Monday, October 11, 2004 Updated: March 12, 3:51 PM ET
By Bill Simmons
A week ago, I asked for a trade.
My bosses were confused. I mean, I have my own column, as well as my own creepy 3-D picture thingie. I never have to wake up before 11.
I can write about anything I want; if I hand in my 16th straight column on Boston sports, no one says a word. They're even thinking about giving me my own ESPN25 Gatorade flavor, fresh off the success of Stuart Scott's Booyah Breeze.
None of that stopped me from calling Neil, the guy who edits my column, which basically means he asks fact-checkers stuff like, "How is D'Annunzio's name from Caddyshack spelled?"
"Yo, I want out," I told him. "I'm not happy. I wanna write for a winner."
"What are you talking about?" he said. "We've won just about every award a magazine can win!"
Then he named them all. If he was trying to impress me, he failed. Anyway, I explained the real reason was that I didn't like the direction The Magazine was taking. When he pressed me for specifics, I couldn't give any. Instead, I shifted gears again. I said I didn't like the way The Magazine was treating me. When he asked for an example, I brought up the time Dan Le Batard's column ran before mine. I didn't like that. It was a slap in the face.
"But Dan filed earlier than you, so the page was ready to print, and & "
"I don't care!" I screamed. "You didn't even have the courtesy to tell me first! I had to find out from my dad! My dad!!"
He asked for other examples. I reminded him that I'd always wanted more words, like 2,500 of them. He reminded me a page could hold only 800. Clearly we were at a stalemate.
"I don't get you," he said. "You're talking gibberish. What is this really about?"
So I told him. Last month, Vince Carter asked for a trade. When I heard the news I figured he was just tired of trying to decipher the exchange rate. Nope. He said he wanted to play for a winner, which was odd because, as the franchise player for the Raptors, it was his responsibility to make them win. It was like Tom Cruise demanding to be traded off the set of his own movie.
But then I began to understand the genius behind VC's request. He's been a disappointment since the 2001 playoffs. His knees continue to bother him. He can't guard anyone. He's softer than an A-6 in Vegas—knock him down once and he's settling for 22-footers the rest of the night. He's getting paid like a superstar without delivering superstar numbers. Naturally, it has to be someone else's fault. Bad coaches, inferior teammates, cold weather, ugly uniforms & something. Just don't blame Vince.
"Look, it's the thing to do," I said. "T-Mac did it. A-Rod did it. Now Baron Davis and VC want to do it & "
"But you're a measly columnist," Neil argued.
"Yeah, but if I went to another magazine, maybe more people would read my column."
"Maybe more people would read your column if it were fun to read."
Deep down, I knew he was right. But I couldn't fold. I needed a change of scenery. It worked for Spree.
It worked for Sheed. Heck, it even worked for Mark Madsen. At a new magazine, I'd be unstoppable.
I demanded to be moved to Us Weekly. Hot title. Tons of pictures. Female editors who'd say things to me like, "I love the way that shirt makes your eyes look." I could moonlight in the Fashion Police section and crack one-liners about Kirsten Dunst's outfits. I ask you: would you rather read a magazine that has a cover story about Randy Moss' hands or Lindsay Lohan's breasts? I thought so.
I was even willing to help with the details. I was thinking, me and two interns for the writers of "Stars— They're Just Like Us" and cash.
"That's fine," my editor said. "Except we're not trading you. You've got a deal. Suck it up and do your job."
And that's where the discussion ended. See, in real life "suck it up and do your job" trumps all else. In sports, though, if you stomp your feet and make everyone around you wish you were somewhere else, you often end up somewhere else. In a perfect world, Vince would be swapped for Davis—one bad situation for another. How 'bout them apples?
But since the world isn't perfect, I see VC on his way to Minnesota, playing Eubanks to KG's Leno. While getting paid like Leno, of course.
"Am I getting a column this week or not?" Neil asked.
"Yeah. I guess."
"Good. And just so you know, you're running after Le Batard again."
See, that would never happen at Us Weekly.