My Impression of a Bill Simmons Article by Catfish Hughes

I figured since Bill Simmons was suspended for the next 2 and half weeks or so, I would showcase some of his writing skills and one of his abilities to do those great ‘What If Articles”….The following is my take on a Bill Simmons What If Article….

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I want to talk about some major footnotes that happened in the NBA over the years for some teams that could have won multiple championships if not for some minor setbacks and what I call foot notes.

My first foot note goes to the ’87-88 Lakers Back to Back Champions. If Len Bias hadn’t been sold some ‘bad cocaine’ by jealous Knicks and Laker fans he wouldn’t have died after being drafted by God’s team, The Boston Celtics, and he would have been ROY in 1987 and an All Star in 1988 and 1989 and so on. Boston would have won 3 in a row after the ‘ship in 1986 so it would be a 4-peat. Bird would have put the trademark and patent on the 3-peat.(This would lead to the demise of Pat Riley, another day, another what if)

Now you might not believe that as a rookie, Len Bias, could come in and be enough to push the Celtics over the Lakers so I have another footnote that is even bigger.

In the 1987 Finals, best known for the famous Magic travel, baby-sky hook, but what about the no call on Bird after the ‘traveling‘ hook shot?  I have added video footage to back me up, and if you watch the video it starts with the baby hook from Magic.(Watch closely as Magic travels) If you jump to 1:50 you can see Bird’s last shot in which James Worthy clearly fouls Larry and it isn’t called. I must say with both my footnotes for the ’87 Champions that the Celtics would have won easily. (Foot notes= Len Bias, Worthy called for a foul.)

Obviously Bird was hacked. How else do you explain a living legend like Larry Bird who shot 97% from behind the arc to miss a shot like that?

(Another side note  here, if Bird wasn’t fouled,  but what about reports that Pat Riley had voodoo placed on the ball so Bird would miss? Also what about Worthy fouling Bird on the shot?)

Now Magic should have been retired by 1987 due to the HIV virus that he was going to acquire later. In 1988 without Magic, I feel my Celtics would have been able to beat those Lakers.

In 1988 had the Lakers not had Magic again, I think it would have made the Pistons not as eager to play in the finals as Isaiah wouldn’t have had anybody to kiss pre-game.

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Celtics would have won in 1987 and 1988 for the 3 peat.

86-87-88 Champions.

The Bad Boys would have probably still cheated and won the Eastern Conference in 1989. But I do see it really hard as newcomer, Reggie Lewis was starting to get his full game to him by 1989. Sure he wasn’t yet the Jordan stopper that he would grow to be in the future(See Below), but he would have been a major lift on both ends of the hardwood.

I do really want to pick, God’s Team, The Boston Celtics, for 1989, but something tells me they would have taken one year off and let the crooked, cheating Bad Boys win the Eastern Conference and the NBA Finals over the whoever came out of the lessor Western Conference.

So the Celtics 4-peat wouldn’t have happened. They would have 86-87-88 and then lost in ’89 in what I will put as not a foot note, but an asterisk.

***Boston felt sorry for the rest of the NBA and didn’t win the championship

I do think God’s team, The Boston Celtics, would have gotten back to the NBA Finals in 1990 with the core of young Bias with veterans Bird, Parish, and McHale. Don’t forget Danny Ainge and Dennis Johnson in the backcourt, and also you have to add in the young,  Jordan stopper, Reggie Lewis to the mix and you have a team slightly better than the 1992 Dream Team.

They would have easily beat down the Clyde the Glide led Blazers and had their 4th Championship in 5 years.

The foot note would be with Bias there is no trading of Ainge.

86-87-88-90 with the asterisk for 1989. 

Now the big key here for the 90s is how Michael Jordan would have been able to survive both the Bad Boys and God’s Team, The Boston Celtics in the early 1990s.

There is almost no way this would happen as maybe Phil Jackson’s voodoo would work on Isaiah Thomas and the Pistons, but not in the Boston Garden with the magical leprechauns. Pippen would have never got over his headache game in the Detroit, and he would start to have migraines every time he visited New England.

The line-up for the ’91-92 Big Green Machine would have been enough to win the Eastern Conference and home court. If I was guessing, and I am not, this is a pretty accurate fact, the Celts would have gone 78-4 for the year. Maybe but a big maybe here says they would lose 5 and go 77-5.

Jordan would have never gone to face Magic Johnson in the ’91 finals, and thus never started the chain of events that would lead to the Bulls winning 3 in a row and then Jordan exiting to play baseball. This becomes a fact if we edit one foot note here.

Foot note:

If Larry “The Legend” Bird wasn’t proving he was just a mortal and shoveling gravel, he would have never hurt his back. If Larry “The Legend” Bird doesn’t hurt his back, and stays healthy through the 1991 season, there is no way Phil Jackson and Michael Jordan have what it takes to get by them in the East.

I can almost say 78-4 isn’t that far off from this team, and if I had to really go out on a limb I would say 80-2.

