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Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Have a slice of cheesecake ... and two helpings of Isiah

By Bill Simmons
Page 2

If you missed Part 1 of the Cheesecake Mailbag, click here. As always, these are actual e-mails from actual readers.

Q: Does the possibility of Isiah Thomas going to work for the Clippers make you want to renew your season tickets more or less? I think it should be more.
-- Zach, Los Angeles

Isiah Thomas
Isiah Thomas working in the Clip Joint? Don't pretend you'd turn away from this trainwreck.

SG: Are you kidding? More! More! A thousand times more! If I had made a sports wish list for "Clipper-related things that would be an unequivocal godsend for my column" before news broke of the Isiah talks last week, the top 10 would have looked like this:

1. Clippers hire me as GM but keep Mike Dunleavy as coach.
It would be phenomenally awkward and fantastic. I'd send him sarcastic notes like, "Mike, I don't think you've done a good enough job of ruining Eric Gordon's confidence this week, can you step that up a little?" and "Mike, Baron Davis seems happy to me this week. Could you yank his minutes around so he starts sulking again?" He'd send me sarcastic notes like, "Thanks again for weighing in, it's always good to get perspective from someone who never played or coached in this league." Eventually, he'd quit or we'd fight to the death.

2. Clippers hire me as GM but allow me to choose my own coach.
And obviously, I'd hire Coach Finstock away from the Beacon Town Beavers. Everything else would be cream cheese.

3. Clippers name Zach Randolph player-coach.
He's my No. 1 pick for the "Which player would make the most ridiculous player-coach?" game, narrowly edging ...

4. Clippers name Ricky Davis player-coach.
"Guys, I'd like to apologize for last night. Passing out those victory pot brownies without telling you what was in them was definitely a mistake ..."

5. Clippers bring in Isiah to run the team with Mike Dunleavy.
I would have stuck this higher, but it's so improbable that even the first four possibilities seem more realistic. From what I'm hearing, Clippers employees have been trying to sell owner Donald Sterling on the fact that Dunleavy's return next season -- if Sterling doesn't fire him -- will result in an estimated $8-10 million in lost revenue from nonrenewals (suites, club seats, courtside seats and season-ticket holders). Eight to 10 million! That's how unpopular Dunleavy is with the paying customers ... and the solution would be to bring in the worst general manager of this decade to help him out? Again, sign me up. Not only am I renewing my tickets, I'm doing it with my fingers crossed and double crossed. Who knew my third book would write itself? We had "Breaks of the Game," we had "Season on the Brink," and now, "A Season in Hoops Hell."

6. Clippers fire Dunleavy, hire Isiah as coach-GM.
Not quite as funny as the Dunleavy-Isiah tandem, although equally ridiculous. You know what's funny? The Clips fans wouldn't even revolt. They would EXPECT something like this.

7. ABC names Chris Kaman as this season's "The Bachelor."
"Coming up, it's the most dramatic rose ceremony yet as Chris forgets how many roses he has left and inadvertently knocks one of the girls over ..."

8. Clips bump Dunleavy upstairs, hire Hubie Brown as coach.
OK, I'm Donald Sterling right now. I need a name coach who will get my fans excited again. I need a TEACHER who can teach my young players, as well as someone who can INSPIRE my older veterans ...

9. Clippers owner Donald Sterling starts showing up in pajamas for games like he's Hugh Hefner.
Don't rule this out. That reminds me, if you've ever wondered whether Sterling was always like this, a 1982 Sports Illustrated piece about eccentric NBA owners includes the following Sterling tidbits: He became so excited during an opening night victory that he "he unbuttoned his shirt to the navel while the game was in progress" ... he was "fined $10,000 by the league for suggesting the Clippers might purposely lose games in order to get the first pick in the draft" ... he owed hundreds of thousands to a variety of creditors, including one Oakland hotel who "refused to accommodate the Clippers at the end of last season for not paying their bills" ... and he hired an assistant general manager named "Patricia Simmons, a former model and occasional Sterling companion, who has what one San Diego newspaper described as 'no known basketball background.'" Ladies and gentlemen, the Donald Sterling Era!

