park with Mr. Mario Williams. Almost three months of my life wasted listening to talk radio and checking the sites and waiting for Reggie with bated breath. My man crush was already in full effect and I was planning my Madden season. I am a grown man with a beautiful wife, good job, and soon a house in the 'burbs. And I just teared up a little bit. I hate sports.
-- Josh, Houston, Texas

SG: And that's why the Texans had to take Reggie Bush -- it's one thing to make a shaky personnel decision, it's another thing to kick your fans in the teeth. I'm becoming more and more convinced that every professional sports team needs to hire a Vice President of Common Sense, someone who cracks the inner circle of the decision-making process along with the GM, assistant GM, head scout, head coach, owner and whomever else. One catch: the VP of CS doesn't attend meetings, scout prospects, watch any film or listen to any inside information or opinions; he lives the life of a common fan. They just bring him in when they're ready to make a big decision, lay everything out and wait for his unbiased reaction.

MORE SPORTS GUY
The Sports Guy revisited:

Installing the NBA upgrade
Diary of Mike & The Mad Dog
Sports Guy's World

I mention this only because the Texans would have called in their VP of CS on the night before the draft, explained their Mario Williams plan, and then the VP would have scratched his forehead and said, "Wait, why would we pass on Reggie Bush? Our fans will be devastated -- we can't do that to them. Plus, what if he's fantastic on another team? What if he takes the league by storm? Our fans will be catatonic. Can we even risk it? Why would we risk it? Can't we just take Bush? What's wrong with taking Reggie Bush?"

And then everyone in the room would have gone, "Hmmmmmmmm."

Q: I think it's time to talk about how awesome Schilling is again. He was so right about his game in that Curious Guy thing you did with him. On a slightly related note, ever since I bought his jersey before the 2004 season I've had these dreams where the two of us hang out, and it's pretty cool. After the first dream, I woke up all disappointed that we weren't actually friends, but now I am just happy to get to hang out with the imaginary Schilling every now and then.
-- Logan, South Hamilton, Mass.

SG: We're at the point now where we save these e-mails (and e-mail addresses) in case I'm ever found in a dumpster chopped up in 340 pieces.

Q: After watching the clip of Kobe going airborne over Nash, I started to wonder: What is the most humiliating thing that can happen to you in sports? Getting dunked on? Maybe scoring in your own goal? Running the wrong way? Injuring yourself during celebration. It's a tough call. Do you have any thoughts in that regard?
-- Kevin Baltz, Nashville, Tenn.

Kobe and Nash
So who's the real MVP?
SG: I vote for getting the crap beaten out of you in a fight. For instance, at the Staples Center, they have a framed picture of Nolan Ryan punching Robin Ventura (who's in a headlock) -- even better, it's signed by Ryan, who must giggle to himself every time he signs one of those things. How humiliating would it be for Ventura to see that? Or how 'bout this -- mention Danny Ainge's name to any Sixers fan and they will happily tell you about the time Sedale Threatt popped him with an open-hand slap in the mid-'80s, followed by Ainge wobbling like Trevor Berbick for a couple of seconds before everybody separated them. I just think that would be much worse than committing a gaffe or getting dunked on or something.

Q: Tim Duncan has developed what I call "the Kareem face" -- whiny, incredulous, "I can't believe you called that on me; I didn't get that call. I hated Kareem for that face and I now dislike Duncan for that. Every play, incessant whining. Somebody slap him!
-- M.R. Kidwell, Spokane Wash.

Q: I've kinda lost track of all of the faces you've come up with but I think it's time for the Tim Duncan face. The "I just got bumped while shooting, hey ref, it's me -- fundamental Tim, the good-guy, you're seriously not gonna call anything, I'm going to sulk my way back down the court now" Face.
-- Eric, Freeport, N.Y.

SG: Done and done. The weird thing about the Spurs is that they're considered the classiest team in the league, but they do more bitching/complaining/eye-rolling after calls than every other playoff team combined. During Game 5, there was one play when Brent Barry got called for a no-question-about-it reach-in on Nowitzki, but he immediately stomped away with his hands turned up in disbelief, almost like he was on auto-pilot. He didn't even sell it that well, like his heart wasn't in it.

