ESPN's Bill Simmons made comments on his weekly Grantland podcast May 29 that link the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. to what he imagined was the feeling inside the FedExForum in Memphis during the Grizzlies' Game 3 overtime loss to the San Antonio Spurs last Saturday night.
The podcast, which was co-hosted by former NBA player-turned sportscaster Jalen Rose and fellow Grantland writer David Jacoby, was "about the Spurs, the best players in the league, and how NBA stars are affected by their famous wives," according to the Grantland website.
At approximately the eight minute mark, following a discussion about a restaurant in Memphis that Simmons called "one of the 10 best restaurants in America," the conversation turns to the Lorraine Motel, the site of the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., and how these types of events affect the personality of a city, pointing also to how he thought Dallas was affected by the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
Simmons then went on to say that when the Grizzlies started to fall behind to the Spurs in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals May 25, the people at the game in Memphis "were like, ‘Oh no, something bad is going to happen.’ And I think it starts from that shooting."
"I didn’t realize the effect [The MLK assassination] had on that city…I think from people we talk to and stuff we’ve read, the shooting kind of sets 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. They were like, ‘Oh no, something bad is going to happen.’ And I think it starts from that shooting."In 2009, ESPN suspended Simmons from Twitter for two weeks for comments he made on the social media site about Boston sports radio station WEEI's The Big Show. Earlier this year, in March, Simmons was again suspended by ESPN and was told to refrain from tweeting for three days for being critical of ESPN's show, First Take.