10. Clips fire Dunleavy, replace him with Rick Pitino.
I hated to give Chris Kaman up, but when you have a chance to acquire two proven veterans such as Beno Udrih and Kenny Thomas, and you're only giving up two future No. 1s in the deal, you have to do it. Wait, why am I rooting for this? He'd destroy the Clips in two weeks. And it wouldn't even be fun. Let's switch No. 10 to ...

10. Clips hire Isiah as player-coach.
And GM. And director of scouting. And CEO. And COO. And head of cheerleaders. Is there a way Isiah can hold every job in the organization? Again, I am keeping my fingers crossed. I like the Clippers' spirit here: "We are an absolute joke to everyone, so instead of fixing this, let's push the comedy boundaries so far that our fans won't even know how to react." Done and done.

Q: Wanted to make sure you saw this NPR story about what life is now like in Zihuatanejo, Mexico (the scene of the world's most famous platonic man-hug). Apparently, it is ground zero for the Mexican drug war. A sampling: "A few months ago, the heads of eight soldiers and a former police chief were found in plastic bags just north of Zihuatanejo." Between Andy's boat-rehabbing ability and Red's reputation as a "man who can get things," don't we know who sits atop this new narco-syndicate?
-- Dan L., Brooklyn, N.Y.

Shawshank Redemption
On second thought, we don't need a "Shawshank" sequel.

SG: Good Lord, what if you just described the plot for "Shawshank 2: A Place With No Name?" Since Shawshank ended with Andy and Red getting reunited in the late-'60s, you're asking for a slight leap of faith in the "fudging the years" department. But what if it was set in the mid-'80s and Robbins and Freeman signed on? What if it was more of a retro-'80s action movie (think "Miami Vice" or "Scarface") and Michael Mann signed on to direct? What if a bitter Andy (still haunted by his "Shawshank" experience) edged to the dark side and decided to become a drug kingpin, with Red begrudgingly joining him but narrating things like, "When Andy started wearing white linen suits and slicking his hair back, I guess you could say I was concerned ..." and "There was a look in Andy's eye that I had never seen before. He had gone over the edge. This wasn't a case of missing my friend. My friend was gone. And he wasn't coming back." My question is this: Let's say everything I just wrote was the plot for "Shawshank 2." Would you see it in the theater? I feel like I would.

(Note: With my luck, they'd make the sequel ... but with Danny Glover as Red and Dane Cook as Andy. Let's just move on.)

Q: Your theory on young coaches coming to Holy Cross as a stepping stone has been put in place at Binghamton University (Tony Kornheiser's alma mater). We moved to D-I in 2001 and are known as an academic university. After a few years, we moved to your stepping-stone theory and hired a Georgetown assistant, Kevin Broadus. This is his first head coaching job and he has been accepting transfers from bigger schools who have had off-court problems. We are now coming under fire by the New York Times. My friends and I don't care; we are just happy to be in the tourney. Would you care if your university sold out its academic standards to have a winning basketball team?
-- David, New York

TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE
In Part 1, I wrote about the "Speed" Jump list of movie scenes that made you scream "There's no way in hell!!!" even as they were happening. A few suggestions from the readers:

How could you forget about Ed Norton dunking in "American History X?" How???
-- Alex, Markham, Ontario

Harrison Ford surviving the 200-foot leap off the dam into raging waters in "The Fugitive," and the running back at the beginning of "The Last Boy Scout" who shoots the safety during a breakaway run.
-- Kyle, Calgary

I challenge anyone to find me something worse than the hockey scene in "Sudden Death." Jean Claude van Damme manages to replace the injured starting goalie for the Pittsburgh Penguins while fleeing terrorists in the Stanley Cup finals and stops a breakaway to save the game!
-- Lonnie, Baltimore

How can you not include "Iron Eagle?" These teenagers manage to STEAL two F-16s, get them refueled and then fly into enemy territory and shoot down several enemy planes while rescuing a hostage.
-- Nate, Kansas City

It's not just that Woody Harrelson dunks in "White Man Can't Jump." It's that he's so high up right before the flush that his elbows are even with the rim, a la Tommy Chambers.
-- Wes, Casco, Maine

No way in hell Dean Youngblood beats Carl Racki in a fight. None.
-- Eric H. Brooklyn, N.Y.

