Things got heated between ESPN analyst Bill Simmons and newly minted Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers on draft night. The vitriol has reached a new level, as Rivers is now claiming that Simmons tried to get him fired when he coached the Celtics:
Rivers is clearly being defensive, but that's probably because he was essentially attacked by Simmons during the coach's messy exit from Boston. Simmons claimed that Rivers quit on the team and engineered his own departure.
Worse still—in Simmons' mind—Rivers continually changed his story in the process, claiming alternately that he needed time off, that he'd return to broadcasting or that he'd come back to the team.
Simmons isn't happy about Rivers' most recent claim, which you can tell from the fact that nicknames are now out the window:
Yep, when The Sports Guy gets angry, he goes all "first-name basis" on his targets.
Look, this is the inevitable result of Simmons' immense popularity. He's opinionated, devoted to his teams and not always particularly rational in his analysis. When he was a small-time blogger who existed on the periphery of the sporting world, it was much easier for athletes and coaches to ignore his "fan's perspective" style.
Now that he's among the most visible personalities in ESPN's empire, that's no longer the case. He now has to answer for his opinions.
Simmons didn't write letters or try to set up meetings with the Celtics brass when Rivers was leading a floundering Boston team. But he did pen a number of lengthy (Is there any other kind with him?) columns that very clearly called for Rivers' removal.
Basically, Rivers is factually wrong in his claim, and Simmons is struggling with the new revelation that he has to face the repercussions of sounding off when he doesn't have all the facts.
Rivers and Simmons have two things in common right now: They're both wrong, and they're both starting to look a little bit childish by continuing their feud.