Doc Rivers was right: Bill Simmons is an idiot

June 29, 2013

Bill Simmons is loved by the East Coast media establishment. His rise from fan blogger to ABC/ESPN NBA analyst is an inspiration to some independent journalists. A distinct characteristic of Simmons NBA “analysis” is his unabashed love for the Boston Celtics. Simmons’ blatant cheering for the Celtics is viewed with humor by his ESPN colleagues. Most of the rest of America finds it nauseating.

Thursday night during the 2013 NBA Draft, Simmons allowed his blind passion for the C’s to make him lose all sense of professionalism. Simmons repeatedly suggested, before finally openly asserting, that former Boston coach Doc Rivers “quit on the Celtics.”

Simmons came across as whiny and bitter whenever the subject came up…or whenever he chose to bring it up out of nowhere. His overall mood eventually worsened over the course of the evening as it was confirmed the Celtics, in full rebuilding mode, had traded Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry to the Brooklyn Nets, primarily for expiring contracts and draft picks.

In the world of BS the fan writer, character-maligning statements are par for the course and I doubt he thought twice about saying what he did. Indeed such insults are often easier to disguise in print, as nobody really knows whether you are being sarcastic or intentionally engaging in hyperbole.

Yet to bluntly say the same thing during an ESPN broadcast is different. The bitterness and hurt was written all over Simmons’ face as he essentially called Doc Rivers a traitor and a hypocrite for leaving his precious team. I thought for a moment he was going to cry.

Then there was that wonderful Doc Rivers interview. Yes Bill, sometimes the people you rip actually get to come right back at you. Apparently, many of Bill’s journalist comrades found it “awkward” and “uncomfortable” when Rivers, responding to Simmons’ statement about his quitting on the Celtics, stated, “I would call him an idiot but I’m too classy for that.” I found it HILARIOUS.

Simmons, in a rambling response, accused Rivers of changing his story and suggested that Rivers had not been telling the truth:
"The truth keeps changing. I mean he's given different quotes about this. He didn't know. He did know. He kinda knew. He wanted the trade to happen. He was coming back. He needed a year off. When he sticks to a story, I'll believe the truth…Just own it. Just admit what you did. The writing was on the wall. The Celtics want to rebuild. You don't want to be a part of it. You want to go to the Clippers and it happened. Just own what you did."

Why was Simmons so interested in prosecuting Rivers for agreeing to be traded from his beloved Celtics for a first round pick?

One possibility is that anyone who is agreeable to leaving the Celtics is, on some level, a traitor to Simmons. Another thought is that Simmons is simply continuing his longtime dislike for Doc Rivers and used this situation as an opportunity to make Doc the villain. Yet another idea is that, as a stooge for the Celtics organization, Simmons is part of the team’s concerted public relations effort to make Rivers take some of the hit for the Celtics own reckless desire to rebuild.

Part of the conflict between Rivers and Simmons is about what it means to “quit” on a team. Rivers likely holds the view that “quitting” on a team means you stop trying to improve that team. In his mind, he never stopped doing that even to the point of making sure the Celtics received compensation for losing him.

Simmons clearly holds the strict view, at least when it comes to employees of his beloved Boston Celtics, that any decision not to work through the end of your contract is “quitting” on the team. Thus, Rivers is guilty of quitting on the team no matter if he took the year off, went into broadcasting, or forced himself into being traded to another team.

Despite what Simmons suggested about Rivers changing his story and the truth having still not come out, the essential facts have all come out in this scenario, and they do not support the idea that Rivers quit on the Celtics.

1. Rivers has acknowledged that he had ambivalence about returning to the Celtics for another year. I suppose one can argue that means he considered “quitting on the Celtics.” Of course, Rivers also suggests that he has had similar thoughts after previous seasons as well, only this time his doubts were more intense. Thus, Rivers can accurately be said to have considered “quitting on the Celtics” several times before. However, considering such an act is not the same thing as doing it.

2. Rivers has also openly acknowledged that the Clippers job interested him and he liked the idea of coaching a talented team that was not rebuilding like the Celtics were. He doesn’t deny that he benefits from the trade, but does dispute that the Celtics did not have their own motives to trade him.

3. Nobody in the Celtics organization has disputed Rivers’ assertion that Ainge openly discussed with him the possibility of trading him and utilizing him as an asset, as opposed to the idea that Rivers demanded a trade from management.

4. Nobody in the Celtics organization has directly disputed Rivers’ statement that he was prepared to coach the Celtics as recently as the day before the trade went down. If this is true, then how can he be accused of quitting on the team? The Celtics could have accepted that and moved on. Instead, they went back to negotiating with the Clippers – because they wanted to dump Rivers and his contract.

5. The idea that Rivers was insisting on following Garnett and/or Pierce to another team has been proven false. In the end, Rivers went to the Clippers knowing David Stern would not allow either of his former players to follow him there.

6. The Celtics actions have shown they are clearly more interested in dumping players and salaries than anything else. Not having to pay Rivers $7 million per year to coach a lottery team is a benefit in itself to the team, let alone acquiring a first round draft pick as well. If you don’t think Celtics management is aware of this, then you are as delusional or dishonest as Bill Simmons.

“It’s not that hard of a story. They wanted to unload contracts for draft picks. I happened to be one of those contracts. This is a direct quote from an owner: ‘Listen, this is a win-win for us. If we can get a pick for you and you have a chance to go to a team like the Clippers and continue to coach and continue to pursue winning and we can get to rebuilding.’ That’s exactly what happened last night. Clearly, I had a selfish motive. I had a chance to not rebuild and go to a team that is in a different phase of their franchise. So everyone benefited from it. Clearly I — at least, I hope I benefited from it, but this was done together. This was not me walking into the Celtics and saying ‘I quit’ or anything like that.” - Doc Rivers on the The Dan Patrick Show, Friday, June 28, 2013.

Almost anybody reviewing the situation would realize that Rivers was ambivalent about coming back to the Celtics for a number of reasons. They would also acknowledge that the team was, by the end, at least as ambivalent about paying Rivers $7 million per year to lose basketball games. Accordingly, both parties, regardless of what they said, were happy to be moving on. So who quit on who?

What's astonishing is that Celtics fans like Simmons seem more interested in questioning Rivers' loyalty to the Celtics than Ainge's. Rivers may not have been excited about rebuilding, but even that comes from a healthy desire to win. It is in fact Ainge who is betraying Celtics fans by abandoning all pretense of trying to win in the immediate future.

Are Boston fans really this comfortable with the team blatantly dumping all of its assets, ensuring that they will get really bad, really fast? Are they really counting on lottery balls to secure their future? Is this the new Celtics way, to openly tank seasons in order to rebuild?

If so, then it is not just the Big 3 era that has ended in Boston, but any sense that the Celtics maintain the same winning standards of their perennial rival in Los Angeles. Quite simply, there is no way the Lakers would ever do such a thing.

by Manish Pandya
Staff Editor for


  1. Simmons, Jonny Most, Bob Ryan = all biased, all clueless.

    Boston fans = myopic.

    When they get out of their bubble, maybe one day i will listen to them

  2. Simmons should be thankful he didn't get b*tch slapped. Type of coward who likes to run his mouth when about people when they are a safe distance away


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