SG: My informal poll of six buddies from college: Six say "Hell yes!" and zero say "no." We don't care about the difference between Holy Cross being ranked in the Top 20, Top 25, Top 40 or Top 50. It's a good school. Ultimately, a ranking doesn't matter. But you know what matters? The graduates who want to maintain a connection with their school as they get older. That's why sports matter. They keep you caring and feeling like you're still part of something. If I felt a connection beyond "I went there a long time ago," I would send them money every year. Instead, I'm agitated and perplexed about the school's current game plan with athletics, and even a little angry about its willingness to turn its back on a century of sports history, which makes me NOT want to give money. And I know there are many more out there like me. So, if that's true, and the school is losing out on our money, isn't that a bad business decision? You can't tell me that a school charging $50,000 a year for tuition isn't a business. Hell, I'd even give money if we embraced academics even more and moved to the NESCAC. But staying in Sports No-Man's-Land? No way.

Q: In Part 1, how did you leave Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer off your list of top five Dream Celebrity Guest Messages for your voice mail? "Leave a message NOW! WE'RE RUNNING OUT OF TIME! DO IT! WHERE IS YOUR MESSAGE???"
-- Aaron L., Valparaiso, Ind.

SG: (Shaking my head.)

Q: Here's a new word for Webster's: "D'Inflation - (n). The inflation of a player's per-game statistics as caused by the particular style or system of the coach they are playing for. See: D'Antoni, Mike." Example: "Hasheem Thabeet is pretty high on people's draft boards, but Jim Calhoun's defensive system has caused D'Inflation of his block numbers." Thabeet is no Dikembe. Thoughts?
-- Mike S., Alexandria, Va.

SG: Nice work. I like it. Could even work in non-sports forms: "My friend Tommy hooked up with more good-looking women than the rest of my friends combined, although his four years at the University of Arizona caused a D'Inflation in his numbers."

Q: So a few of us were talking at lunch today and one of my co-workers was telling a story about a male friend who got engaged to someone completely out of his league but phrased it as, "He Marko Jaric'd this girl." I loved the phrase. Why can't it be used forever to describe this type of situation?
-- Jimmy, Emmaus, Pa.

SG: The readers are on fire! Somebody alert the editors of urbandictionary.com that the world is being altered. My favorite movie example: Mikey getting Heather Graham in "Swingers." Favorite TV example: The marriage in every ABC sitcom. Favorite celebrity example: Lyle Lovett getting Julia Roberts in her prime. Favorite multi-platform example: Turtle landing Meadow Soprano on "Entourage" and in real life. We all have a friend who Marko Jaric'd his girlfriend or wife, but I think there are three levels to the phenomenon:

Level 1: Just a pure Marko Jaric-ing. Your buddy can't believe he pulled it off, neither can anyone else, and nobody is even jealous of him.

Level 2: He Marko Jaric'd her to the degree that, when he's not around, his other friends talk about it incessantly and come up with rationalizations like, "Do you think her last boyfriend mistreated her in some way and she was ready for anyone?" or "Is he built like a camera tripod and he never told us?" There's no answer. Just conjecture.

Level 3: The best of the levels, since this involves the buddies being so flummoxed by the relationship that they tease the girl to her face about being Marko Jaric'd -- all good-natured stuff like, "Thanks for your ongoing charity with our friend" and "Do you realize you helped our friend overachieve for the first time in his life?" FYI: This can get dangerous if the wrong person is doing it after too many drinks. Regardless, I'm just glad Jaric finally made his mark in something. He was due.

Q: How could you not mention the two Coreys in your "Most Famous Bromances" answer (in the March 6 mailbag)? They even made a TV show about them! Also, what category do they fall under? Biggest train wreck? Fame to lame? Longest fall from grace? Unintentional comedy? They have it all.
-- Jon, LaCrosse, Wis.

