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With support of “Scully,” “Wooden” teaches T.J. Simers a thing or two about disrespect

Even when T.J. Simers is doing something nice for charity, he still can make people hate him.

Last night at the Nokia Theater in Downtown L.A., the L.A. Times Columnist T.J. Simers “moderated” a discussion with Vin Scully and John Wooden, that raised a ton of money for local Children’s charities.  Simers Produced the show, so we hesitate to insult a guy who is doing something positive for sick kids.  However, Simers’ behavior and apparent attempts at humor were SO offensive, that something has to be said.

But John Wooden beat us to it.

In the 90-minute program, Wooden took about a half a dozen undisguised SHOTS at Simers, questioning his integrity, class, and professionalism.  Each time, Scully was clapping, or smiling and nodding, in complete agreement.  Wooden was as sharp as a tack, staring down Simers as he delivered his verbal jabs, leaving no doubt as to the intention of the comments.

And based on the reaction of the audience, Simers completely HAD IT COMING.  T.J. showed no respect for his guests.  While trying to be funny, he practically turned it into a Roast.  He kept bringing up painful memories, and then made light of them.  Forget that he kept calling them “Scully” and “Wooden;”  How about questioning Wooden’s practice of still writing monthly letters to his beloved Widow Nell?  I have NEVER in my life, in REAL life, seen someone taunt a Legend for being spiritually romantic.  The crowd roared in SUPPORT of Wooden’s loving tradition, and in disgust of what Simers was trying to do.  It was absolutely repugnant.  Wooden’s daughter should have run up on stage and cold-cocked Simers on live TV.

Of course Wooden handled it gracefully, just sticking to his beliefs.  Wooden’s tolerance for Simers’ sarcasm was remarkable.  If the whole thing weren’t for charity, he might have just got into his wheelchair and rolled right off the stage.  Instead, he decided to BEAT SIMERS at his own game.

Apparently, Wooden is just as competitive as he always was, because he was relentless in putting Simers in his place.  Simers repeatedly accused Wooden of lying, and making up stories.  Is this any way to treat a legend?  You can say that he was just being a character, just playfully BAITING Wooden, but it didn’t seem that way, and Wooden didn’t TAKE it that way.  Based on Simers’ SKEPTICAL, suspicious, and ACCUSATORY attempts to provoke, it’s a miracle that he didn’t bring up Sam Gilbert.  So Wooden responded by prefacing his answers with: “You’re not going to believe me anyway…” and “Nothing I say is going to change YOU…”  

And when Scully brought up Abraham Lincoln, Wooden pounced on the opportunity like Gail Goodrich on a loose ball, sharing with Simers the classic Lincoln quote that “it’s better to remain silent and let people think you’re a fool, than to speak, and remove all doubt.”

And the zinger that got the loudest crowd response?  When Simers was kiddingly but annoyingly needling Wooden about the Coach having authored so many books that he NEVER STOPS WRITING, Wooden asked:  “And when are YOU going to START?”

I’ve never been one of those guys who hates Simers.  I GET it.  I GET him.  I understand “shock journalism.”  Most of the hate mail he receives is from truly ignorant people.  But you don’t go to a funeral and tell knock-knock jokes.  There is a time and place for insult humor, too, and last night at the Nokia Theater was NOT one of those times or places.  There IS room for humor, but personally questioning the love, devotion, and honesty of John Wooden is not funny, on any level.  I bet that Simers will get more nasty e-mail over this event than over anything that he has ever written in the Paper… but based on Wooden’s perspective, I use the term “written” loosely.

Simers couldn’t even master the bottom level of the Pyramid.



  1. JosephineBruin Avatar

    wooden was on fire last night and i love your take on the evening especially the part about wooden’s daughter should have got up there and beat up simers!!!!!!!!!!! that lincoln quote was priceless and that
    when are you gonna start writing one too….
    simers is a dick! he should have asked Vin Scully about his love affair/romance with his wife too, bey simers blew it.

  2. Bill Vincent Avatar
    Bill Vincent

    Funny…I guess it depends on how you approach the whole thing. I drove my son down to L.A. and there were 3 people up on stage putting on a great show, and the audience was eating it up. Congratulations to T.J. Simers for putting it all together. The only problem “Simers” should have with this event is that those of us who have learned from Coach Wooden about the importantance a good attitude and outlook will see “Simers” for what he is…an old softy. He lobbed his insults up to these L.A. icons and took it on the chin with a smile on his face. Kudos to all for a great event (and for a great cause too).