July 09, 2006

Bill Simmons Dons His Xenophobia Hat

Having finally carved out the appropriate amount of time to do so, I finally navigated my way through The Sports Guy's recent dissertation on which NBA players have the most trade value. On what seemed to be page 97 of this novella, at the moment that my attention was beginning to wane, something I read made me do a double-take. Discussing the trade value of Chris Bosh, Bill Simmons writes:

"A delightful third season: 22.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game, 51 percent shooting, 82 percent from the line...and I will never figure out for the life of me how any NBA expert believed that an 18-year-old Croatian was a safer bet in the 2003 NBA Draft."

Umm...are you sure you meant Croatian, Bill? The player in question (Darko Milicic) is not so much Croatian as he is Serbian. And I hate to be overly nitpicky here -- but there was kind of a bitter war characterized by years of ethnic violence and bloodshed between those two countries. No one's ever called me Captain Current Events, and hope I'll never be confused as a card-carrying member of the Politically Correct Patrol, but I feel pretty qualified to say that confusing those two countries in such a way isn't particularly kosher.

And furthermore, it's not like this is some passing, irrelevant reference to Darko's nationality -- Simmons utters "Croatian" almost as if it's a synonym for something negative. He's basically calling the selection of Darko a crazy, misinformed draft pick, and his two proofs of this are a) Darko's age and b) his nationality. And it's only accentuated by the fact that he gets the nationality wrong. I get the idea that Simmons was trying to say Darko being from a foreign country makes him an unknown commodity in the NBA, but altogether this comes off very much the wrong way. (For the record, I did consider the possibility that Simmons might have been making some kind of bizarre joke here in calling Darko "Croatian," but I don't think that's the case, and if he were joking, that would only make it worse.)

Overall, I realize this isn't anything close to a terrible transgression. But considering that Simmons has essentially annointed himself Holder of all Significant Opinions Pertaining to Sport (even more so when it comes to the NBA), a moment like this, sprinkled with just the slightest dash of xenophobic ignorance, should at the very least take a small gasp of breath out of Sports Guy's air of infallibility.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand that Simmons should definitely know what nationality Darko is after the amount of time he has spent on the subject; however, I don't think that he was using Croatian as a derrogatory term at all. He has often talked about foreigners learning to adjust to a new culture and what a crapshoot it is. It's not that Darko is Serbian (or Croatian as Simmons believes) that is one of his proofs, but the fact that he comes from a totally different culture and that he has had to learn to adapt to it that was the issue.

2:15 PM, July 10, 2006  
Blogger David Arnott said...

Though I agree with the general point that it looks extremely sloppy and Simmons definitely has an edge that makes the PC part of my brain flash, I think the point is that Darko had only played in a faraway place where few people had seen him, and it's still pretty hard to quantify how good someone is when he's playing for Hemofarm and not, say, Wake Forest. Also, Simmons has never claimed infallibility, literally or in spirit. In fact, he has a running joke, "As always... I'm an idiot."

2:17 PM, July 10, 2006  
Blogger Try Riesling...Great Wine said...

You are a laughable pantywaist of a liberal.

2:21 PM, July 10, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you're a tool.

3:07 PM, July 10, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you need to relax. all he is saying, if you read the whole article, is that in three years you have a handful of players that outplayed the 2nd overall draft pick (darko) from 2003. simmer down

3:18 PM, July 10, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are a PC nerd. Stop being so sensitive and grow a set. If you're female, the advice still stands. And while I'm sure you'll find the request to 'grow a set' completely juvenile, I don't care, because that's exactly the reaction of someone who needs to grow a set. Also, you may call me a coward for posting this anonymously. That's fine if it makes you feel better.

3:24 PM, July 10, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a self-proclaimed, politically correct liberal, and even I found nothing objectionable in Simmons' statement.