SG: And that wasn't even the worst one I missed! I missed Bird and Magic as well as Crockett and Tubbs. How did I miss Crockett and Tubbs? I'm the same guy who unwittingly broke down their bromance-that-didn't-have-a-name-yet Dr. Jack-style against Diggler and Rothchild for a 2001 mailbag. In fact, the readers sent along so many quality bromances that I'm forced to run the first-ever "sequel answer to a previous mailbag question." Here's Part 2 of the "Original Bromances" answer:

Chuck Noland and Wilson (most one-sided); Olbermann and Patrick (snarkiest); Doc and Darryl (most coked up); Corleone and Hagen (stepbrothers); Butch and Sundance (cowboys); Crockett and Tubbs ('80s cops); Starsky and Hutch ('70s cops); Muraco and Fuji (unintentional comedy); Wayne and Garth (most catch phrases); Simmons and JackO (long distance); Whitey Ford and Mickey Mantle (drunkest); Turk and J.D. (glibbest); Avon and Stringer (most explosive); Bird and Magic (most mutual respect); Hall and Oates (best blend of music and unintentional comedy); Riggins and Street, Dawson and Pacey (biggest backstab); Hans and Frans (most pumped up); Hammond and Cates (funniest racial edge); Taggart and Rosewood (best short dose); the two Coreys (biggest train wreck); JFK and RFK (brother bromance); Milli Vanilli (lip-synching); MJ and Oakley (best Vegas); Ferris and Cameron, Michaels and Jannetty, Michaels and Ridgeley (most lopsided); Cheech and Chong, Harold and Kumar, Jay and Silent Bob (most stoned); Forrest and Bubba (lowest IQ); Stern and Bennett (most nefarious); Brandon and Dylan (best '90s high school); Tony Montana and Manny, Maverick and Goose (most tragic); Atwood and Cohen (best 2000s high school); Tommy Lee and Vince Neil (most makeup); Bush and Cheney (worst approval rating); Solo and Chewbacca (intergalactic); Shaggy and Scooby (interspecies); Double Down Trent and Mikey (most likable); Woodward and Bernstein (most journalistic); Utah and Bohdi (most action-packed); Hogan and Savage (most jealous); Sosa and McGwire (most enhanced and awkward); Ace and Gary, Bert and Ernie, Batman and Robin (most ambiguous). Thank you and please drive through.

Q: Not only did we steal Seattle's team, we stole their mascot, too. Get over it.
-- Jason, Oklahoma City, Okla.

SG: (I'm making the face that Rocky made after Drago said, "If he dies, he dies." And yes, I'm cradling the dead Sonics body right now.)

Q: Did you see the Heat-Pistons game on Sunday, March 22? I know the announcers were carrying their orders from the league office to praise Wade at every opportunity, but in the last minute, Wade fell down on a touch foul after getting touched on his foot (got the whistle), then blocked two shots where he mauled the Pistons with way more contact (no calls). Are the refs warming up for the playoffs or what?
-- Sam G., Ann Arbor, Mich.

SG: Here's what ticks me off: As the Miami Salvatores were whistling their way to the 2006 title, you might remember me writing a column that started, "Forget about who's winning the championship. I'm starting to feel like the future of the NBA is at stake." I warned everyone that a Miami victory meant we could "look forward to another decade of perimeter scorers going 11-for-32 in big games, teammates standing around while stars dribble at the top of the key waiting to challenge two defenders at once, and refs deciding every big game (like in Game 5) by how they interpret contact when the same guy is recklessly driving to the basket over and over again." I also wrote, "seeing an individual triumph over a team YET AGAIN would erase every positive outcome from the 2005-06 season. Basically, the team with LeBron or Wade will win the next 10-12 titles, and it will come down to which guy made more 20-footers with two guys on him and which guy got the most cheap calls from the most spineless referees. That's not basketball, it's a star system."

Flash-forward to 2009: With the post-Donaghy hangover gone, we're back to that star system again. Kobe, LeBron and Wade are officiated differently than everyone else. And you know what else? They know it. Watch LeBron at the end of games now -- he barrels toward the basket, bounces off guys and knows he'll get a call. Here's the shame of it: LeBron, Wade and Kobe are playing at the highest level of any three stars since Jordan, Barkley and Hakeem in 1993. They would be great with or without the help. I don't blame them -- they play hard every night and do whatever it takes to win. But if you don't think we're headed for a Kobe-LeBron Finals, you're insane. As your gambling accountant, I suggest you investigate those 6-to-5 odds on a Cavs-Lakers Finals. And no, this isn't a reverse jinx. Just watch what happens.

