Simmons claims that a similar revolution is taking place in the NBA:
Here's the new mantra for savvy NBA teams: "Chemacterility." Why haven't you heard the term before? Because I just made it up. But it's an amalgam of three concepts that have formed the foundation of the Duncan era in San Antonio: chemistry, character and (cap) flexibility. As soon as Duncan arrived, in 1997, Popovich and Buford began to avoid bad guys and bad contracts, preferring role players, quality guys and short-term deals.
You're probably aware of the obvious stupidity of this argument, especially with Moneyball as the lead-in. One of the primary themes of Moneyball is the importance of objective analysis of players. Beane figured out that it was better to evaluate players statistically than to listen to scouts, who based their judgments of their experience and near-mystical beliefs in whether a guy could succeed or fail. Simmons has Moneyball backwards and claims that the analogous revolution in the NBA is to evaluate players based on chemistry and character, both of which are inherently subjective.
You would think that a guy like Simmons who pays attention to the NBA would realize that there is a much better parallel between Buford's Spurs and Beane's A's. The Spurs were one of the first NBA teams to figure out that foreign players were undervalued because they developed better team skills - namely passing, movement without the ball, and team defense - than American players did. Thus, they capitalized on the good fortune of landing the best player in basketball (Tim Duncan) by surrounding him with Tony Parker (28th pick in the Draft) and Manu Ginobili (57th pick in the Draft). Screw character, the Spurs pay homage to Moneyball because they had a better player acquisition strategy than anyone else in the league did.
Simmons cites the Miami Heat as an example of a team that has ignored the character strategy at their own peril, but this completely misses the reason why the Heat aren't very good. Miami has two marquee players. Dewayne Wade is coming off of a significant shoulder injury. He is still rounding into form. Shaquille O'Neal is a shell of his former self. He can barely lift his arms over his head after years of getting pounded in the post. The rest of the Miami roster is crap. It doesn't much matter whether that crap is high- or low-character. Does Simmons really think that Dewayne Wade is frustrated because Ricky Davis and Mark Blount are bad guys or because he doesn't have any teammates who can hit open jumpers or rebound misses?
The irony of Simmons touting a character and chemistry strategy is that his beloved Patriots are unbeaten in large part because of their acquisition of Randy Moss. Apparently, character and chemistry matter in the NBA, but they don't matter in the NFL.