Bill Simmons claims MLK shooting made Memphis Grizzlies fans tense

Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol reacts at a press conference after game four of the Western Conference finals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs at FedEx Forum. The Spurs won 93-86. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not your fault that Memphis is upset, Mark Gasol. After, MLK was shot in your city. (Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports)

Bill Simmons is not a dumb guy. His Grantland series provides some of the most wonderful and articulate sports writing one will find.

In fact, after years of hunching over a computer and tap-tapping away at his keyboard like the rest of us, Simmons saw the light of day. He and fellow journalist Michael Wilbon now sit alongside Jalen Rose and the one and only Magic Johnson on the set of ESPN’s NBA broadcasts.

However, sometime the guy can tend to reach a little too far to make a connection between A and B.

Take, for example, his recent comments on why Memphis Grizzlies fans tensed up once their team began to fall behind against the Spurs in Game 4.

I didn’t realize the effect [the MLK shooting] had on that city…I think from people we talk to and stuff we’ve read, the shooting kind of set the tone with how the city thinks about stuff. We were at Game 3. Great crowd, they fall behind, and the whole crowd got tense. It was like, ‘Oh no, something bad’s gonna happen.’ And I think it starts from that shooting.

Say that again? Well, the audio itself is here at roughly the nine-minute mark, but the point is clear: Bill Simmons is literally OK with himself in stating that Grizzlies fans were feeling tense because the great Martin Luther King was shot in their fair Memphis.

So, it had nothing to do with that fact that the Grizz were already down 3-0 and were about to be swept out of the playoffs unceremoniously?

What about the fact that this was the organization’s first-ever trip to the Western Conference Finals and these fans had no idea when they would be seeing their team advance this far again?

According to Simmons, it had to have been an event that took place in 1968. One which — while significant — has virtually zero bearing on a basketball game enjoyed by several different and new generations of people.

We are just going to go ahead and politely agree to disagree on this one.

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