User Interview: Leebubba

Q&A with noted SimLeagues and Dynasty user Leebubba

We recently contacted WIS veteran and TV producer Leebubba all of our games, the forums, Howard Stern, working for ESPN, Bob Huggins, the WU Tang Clan, the Lingerie Bowl, boxing and Halle Berry.

WIS

Thanks for taking the time out to meet with us.

Leebubba

The pleasure is really all mine. I know you guys were looking for a handsome, sub .500 record coach to interview, so here I am. I'd just like to start by saying that as September 11th approaches, I hope everyone can take a moment to remember those who lost their lives on that horrible day. Humor is often my medicine when times get tough, but I just wanted to offer that, especially being a New Yorker.

WIS

Who is Leebubba?

Leebubba

Sorry to disappoint people, but my real name isn't Bubba and I do not raise farm animals and have a goat fetish. The "bubba" came from a hot female friend who just started calling me Bubba one day. When a hot girl gives you a nickname, you go with it. She could have called me Ugly McFaddenstein and I would have said "Thank you." My REAL name is Lee and I'm a single, 35 year old TV producer living in New York City. I was born in Queens, NY - home of Run-DMC, LL Cool J and The King Of Queens. Long story short, I moved to Cincinnati in 1981 and lived there until I graduated from the University Of Cincinnati in 1994. After executing the five-year plan at UC to sheer perfection, I landed my dream job at ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where I was a lowly production assistant. In 1996, I moved to NYC to work for Classic Sports Network as an associate producer. CSN became ESPN Classic, and in 1999, they moved their offices to where I had started - Bristol, Connecticut. So that's when I decided to become a freelance producer. About two months ago I landed my 2nd career dream job as a producer for Howard Stern's new subscription TV channel, Howard TV On Demand. It's like the shows that used to air on E! but there's no time limit on show lengths and it's all uncensored - no blurring, no bleeping and lots of other stuff that I can't describe at this particular moment. Did I mention to all six of the female WIS users that I'm single?

WIS

How did you find out about WhatIfSports.com?

Leebubba

I believe - and I've lost a few brain cells over the years so forgive me - but I believe I found out about it in two ways: one was from my favorite writer, Bill Simmons. And I believe the other was from reading the Cincinnati Enquirer online. Which is more proof that my name is not really Bubba - I know how to read.

WIS

Which WIS games have you played?

Leebubba

I've tried to treat WIS like a buffet or strip club. I try everything once. I've played SL Baseball (473-499 record), SL Basketball (152-306, 1 playoff trip), SL Football (21-27), SL Hockey (39-42-6 = playoffs!), HD (537-555 as we speak), GD (20-19) and HBD (101-61, lost in Division Series). I have not tried Clutch Racing Dynasty, but I obviously have a phenomenal username for it.

WIS

Which do you prefer? Why?

Leebubba

To be honest, I prefer strip clubs - especially if they have buffets. But I should also mention that I prefer HD and HBD. For one, the level of involvement in both games is great. We can sit and debate the changes that have been made, but I personally feel that the game content and length of each season in both games makes them my personal favorites. Pretty soon in HBD, you'll be able to make player decisions on whether to sleep with groupies. That's fantastic. GD doesn't do it for me. It's like an expensive lap dance - way too short and it leaves me wanting more. I must say, I am not a big hockey fan, but I really enjoyed my one season. I may return to the ice soon. As a big goon.

WIS

Besides sports, what are some of your other interests and hobbies?

Leebubba

I'm what the kids call a "social butterfly." Fellow New Yorkers would agree that this city really never sleeps. I try to take advantage of that. I've been known to knock down a beer or 10. I work in TV, so I love to watch it. I own two DVR's - again proving that my real name is not Bubba because I have electricity. I watch shows not only for entertainment, but to also see how shows are produced stylistically. There are some creative people out there. I also love to write. And although you couldn't tell, I enjoy working out and staying active. And Yankee games. Nothing beats Yankee Stadium.

