As reported by Business Insider, ESPN/Grantland/The Internet’s Bill Simmons was forced to give up his NBA MVP vote because he had previously bet on the award. Simmons is quite transparent about his betting habits and routinely offers picks with the spread. (Hey, sounds like another suddenly famous ESPN columnist!) However, that transparency in betting can also lead to a conflict of interest when you start placing official votes on those bets…
ESPN’s star writer Bill Simmons has withdrawn his vote of LeBron James as MVP of the NBA due to a conflict of interest involving a bet he made on the award, Business Insider has learned.
Before the NBA season started, Simmons said on his podcast that he made a bet on James winning the MVP award. By the end of the season, the NBA actually handed Simmons a ballot allowing him to vote on who should be MVP.
He recorded a podcast of him filling in his ballot. Not surprisingly, Simmons voted for James.
The article also interestingly notes that if this happened in the financial world, Simmons would come under heavy fire. That may be true, but it’s highly unlikely Simmons is the victim of any sort of intense scrutiny for this story. Withdrawing the vote is certainly the right move, but it’s inconceivable to think something like this hasn’t happened before.
What interests me about this story is the continuing evolution of Bill Simmons. In a nutshell, the great secret to the incredible success of Bill Simmons is his ability to simultaneously be mainstream and counter-culture. He is a journalist (griping about press credentials for his Grantland writers) and he’s not a journalist (those Vegas gambling trip columns). He is able to tape podcasts with his buddies… and President Barack Obama. He can write about basically anything he wants under the umbrella of the biggest sports network in the world. It is the appeal and paradox to Simmons, and now the appeal and paradox to Grantland.
This NBA MVP vote just happens to be one of the very few times Bill Simmons couldn’t be both The Boston Sports Guy and the Editor In-Chief of a multi-million dollar sports empire.
(via Business Insider)