The real problem is that the officiating has been so egregiously bad, players now assume that they're getting boned over on every call (even if they were guilty). It's almost like having a date with your girlfriend/wife and promising them that you won't watch sports that night, then they see you glance at your cell phone during dinner and start screaming, "I knew it, I knew it, I knew you couldn't go through the whole night without checking scores," even if you were just looking to see what time it was.

(And by the way, the officials deserve it -- they have been brutal for the entire playoffs, with the notable exception of Danny Crawford, who should officiate a different playoff game every night, much like Marv Albert and Steve Kerr should announce a different game every night. When do you think Dick Stockton will figure out how to announce Anderson Varejao's name correctly in the Cavs-Pistons series? Game 10? Game 11?)

Q: In college, my friends and I (all straight males) had an ongoing conversation about which NBA player we'd have sex with if held at gunpoint (I guess we got sick of talking about the girls at school). I always went with Steve Smith. Our friend Adam, in one of the most bizarre and disturbing acts of imagination I've ever witnessed, chose Larry Johnson. I still shudder at that one. Are you man enough to give us your pick? Or at the very least, your criteria for making such a decision, purely hypothetically, of course.
-- Butterfront, Brooklyn, N.Y.

SG: What school did you attend, the University of Riker's Island? For comedy's sake, I was going to pick Steve Nash because he's so unselfish, but forget that -- I vote for the bullet in the head. More importantly, where did Butterfront go to college? I always thought my buddy Bish went to college with the ugliest girls -- let's just say it was a NESCAC school -- where the guys actually got drunk BEFORE they went out so they could have the beer goggles going before they even started talking to anyone. But Butterfront's college has to take the crown, right? Can you imagine being so bored with the girls in your college, you felt the need to start a "which NBA player would you have sex with at gunpoint" conversation one night? Shouldn't we only be having that conversation about WNBA players?

Q: Hey Simmons, how do you feel now that you made it? I was reading the Skip Bayless column about the "Rising Sun" and I noticed that he mentioned you in proving his "Nash deserves the MVP over Kobe" point. Now Everybody knows you haven't made it until you get mentioned [in a] Bayless column. Congratulations! Any chance we might see you in "Cold Pizza's" "1st and 10" battling against Bayless?
-- Juan Gonzales, Tucson, Ariz.

SG: Um ... no. Probably not.

Q: So I'm watching the Sox/Blue Jays game on ESPN2's Wednesday night baseball. Aside from David Wells sucking as usual, the announcer, Chris Berman, is driving me crazy peppering his commentary with a fake Boston accent. It was only the second inning and he had already done "Fenway Pahk," "the Green Monstah," "a scrapah of the wall," and referred to Wells as "Boomah." Why can't anyone ever get the accent right? Can't we just ban people not from the area from even trying? This includes every actor who has tried (minus the actors from Good Will Hunting and especially including anyone in Mystic River).
--Catherine, Washington, DC

SG: My favorite attempt of all time: Bernie Mac trying to use one while playing a hot dog vendor in Fenway Park during an SNL sketch ... he gave up after about 10 seconds, but lemme tell you something, it's a magical 10 seconds. It's also amazing that nobody in the history of Hollywood was ever able to successfully pull off JFK's accent; not even Brando in his prime could have pulled it off. It's like the impossible dream for any actor. Which is weird because it's not that difficult to mimic a Boston accent -- just subtly change your R's to H's ("fahm" instead of "farm"), throw in a few "wicked's," turn any word with an "o" or "u" sound into a two-syllable sound ("sure" become "shoo-ah"), and so on. It's not rocket science.

But I'm with Catherine. It's genuinely insulting to hear a broadcaster butcher a Boston accent and think they're being funny when they're doing it, when the reality is they're doing a Cliff Claven imitation. (Hey, here's a secret: Cliff Claven's accent sucked, he sounded like he was from Rhode Island. There's a reason John Ratzenberger never worked again.) So when they do it, I always feel like they're belittling everyone from Boston, but in a semi-condescending, yuk-yuk, "You know I love you guys, I'm just a big 'Cheers' fan!" kinda way. Only they're making everyone from Massachusetts area loathe them for life. Probably not the best career move.

