The Sports Guy Speaks: A Q&A With #1 Bestseller Bill Simmons

Mediaite: Who do you see as some rising stars in journalism, sports and otherwise?

Simmons: Katie Bakes! It’s all about Katie Bakes. (Editor’s note: Katie Baker. Who is a columnist for Mediaite!) I like that she only writes like once a month. She taunts me with her well-written, biting takes on sports media people and then disappears for 4 weeks because she has a real job. She’s like an anti-social cat that disappears for most of the time, but when it jumps on your lap, it feels special and you’re like, “hey, the cat jumped on my lap!” That’s how I feel about every Katie Bakes column. Well, until she skewers me in one of them. And even then, I will probably enjoy it and it will only increase my platonic crush on her writing.

At this point, I am totally bored by traditional sports columns about why the BCS sucks, why John Calipari is a bad guy, why Tom Cable should resign and so on. I don’t even glance at them. I read for information and original perspectives/takes/angles and that’s it. I can tell within 2 sentences if I should stop reading a column or not.

“There is no rhyme or reason to [what I read] other than, ‘Is this person coming up with something that I am not getting anywhere else?'”

I have gravitated towards all kinds of writers in all different genres, that’s the best way to keep your brain cells churning. For instance, I really like Andrew Ross Sorkin’s stuff even though I know absolutely nothing about Wall Street and that whole world. I like Nikke Finke’s blog because she is just merciless with Hollywood people and has more inside info than everyone else combined. I like Jason Whitlock’s stuff because he will always argue the shit out of his points and he’s not afraid of anyone or anything.

I like The Onion’s AV Club. I like reading the New Yorker, New York Magazine and Vanity Fair; they always have one or two pieces that are worth my time. I really enjoy Peter King’s Monday morning column, and I like anything Klosterman or Gladwell writes. Etc. etc. etc. I am all over the map. There is no rhyme or reason to it other than, “Is this person coming up with something that I am not getting anywhere else?”

Mediaite: Leitch astutely says that your bestselling book feels like a “victory for all of us.” Because you write in a voice so familiar to your readership, you draw a strong connection with your audience. Is there anything you’d like to say to the folks reading this at their desks right now?

Simmons: Again, very nice of him to say. I don’t know about the “victory for us” part, but I can tell you that nobody appreciates his or her readers more than me. The only reason I ‘made it,’ for lack of a better phrase, was because my readers liked what I was writing and spread word to their friends. That’s it. They have always been my single biggest competitive advantage dating back to the late 90s. So yeah, it might sound corny, but I do hope they took a tiny slice of pride in the No. 1 thing.

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