Bill Simmons was impressed with Dwyane Wade and annoyed with ESPN following Game 4 of the NBA Finals.
Like everyone else, Simmons took note of Wade's flashback performance in the Miami Heat's series-tying 109-93 win over the San Antonio Spurs. Discussing the likelihood that Wade would be able to duplicate his 32-point night in Game 5 during a segment that aired on "SportsCenter" after the game, Simmons joked that the Heat star might need a trip to Germany in between games.
This joke, a reference to the blood spinning treatment that Kobe Bryant got in Germany in 2011, was then excised during a re-airing of the segment later in the evening. Simmons noticed and vented his frustrations on Twitter. Aside from questioning the cut, he managed to work in a dig at his colleague Stephen A. Smith.
Wow, SportsCenter edited my joke out about Wade going to Germany before Game 4 - I should have just ripped people to shreds like SAS did.
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) June 14, 2013
A few minutes after lodging that complaint and criticism, Simmons opened up about his experience working on "NBA Countdown."
The rigidity of studio TV is really discouraging. Let's just say that A LOT makes sense after these past 8 months.
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) June 14, 2013
Given Simmons' popularity, these two late night tweets didn't go unnoticed. It's possible that someone in Bristol even took action based on them. As John Koblin of Deadspin noted, an episode of "SportsCenter" that aired on Friday morning included the segment with the Wade-to-Germany joke back in place.
VISIT DEADSPIN TO WATCH BOTH VIDEOS
While it remains unclear if the segment that bothered Simmons was altered for content or time, it is clear that the founder of Grantland remains comfortable criticizing his employers.
"Even though he may once again get a slap on the wrist, Bill Simmons is taking full advantage of a privilege that nobody else at ESPN has," wrote Matt Yoder of Awful Announcing on Friday. "He can afford to criticize his employer publicly because he's too valuable to Bristol to do anything drastic. He has a platform and a following that allows him this leeway."
In March, Simmons drew a suspension from Twitter for criticizing ESPN's "First Take." Echoing the sentiments of many outside of Bristol, Simmons characterized a particularly petulant and pointless exchange between "First Take" panelist Skip Bayless and Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman as "awful and embarrassing to everyone involved."
As Simmons continued to tweet on Friday following this latest kerfuffle, it seemed that perhaps he would avoid a suspension this time around. While his comments about Smith likely raised hackles at ESPN, no one in Bristol could have been surprised by Simmons' complaint about the "rigidity" of his studio show. In a seemingly more genial tone, he recently addressed this topic.
"I'd like to see us take more chances," Simmons told Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated before the NBA Finals got underway. "I never wanted to do a traditional studio show and I never wanted us to feel like every other ESPN studio show. I should also mention that I've poked fun of the faults of studio shows more than just about anybody, so it's funny to be on the other side. Maybe that's impossible and maybe I am naïve, but I expected us to push the envelope a lot more. And I hope we will down the road."
Likewise, anyone at ESPN who was caught off guard by Simmons' quip on Thursday evening clearly hasn't been paying close attention to his work or his tweets ever since Kobe got back from Dusseldorf.
And the best part is that KG never even had to fly to Germany. RT @NoahMoBoo: If KG plays like this Celts can make noise.
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) March 31, 2012
Can Kobe fly to Germany and then back to LA in the next 15 minutes?
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) December 25, 2011
Can someone check to see if Carson Palmer and Kobe made a quick trip to Germany in the last 72 hours?
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) November 11, 2011
3on3 tourney over. Brutal choke to team called "4 Black Dudes," we wore down + missed 6 FG/FT on game pt. I'm old. Kobe, take me to Germany!
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) August 7, 2011
Won both games in LA Live 3on3 tourney w/ @jacoby_ + Hench, advanced to Sunday. The Comeback continues! Need a Germany flight w/ Kobe soon.
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) August 6, 2011