Q: You may have just given life to the best marital aid since the vibrator. The US Weekly fantasy league is genius, pure genius!
-- Dave, Phoenix, Ariz.

SG: Afraid to say anything ...

Q: Had Neil from "Heat" survived his shootout with Vincent, what would his life in New Zealand have been like? Imagine Neil and his son having a one-on-one game of basketball outside on their farm, which leads to the following exchange:

Child (excitedly): I'm going to beat you this time Dad!

Neil (angry, deadpan): There's a flip side to that coin -- do not think for a second that I will hesitate to take you down!
-- Michael, Sydney, Australia

SG: Now that's a great e-mail. And since I have nothing to add, here's a question for you, the reader: I have one of the greatest That Guys of all-time living in my neighborhood -- the guy who played Ajax in "The Warriors" and Ganz in "48 Hrs." (or as he's known on IMDb.com, James Remar). In the That Guy Hall of Fame, he's probably a Level 4. And I've seen him at least 8-10 times in coffee places, restaurants. ... Just last week, he was waiting in line right behind me in the pharmacy. And not once have I ever said anything to him.

So here's my question: How many times do I have to run into him before I say something? And when I do say something, should I give him the old, "I just had to tell you, you're in two of my favorite movies ever, I always run into you, just wanted to say hello" routine? Do I just drop a "48 Hrs." line on him out of nowhere, something like, "I don't believe it! I got shot!" Do I just continue to run into him and bite my tongue? Should I just shoot him in the chest like Jack Cates did? What should I do? You tell me. This is driving me crazy. Let's just move on.

Q: Do you think "I love you, Johnny Cakes" will replace "I wish I knew how to quit you?" as the gay reference go-to phrase?
-- Michael Ostroff, Pasadena, Calif.

SG: I don't see it happening ... but if you have a buddy named John or Johnny, it's like the Comedy Gods handed out an insulting nickname free of charge. For instance, one of my old college roommates is named John O'Connell -- we started calling him "Jack O." sophomore year because there was a seedy Mass Pike toll booth worker at the Worcester exit who had the name tag "Frank O.," and we used to joke that it was John's dad. But from now on? He's Johnny Cakes. This could be the new "Sully" or "Murph" in 10 years. I really feel good about this.

Q: I am having mixed feelings about the possibility of Isiah coaching the Knicks next year. While it will be glorious just to watch him awkwardly pacing the sidelines, next year will have to be his last year, right? When a team produced and coached by Isiah Thomas finishes 30-52, even Dolan will have to admit that Isiah does not know how to run an NBA franchise, right? This means that every non-Knicks fan will have to live without the hope that Isiah will buy out their damaged-goods swingman. It will be a sad day. I was wondering if you had any similar thoughts or were just happy to see Isiah go out with a bang?
--Eric Morganson, Mountain View, Calif.

SG: Come on, I'm delighted! The only thing funnier than Isiah building this roster would be him trying to coach it. Factoring in the city, the franchise, the fan base, the amount of money spent, the staggering number of bad decisions, the lack of overall plan, the Larry Brown part, the squandering of cap space for LeBron's free agency in 2008, and the lack of hope until 2009/2010 at the earliest, I truly believe that Isiah's Knicks stint is going to go down as the biggest management disaster in modern sports history when everything is said and done. We will be talking about what happened for decades and decades. Books will be written. Movies will be made. Every future disastrous executive will be compared to him. He's the "Heaven's Gate" or "Cop Rock" of sports executives.

To really push things over the top, he needs to coach next year's team and completely butcher the season, followed by the Bulls ending up with their No. 1 pick in 2007 and taking Greg Oden, then LeBron signing with the Brooklyn Nets. And even then, after all of that, Isiah wouldn't have done as much damage to the Knicks as he did to the CBA. Well, unless the franchise ends up disbanding. Which is possible.

Q: How many sticks of Chapstick did you go through during that marathon with Kobe? Your "Kobe for MVP" column made me sick. I hope you get herpes. By the way, I'm a big fan.
-- Roscoe, Dover, Del.

SG: That was the runaway winner for the "Backhanded Compliment of the Month" award.