Q: I'd like to prove you wrong about "I've been in the Sports Guy's mailbag" being dubbed the worst pick-up line in modern history. Can you please get me in your next mailbag, and I will make this a personal challenge every time I go out? Yes, I understand that being a female will automatically put the odds in my favor. This might give me a valid excuse for being easy.
-- Roxanne, San Antonio

SG: What are males 18-40 more excited about in San Antonio: The Spurs gunning for a fifth title, or Roxanne Unleashed? I'd say it's a toss-up.

Q: If I had to pick a worst sports pick-up line about someone on the ESPN staff, it would be: "John Hollinger's playoff odds projects you and me in the finals."
-- Matt, Durham, N.C.

SG: Come on, there's no way that beats, "Hi, I'm the Talented Mr. Roto." But you got me thinking, what would be some other terrible ESPN-related pickup lines? Here's my top 10:

  1. "Jim Rome isn't the only one who's burning right now."

  2. "How'd you like to make my Mount Rushmore of hook-ups?"

  3. "Who's up for a Daily Quickie?"

  4. "I'm like Mike and Mike -- I can go for four straight hours."

  5. "How'd you like to stump the Schwab?"

  6. "Pardon the interruption ... around my horn!"

  7. (Taken out by my editors.)

  8. "How'd you like to sit on my Budweiser Hot Seat?"

  9. "When I saw you, I thought we ... COULD ... GO ... ALL ... THE ... WAY!"

  10. "Who's now? You and me, that's who."

Q: Just got done reading Part 1 of your mailbag. While your idea of auctioning off Vegas bets sounds like a great idea, do you realize that you just suggested the same scenario that ruined the mortgage industry and the entire economy?
-- Tom, Pittsburgh

SG: Time for the greatest three-word comeback of all-time when you don't have a comeback ... yeah, but still!

Q: Should Kobe win the MVP for spending the summer turning Lebron into the best player in the NBA?
-- Michael, Inglewood, Calif.

SG: Definitely add it to his résumé. The biggest moment of the 2008-09 season happened three months before the season: The time LeBron overheard Kobe saying something to the effect of, "I can't, I'm working out tomorrow at 6 a.m.," followed by LeBron going, "Hmmmmmm ... if he's working that hard all the time, maybe I should start working that hard?" And the rest was history. A reader sent me this fascinating Chamberlain-Russell interview recently and Russell makes an awesome point: You can't discount the luxury of having a rival continually driving you to get better and better.

Take Michael Jordan, the greatest player of all time. Jordan didn't retire from the NBA in 1993 because he was burned out; it happened because he had spent three solid years eviscerating everyone in his path (not just those three straight titles, but when he emerged as the undisputed alpha dog on the Dream Team), came up for air, looked around, couldn't find an intriguing challenge that he hadn't already conquered and decided, "Screw it, I want to play baseball." If you took the 2001 Lakers (Shaqobe at its apex, and, yes, I just lumped them together like Bennifer or Brangelina), put them in a time machine and sent them back eight years to the summer of '93, does Jordan leave the NBA to play baseball? No way! He would have looked like a coward. If anything, he would have worked twice as hard that summer just to beat those guys. They would have pushed him to an even higher level. And he was already the greatest.

But that's what happened with Kobe, LeBron and Wade -- starting with the 2008 Olympics, as soon as it became patently clear they were the three best basketball players alive in some order, it's been ON ever since. Did you see how LeBron responded to Wade's post-All Star Break scoring explosion? You don't think Bron watches "SportsCenter" and files away those, "Just wait until what I do tomorrow" vows every time one of the anchors is raving about Wade's latest 40-10 performance? You don't think Kobe circled "MIAMI" and "CLEVELAND" on his 2008-09 calendar? Kobe's work ethic last summer, by all accounts, pushed his peers to a higher place. And since it has created the best 1-2-3 MVP race in 16 years -- since the remarkable Jordan-Barkley-Hakeem season in 1993 -- I say that, yes, he should get credit for this.

