They come in all shapes and sizes and ply their trade across a variety of mediums. While their differences are too vast to list, all have at least two things in common: They were all born to entertain us and they're all named Bill. Recently I set out to identify the best Bills among us. The task was daunting. There are so many accomplished Bills.
While conducting my research and compiling this important list I followed a few simple rules.
- The person has to be named Bill.
- Bill has to be good at his or her job.
- Only Bills are eligible. No Billys, or Wills, or haughty, pretentious Williams. This is straight up Bill.
So with those rules as my compass, I created this top ten list. Don't even try to argue.
10. Bill Elliott
In 1986 Bill set the NASCAR speed record at Talladega with a time of 212.8 MPH. NASCAR later had to change the rules because Bill went too fast. Let me say that again: In a sport called "racing" where the idea is to go as fast as you can, Bill was too fast in a race car.
Imagine if some officials got together and determined that Secretariat was too fast. So in order to level the playing field, Secretariat would have to race with apples shoved up his nose. That's essentially what happened to Bill Elliott. He was way too fast so NASCAR instituted the "restrictor plate rule" and they've been putting around the track ever since.
Also his nickname is Awesome Bill from Dawsonville, which in itself earns him a spot on the list, even without the speed record.
9. Bill Cosby
Bill is famous for his stand-up. His act is notable for never having to resort to cussing to be funny. He's a rare talent indeed. Only the best can make people laugh without cuss words. He's also sold a shit ton of Jell-O.
And Bill has a distinct way about him. His dance. His halted speaking style. All classic and original. Bill has made millions laugh.
8. Bill Simmons
My affinity for Bill should be simple to understand. Bill went from writing his own little Sports Guy Blog in Boston to ruling an empire. Bill is the BMOC at ESPN these days and coincidentally loves a down and out boxer named Rocky Balboa.
You want surprises? What about Mickey dying before the first fight with Clubber Lang? (Nineteen years later, and I'm still blown away by this one. People in the movie theater werereeling when this happened; nobody saw it coming. Mick? Mick? Mick?) Or Rocky getting knocked out by Clubber? Or Apollo coming out of nowhere to train Rocky? Or Adrian unveiling the first of her irritatingly enjoyable "You can't win!" speeches? Or that really awkward hug between Rocky and Apollo after Rocky finally wins the beach sprint, when they just show a little too much affection for two grown men?
A few years ago he founded the website Grantland which set out to hire talented writers and give them the latitude to show their skill, largely unfiltered. He's a good Bill because he doesn't like editors.
7. Bill Laimbeer
Bill was one of the bad boys with the Pistons and rocked the short shorts. I hated him as a kid but have much respect for Bill now, primarily because few others do. Bill does things his way which would make Sinatra proud. And in the end, that's all we really have-- taking advantage of opportunities you have in life that would make Sinatra proud.
Laimbeer is generally regarded as the baddest of the former Bad Boys, a versatile big man who played hard -- and dirty, by many accounts -- won back-to-back NBA titles in 1989 and 1990 with the Detroit Pistons, and was a four-time All-Star. Along the way, he picked up about a dozen enemies for every friend. Not that he cares. Because he doesn't.
He was, and still is, unapologetically exasperating, with a personality that has not played well on the NBA side. But that same demeanor has served him quite well in the WNBA -- "the ladies' league," as he calls it -- where he won three titles in six seasons as coach of the Shock. (The franchise moved to Tulsa in 2010.)
6. Bill Walton
Bill is straight up crazy.
As a Spurs fan it's hard not to admire Bill. Bill's indifference toward the media and the public's perception of him is a thing of beauty. Bill just don't care, but Bill wins. Fox Sports recently
took a page stole from VTM and broke down Bill's wardrobe at a basketball game because we all know it's about the fashion.
Bill won 10 titles with the Celtics. Sure there were only 8 teams in the league, but it's still a feat that will never be matched. Bill has all the trophies. Bill has so many trophies he can't even get excited for a Game 7 showdown between LeBron James and Tim Duncan.
Some of you younger guys might not realize this but Bill invented email and the Xbox.
2. Bill Dance
Unlike the rest of us, Bill has never been too drunk to fish.
Hands down, Bill is the number one Bill of all time. Bill's career and legacy is beautifully detailed in a feature from The Dissolve earlier this year.
It's tempting to suggest that Murray has learned how to cultivate an air of mystery. But the truth is that mystery can't be cultivated, any more than charisma or magnetism can: An artist either has it or doesn't. Murray, remarkably, has been able to maintain it even after appearing in Larger Than Life, Osmosis Jones, and multiple motion pictures in which he provided Garfield's voice. That helps explain the remarkable longevity of Murray's career. Of everyone Murray started out with at Saturday Night Live, he's the only one who has gone the distance, the one who hasn't died, semi-retired, or been rendered irrelevant by the cruelty of time and a lack of reverence for his comic elders.
In his earliest incarnations, that sense of mystery often took the form of ironic reserve. As Murray got older, his mystery began to take on a more existential dimension. Funny people are expected to give everything of themselves, to pander for viewers' affection and laughter, but Murray holds audiences at arm's length. In Broken Flowers and Rushmore, he simultaneously seems to be giving all of himself and nothing, to be exposing his soul and a paralyzing inner emptiness. When that ironic distance shatters, as it does often in his more recent films, the result can be devastating.
It was similarly touching during the Reddit AMA when Murray was asked about his best memories of meeting a fan. He answered with an anecdote about a woman who was lifted from a deep depression by Caddyshack. He added: "I know I'm not saving the world, but something in what I've learned how to do or the stories that I've tried to tell, they're some sort of representation of how life is or how life could be. And that gives some sort of optimism. And an optimistic attitude is a successful attitude."
Then he did this.
Only Bill Murray could pull off PBR pants pic.twitter.com/XHbnfslE9G— Cool Material (@coolmaterial) March 28, 2014
Notice how the sky opens up into his head as if they are one and the same. Bill is the world and all the clouds in the sky and they are Bill.
You win Bill. You're the best ever. Cinderella Bill. It's in the hole.