Q: Did you happen to catch tonight's (4/20) Sox game? During the bottom of the second, they were talking about Theo and showed him up in his pretty box eating dinner. It was some sort of peas and carrots, I think -- and seriously, this was all I could think about for the rest of the inning. Dustan Mohr hit a homer, and instead of thinking "Who the hell is Dustan Mohr?" like any rational fan, I was still thinking about Theo's peas and carrots. Is this because I'm a girl?
-- Allison, New York

Bruce Willis
Don't let the outfit fool you. Bruce was spotted at the Clippers-Suns game cheering for L.A. (of course).
SG: Absolutely. But there's something to be said for this -- women notice things during sporting events that guys don't notice, which makes their perspective valuable at times. For instance, at Game 3 of the Suns-Clips series last week, my buddy Strik (Clippers employee) sent me a "Bruce Willis in da' house" text message -- that's all the information they gave -- followed by me relaying the message to the Sports Gal, who sprung into action and started scanning the lower sections of the arena with the intensity of Jack Bauer looking for a terrorist in a crowded mall. Within about 10 seconds, she found him -- he was sitting courtside to our right, and she identified him even though he was wearing a hat and his back was to us. It was almost like she had a homing device in her head. Then she spent the next 30 minutes watching him and making comments like, "He seems nice," and "He seems like he's having a good time" to the lady next to her.

So here's my first question: Why couldn't someone like my wife become a sideline reporter? Why do we have to pretend it's a serious gig? My wife would file reports like, "Guys, Corey Maggette seems sad, he just seems sad to me, I hope everything's OK," and "Phil Mickelson and his wife are sitting courtside, and guys, I do NOT like her roots, it's like she hired Faith Hill's colorist from the late '90s," and even, "Guys, I'm still trying to get an answer as to why Amare Stoudemire is wearing that suit -- lime green is NOT his color as we all know ..."

Does an MVP throw in the towel during the second half of a Game 7? I don't know if Kobe was trying to make some kind of statement or what, but that's not what an MVP does. Period.
-- Alex, Provo, Utah

SG: I knew what was happening within four minutes of the start of the third quarter, mainly because I had just watched a similar game: Game 7 of the 1976 Western Conference finals between Golden State and Phoenix. In the first quarter, Phoenix rookie Ricky Sobers started a fight with Warriors star Rick Barry at midcourt; some of the Suns jumped in to break it up, and Barry felt like his teammates hadn't jumped to his defense. At halftime, he probably watched the highlights, confirming his beliefs, so when the second half started, Barry decided not to shoot anymore. It's one of the weirdest games ever, Barry playing hot potato for the entire half, never looking for his own shot, perfectly willing to let his teammates hang themselves to prove a point. The Warriors ended up losing by eight.

Sound familiar? After the third quarter in Game 7, as the Suns pushed their lead to 25 points, I started wondering to myself, "Wait, Kobe's not pulling a Rick Barry, is he?" He was lingering beyond the 3-point line, giving the ball up every time it swing around to him, never even thinking about attacking. And he kept playing like that, and he kept playing like that ... and then the fourth quarter started, and suddenly he was 35-40 feet away from the basket, and the Suns weren't even really paying attention to him anymore. Finally, with four minutes remaining, Phil Jackson yanked him from the game. That was that.

Was Kobe frustrated? Yeah, probably. His team pulled a collective no-show. But how can you not try to save a Game 7? Would MJ have done that? Would Bird have done it? Magic? Anyone? And with a worn-down Nash obviously hampered by an ankle injury, if there was ever a game for Kobe to score 30-plus in a half and save a lost cause, this was it. Was Kobe proving a point to the Lakers' front office, namely, "Get me some freaking help?" Was he proving a point to everyone who criticized him for playing selfishly all season, almost like, "See, this is what happens when I let these losers run the show?" Was he so frustrated with the no-shows of Odom, Brown, Walton and Parker that he wanted nothing to do with them, even though there was 24 minutes of hoops left?

