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Wednesday, October 22, 2008
THE SPORTS GUY

By Bill Simmons


Reason No. 940: James Posey's man-hugs Before every Celtics game last season, Posey hugged each starter for a few seconds and whispered words of motivation into his ear. You could describe it as corny, homoerotic or genuinely uncomfortable— especially if you were sitting within the first few rows—but after a few games, Posey's goofy routine symbolized the closeness of the team. Then the Hornets bought those hugs (as well as his clutch D) for $25M. Now he's hugging Chris Paul and Tyson Chandler, and for the first time in my life I'm watching other men hug and feeling wistful about it. (The NBA: Where questioning your sexuality happens!) THE NBA: WHERE QUESTIONING YOUR OWN SEXUALITY HAPPENS!

Reason No. 941: The Harvey Game A.k.a. "Game 6 of the 2008 ALCS," this game went unseen for the first 20 minutes because of a TBS glitch. Although it was unfathomably frustrating for fans everywhere, now that it's over, you have to admit it's a little funny to think of every Boston bar packed with irate Sox fans who were stuck watching The Steve Harvey Show. I think it's going to get 0.5% funnier each month.

Reason No. 942: My old notebooks I write down ideas for my column all the time—in notebooks, on cocktail napkins and $100 bills, you name it. Recently I found a notebook from last spring that included a skeleton for a Why I Love Sports column that never got written. There were 25 potential candidates jotted down, including (and this was exactly how I wrote it) "The Inevitable Brett Favre Comeback." Tee hee.

Reason No. 943: "The thought of President Hillary Clinton throwing out first pitches for World Series games" That was in the notebook too. I have to say, I feel a little cheated.

Reason No. 944: Tiki Barber No pregame guy has mastered the grand setup to the most obvious point possible quite like Tiki has: "And I'll tell you another thing, here's the point that everyone is missing … if Tony Romo is out for a few games, that's a big blow to the Cowboys." NBC should follow every one of his points with the Colonel from Boogie Nights hissing, "Oh, you think so, Doctor?"

Reason No. 945: The ultimate David Stern Face During Game 3 of the 1994 Knicks-Bulls series—best remembered for Scottie Pippen's benching himself and Toni Kukoc's draining the winning shot—there was a brawl in which the Knicks' Derek Harper and the Bulls' Jo Jo English tumbled into the first row of courtside seats. By sheer coincidence, the Commish happened to be sitting a few rows behind the petrified courtsiders who were now getting squashed by the likes of Anthony Mason and Patrick Ewing. The camera caught him watching the melee with an I'm-mortified-and-I-hope-this-doesn't-escalate-or-I'm-either-going-to-have-English-killed-or-do-it-myself look. There has never been a better Stern Face. Ever. (Number of career games played by English after this fight: 10. You don't mess with The Sternado.)

Reason No. 946: Bernard Hopkins The most maddening champ of his era. Nobody was tougher to knock down, nobody fought more lousy pay-per-views and nobody cost the gambling public more money because it was always more fun to bet against him. Before last week, his boxing tombstone would have read, "Great but ultimately forgettable." Then the 43-year-old unleashed a memorable boxing clinic against Kelly Pavlik, cruising to a decision as the 4-1 underdog and then glaring at every writer sitting ringside, one by one, for underestimating him again. Now his tombstone will read: "Great." Although I still feel he gave me only $300 worth of enjoyment out of $750 worth of PPV fights. Whatever.

Reason No. 947: The thought of 365-pound CC Sabathia laboring through a 98° game at Yankee Stadium in 2012 with four more years and $105 million remaining on his contract Please, God. I don't ask for much.

Reason No. 948: Waiver-wire shrimps Given that I'm one of the five most accomplished minds in fantasy history, I have always drafted well enough to avoid being that guy with the crummy team who gets first dibs on top free agents every week. That changed recently in my West Coast league when I lost Tom Brady in eight minutes. Now I'm like a shrimp that bottom-feeds on the ocean floor. Each week, I snatch the "hot waiver guy du jour," hoping to rejuvenate my pathetic team.

And you know what? It's been strangely enjoyable. I spend hours online scanning the best newbies as if I were perusing a buffet table. "Sure, I'd love to try Steve Breaston! Absolutely, I've never had Kyle Orton! Hey, it's three weeks of Dom Rhodes as a starter for Indy—I think I'll fit him on my plate!" It's been the only silver lining to Brady's injury for me. And when I say "only," that's an understatement. EDDIE HAS AGED EXTREMELY WELL THANKS TO THE ISIAH THOMAS ERA.

Reason No. 949: Gary Bettman I thought about buying the NHL Package on DirecTV last week so I could have breakup sex with the Bruins for a year. The cost? $169! Really, Gary? That's how you treat your "mostly blue-collar fans who can't afford good seats for games anymore," the ones you've already insulted 300 times over? I continue to think Stern planted Bettman to sabotage the NHL, and no one can tell me different.

Reason No. 950: Rumeal Smith I have a soft spot for Eddie, the movie in which Whoopi Goldberg gets pulled out of the stands to coach the Knicks. It has aged extremely well thanks to the Isiah Thomas Era, which made an improbable premise seem probable. Anyway, there's a scene in which disgruntled Knicks star Stacy Patton rediscovers his love for hoops in a playground game against a nameless Harlem streetballer played by Gary Payton. In the closing credits, GP is listed as "Rumeal Smith." How did they arrive at that particular name? Why didn't they just go with "Gary Clayton" or "Gary Payson"? These are the things you think about when you're watching Eddie for the 49th time.

Reason No. 951: The post-title buying spree I ran out of space in my dresser recently and pulled everything out for the depressing what's-staying-and-what's-going ritual, which seems to happen every four years (kind of like the Olympics). My dresser has five drawers and holds a ton of stuff; it's bigger than Nate Robinson. I probably hadn't opened the bottom drawer in two years, so as I was pulling stuff out, suddenly there they were—folded on top of one another, smelling a little mothbally—eight different T-shirts related to the 2004 Red Sox title.

Why did I buy eight when two would have sufficed? When you haven't won in a while, you briefly lose your mind. I took some time to figure out everything I bought after that 2004 title, and here's the final tally: eight T-shirts, one sweatshirt, one World Series jersey, three DVDs (including the 12-disc boxed set), a Topps cards set, one leather-bound SI, four framed pictures, two bobbleheads, three hats and two game-used World Series baseballs. (Missing: The Fever Pitch DVD, sent to me by a production company, that I tossed in the garbage.) Now that, my friends, is a textbook post-title buying spree.

Just another reason why I love sports.

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