WIS

Who is the most interesting personality you have ever worked with? Why?

Leebubba

Great question and I wish I could name just one. I am so fortunate to have worked in the business that I do because I have met personalities from all walks of life. Besides ESPN, I freelanced for places like MTV/MTV2, Fuse, Comedy Central and VH1 to name a few. So I've been lucky to meet not only sports personalities, but pop culture personalities as well. I once interviewed Sugar Ray Leonard when I went to cover the Boxing Hall of Fame ceremonies for ESPN Classic. We literally had to sneak him into a hotel room to avoid autograph seekers. You could instantly see why he has been one of the few boxers since Ali to gain mainstream stardom outside of the sport of boxing. At ESPN, Chris Berman is God. And he's earned it. If I hear "back, back, back" one more time time time I might kill kill kill myself, but he was always complimentary if you did a good job for him. I was there when Craig Kilborn was there. I just wanted to say that because there hasn't been a Kilborn sighting since what, the 70's? I also had the honor of working a bit with the late, great journalist Dick Schaap at ESPN Classic. What a kind, amazing man. Everyone who came into our studios to be interviewed by him loved him. On the flip side, I once had Method Man and Redman make me wait 20 minutes as they rolled a foot long "cigarette" before they were "ready" to shoot with me. To their credit, they didn't miss a line. Total gangsta s**t right there, man.

WIS

How is working with Howard Stern different than working for ESPN?

Leebubba

A highlight at ESPN is when a PA edits down the best plays from a game and they're shown on shows like SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight and so on and so forth. A highlight at Howard Stern is when 5 strippers walk into the Sirius radio studio and say, "We're ready to get naked." At Howard TV, while the subject matter is often insane, we still have a job to do. Look, dealing with porn stars and midgets is tough work. I literally just met Howard for the first time (on August 23rd) so I haven't developed a personal working relationship with him yet. Our job at Howard TV is to document his Sirius radio show, plain and simple. We don't dictate to the radio show what to do. From a television producer standpoint, working for Howard TV and everywhere else makes me a more versatile producer in the sense that I can adapt to different kinds of productions and scenarios. I actually began my TV career at WLWT in Cincinnati as a sports intern. Without those guys showing me the ropes I wouldn't be where I am at today. Ron Millennor (former sports producer, now at WXIX in Cincinnati) and sports anchor George Vogel are not only two of my mentors, but two of my buddies that I see when I visit Cincinnati the 1-2 times a year I make it there. Without them, I wouldn't have made it to ESPN. ESPN is an absolutely amazing place. It's the cream of the crop in the sport world. By the time I left, I was miserable personally, but I will always grateful for what I learned there, which was a ton. I'll never forget it.

WIS

Bob Huggins - Good guy? Bad guy?

Leebubba

A good guy who has flat out made some really bad decisions and major mistakes. You know who else has done that? You, me and everyone else on this site. My experience with Bob Huggins is hands down one of my greatest memories at UC. In college, I became a sports writer for our school paper, The News Record. I like to tell people that three monumental events happened at UC in 1989: 1) I arrived, 2) Bob Huggins arrived and 3) the Shoemaker Center, as it was known then, opened. Coincidence? I think not. Here I was, some punk college student, covering these great basketball teams and watching and learning from local beat writers who were doing the same thing. I learned, as a media member, how to ask questions to Huggs. If you asked Huggs a question where he could answer it with either "yes" or "no" - he'd do just that. Well, that doesn't make for good quotes. So I learned from Huggs, as well as the other beat writers, how to lead him into a conversation. Textbooks can't teach that. I took those lessons with me whenever I conducted interviews in the field from that point on. I used to skip class so I could go to his weekly media luncheons. For one, it had free food. Two, it would be me and maybe 3-4 other writers at a conference table just sitting there with Huggs. You could not beat that. During my time covering them he returned my phone calls from his car phone, I got to sit in his office and interview him and had several other one on ones with him. For a college kid to do that was amazing. I saw a side of him that most people - especially his critics - will never get to see. It really gives you a sense of how people are quick to judge others.

