Our Giant: Yakkin' About Sim Bhullar, Doleful March Madness Galoot

Sim Bhullar is 20 years old, 7-5, 355 pounds and plays with a unique sleepiness. He's maybe the weirdest and certainly one of the most watchable players in the NCAA Tournament.
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There are any number of fascinating talents in this year's NCAA Tournament, and an even greater number of players who will briefly appear as such; this is only part of the fun of March Madness, but it's a part of it. But there is only one Sim Bhullar, which is a good thing seeing as the New Mexico State freshman is 7-5 and 355 pounds, and more than a few of them would make it very taxing for elevators and escalators in greater Las Cruces. Bhullar is 20, of Indian descent and Canadian nationality, and is kind of a giant, blithe-seeming oaf. There have been players moderately like him before, some of whom worked out better than others, but there's no one quite like him. In short, he's eminently worth talking about.

David Roth: Tell me your stance on this sad giant. I worry about other players being mean to him, which maybe does not speak terribly well of his NBA prospects.

Eric Freeman: He does not seem very comfortable in his body. Like a 5'6'' nine-year-old forced to play for his YMCA team when he really just wants to learn about robots. Except he was the MVP of his conference tournament.

David: That's the weird thing. I watched the WAC final and thought only about how I was worried about the older boys bullying him. And he finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds and like four blocks. All that while running the floor with all the grace and confidence of a kid wearing his t-shirt into a swimming pool. The fact is that a 7-5 person will ALWAYS have a chance as a basketball player. But another fact is that Neil Fingleton, the last "Whoops I'm tall" guy in Bhullar's class, is now a character actor playing Tall Bodyguard. Do you get the sense that our dude Sim can actually play basketball at all?

Eric: I think there are two questions to ask. One is yours, which is if he is good at basketball or is just big and does things by virtue of taking up space. The other is if he enjoys playing basketball at all. I don't get the sense that he does, via watching him walk, then trudge, then walk again in transition. And yet Fingleton couldn't hack it at this level, and he at least had a jumper. So maybe Bhullar is happy and just hasn't learned how to express emotions yet. Which, incidentally, makes me think that he will not be playing Tall Indian Bodyguard any time soon.

David: I don't get the sense that he's necessarily that into basketball. But he is very tall and also is just 20, and no one’s really that into anything but movies and lite substance abuse at age 20. There's the possibility that he maybe finds something that inspires him a bit? He hasn't played for long, and mostly just doesn't seem either in shape enough or aggrieved enough to be effective. When he blocks shots I sense that he's saying, maybe aloud, "That's stupid, I'm right here." Not at all "NEVER WITH THAT, NEVER IN MY HOUSE." Which is okay! It might make him a nicer guy. It just means that someone is going to dunk cruelly on him on Thursday.

Eric: Are you saying he is nice or that he hasn't learned the culture yet? Because to me it seems like someone threw him on the court and he is just trying to live. It's endearing because he's so new to it. I think you're right that he always seems like a potential dunk victim. It's as if he does not know the horrors of the basketball world yet.

David: I feel like he'll be able to walk it off if it comes to that. If some St. Louis guy dunks on him really meanly Bhullar will just be like, "Right, well that's just like two points." What strikes me most about his HS highlight videos is the way he tips the ball back to the ref after every dunk. Like "Sorry if that was loud, it was the easiest way to make it go in, here you go." 

Eric: At the same time—and it could just be because it’s a YouTube mix of dunks and terrible music—but I think he shows a little more attitude in that tape. He looks a lot more dominant, not like a guy who puts up amazing stats by accident. You know how we say some guys make it all look easy, but the when you look at their stats they've been the best player on the floor?

David: Bhullar mostly makes it look like there’s a really tall DJ Khaled playing for one of the teams, but I see where you’re going with this.

Eric: Bhullar makes his stats look like a data error. Is it possible to be an incidental savant?

David: It's definitely possible to be like eight inches taller than anyone else. I get no sense that he knows much about what's happening around him, but the numbers are the numbers. If he stays another couple years, his numbers could be really weird. What if he learns to pass? Or drops 20-to-50 pounds? And is a 20/10 guy?

Eric: They said he was a good passer during the conference championship game. To my eyes he shoveled it to a cutter passing right by him, but maybe that is enough.

David: I don't know if we've covered this, but he's VERY TALL. So sort of a sliding scale. But it is probably not a good sign for his NBA future that I think of the movie Angus when I watch him play.

Eric: He could be a 20/10/5 block guy and not be a good NBA prospect because he can't move laterally. He's like Hasheem Thabeet if he ate a Mario Bros. mushroom.

David: Can you imagine a future in which he is kind of buff and mean and effective? I have a hard time with that. I don't really want that. I'd rather he stay gentle and true to himself. Start a charity for tall guys with body issues. Bhully For You or something.

Eric: Our Giant. Also he is 7'5'' and I think it's likely that his feet crumble. We should embrace the fact that he might not exist in any other form. It's a wonder that he even exists. Where else but college basketball could there be a 7'5'' guy who looks sad and nevertheless scares every team he plays.

David: Unless there is a show on SPIKE dealing with Competitive Bouncer-ing, this is it. We are lucky to have him. I hope he stays safe.

Eric: Stay tuned for “America's Next Tall Bodyguard.”

David: Hosted by Big from “Rob and Big” and Tiny Lister. It'll happen.

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