(FYI: The last two paragraphs hinged on the premise that Jordan was NOT secretly suspended for 18 months for gambling, and that his baseball "sabbatical" WAS legitimate. Personally, I have switched my opinion on this subject more times than anything other than "Does Selma Hayek have implants?" "Does Steve Martin wear a toupee?" "Did I like the ending of Cast Away?" and "Was the 1985 NBA draft lottery fixed?" So I am a bad person to ask. Hold on, we're not done with Jordan.)

Q: After reading your Dorkapooloza column and Hollinger's PER column about LeBron and MJ, I truly feel that no one is counting for the defense that MJ faced compared to what Lebron faces now. MJ's heyday was during an era when the hand-check was legal -- otherwise he would have completely destroyed the league. What do you think?
-- Nate, New York

SG: I disagree ... he would have completely and totally destroyed the league. You left out the other factor: Back in Jordan's day, teams could cream him every time he drove to the basket without any real repercussions. Remember the secret "Jordan Rules" that Detroit had? It was actually one rule, and here was the rule: Hammer his butt as hard as you can over giving up a dunk or layup. Riley's Knicks teams took it a step further and physically assaulted him with 2-by-4s and chainsaws, or maybe it just seemed like that. You can't do that stuff now. It's a little like how everyone's offensive stats went up in baseball -- everyone thinks it was PEDs, and to a large point it was, but they also changed the basebrawl rules enough that pitchers couldn't protect the plate anymore. Anyone could dig in on them, and if you were wearing arm guards and leg guards, even better. In baseball, hitters are now allowed to dig in. In basketball, players can now drive to the basket and not worry about getting decked.

Back to Nate's point: Hollinger's column was interesting, but I don't think a statistical comparison between 1988 Jordan and 2009 LeBron works because of the changes in hand-check rules and flagrant fouls. And don't give me the "guys deal with zone now" crap -- watch Bird and Magic in the '80s, they played a free-safety zone against everyone and it never got called. If pre-baseball Jordan played now, they would have to change the rules to make it more even -- like how they changed the foul lane to reduce George Mikan's impact or how they changed offensive goaltending rules and widened the paint to slow down Wilt. I really believe that. If you need a "statistical" way to tout LeBron's incredible season, go with the fact that he has an excellent chance to become the first player since they started keeping track of blocks and steals in 1973 to finish in the top three in scoring AND lead his team in total points, assists, steals, blocks and rebounds AND win more than 60 games. Doesn't that do a better job of saying, "We have never seen a season quite like this one before?"

Q: I'm a 5-foot-8, 260-pound bald guy with acne. If I began pitching professionally and made the major leagues, what would be my chances of getting with Alyssa Milano?
-- Nick, Boise, Idaho

SG: Even odds. (Just kidding.) Three-to-two. (I kid, I kid!) Five-to-one. (Jokes! Just jokes!) Ten-to-one. (OK, now that number is getting a little too close to home ...)

Q: After listening to your most recent appearance on Adam Carolla's podcast [Bill's note: the one where we talked about how anyone who is described by his first name twice in a row is a hidden code that the guy is an a------], I came across the following article on Charles Barkley's recent slam on Cleveland. In the article, Boobie Gibson says: "We've just got to continue to play the way we've played all year and understand that Charles is going to be Charles." I think you guys are on to something with this theory. Should there be a Web site devoted to instances where the saying is used? That way, we'll know who the real a------- are.
-- Dave, Philadelphia

SG: This gets my vote for "Best Idea For a Blog." I just hope I can make the cut some day. Next time ESPN.com editor-in-chief Rob King gives an online interview, I am keeping my fingers crossed for this exchange:

Q: Every March, I fill out my bracket, I get Gus Johnson, I get to watch 65 teams play for the championship, there are a few good games and a few lousy ones, there is one off-court controversy, there are a couple studs who will be lottery picks, someone who doesn't like basketball wins my office pool, and I get to root against Duke. Do you think March Madness is the Groundhog Day of sporting events?
-- Kevin, Dallas

SG: Absolutely. I think it has replaced spring training and Opening Day in that respect. Keeping that Groundhog Day theme going, isn't it amazing the NCAA gives away millions by not selling courtside tickets and by chewing up the first five or six rows on each side of midcourt with press seating? Hey, here's an idea -- stick the press in the balcony, sell those seats, then let the players that you're ripping off every spring split the money. God forbid they made any cash for their troubles. Plus, can you imagine how much courtside seats would fetch for March Madness games with heavy hitters from Duke, Carolina, UCLA and everywhere jumping at the chance to look cool?

