Simmons' reply? He never said that, plus he won't apologize for saying it:
Decide for yourself:
Item 1 -- Key Quotes from Simmons' "Thumbs Down" on LeBron after the all-star game, Feb. 2007:
Here's what I know. I had four conversations with connected NBA people over the weekend that centered around the same themes:
LeBron isn't playing nearly as hard as he did last season;
it looks like his only goal right now is to get his coach fired;
he's regressing as a basketball player ......................;
he has an overrated sense of his own worth and his own impact in the sports world...................;
[he has benefitted from puff pieces written to suck up to him]
he doesn't have the same relentless drive to keep dominating everyone like Wade and Kobe have;
we're much closer to LeBron re-enacting the career arc of Martina Hingis, Eric Lindros and Junior Griffey than anyone realizes.
Simmons ends with -- This will evolve into THE dominant NBA story of the next two months. You watch.
So, correct me if I am wrong, but Simmons said in February of 2007 that LeBron doesn't play hard, is getting worse as a basketball player, has a big head, basically is lazy while on the court (or at least not driven to play up to whatever limited ability he has left), and that the dominant story in the NBA from Feb. to April would be that LeBron basically sucks and his career arc will be similar to Martina Hingis and Eric Lindros!!!
There is no denying it. That is what he said.
Item 2 -- Simmons Gets Called On His Abuse of LeBron
Speaking of Bron, Kevin from Cleveland passed this along: "Here's a link from the News-Herald, a local paper just east of Cleveland, in which sportswriter Roger Brown puts you at No. 3 on the list of the six people who have done the most damage to their reputations since the Cavs-Pistons series. Here's what he wrote:
"Simmons spent months ripping and mocking James as an overhyped fraud -- and gained lots of national attention in the process. But after James' historic Game 5 performance, Simmons scrambled to save face in embarrassing fashion. He wrote a column on LeBron that was more slobbering and fawning than a 13-year-old girl writing a fan letter to Justin Timberlake."
Sorry, I have to respond to this one. First of all, if Roger can produce anything I've ever written that called him LeBron an "overhyped fraud," I will send him a $200 check to double the salary that the News-Herald is paying him every week. I think he has me confused with Charley Rosen.
Second, I love the idea that me "ripping" LeBron gained me national attention ... really? From who? Did I happen to be in a coma at the time? I criticized him in my Anna K. column from Miami (and rightfully so, Bron mailed in a game on national TV); my All-Star column from Vegas (where Bron's lack of enthusiasm for the season was a major topic, and if you don't believe me, check out the ESPN.com column by Brian Windhorst from March once LeBron started playing hard again, and this from a writer who's covered LeBron for his entire career); when LeBron made the absurd "global icon" comment; and a couple of times during the playoffs when Bron-Bron didn't seem properly enthused by the proceedings (and he wasn't). I don't regret a single thing I wrote about LeBron in the past year. Everything still stands.
So, in Bill Simmons' world, saying that someone isn't trying hard, is getting worse at basketball, isn't very driven to succeed, and has an overinflated view of his place in sports (powered in part by the media's articles rating him so highly) isn't calling him an overhyped fraud.
Well, I guess he didn't use the words "overhyped fraud" (note Simmons' decision to add quotation marks when he says that he never called LeBron an "overhyped fraud" -- Sure I said it, but I never used the exact words).
How about predicting that LeBron would melt down for two consecutive months and that it would be THE story of the NBA? How about stating that LeBron would follow the career path of Martina Hingis (no career major wins after age 19; basically out of contention at age 23) and Eric Lindros (best season at age 22, not a big factor in the league after age 26)? Isn't that basically stating that LBJ's best days are ALREADY behind him and if you haven't been paying attention you missed them?
What Simmons ought to say is, "My all-star column was wrong. LeBron has proven he isn't an overrated player who is getting worse and who will be a non-factor in the league very shortly." Instead he tries to waffle and play both sides........ala Kobe Bryant's recent "trade me don't trade me debacle." Embarrassing........