My theory: Kobe acted like the me-first guy on a team that's had winners in a pickup game for over an hour, the guy who hears someone complain that they aren't getting enough touches and thinks to himself, "Wait, these guys have the gall to complain about ME?" So they petulantly stop shooting the rest of the game and walk off the court defiantly when it's over. Anyone who ever played pickup hoops has played with someone like that. And the thing is, you know when it's happening -- after a few trips down the court, everyone stops paying attention to him. Kinda like the Suns.

Do I wish I could take my MVP vote back for him? Yeah, I do. If Kobe truly thought things were hopeless in the second half, he should have punched Raja Bell in the face early in the third quarter and gotten himself kicked out. Not only would he have saved himself the "you quit on your team heat," he would have gotten the satisfaction of punching Raja Bell in the face. No downside there. But he packed it in, proving once and for all that he's not MJ and never will be. So Kobe, stop stealing MJ's patented fist clench after big baskets, and stop pretending that you "tried" in the second half of Game 7, or that you were "just trying to get everyone else involved," because neither of those things were true. You quit. And I wish I had voted for LeBron.

Q: My girlfriend was flat-out bawling last night at the end of the "Grey's Anatomy" season finale. She couldn't believe that Izzy's heart transplant recipient's fiance died. I mean is she nuts or since she's a woman we are talking about a sliding scale to begin with?
-- Robert, New York, N.Y.

SG: See? Now there's someone who should be a sideline reporter! Robert's wife!

Q: Why doesn't anybody understand why we MUST boo Johnny Damon? It's very simple. He went to the Yankees. If he had gone anywhere else, this would not be an issue. We all understand that he went to the highest bidder and many of us would do the same should prospective employers ever start a bidding war over our services. We also will ALWAYS appreciate what he contributed to the 2004 Championship team as well as his other outstanding years. Nonetheless, as Red Sox fans, we hate the Yankees, and we hate it even more when one of our own goes and plays for them. We are booing the fact that the guys we used to love plays for the team we will always hate. Sorry, Johnny. It's nothing personal, but BOOOOOO!
-- RyDog, Bedford Hills, N.Y.

SG: Here's what I hated about the whole thing: Columnists and radio hosts telling the fans what they should do, then acting disappointed after the fact when Damon was barraged with boos. Gimme a break. If I had been at Fenway for that game, I would have cheered Damon before his first at-bat, and only because he was such a big part of the most important Red Sox team of my lifetime and I'm a sap with stuff like that. But if one of my buddies was sitting next to me, booing his brains out because Damon signed with our most hated rival, I would have respected that decision as well. There wasn't a right or wrong answer there -- it was a personal decision for each person in the park.

You only have eight responsibilities during a baseball game: Take your hat off for the National Anthem; don't take your shirt off; don't bring your baseball glove if you're over 13; don't wear a jersey with your own name on it; don't run onto the field; don't reach into the field of play to grab a pop-up or ground ball if it could adversely affect your team; don't boo one of your own players unless it's absolutely warranted; and don't throw up. That's it. Everything else is up to you.

Q: So I'm at this bar getting bombed out of mind a few months ago, and I am looking at various scores on the bottom line before my friend and I head to the next location. Right as we are leaving this little guy with [a] silly hair cut and even sillier clothes ask me the score of the game. Turns out it was Nick Frutelo. Basically what I am getting at is this, his hair is even funnier at 2 in the morning when your bombed. Oh and his girlfriend: smoking hot. ... It's a sad world we live in.
-- Howell Evans, Memphis Tenn.

SG: Nick Frutelo! Seriously? What was he doing there?

Q: After watching Bruce just suffer through his blocked colon (on Survivor), I immediately went to the bathroom to make sure I could still poop. I could.
-- Bryan L, Arlington, Mass.

SG: Good to know, Brian. But I'm glad you brought up "Survivor." Wasn't the final immunity challenge the most rigged sporting event since the 1985 Lottery? Gee, who's going to have the best chance to keep their balance in water on a tiny floatation device -- two athletic guys, or a skinny female who weighs 40-50 pounds less than each of them? What was Plan B for the final challenge, seeing how long you could hold a tennis ball with your chest? What an outrage. Poor Terry plays a masterful game and ends up getting hosed on some rigged challenge that was right out of "Paradise Hotel." I can't believe I spent the past three months watching that crap. If you can't trust a reality-TV show, who CAN you trust?

