Are you reading The ESPN Watch? Jonathan Weiler’s fantastic blog that takes a critical eye of popular sports media. Jonathan’s recent target is none other than Bill Simmons and Grantland’s take on Tracy McGrady.
Bill Simmons stats naïveté is nothing new around here. What makes Jonathan’s refreshing is pointing out the inconsistency of Bill’s narrative. When McGrady was good, he didn’t have the leadership to win. Yet when he was winning on “a good-but-not-great Rockets” he somehow was responsible. Jonathan points out all T-Mac really did that year was assist well. Of course, he played with very good teammates, which Bill Simmons seemed to miss. (I do love a 50+ win team being called “good not great” for what it’s worth).
Understanding the numbers is not always easy, and it’s not something Bill Simmons is particularly good at. Narratives are much more fun and easy to wrap your head around. Of course, as Jonathan shows us, most narratives do eventually run into the numbers. And often, these same narratives can’t even remain consistent in their own logic.