He's saying that an 18 year old from a foreign country whom not many people has seen play wasn't a safe bet. There is absolutely NOTHING xenophobic in that. And there is absolutely no way in hell that Simmons was implying a negative connotation to the word "Croatian" - if you think "Croatian" sounds offensive, that's just something you're bringing to the table.

3:26 PM, July 10, 2006  
Blogger Kodijack said...

You are right here. What sucks is that I missed that when I read it the first time. Good catch.

4:39 PM, July 10, 2006  
Blogger jimmyrad said...

Well, Matt, you done and upset the masses.

Unfortunately, I think the euro-fries might have clouded your interpretation. To me, Simmons just made a blunder very few probably caught, end of story.

Hopefully some of the people blasting away took a minute to read the post directly below this one about the Trouser Snake, though, to see that politics/PCism etc.. don't really have anything to do with what you write about.

I do love the guy who wrote "I bet you'll call me a coward because I posted anonymously!!" I love that. I think he's implying that YOU think that HE thinks you would hunt him down and maim him for talking negatively about your opinion. That's awesome. Dude, Anonymous, you're not THAT important.

7:02 PM, July 10, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are incorrect here. If you must harrass Simmons, do so because he's a filthy Boston homer. Thx.

P.S. why does the word verification make me type in a 56 character monstrosity? Damn you, Blogger. Damn you to hell.

7:30 PM, July 10, 2006  
Blogger The OCC said...

Goddammit -- Bill Simmons has brainwashed you all!

I stand by my call -- and for the record, I never outright called Simmons a xenophobe and never outright said he was being hateful or anything like that. All I said was, this was a very questionable mistake. And if you don't get why I feel that way, then you're just not as smart as I am. (And you haven't eaten as many Euro-fries as I have.)

Agreed that the person calling me "PC" has most likely never read anything else I've ever written.

By the way -- did someone whose handle is "Try Riesling...Great Wine" really call me laughable? That's a tough pill to swallow.

7:53 PM, July 10, 2006  
Blogger Oseirus the Great said...

read your post... and I read Simmons's when it came out friday... and I think you make a good point... however I think it was a typing error on his part as opposed to an outright "I hate all euro trash" sort of xenophobia as you might think. He is, after all, a fan of Manu "Floppg McGee" Ginobili. BTW what was the point of this? How can you hate on Simmons? Even as a die-hard Yankees/Knicks fan, I like the guy. Let him off the hook this once.

12:53 AM, July 11, 2006  
Anonymous Chris said...

Simmons has "always" said that it's dumb to use a high lottery pick on an unproven, young European player. He acknowledges the Dirk Exception, but has explained his logic several times. It has nothing to do with race, or national origin, per se. You can find something "questionable" in just about anything, if you want to.

1:22 PM, July 11, 2006  
Blogger elijah the prophet said...

am i the only one who thought that pretty much the entire point of this site was to get a good laugh and have fun with the world of sports. how did this post turn start a political argument? nonetheless, i'll get into the discussion. i think its worth discussing as sportsguy constantly bags on other commentators for making little mistakes, its good for him to get a little taste of it.

2:49 PM, July 11, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Simmons is an idiot. Is this something new? Women are so dumb about sports. Aren't strip clubs great? The WNBA sucks. See, I just wrote the synopsis of every Simmons column ever written. Get a new schtick, loser.

Of course Darko bombed. He never played, how could he do otherwise? With Larry "I Hate Rookies" Brown in charge, that was bound to happen.

3:50 PM, July 11, 2006  
Blogger samsternjones said...

Everyone's harshing on this post. Simmons probably would have the same reaction as OCC did when (if?) he realized his error, because it completely takes the air out of his point by confusing Croatia and Serbia (when to Croats and Serbs it's probably equivalent to mistaking Israelis and Palestinians). Simmons actual point is a good one, in my opinion, but it is obscured by ignorance (or laziness).

See my name? The anonymous posters SHOULD grow a pair and stand behind your comments.

5:37 PM, July 17, 2006  

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