Q: What do you guess the over-under is on the number of times Tyrus Thomas' Tremendous Upside Potential gets mentioned in the 2006 NBA draft? I'm picturing an ecstatic Jay Bilas talking faster and faster till his head just explodes like a FemBot from "Austin Powers."
-- Matt Mertens, Boston

SG: I'm more excited for Dick Vitale to pull out a chainsaw on live TV and start swinging it like Leatherface when J.J. Redick drops into the 20s. And it's going to happen.

Q: How much would your life improve with Jack Bauer's PDA? As long as you had Chloe on your speed dial, you've got any information at your fingertips anywhere in the country. And not just those little sports blurbs. ESPN Mobile helps Mel Kiper [Jr.] make draft picks, but Jack Bauer's PDA could help so much more. It's got, like, 100 gigs, a copy of the blueprints and specs for about every office building in L.A., constantly updating satellite photos, and you're telling me it couldn't give you a totally live feed of the World Series with Gus Johnson and Bill Raftery spliced over Tim McCarver and Joe Buck? Someone needs to market this now!
-- Will, Savannah, Ga.

SG: Plus, it never runs out of batteries! You left that one out. Look, if we're going to pick apart Season 5, the improbability of Jack Bauer's uber-PDA doesn't even crack the top 25. But since we're not allowed to discuss the show because everyone overseas gets bent out of shape, here are two fantastic "24"-related stories for you:

Apparently Kiefer Sutherland is about 5-foot-8 and has a thing about his height -- not surprising since just about every actor in Hollywood is Nate Robinson's height, but bear with me -- so they only hire shorter actors so it doesn't look like people are constantly towering over him. I wouldn't have believed this except for when I saw the guy who played Tony Almeida at the NBA All-Star Game, he was about 5-foot-6. Now I'm convinced this is why they killed off Dennis Haysbert's character -- he's about 6-foot-2. Probably drove Kiefer crazy. The guy who plays Bill Buchanan is also a renowned yoga instructor who teaches a high-energy class in Hollywood 2-3 times a week. That's right, you can take yoga with the former head of CTU! I'm telling you, this is the weirdest city on the planet.

Q: Went to the Yankees home opener and was using one of the urinals in the men's bathroom. Two stalls over, a guy had his daughter in one of those baby papoose things around his neck. The guy between us strikes up a conversation with the dad. "So how old is she? Is this her first baseball game? Is this her first Yankees game?" Then he says, while talking stupid baby talk, "I bet this won't be the only time you go to a Yankees game." Just then, another guy walks behind us and says, "I bet this also won't be the only time she's in the men's room," and keeps on walking past. Welcome to Yankee Stadium.
--J. Coyle, Morristown, N.J.

QUALITY QUESTIONS THAT JUST DIDN'T MAKE THE CUT
Elgin Baylor wins Executive of the Year. A "Real World" cast member (Jacinda Barrett) is starring in her second blockbuster film. You're creating a fantasy league based on US Weekly while claiming to be straight, married and with child. Next, I am going to read that Dustin Diamond is playing Ralph Hinkley/Hanley in the inevitable "The Greatest American Hero" film. Is the world coming to an end?
-- Sean Kelly, Los Angeles

Can you think of any award in pro sports that is more emasculating than the Lady Byng? Who would be proud to say "Hey, I won the Lady Byng!"
-- Shawn, Newport Beach, Calif.

You mentioned how there is so much tension in the Lakers-Sun series, but during the fight between Sasha and Nash you could actually see what Kobe said when they bumped into each other. He looks at Nash and says: "Hey! HEY STEVE NASH!" and runs over. My friends and I think that is quite possibly the funniest way ever to confront someone. So now anytime anything good or bad happens to Nash it's "HEY STEVE NASH!"
-- J. Waterhouse, Los Angeles

In the Pearl Jam/NBA column, you either missed the most obvious lyric or passed on it:

I know one day you'll have a beautiful life
I know you'll be a star
In somebody else's sky
Why, why, why can't it be
Can't it be mine

Sung by Joe Dumars, to Darko.
-- Martin Del Vecchio, Gloucester, Mass.