Cool story - when I was at ESPN, someone told me Huggs was in the building taking a tour and was in the newsroom. I immediately stopped what I was doing and found him talking to Dan Patrick, who is from Mason, Ohio. When they were done I reintroduced myself to him and he was kind enough to act like he remembered me. Maybe he did, maybe he didn't, but we spoke for a very short time, and just like every other time that I spoke with him, he was nothing but nice to me. So do I see him as an angel? Hell no. Do good people make mistakes? Hell yes.

WIS

Why do you think sports are so big in our culture?

Leebubba

Let's cut through the philosophical bullcrap with this one. Sports was once a tool to help people develop character through competition. While this still holds true to some extent, now it's all about the money. Let me quote a lyric from the Wu Tang Clan's classic joint "C.R.E.A.M.": "Cash Rules Everything Around Me. C.R.E.A.M. get the money - dolla dolla bill y'all!" That sound like a man named Bubba to you? Next.

WIS

Which are your favorite teams of all-time?

Leebubba

Last year's winning team from the Lingerie Bowl was fantastic. Great uniforms. I am a diehard Yankees, Reds, Bengals and Bearcats fan. Thanks to MicroLeague Baseball on my Commodore 64, I was introduced to the 1927 Yankees and the 1975-76 Reds. I cannot tell you how many times I made those teams play each other. I loved the 1990 Reds. After they swept the A's, my college buddies and I headed downtown to celebrate with tons of other people. I must have slapped hands with half of Cincinnati. You never would have imagined at that moment that this would be a city that would have race riots years later. The 1992 Final Four Bearcats are my all-time favorite college hoops team. I still have their loss to Michigan on tape. Occasionally, I'll pop it in and find myself cheering as if there's still some way we can win. I have to add one more team: our college intramural basketball team. I was the "owner" and our name was "Lee G. And The G-Strings." I used, without permission, my parent's UC bookstore card and bought all of us uniforms. We looked gorgeous, but went 1-4. We also kept stats. I played Way Off Guard and shot 1-19 over 5 games.

WIS

Did you play any sports as a kid?

Leebubba

Tons. I had no discipline whatsoever as a student, and the only reason why I even achieved the outstanding 2.1 GPA (on a 4.0 scale, ranked 63 out of 90 people in my class) that I did in high school was so I was be eligible to play football. I played football from 7th grade through high school. In junior high I played wingback, a la Tim Brown at Notre Dame. As a frosh in HS I switched to wide receiver, then sophomore year I played running back and outside linebacker. My last two seasons I only played OLB. I absolutely LOVED hitting people. You cannot beat HS football in Ohio. I had offers to several small schools - including a D3 school that actually won a national title - but my poor grades prevented me from being accepted there. You see, in D3, you actually have to have grades to get into school. My favorite and best sport was baseball. I always had a gun for an arm. Early in my baseball career, I was like a white Jesse Barfield - great arm, all power with the bat but could not hit for average. I didn't play HS baseball because I trained in the offseason for football. So I played in summer leagues every year. When I was younger I played soccer. I played hoops through the 9th grade - a season where I was named "Most Improved Player." One of my teammates congratulated me by saying, "You must have really sucked first in order to get that award." After our locker room brawl, I realized he was right and retired from hoops.

WIS

Do you play any sports now?

