Bill Simmons enjoyed the TV highlight of his career at the 2013 NBA draft: Three hours bantering about basketball, cracking jokes, and struggling to come to grips with Boston trading away Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Video star Michael Shamburger compiled this “Best of Simmons” at the draft clip, and regardless of your feelings on ESPN’s most popular voice, I think you’ll enjoy this.
I’m of the opinion that ESPN – finally – struck gold with the NBA draft crew.
* Jay Bilas the knowledgeable college hoops guy
* Jalen Rose plays in both the NBA and college sandboxes
* Simmons dropping a “Rich Man’s Greg Stiemsma” reference while not holding back talking about Gerald Wallace’s awful contract
Unifying this group perfectly was host Rece Davis. He’d lob balls up to Simmons, who went Puig on many of the topics, with Rose and Bilas seemingly eager at times to let Simmons have the stage. (Bilas occasionally looked like he was struggling to get in a word edgewise, especially in the hour after the Celtics deal went down.) In a draft short on talent, as soon as the run on international players began, the casual fan was lost. One could argue Simmons saved the show at this point. If, like last year, Jeff Van Gundy and Chris Broussard were at the table, who is watching the 2nd half of the draft?
Back to Davis. He is exactly what NBA Countdown desperately needs. While host-less Countdown was stuffy and short on fun, the NBA Draft crew was breezy and good television. And without debate! Imagine that!
Oh, and TV viewers seemed to notice. According to overnight ratings, this year’s draft was tied for the most-watched since 2003 (tied with the 2007 draft, which had Kevin Durant and Greg Oden).