Hey there, Midas Touch Simmons: First the woeful Pats become your industry-standard NFL dynasty. Then the loveable loser Red Sox win the WS (now you can die in peace). Now the FREAKING CLIPPERS win a playoff series? Have you thought about advisory roles? Like, say, wealth management or real estate deals where you get paid to "bless" possible investments/deals? At this rate, I'm convinced that you could turn around Bush's presidency.
-- Dave Lederhos, Denver

I think I have found the male equivalent for the female longing to cuddle after sex, and their apparent empty feeling if they don't get the affection. It's the quick cut to the "Good Night" screen on the "Extra Innings" baseball package immediately following the last out. Couldn't they give us two minutes of postgame? Maybe even a commercial break and then some local commentary just to wind things down a little and show me you really care? Is it too much to ask?
-- Will, Berkeley, Calif.

Do you think Keith Hernandez was auditioning to replace Champ Kind as the sports reporter for the Channel 5 News Team in San Diego?
-- Kris, New York

Game 3 of the Clippers-Nuggets series -- midway through the first quarter, after the Nuggets had recovered from an early hole and gone on a big run, the play-by-play guy asks Collins, "Doug, in the playoffs, how often did you have to tell your team, 'If they fell behind early to just weather the first 8-9 minutes and regroup?' " The only thing that would have topped asking a coach with a career 15-23 playoff record such a question would be if he kept pestering Collins until he got an answer -- "Seriously, Doug, how many times did you have to tell your team to 'weather the storm and regroup'? All 38? 25 out of 38?"
-- Jeremy, Columbia, S.C.

SG: Now this is the stuff that doesn't happen on the West Coast. But you got me thinking -- I have been doing these mailbag columns for nine years now (dating back to my old Web site), and there have been an inordinate amount of men's room stories from sporting events. I even have a personal favorite that happened to me:

A few years ago, the Bug and I had roof-deck seats on the third-base side at Fenway and ended up hitting the men's room together. Because there aren't a ton of roof-deck seats, it's always pretty quiet up there in the concessions and the bathrooms ... so if you ever wanted to do something a little, um, risky, that's the place to do it. Anyway, we're using the urinals and Bug looks in the mirror and notices that, in one of the stalls behind us, there are two sets of legs, and let's just say that they're facing each other and one of the people was crouching. It's impossible to overstate how excited the Bug was about this -- he looked happier than a third base coach ready to congratulate someone who just hit a walkoff homer.

We both finish our business, and I want to go back to our seats, but Bug refuses to leave because he wants to see how cute the girl is. He won't be denied. So now we're just hanging out in the men's room pretending to wash our hands for a few minutes. Finally, the door to the stall opens ... and two of the ugliest, scummiest people on the planet walk out of there. You know how you feel when Carmela and Tony start making out on the "Sopranos"? Multiply that by 200,000. Even worse, the girl has one of those cutesy, "Uh-oh, looks like we were caught" looks on her face. We couldn't have fled out of there fast enough -- it was like we were leaving a crime scene.

So here's my question: Why hasn't this turned into its own Web site yet? Doesn't everyone have one bizarre bathroom story from a sporting event? Just in the last month, someone sent me cell phone photos of Danny Ainge peeing in a urinal and glancing over in horror right as the picture was taken, and someone else sent me a YouTube video of a drunk Cubs fan doing a Rick Dempsey-style, face-first slide through one of those long urinal troughs. Shouldn't we be putting this stuff in one place?

Q: I know you work for ESPN, but can you give your REAL thoughts on how your network has covered Barry Bonds' home-run record chase?
-- Dave P, Lowell, Mass.

SG: Of course not. But I will say this -- I'm much more interested in every Albert Pujols at-bat than every Barry Bonds at-bat. Bonds has turned into the Tom Cruise of sports; too much happened, the whole thing has gotten too strange, I can't take him seriously in any interview, and I just don't want to hear about him anymore. One of my goals in life is to make it through my entire career without ever writing a column about him. What's the point? At least Cruise gave us "Cocktail" and "Top Gun." What did Bonds ever do for us?

