ESPN's Bill Simmons Takes on NBA Comissioner David Stern

The self-named “Sports Guy” has never been a journalist in the true sense of the word, but he does a pretty good job grilling David Stern

Most forecasters see an NBA lockout as inevitable, and that is no good for anyone — not the players, the owners the TV stations or the fans. The possibility peeves Bill Simmons to no end.

Simmons became America's most powerful sportswriter by reinventing the wheel. He wrote about sportscasts instead of covering live games or interviewing players and coaches.

As a result, his columns are a mix of opinionated insight and Boston homerism, a combination that has rewarded him with best-selling books and his own ESPN spin-off.

Yet his podcasts — when they don't feature professional wrestlers or close friends — often resemble more traditional journalism, featuring "free-flowing discussion" with athletes, fellow sportswriters and sports executives.

Friday's podcast with comissioner David Stern is the perfect example. Simmons' love of basketball is no secret — have you read his 700-plus page tome? — and he has expressed reverence for Stern, whom he considers the league's best commissioner in history.

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However, Simmons goes right at Stern this time, warning him at the beginning that he is as angry as he has ever been with him. No one will place this interview at the apex of hard-hitting reportage, but Simmons asks the important questions, pushing the commissioner as far as his position permits him.

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He almost instantly asks "where is the urgency?" and moves through topics like the lack of a proposal from the NBA, whether teams are misreporting losses, jersey sponsorship and contraction.

As engaging as his attempts to pin down Stern are, Stern's evasions and responses are just as entertaining. He told Simmons at the beginning that he comes on the podcast to set him straight, called Simmons' question about misreporting losses "unbecoming" and reminded him that NBA executives are not as dumb as he thinks.

The civil but sometimes contentious interview is defintiely worth a listen, but it begs the question: how many of Simmons' loyal fans can sit through an hour-long discussion of number-crunching and business strategy?