Two losses coming at the end of the year. 1. Bird dresses for the opposing team for fun, and loss number 2. would be room for error for this all-star team.

Bird would be the top basketball player over the false-god Jordan, right in the place that Bird deserves. Bird is actually placed here by many, but he is forgotten because of his back injury.

It is hard to say if Larry Legend would have won another ring or two after winning 6 in 7 years but my guess is that God’s team, The Boston Celtics would go 10-10 for Championships in the 1990s if they just had Reggie Lewis. Since I am a realist, I say 8-2 in championships with my next foot note.

My next foot note: If Reggie Lewis didn’t pass away tragically in 1993, and he had lived to be the Jordan stopper that we all knew he was, it would have been him and Bias leading the way AND a healthy Larry “The Legend” Bird being a great 3rd option.

See video of Reggie Lewis stopping Jordan:

I would give one championship to Jordan in the 1990s and one to Hakeem the Dream just to keep it fair to the other teams.  Kevin McHale wouldn’t have retired so soon, and a healthy Bird is easily going for 60 or 70 on any given night.

8 Championships in the 1990s for God’s team, The Boston Celtics.

The Celtics would have been the team of the 1980s AND the 1990s.

I would love to say that my ‘what if’ ends right here with the Legend riding off into the sunset at the turn of the century with rings on all his fingers and some toes, but I just can’t help to think of another ‘what if’ that should of been a reality had the NBA and David Stern not been Laker Lovers.

Flash to 1997: Rick Pitino left the University of Kentucky after losing the 1997 NCAA Championship game to Miles and Bibby of Arizona.

Ricky P left to come coach God’s team, The Boston Celtics, and to coach, Tim Duncan. We had the most ping-pong balls in the draft, but somehow the Spurs(yeah an ABA team) got the 1st pick in 1997. (This was rigged by Stern)

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My next foot note:

Pitino and the Celtics win the 1997 draft and Tim Duncan.

Now I can hear most of you saying that God’s team, The Boston Celtics, wouldn’t have picked at #10 the next year in the draft after picking up Timmy thus Paul Pierce wouldn’t have joined the heavenly team. I beg to differ. The 10th pick is right where the Celtics would pick after winning the championship. Pierce added after the championship.

Coach Ricky P is great at judging talent, and this leads  into the 2001 draft.

The Celtics and Pitino would have grabbed Tony Parker.

The 2001 Celtics would have started like this:

PARKER, PIERCE, WALKER, McCARTY, DUNCAN with 6th man Larry Bird.

Kenny Anderson would be the season vet a the point but he would be teaching a young, Tony Parker the ropes,  Duncan at the 5, and at the 4, Antoine Walker (Remember AW came in the 1996 draft), Paul Pierce would be the 2 guard, and I would think Coach Ricky P would put Walter McCarty in to fill the final spot.

The 6th man in 2001-2002 would be none other than a healthy Larry ‘The Legend’ Bird. Sure, I know Larry would be 45 years old, but this is a healthy Larry without the back problems. I am not saying he would come off the bench and be the ’86 MVP Larry but he would easily get 18-8-7-5. (18 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, and 5 steals with 2 or 5 blocks a game.) 

The MVP would be Duncan, Bird would be the 6th man of the year in the twilight of his career.

It is hard for me to guess how the Celtics would do, but I would say they would lose only once in the NBA Finals vs Shaq, Kobe and company. It would 100% be a 6 or 7 game series and the entire referee scandal would play a part. The 2002 Kings always alleged that the Western Conference Finals were rigged in 2002 so it is safe to assume something like this would happen.

I have to cut myself off right here because Garnett is coming in 2007 and Rondo would be coming 2006.

I don’t see the Celts losing but the one time to the Lakers at this point with the refs cheating. The Shaq-less Lakers and Shaq-plus Heat wouldn’t have a chance against a 2006-2010 Celts team. Also after Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett come over it would be really tough.

Bird would still be a 6th man and even at 50 he would still have great numbers. His numbers would probably be around, 25 points, 17 rebounds, 15 assists, 10 steals, 10 blocks, give or a take with margin for error.

The lineup would look like this, 1.Parker/Rondo 2.Ray Allen 3.Pierce 4.Duncan 5. Garnett with Bird, Kendrick Person coming off the bench.

That is all for my ‘what if’s’ this week, but really these aren’t ‘what if’s’ as much as they are what SHOULD of happened.

Tune in next week as we discuss how the 1985 Pats should have won the Superbowl but Mike Ditka cheated….

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Written by Catfish Hughes

Catfish Hughes

Frank “Catfish” Hughes has been called, “Bob Knight’s Baby with Hip Hop that covers sports.” and “the future of sports writing!” He is an official member of the NSSA & USBWA. Catfish covers the Los Angeles Angeles as the official East Coast Voice of the Lakers, and owns the NBA media outlet, WickedJumpShot.com and was the host of Thru the Wire Sports Talk Radio which aired on both ESPN Radio and Fox Sports Radio. Catfish is the head editor and chief here at the Boxing Globe. @CatfishHughes on twitter.