I’ve never been to Memphis. I figured I should start there, because it’s difficult for me to get too worked up about the Bill Simmons comments on Martin Luther King, the city of Memphis, and sports that you’re going to see everywhere on the web later today. Let’s just jump right into the Simmons comments, which came on his latest podcast with ESPN Countdown colleague Jalen Rose. As first noted by David D at Uproxx:
I didn’t realize the effect [The MLK assassination] had on that city…I think from people we talk to and stuff we’ve read, the shooting kind of sets the tone with how the city thinks about stuff … We were at Game 3. Great crowd, they fall behind and the whole crowd got tense. They were like, ‘Oh no, something bad is going to happen.’ And I think it starts from that shooting.
The comments, as you see them here, seem strange. Say what now? If you listen to the podcast, they don’t sound as bizarre (around 8:45 in). My first thought after reading the comments was, ‘what did Jalen Rose say?’ So I downloaded the podcast and listened.
After Simmons finished that last sentence, Rose just said two words: “It does.” He didn’t address them any further, but also didn’t dismiss them.
I tried to reach out to a couple people who live in/near Memphis this morning to see if there’s any truth to Bill’s claims, but haven’t had any luck.
Is what Simmons said probably a reach? Yes. Is there maybe a hint of truth to it? Perhaps (he does mention Dallas/JFK in his podcast; he says the city later got its own identity with the Cowboys and the popular 80s show Dallas). My guess is we’ll hear a lot of, ‘stick to the Karate Kid jokes in the shallow end of the pool, Bill.’
Anyone out there live in Memphis want to chime in? You know where to find me. [via Uproxx]