FROM PRESS ROW
You are not totally wrong, Bill. In general, newspapers and media members are guilty of getting too comfortable with their lot while the world was changing. We certainly know in Cleveland -- to help pay for Dan Gilbert's $90 million payroll, the beat writers have the worst media seats in the NBA, up in the second deck. Do I miss staring at Paul Silas' backside for an entire game -- for which we nicknamed him "The Garage" -- and getting LeBron's powder all over my computer? Or the time when Jerome James threw a ball at me in Seattle, clocking me in the side of the head and drawing a technical (the Cavs missed the free throw)? Actually, no.

But certainly the fans lose some connection. I cannot quantify it, but the readers who could never afford to sit that close (like almost all of them) get a little disconnected. I can't write about overhearing coversations about the players' off-court exploits, or at least I couldn't write about it for long. But I can describe nuances in the game for many. Your criticism of newspapers is well founded, but their link to the fans is still vital and if you don't believe me, ask Mark Cuban.
-- Brian Windhorst

The bigger question: What's the point of having reporters or columnists sit courtside when 97 percent of them don't use that access for their stories? Most of the savvier teams (the Lakers, Celtics, Cavs and others) already came to that realization and moved press sections to the corners or balconies. With very rare exceptions, that phenomenal access rarely translates to the following things: Overheard conversations on the court; overheard strategies in the team huddle; funny tidbits from the game that I couldn't get from watching on TV; or anything else of that ilk. Given the ridiculous demands of newspaper deadlines, writers often spend the entire second half working on their stories. Check press row in the last few minutes of a game. No one is watching the game. WHY ARE YOU THERE THEN? Jason Quick (The Oregonian) and Brian Windhorst (Cleveland Plain Dealer) are two examples of thoughtful beat writers who use their access as a strength -- not just plum courtside seating, but locker room access for overheard conversations, mood reads or even armchair psychology -- and really, that's why I have both of them bookmarked. Bloggers might have advantages in the immediacy and candidness departments. But there are too few Quicks and Windhorsts and too many Everyone Elses. That's reason No. 485 why newspapers are struggling so badly right now; their writers squandered unbelievable access to sporting events to the degree that readers gravitated toward the opinions of columnists and bloggers writing from their living rooms.

(Note: I asked Windhorst for his take and he graciously responded. You can read his sidebar on the right.)

Q: I just told a friend the news that Kate Winslet is no longer going to be naked in movies. This prompted us to realize Winslet's breasts were the first that both of us had seen. We also realized this was true for tons of guys born in the mid- to late-'80s (making them 12 or younger when they saw "Titanic"). She has to hold the record for the actress claimed as "the first one" by the most guys. What lucky movie star holds the title for you?
-- Sumter, Pittsburgh

SG: You mean, who took my breast virginity? That would be Tommy Hanrahan's ex-wife in "Slap Shot." (And it's not like she was topless for two seconds, or even 10. She was topless for an entire scene. I was 7. I think they had to wheel me out of the theater on a gurney.) But you got me thinking: Who took the breast virginity (breastirginity?) of various generations of boys? Has to be nude scenes from either popular PG movies, or rated-R movies that became so famous that EVERYONE saw them. Since it's no fun unless you name it, I'm calling this the Apollonia Corleone All-Stars after Michael's Italian wife in "The Godfather" (a movie that, again, EVERYONE saw). Other members of the Apollonia Corleone All-Stars: Hanrahan's ex-wife; the girls that Bluto was eyeing from the ladder ("Animal House"); Lacey Underall ("Caddyshack"); the girl who came out of the bathtub in Room 217 and turned into an old woman ("The Shining"); the faceless/topless girl in "Airplane"; Phoebe Cates ("Fast Times At Ridgemont High"); Jamie Lee Curtis ("Trading Places"); Linda Hamilton ("The Terminator"), Apollonia ("Purple Rain"); Terry from "Just One of the Guys" (might win the "number that's way higher than you think" award since it was a PG-13 cable movie in the mid-'80s); Heather Graham ("Boogie Nights"); Winslet ("Titanic"); Shannon Elizabeth ("American Pie"); Scarlett Johansson ("The Killing Game"); all the girls from the topless montage in "Wedding Crashers"; and Eddy Curry (2007 Knicks Team Video).