Leebubba

Yes, they're called Playstation 2 and golf. I have suffered numerous injuries and I am realizing now that I can't do the things I used to. I'll play hoops when I go back to Cincinnati, and I literally have shooting pains in my knees for days afterwards. My football days left me with two bad knees and a bad lower back. I've had two surgeries on my left knee and have bypassed the chance to go under the knife for my right one. I've also broken every finger, severely fractured my left ankle and broken a small bone in my hip. And this was before ESPN, where I suffered a shoulder injury on my throwing arm that was initially diagnosed as a sprained AC joint. I played with that for two years. When I moved to NYC I got it looked at again and was told I had been playing with a torn labrum and torn rotator cuff the whole time. Gotta love those Bristol, Connecticut hospitals! My surgeon in NYC, by the way was a doctor for the NY Mets. And guess who he operated on after me? Former Knick Charles Smith. When I came out of surgery I asked who the large black man was. The doc told me - and I asked if he was fixing his shot. Unfortunately, it was just his knee. Lay ups, Chuck, lay ups! Thanks for nothing Chuck.

WIS

What players did you admire most growing up?

Leebubba

I would have had a same sex marriage with Reggie Jackson as a kid if he would have said yes. He's the reason why I learned to switch hit - no pun intended - when I was little. I batted righty, but to duplicate his stance, I did it the right way: lefty. I also ate thousands of his awful Reggie bars. I also loved Dave Winfield. Drafted by four teams in three sports: ABA, NBA, NFL and MLB. Are you kidding me? Plus, I hear he was a legend in the shower, if you know what I mean. When I moved to Cincinnati, a rookie named Boomer Esiason lived in my hometown of Mariemont. I absolutely loved Boomer, especially because of his New York roots. I still love him. I saw him several months ago in NYC and felt like a kid again. And Hulk Hogan. I once saw him lose to Kamala The Ugandan Giant via countout at Madison Square Garden from 4th row seats on the floor. Amazing. What a real American - if you don't count the 'roids he did. I mean, when he said "Say your prayers and eat your vitamins." I am really glad I didn't listen.

WIS

Who are your favorite players in today's game?

Leebubba

Sean Casey, hands down, is the classiest act in sports today. Any member of the Cincinnati media would tell you that. I admire LeBron James. For that kid to have the composure he has is amazing. I'm still waiting for the Outside The Lines special on ESPN that reveals that he's actually 40 years old. Being in NYC, Tiki Barber is a class act and one tough little SOB. And I'll tell you this now he'll be a star TV personality one day. And Peyton Manning is a great player, and who knew he was so damn funny in those TV commercials!

WIS

Who are your favorite sports writers/analysts of all-time?

Leebubba

Let me tell you who I DON'T like as sports writers. I cannot stand those sports television columnists. Remember Rudy Martzke from USA Today? Or Phil Mushnick from the New York Post? I have a problem with these columnists criticizing sports television when they couldn't produce a home video of themselves if their lives depended on it. Rudy wasn't as bad, but Mushnick is horrendous. All this man does is complain about what he sees on television in the world of sports. Yet, he couldn't do a PA's job at ESPN if given the chance. My point is, unless you know how to produce television and the hard work that goes into it, shut your mouth. It sickens me that he is paid to complain about a craft he knows jack crap about.

On the other hand, Bill Simmons is amazing. There isn't a writer around with his combination of wit, intelligence and humor. I would love to pound beers with him over a Yanks-Red Sox game while discussing the latest episode of The Real World and arguing over why he stole my 7-2 Chinese recruit, Hung Lo Lee, in Hoops Dynasty. No offense to my parents, but it would be fun if Bill could adopt me for a month or so.

WIS

Build your dream college basketball team:

Leebubba

Okay, now you're trying to rub it in. You are asking this to a man who currently has a 537-555 record in a game called Hoops Dynasty. We'll have a little fun here. I once did a feature for ESPN Classic on the 1979 Magic versus Bird/Michigan State versus Indiana State title game. So we'll go with Magic at the point and we'll put the captain of the All-Ugly team, Larry Bird, at the three. Then, I'll be a homer and put Nicky Van Exel at the two - yes, the two folks. Nicky V had balls of steel at UC and I want those on my team. At the four: the intimidator, Kenyon Martin. When benches clear Nicky can go low and Kenyon can go high on opposing players. At center: Bill Walton. Every team needs good party favors. The coach: Jerry Tarkanian. I picture the team bus arriving at their opponent's arena with smoke and an odd scent coming out of the windows while the Cypress Hill classic "Hits From The Bong" blasts from the speakers. Tark would be first off the bus, biting his towel as he waves hello to everyone. Then Walton would follow, giving everyone a peace sign. Nick would follow Walton by flipping off everyone, Kenyon would flex as he got of the bus and Bird would simply look down at the ground and whisper a barely audible "Hello" as he walked by.

