Not to pretend that we can climb inside the swelling head of Bill Simmons here, but …
For all reasons that would seem logical to him, the creator and editor-in-chief of Grantland.com who also happens to be a cutting-edge documentary exec, a huge podcast master and all-around “voice of the fan” should have reason to believe he’s worth in excess of $6 million a year (for the sake of argument, a salary figure reported by TheBigLead.com) just to continue his “B.S.” reign at ESPN in today’s media world.
Or, as an unnamed agent tells SportsIllustrated.com, why should he settle for anything less in the $7 million-to-$10 million range?
Clippers guard J.J. Redick pulled in about $6 mil this season, and backup Jamal Crawford made even less. Clippers season-ticket holder Simmons has to be a bigger hot-shot in L.A. than both of them. Even at age 45.
A really good NBA general manager may be in that ballpark, too. For years, Simmons has conveyed to his boy-band audience that he’s more than GM-qualified. His wispy-voiced observations on pre- and post-game studio appearances comes also with the appearance that he’s sitting on top the 752-page “The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to the Sports Guy,” which allows him to look down, right and left with ease when seeking fellow-host affirmation.
And don’t overlook the minor mention that Simmons just had in the Los Angeles News Group list of the 50 most powerful sports people in the city. The Boston transplant was slotted rather marginally at No. 36, but in due time, after planting firmer L.A. roots, he’s a sure bet to blossom into a drought-resistant Sequoia with his own national park status.
Yet, when ESPN president John Skipper got ahead of the story on Friday and announced that Simmons’ contract would not be renewed after a 15-year-run with the company, and indicated that he was more than just money, that sent up the flag: It was about the money.
“We have been in negotiations and it was clear it was time to move on,” Skipper said in a statement. Meanwhile, James Andrew Miller, the author of the book, “Those Guys Have all the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN,” reported there was no salary request from either Simmons or ESPN during the recent negotiations.
There didn’t need to be. A dealbreaker, no matter what controversy that’s involved in any disciplinary action that landed on Simmons over the years, good or bad publicity for ESPN, it has to generate some particular residual effect, measured in cash flow.
No matter how creative a media genius he thought he had become, Simmons apparently wasn’t printing enough Disney Dollars to offset whatever internal corporate grief he had created. You can only replay the Grantland Basketball Show in the 2 a.m. slot on any one of the ESPN channels and net the same result.