Los Angeles-based Bill Simmons is "the most prominent sportswriter in America," this Sunday's New York Times Magazine says in a profile pegged to Simmons getting a ton of ESPN cash to headline his own website. Advance look:
For Bill Simmons, the walk on Laker game days from his office at ESPN to the Staples Center — or “the Silicon Center,” as he once referred to it in a column — is an excruciating 250 yards, a nauseating gantlet of purple and yellow jerseys, T-shirts and banners that choke L.A. Live, the cheesy outdoor plaza that Kobe built. The games themselves are a special kind of sports abomination to him — more Hollywood scene than sports event, where no one gets drunk and yells at the officials, where the crowd could easily be mistaken for the audience at a Coldplay concert (his metaphor) and the loudest cheers are for Jack Nicholson....
“It’s sad how well I know this place,” he told me as we entered the arena on a Wednesday evening in early May, a few minutes before tip-off at the Lakers’ second playoff game against the Dallas Mavericks.
ESPN’s press presence at N.B.A. games is dominated by men who, in their slick suits and Italian loafers, seem to be taking their misguided fashion cues from the players themselves. Simmons, who is 41, was dressed more like a TV comedy writer — which he was, briefly, on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” — in a T-shirt, Jack Purcell sneakers, a baseball cap and blue jeans.
Also this: "Later this month, Simmons will take another step in the ongoing expansion of his empire, starting his own Web site, in conjunction with ESPN, called Grantland. Simmons says Grantland will be to ESPN what Miramax was to Disney, a boutique division with more room for creativity." Jonathan Mahler is the writer.