WIS

What is the top sports related thing you want to do in life that you have not yet done?

Leebubba

I've been to the World Series. A Final Four and NCAA Title game would be amazing. I'm sick of watching the "One Shining Moment" montage on TV. Memo to CBS: welcome to the 21st century, find a new song. If we could somehow work in my Cincinnati Bearcats winning a national title in hoops. I would die a happy man. I would also like to attend a Yankees or Reds Baseball Fantasy camp so I can wear a tight uniform and injure myself where big leaguers play during spring training.

WIS

Which five people, past or present, sit at your dream roundtable discussion? (do not have to be sports related)

Leebubba

My grandpa, my Dad, Muhammad Ali, Michael Jackson and Halle Berry. You can never spend enough time with your own father and HIS dad - never. Muhammad Ali is the closest thing I have to an idol. I would have loved to sit with him when he was in better shape, just to hear him ramble on and on. I went to the world premiere of "When We Were Kings" and I attended the after party. All of a sudden, Ali, flanked by his wife and Danny Glover, walked by. I have never been in awe of a human being like I was at that moment. I just stared at him like a little kid, and all of a sudden he held up a clinched fist and made that famous "I'm gonna give you one, kid" face right at me. I was literally holding back tears, just like my mom did at Woodstock when she took too much acid. Michael Jackson - my only word to him would be, "Why?" Why the skin, the nose, the zoo, the kids, the crotch grabbing. WHY? WHY? WHY? And Halle Berry - the single most beautiful woman on earth. When Monster's Ball becomes a play on Broadway, I am going to try out for Billy Bob Thornton's part. The frame by frame button on the DVD remote was invented for their love scene in that movie. And David Justice, what's wrong with you man? As for another ex of hers, Eric Benet - let's see, you're with Halle Berry and you cheat on her? That's like Buster Douglas KO's Tyson shocking. What would I say to her? Something like, "Look, I know we've only known each other for 12 seconds, but I'm a TV producer and a helluva guy and I love you. Will you marry me?"

WIS

If you could be commissioner of any league, which sport would it be and what would you do to change the game?

Leebubba

It would be the sport that clearly cares the least about its participants AND lacks one governing body: boxing. Boxing was once a beautiful sport that reflected American society. It was once culturally diverse. And it was relevant. Being heavyweight champion of the world was a symbol of power, not only in the ring, but in American society. Need proof? Study the stories of Jack Johnson, Joe Louis and Ali. Now, there are 96 heavyweight champions. There are too many divisions with too many weight classes. It's impossible to follow. And, it's lacking a bona fide superstar who can crossover into mainstream media. And most people already have a hard time warming up to it due to its violent nature WITHOUT these problems. I would disband all 4,162 governing bodies and form one "league." This league would be supported by major sponsors, such as Nike, Everlast, etc. I would hire legit promoters to work for the league to promote the bouts. I would ask our country's government to regulate the sport once and for all. All fighters would receive health benefits and pensions. And I would eliminate the unnecessary weight divisions and go back to the golden days of just eight weight divisions. And I would instantly make Clubber Lang the #1 ranked heavyweight contender.

WIS

What is your greatest WIS moment?

