More than a year after Bill Simmons’ nasty break-up with ESPN left American sports fans without a representation of themselves on national TV, the writer, podcaster and now, talk show host, debuted Any Given Wednesday on HBO last night.
Sitting on a set meant to recreate your grandma's dining room and dressed like a '90s sitcom character, Simmons began with the two words that have been coming out of every American's mouth in the past week: “LeBron James.” His opening bit, about how LeBron is on track to be the greatest NBA player of all-time, was noteworthy only for its surfacing of this picture, which shows LeBron stopping by TRL with Bow Wow.
Simmons' first guest, and the foil to his LeBron-love, was Charles Barkley, an ever reliable source of NBA old-timerisms. Chuck did his thing, asserting that LeBron would never be among the top five greatest NBA players, while making up and misusing words.
The most pleasant moment of this exchange was Barkley calling the 47-year-old Simmons a millennial. Barkley is only seven years older. Still, Chuck acting like he’s Simmons’ elder seems appropriate since one of them was wearing a suit and the other looked like Cory Matthews.
The last, and best part of Any Given Sunday, was a rollicking, ridiculous rant from Ben Affleck against the NFL, Roger Goodell and Deflategate. Affleck is a Patriots diehard and a Tom Brady fanboy, but what makes this thing so great is that he was hammered. He slurred as many times as he cursed and revealed what very well may be Simmons strategy for producing entertaining TV—get guests wasted and stand back.