REPORT ON B.S.
After ESPN decided not to renew his contract last May, the 46-year-old Sports Guy took his brash persona and media portfolio to HBO, where he's happy to be just your average fan.
DAN PATRICK:What's your title at HBO?
BILL SIMMONS: I don't know. I'm just HBO's Bill Simmons. That sound good?
DP:You seem to dress your titles up.
BS: I didn't name [my podcast] BSPN. We called it the Bill Simmons Podcast Network. What else am I going to call it? The initials just happen to be BSPN.
DP:What are you doing at HBO?
BS: I'm launching a TV show, probably by the tail end of next spring. I'm going to get heavily involved in HBO Now. I'm already involved in the HBO documentary side—all stuff I like to do.
DP:Who has a brighter future, Bill Simmons or [LSU freshman forward] Ben Simmons?
BS: Ben Simmons, in every conceivable way. Financially. Sexually. Professionally.
DP:What about journalistically?
BS: He's probably a better writer than me. I can't think of a single thing he does that's not better than me.
DP:So you're a fan?
BS: My whole life I've wanted the Celtics to have a guy named Simmons on their team. I started hearing about Ben Simmons last year. I've been following him on YouTube, getting more and more excited because he has the Magic-Bird passing gene. He's on another level.
DP:Ben Simmons seems to have a feel for the game that you can't teach.
BS: The passing is what's going to separate him. I grew up during the Magic-Bird era watching guys see the floor like them. It went away during the Jordan era. The thing about Bird: He was such a great passer, it affected the other guys on the team.
DP:Are there Bird-like qualities in Steph Curry?
BS: You can compare Steph Curry to anyone. Maybe Pete Maravich. You're slightly older than me, so you remember Maravich. I don't. He seems like he's a magician. It's kind of "me first" in a good way.
DP:But Maravich got bored with the game and became a gunner, not a winner.
BS: Maravich was like a child actor who burned out on the game. One of the things that makes Curry special is that he's an awesome teammate. I think Magic was the greatest teammate of all time. All he wanted to do was make everyone else better. Curry is a lot like that.
DP:How do you look back on your departure from ESPN?
BS: I said it a million times: I had a great run. It was a great place to work. I have no ill feelings. Now I'm just a sports fan. I can complain about the same things everyone else complains about, and I can praise the same things everyone else praises.
New Sprint Cup Series champ Kyle Busch told me he needed to distract himself toward the finish of the season-ending race at Homestead. "I started singing a song from one of my kid's favorite TV shows," Busch said. "It's from a skit called 'Vo-cab-u-lary.' I probably said that word five times a lap for 60 laps." ... Alabama junior running back Derrick Henry said that coach Nick Saban will actually let loose at his lake house in the summer. "He loves [driving his boat] and throwing us off the tube [behind it]," Henry said. "It's a lot of fun." ... Former NBA center and current TNT analyst Shaquille O'Neal admitted football was once his primary focus, until he hurt his knee. "I was bummed, sitting on the couch, and heard that [Hawks center] Jon Koncak signed for $13 million and thought, If I can make $5 million doing the basketball thing, I think I'm going to switch up."
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (PATRICK)
LEON BENNETT/GETTY IMAGES (SIMMONS)
SEAN GARDNER/GETTY IMAGES (BUSCH)
GERALD HERBERT/AP (HENRY)
CHINAFOTOPRESS/GETTY IMAGES (O'NEAL)