Leebubba

This interview. I mean, I would have to think that I am the single worst coach to have ever been profiled. I had a Manchester D3 team go 27-4 and make the 2nd round of the Nat'l Tournament. Did I inherit all of the talent from the previous coach? Hellz yeah and I'm proud of it. However, I moved on to D2 from there and did build a decent Drury program that made two Sweet 16's. Now I am an unaccomplished D1 coach of two schools: Texas Pan American and Bethune-Cookman. At UTPA, I'm really trying to work the Pan American recruits in Texas. And at BC, I 'm simply trying to get them to change their school name to something that doesn't sound like a grandmother's name. Intimidation doesn't apply to schools named Bethune-Cookman. My first HBD team went 101-61, but choked in the Divisional Series. That's what happens when you take away the greenies from the clubhouse and don't set a curfew during the playoffs.

WIS

Do you have any favorite players from any of your HBD or SimLeague baseball teams?

Leebubba

On my HBD team, the New York Wood Whackers, Trenidad Segui is a monster: .289 BA, 58 HRs, 186 RBI and 39 SB's. I also have Al Pujols, but he bats more like Alice Pujols. And Charles Dong has good wood. His nickname? The Donger.

WIS

What is your favorite aspect of our website?

Leebubba

The control you have. You wouldn't know it by my ravishing good looks, but I am a sports geek. I have always loved sports statistics. Like I said earlier, I used to play MicroLeague Baseball on my Commodore 64. I played Strat-O-Matic games. I used to make up my own dice rolling games. I even used to keep my own Little League stats and would get pissed off at the stats my coach would hand out because they were never right especially in my contract year in 6th grade, but that's another story. So I just love the control you have and the fact that you can live out your sports fantasies by doing this. I also like the fact that my best friend, ucfro, plays, as well as some other guys I went to UC with. The forums are hilarious as well.

WIS

If you could change one thing about our Dynasty or SimLeague games, what would it be and why?

Leebubba

There's a glitch called "Leebubba's record sucks" that you guys need to fix. Other than that, I have expressed my feelings in the forums about issues that I have with these games. Bottom line is, I can get as annoyed as any other user. But at the end of the day, while I do pay for it, it's just a game. It may not be perfect, but personally, I choose to enjoy it rather than spend excessive amounts of time complaining about it. But it is good to vent on the forums every now and then.

WIS

What is the best advice you can give to users who want to get the most out of WhatIfSports.com?

Leebubba

To remember that it's just a game and to have fun. You always have a choice. If the games really bother you that much, while it's your right to complain, it is also your right to not spend your money on it. I remember when I first discovered the forums. Being an outspoken chap, all I did was respond to people like some loud mouthed idiot. Now, I use the forums to 1) get advice from other users, 2) try and help people and to 3) be as goofy as possible. Someone has to try to lighten things up in that crazy party man.

WIS

Go Bearcats?

Leebubba

How dare you. There is not a person in the world who is a more passionate UC fan than I am. The football program is a major work in progress. And our basketball program was brought down by a school president who is completely clueless and concerned more about her own personal agenda than the well being of the school, which to some people's dismay, includes athletics. Those people need to wake the hell up. Mick Cronin is a master recruiter, but it will take UC at least a few years to get back to being a top notch program again. Can he get them there? Yes. Just about every trace of the Huggins era is gone. It will be odd seeing them struggle this season. Regardless, I will always love my school. No bandwagon hopping to Kansas State for me. (Editor's Note: Word.)

WIS

If you were in one of our games, which sport would you play? At which position? And, what would you be rated? Or, how much would you cost?

Leebubba

Easy, hockey. The only rating that would matter would be the whoop ass rating, because mine would be 100 and all I would do is check people and fight to the point where I'd lose all of my teeth and accumulate so many penalty minutes and suspensions that I'd get banned from league play. But, being the two-sport athlete I am, I'd then play Clutch Racing Dynasty because I never get to drive a car here in NYC anymore. I have no idea how I'd be rated, but it wouldn't be good. I wouldn't cost anything. I'm cheap and proud of it. Hey, did I mention I was single?

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