Home Culture Culture Lists

Bill Simmons’ 10 Go-To Writing Moves

Like any hugely successful writer, the Sports Guy has his favorite tricks of the trade

bill simmons

Amy Sussman/Getty Images the New Yorker

For over a decade, ESPN and Grantland majordomo Bill Simmons has written millions of words about sports, pop culture and all manner of combinations thereof. Being that prolific, it's only natural that he'll have some recurring writerly tricks and motifs, a handful of which we've catalogued here in honor of our new profile on the writerBy Jeremy Gordon

See Also:
• Bill Simmons' Big Score
Bill Simmons' Best Columns


George Bridges/MCT

Mocking the James Harden Trade

Sometimes the lowest-hanging fruit is the tastiest, and Simmons doesn’t hesitate to repeatedly bring up a team’s bone-headed mistakes. The most recent example might be the James Harden trade, in which the Oklahoma City Thunder traded the aforementioend player, now the league’s best shooting guard, to the Houston Rockets for, essentially, the less glamorous role player platter of Jeremy Lamb and Steve Adams. As he wrote in a recent column, "You know what’s amazing? [Owners] Bennett and McClendon could sell Oklahoma City for $850 million–$900 million right now, if only because they have two of the league’s biggest assets: Jeremy Lamb and Steven Adams. (Sorry, I had to.)" 

Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Holding Grudges

Simmons has had his fair share of feuds over the years, whether with online basketball collective Free Darko, the Boston Globe’s Charles Pierce (whom he later hired at Grantland) or former Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who he accused of quitting on the team. Simmons and Rivers went at it on air and over the Internet until patching things up, giving fans the rare thrill of public figures unafraid to poke at each other in full view of the world and providing the writer with new material.

Amy Sussman/Getty Images the New Yorker

Signing Off the Same Way

The signoff to Simmons' mailbag is a premeditated act, like the Rock dropping the People’s Elbow or Phish cramming a few more solos into "Halley’s Comet." It’s a contest amongst his readers to get the most outlandish/saddest/weirdest question or comment into the 'bag, so that Simmons can then marvel at the types he attracts. Examples? Try, "Bill, I named my birds after you and Larry Bird and now they won’t stop having sex." To which Simmons, as he always does when he finds his prime mailbag entry, replied, "Yup, these are my readers." 

Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Answering His Own Mailbag Questions

One of Simmons' most popular columns is his semi-regular mailbag feature, in which he answers questions from readers. Turns out, though, that it’s easy to talk about what you want when you set yourself up, and the sight of a question from "Bill S., Los Angeles" has dotted many a mailbag whenever no one’s raised a subject that Simmons wants to expound upon.