NBA Cares Celebrity Fantasy League
April 18 -- Champion, Thy Name is Sports Guy
(See the results in the NBA Cares Celebrity Fantasy League here.)
By Rob Peterson
They call him the Sports Guy. Now, you can call him the NBA Cares Celebrity Fantasy League champion.
After a long season, Bill Simmons, ESPN.com's Sports Guy, made short work of Bernie Mac in the Celeb League Finals, kicking Bernie's behind to the tune of 1028-852 in their championship match last week.
That made it 22 wins in 24 weeks for Simmons, and three wins out of four over his name-calling nemesis, Mr. Mac, during the season.
But Bernie, who engaged in some great trash talk with Bill (and the other celebs), posted this heartfelt congratulatory message on Tuesday.
A great year! 1st, I'd like to congratulate Bill Simmons for winning the NBA Fantasy Basketball League.
We're looking forward to it, Bernie.
Also, thanks to everyone else who participated in the league. I had a great time and look forward to more trash talking in the future. The banter was all in fun!
The real winners were the charities you all selected. We represented well!
Great job to Rob for writing the great weekly celeb fantasy articles each week on nba.com. Funny stuff!
Once again, congrats to the King of the Fantasy Basketball Bill Simmons. I look forward to meeting you in the trenches next year. We will entitle it "Mac's Revenge."
-- The Mac Man
For his victory, Bill's charity, the Celtics Shamrock Foundation, will receive $20,000. For finishing second, Bernie's charity, Sarcodosis Foundation/The American Cancer Society, will get $15,000 while Jackson, who finished third, will get $12,000 for his charity, Artists for a New South Africa. All other charities will receive $10,000. Good times, good causes.
So, what were some of the highlights from the inaugural NBA Cares Celebrity Fantasy League season? Allow us to quickly reminisce:
-- Pam Anderson going 5-1 in the first six weeks
-- Kenny Smith defeating Diana Taurasi in Week 2 ... and not winning again
-- Taurasi toppling Simmons in Week 4, leaving the future champ at 2-2
-- The proposed trade between Bernie and Kenny that Bill opposed
-- The cult following of Sam Jackson's "Snakes on a Plane" (C'mon! You know you're going to see it)
-- Star Jones using Magic Johnson's advice in the draft
And those were just a few of the highlights for this season. Yet, when all is said and done, we leave it to our champion to have the final word.
Here now is our Q&A with Bill Simmons. Bill ...
Q: After Bernie Mac dumped you in the first week of the season, he held first place until Week 19, when you beat him for the second straight time. What do you think was the difference between you and Bernie near the end of the season?
Simmons: Other than knowledge of the game, front office savvy and the overwhelming desire to win? I think the single biggest turning point was when Bernie tried to fleece poor Kenny Smith with the 3-for-2 trade that eventually had to be vetoed for the sake of the league. Bernie would have ended up getting the best 2 guys (Arenas and Kirilenko) in a 3-for-2 trade in which the other team involved was like 1-14; plus, Bernie was giving up Kenyon Martin as the third guy, who was limping around at the time. You can't anger the Fantasy Gods. You just can't. But I don't blame Bernie, my team was coming on like a freight train at that point, he knew he needed a major move to stay afloat, and Kenny was a willing sucker.
(By the way, Bernie could have had Arenas and Kirilenko over Odom and Jefferson in the Finals and STILL lost by 100 points to the Simmons Juggernaut. So he can't even complain about the trade. The lesson, as always: Don't waste a high pick on Tim Duncan during the same year where he's battling plantiar fascitis.)
Q: Besides beating Bernie three times, including the title match, did you have any other victories during the season that you enjoyed more than another?
Simmons: Nothing could top beating Bernie three straight after the amount of trash he talked during the early part of the season - with the possible exception of being refunded $10 for my ticket to see Mr. 3000 two years ago. But I have to say, I enjoyed getting revenge on Diana Taurasi, who beat me early in the season because her lineup had about 10 more games than mine that week. Losing to a WNBA player twice in the same season would have been tough to take, both mentally and emotionally.
Q: I see there are no messages on the message board as of Monday morning? Do you expect to hear anything from anyone?
Simmons: I think Bernie will post something soon... he has to finish licking his wounds. Out of the others, I would love to hear something from Modine along the lines of, "Not since I pinned Shute in 1985 have I seen a display of come from behind dominance quite like this."