Q: The best part about the NBA playoffs: all the talent behind the bench. When the cameras zero in on the coaches, just look over their shoulders. I think this is why TiVo has slow motion and instant replay. Based on Round 2, I have to rank the talent:

1. Dallas (gotta love Texas women)
2. Phoenix (sun dresses and boob jobs -- does it get any better?)
3. Los Angeles (the games start way too late)
4. San Antonio (Tex-Mex ... surprisingly strong)
5. New Jersey
6. Miami (looks like Riley's parents are in the stands)
7. Cleveland
8. Detroit
--Chris White, Atlanta

SG: Glad you brought this up: If you made a list of "The Top 500 greatest things about HDTV," getting to clearly see everyone in the stands during Mavericks home games has to crack the top 10. When ESPN does the next "Full Circle" gimmick, I think ESPN Classic's feed should just be a camera that zooms around the stands looking for good-looking Dallas ladies. Would you rather watch that or "Cheap Seats?"

Q: A few buddies and I are heading to Vegas in about a month. We'll be there for three nights. Where should we stay? We're debating between The Flamingo, The Luxor, and The Tropicana, in that order. Any thoughts or suggestions?
-- Ryan, Arlington, Va.

SG: What are you guys, homeless? If you're looking for a cheap casino, stay at the Monte Carlo -- it's right on the Strip, the dealers are always friendly, there's a surprisingly good vibe there, and they hire their cocktail waitresses directly off the pages of Juggs Magazine. I think it's right around the same price as the three casinos you mentioned, with the added bonus that you might have water pressure in your bathroom and a bed cover that isn't carrying 15,000 different forms of DNA.

Another underrated place is the new Westin casino, right across from Bally's -- the rooms are nice and nobody ever gambles there, so you can play $5 blackjack and crap tables until you pass out. I had a phenomenal craps run there three months ago -- maybe my greatest since the magical Gallo-Simmons Foxwoods run in 1999 that received its own SportsCentury episode -- although it was a little tainted when everyone else at the table didn't applaud at the end. I mean, I carried that table for 40 minutes -- we were a good 10-15 minutes past the whole "Let's applaud this guy for a great effort" point and probably seeping into "I have to catch his eye, give him a nod and profusely thank him for what just happened" territory.

Actually, screw that, I'm not recommending the Westin. I still feel cheated over the whole thing. Stay at the Monte Carlo.

Q: The grabbing of Chris Kaman's testicles in an NBA playoff game is exactly the sort of sports new emergency that "More Cowbell" was created for. Where does this rank on your all-time list of genital trauma in sports?
-- John McNaught, London, Ontario

SG: Now THIS would be the greatest "Sports List" show of all-time -- I can almost see Summer Sanders standing there with her hands clasped, a big smile on her face as she belts out the words "genital trauma." But the all-time discussion really begins and ends with Carlton Fisk.

I'll set the scene: Spring training, St. Patrick's Day, 1974. Red Sox vs. the Cardinals. Fisk behind the plate. Someone fouls off a pitch right into Fisk's protective cup, which breaks in half and ruptures one of Fisk's testicles. The pain is so intense, Fisk passes out on the field. He ends up missing three months of the regular season and breaks the "ruptured testicle" line for disabled list explanations, which to my knowledge, has never been broached again.

(By the way, if you didn't hunch over and grimace at any point during that last paragraph, you're not a guy.)

Q: A little while back, a few of my friends had a little talk to decipher how many "poops" your book really is, and we came to this conclusion: It really depends on how long the poop lasts. To figure this out, we made a scale that all poops from this day forward will be judged upon. A poop is anything that lasts under three minutes or less. A doody is anything lasting 3-5 minutes, a crap is anything lasting 5-8 minutes, a dump is anything last 8-10, and a mega-dump is anything 10 and above. Using this scale, I think we will all be able to agree that your book is four mega-dumps, 18 dumps, 24 craps, 17 doodies, and 29 poops long. That settles it.
-- Aaron Fons, Danville, Ky.

SG: Yup ... these are my readers.

Bill Simmons is a columnist for Page 2 and ESPN The Magazine. His new book "Now I Can Die In Peace is available on Amazon.com and in bookstores everywhere.