Q: Clark Kellogg is talking about baking soda and Jim Nantz has to do everything including telling viewers that Blake Griffin is being doubled every time down the floor. Admit it. You miss me, don't you?
-- Billy P, Las Vegas

SG: I kinda sorta do. I have to admit. Here's the best example I can come up with: My street needed to be paved for two years. I learned where all the potholes were, avoided them and never stopped bitching about it. But you know what? I liked bitching about it. When they finally paved the street and made it like every other street, I missed having that bitch crutch. If that makes sense. That's how I feel during the 2009 men's hoops tournament. I even turned against Raftery and Bilas a couple of times just to keep my announcer-hating chops fresh. And I like those guys.

Q: Do you think that it would be possible for you to write an entertaining article without foul language, personal attacks ("Dumbleavy"?), or references to bodily functions? I'd love to see this in your mailbag without a personal attack. Give it a try.
-- Scott Jennings, Seneca

SG: Go poop on yourself.

Q: Your "Dumbleavy" column inspired me to wonder: if he was the guy from "Memento," what three tattoos would he have on his arm? I think it would be, "Ignore Matchups," "Ice-Cold Shooters Are Best In Crunch Time," and "Remember Isiah Thomas." Who else is "Memento"-able?
-- Eric, San Francisco

SG: Love this idea. I'm limiting myself to three ...

James Dolan: "Dress in all-black like a porn producer," "Don't fire anyone no matter what they do" and "Your day is not complete until a Knicks fan sarcastically screams something at you."

A-Rod: "A lie can be true as long as YOU believe it," "Don't forget, you said that the time frame was from 2001 to '03" and "Don't pose for a picture where you try to kiss yourself in a full-length mirror."

Any NBA referee: "The fans are here to see us," "Give Wade, LeBron and Kobe every close call" and "Don't forget to cram head in own butt before game."

By the way, a belated "Got you!" to everyone who Googled Scarlett Johansson's topless scene in "The Killing Game" -- both the scene and movie were made up. You guys are too easy.

Q: I have the next great stat for Daryl Morey to measure. Anyone who watches the Discovery Channel knows that a predator's eyes are in the front so they can gauge the distant to their prey, while a herbivore's eyes are on the sides of their head so they can watch for predators. Look at a picture of Tracy McGrady and tell me that his eyes aren't on the sides of his head. The guy is clearly built to graze, not to hunt. Eye separation is going to be the new wingspan. Mark my words, 15 years from now Jay Bilas will be raving about Lil' Lebron's "eye spacing."
-- Kevin, Boulder, Colo.

SG: Almost there ...

Q: You know how you mentioned "Halter Top Day?" In Columbia, Mo., when all the sorority girls from Mizzou walk around campus in their warm-weather attire, well, we call that "Dirty Old Man Day", and we eat McDonald's take out at Brady Commons and take advantage of the fact that no one really knows that we're on a two-hour lunch break. It's a tradition as ingrained in us as roto drafts and Busch beer. Probably even moreso. We volunteer for "Mail Boxes Etc." duty during sorority rush to drive-by the sorority houses. I think this is a much bigger holiday than you could possibly image.
-- George, Columbia, Mo.

SG: Getting closer ...

Q: I'm reading your mailbag 10 minutes after I watched the finale of "Eastbound & Down." Hate to ruin it for you, but remember how the camera cuts away from Kenny Power's ex-girlfriend's face as she removes her bra? When the bosoms are finally exposed, we never see her face (opening the door for a body double). She's wearing a back-clasp bra, but when the goods are revealed in the close-up, it's a front clasp. Also, I rewound the Tivo to do a comparison of her goods in her bra while she's making out with Kenny and the naked goods that the camera freezes on. After five minutes of thorough analysis, they are NOT her boobs.
-- Jason, Chicago

SG: Yup, these are my readers.

Bill Simmons is a columnist for Page 2 and ESPN The Magazine. For every Simmons column, as well as podcasts, videos, favorite links and more, check out the revamped Sports Guy's World.