Q: Who was your Most Valuable Player? And if it was Kobe, does it mean you -- a life-long, die hard Celtics fan -- are just as much of a basketball mercenary as he is?
Simmons: No question: Kobe. I won both of my fantasy leagues this season because of him. Knew he was going to have a huge year. Just knew it. And the fact that I had no problem riding him just goes to show you, I would pick ANYONE in a fantasy league if they could help me win. With the possible exception of Roger Clemens.
Q: What was your most important in-season pickup?
Simmons: Mike James in Week 3. I watched the Raptors during the first 2 weeks and noticed that he had the green light to shoot whenever he wanted, and that he took every shot for them in crunch-time, so I rolled the dice with him. He was unbelievable over the past 2 months; that was one of the greatest free agent contract runs in the history of professional sports. Do you realize that he's averaging 25 a game since the All-Star Break? The major advantage for me was that nobody else in this league was getting paid to watch the games every night ... oh, wait, that's Kenny Smith's entire job. Scratch that thought.
Q: Just how were you able to add Boris Diaw in Week 14?
Simmons: Michael Rapaport dropped him the week before to add Mike Dunleavy Jr. ... and that sentence is funny enough in itself. Maybe he was thinking that Stoudemire was coming back soon, I don't know. But that might have been the Front Office Boner of the year. I couldn't have jumped on Diaw fast enough - not only did he fill the stat sheet, but eventually, he became eligible at center for me when Kurt Thomas went out.
Q: Did your squad have an X-factor?
Simmons: Probably depth over anything; I always had 9-10 quality guys going. My only goal was to draft younger players who wouldn't get hurt and were still getting better: I drafted Kobe, Gasol, Howard, Joe Johnson and Paul Pierce, all of whom ended up having the best years of their career. Then I rolled the dice with Sam Cassell on the Clips, who was huge. And I picked up Diaw, James and David West, all of whom were great for me. Can you run a fantasy team better than that? I think not. The important thing is that it's become abundantly clear that I should be running an NBA team. Who would you rather have running the Knicks right now, me or Isiah? You guys should make this a vote on NBA.com.
Q: If the NBA made them, what would you want on the front of Celebrity Fantasy League Championship commemorative T-shirt and cap? And what would be on the championship DVD?
Simmons: I think the DVD would be called "Vision Quest 2: The Mamba Strikes." Not sure about the T-shirt and cap ... the thing is, it really wasn't fair for me to be in this league, so I'm not sure how much celebrating should be done. I'm not a celebrity and I know too much about basketball; basically, this was a no-win scenario for me. I mean, this was a league where I ended up with Kobe at No. 6 because Star Jones took Shaq over Kobe, and only on a tip from Magic Johnson (this is a true story, that's what she told us).OF COURSE I was going to win. Next year, you guys should replace me with Frankie Muniz, or maybe even the weird-looking dude who was married to Liza Minnelli - David Gest. Is he still alive? It would be interesting to see if he could finish ahead of Kenny.
Q: What advice would you give the rest of the celebs for next year's league, specifically Kenny?
Simmons: I have to say, Kenny's performance was wildly disappointing and I sincerely hope he does a little more homework next season. And it's been even more disappointing that the TNT guys, who normally are all over stuff like this (especially the producers), keep refusing to bring up during "Inside the NBA" that Kenny finished in last place in a Celebrity League that featured Star Jones and Pamela Anderson. And he's getting paid to analyze basketball for them every night?!?!? How does this not get brought up every 10 minutes? Every time he opens his mouth now, I can't take him seriously - it's like listening to someone on MSNBC give stock advice after finding out that they recommended 50 different dot-com stocks in 2001 that all went under.
Kenny needs to redeem himself next November. I really feel like his credibility is at stake. And by the way, if there's a valid excuse for his poor performance - like he was kidnapped the night of the draft, or he let one of his kids draft his team - then he needs to come clean.
As for other pieces of advice: I hope Bernie keeps talking trash early in the season and trying to anger the roto gods; I hope Modine and Rapaport contiunue to keep taking too many Knicks; I hope Sam remains in the league after Snakes On A Plane makes him a kajillionaire this summer; I hope someone tells Pamela that she was in a fantasy basketball league; and most of all, I hope Star keeps getting her fantasy tips from Magic Johnson.