Archive for the ‘Chicago Bulls’ category

Did You Motherfuckers Just Lose to the Heat?

April 9, 2008


Dear Chicago Bulls,

Wow. Quite a game last night. Playing against an abortion of a shitfest of an abonination–a team with a starting five of Chris Quinn, Daequan Cook, Mark Blount, Ricky Davis, and Earl Barron–you lost by 7. Seriously… just lost to a team that boasted Kasib Powell as its leading scorer. A Kasib Powell that was named the Developmental League’s MVP a few weeks ago. A fucking D-League player dropped 20 on you. I mean, the Heat were losers of 7 in a row and 10 of 11, and hadn’t beaten a team other than Milwaukee since February. And you asswipes lost to them?

Kirk Hinrich, you just signed a multi-year deal in the offseason worth upwards of $11 million – $12 million per. You were a lottery pick. Matched up with Quinn, you went 2-for-5 from the field in 30 minutes of play, scoring 5 points and tossing 4 assists. Quinn slightly outplayed you to the tune of 16 points, 6 assists, and 2 steals in 30 minutes. By the way, Chris Quinn was an undrafted free agent from Notre Dame who averaged about 8 minutes per game–career–until the Heat gave up on the season a few months back.

Hey Ben Gordon: great effort. “They wanted it more and played a lot harder as a team,” Gordon said. “A lot of their guys are playing just to stay in the NBA, so they definitely had a higher level of intensity than we showed.” Read that quote. Its coming from a guy who is in a contract year, by the way. Oh, and his team needed this win to stay alive for the postseason.

As a team, you allow the Heat to shoot 48 percent from the field. You blew an 11-point lead late in the third quarter to a team that hasn’t come back from that large of a deficit all season. To be fair, Tyrus Thomas did outscore Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem combined. By four. But Thomas played 30 minutes, and I don’t think D-Wade and U-Has (?) were even in the building last night. So thats not as good as I originally thought.

John Paxson, I bought season tickets for this year’s team for two reasons–One, I believed that this team was ready to take that step to become one of the Eastern Conference’s elite. Two, I thought that there might be a chance you would acquire Kobe Bryant and give this team the edge it needed to compete with the league’s best. Neither happened, obviously. And I blame you. Your insistance that this core group of players–Hinrich, Thomas, Gordon, Luol Deng–was good enough to win a title has cost Bulls fans a chance to see something special. You could of traded any of these guys in a package for Kevin Garnett. Or Pau Gasol. Or Bryant. Instead, you stood pat, made a horrible Ben Wallace signing and draft blunders like Thomas over LaMarcus Aldridge. You got almost nothing for Tyson Chandler, who is thriving in New Orleans (albeit with the best point guard in the league, something he could have used in Chicago). You signed Captain Kirk to the aforementioned huge deal. To wrap it all up, you fired a good NBA coach–Scott Skiles–because a bunch of players didn’t like him. And you replaced him with an ineffective, powerless, borderline assistant, effectively throwing away the season.

I grew up in the 80s and followed the maturation of Michael Jordan and one of the greatest teams in NBA history. I saw my favorite team win 6 NBA titles. So maybe I was spoiled by that. But living through the 1998-99 through 2002-2003 seasons means I have a right to expect more. Watching this team lose to the Minnesota Timberwolves was bad enough; watching them get eliminated from playoff contention by a fucking D-League roster is an embarassment. Mr. Reinsdorf, make firing Paxson your first order of business. Send Jim Boylan with him, along with Gordon, Deng, and Chris Duhon. See if you can get anything for the others. Start over. I’d rather go through another 4 years of crap than watch a talented team not care for another season.

Holy Shit….These Guys Are REALLY Done

March 4, 2008


So, I was listening to sports talk radio today, and my favorite afternoon team–Dan Bernstein and Terry Boers on WSCR 670 ‘The Score’–were discussing the Bulls’ inability to win three games in a row. They were looking over the Bulls’ remaining schedule to determine if it was going to happen in the final two months.

Folks, not only will this piece of shit team not win three in a row, they might struggle to win three total. OK, thats a bit of hyperbole, but check out this remaining schedule:

Memphis, Cleveland, at Boston, at Detroit, Utah, Philadelphia, at New Orleans, New Jersey, San Antonio, Indiana, Atlanta, at Philadelphia, at Atlanta, Milwaukee, Boston, at Cleveland, Washington, at Miami, at Orlando, Cleveland, Orlando, at Milwaukee, Toronto.

I knew this team wasn’t a contender; that was apparent by the end of November. But as a season ticket holder, I held out hope of a late run, resulting in the 7 or 8 seed and perhaps an entertaining playoff series against Boston or Detroit, in which the Bulls managed a win or two. But look at that schedule. There’s no way. Lets analyze this:

– Here are the “definite” wins (by no means are any of these wins guaranteed by NWMJ; however, I would be surprised if the Bulls didn’t beat these teams): Memphis, Indiana, Milwaukee, at Miami. So that is four wins.

– Here are the games they could win, but by no means do I expect the Bulls to prevail: Philadelphia, New Jersey, Atlanta, at Philadelphia, at Atlanta, Washington. There’s six games that the Bulls ‘could’ win, but will probably go 3-3 in (or worse).

– And here are the games that if the Bulls win, I’ll be shocked: Cleveland, at Boston, at Detroit, Utah, at New Orleans, San Antonio, Boston, at Cleveland, at Orlando, Cleveland, Orlando, and Toronto. Lets say that out of those 12 games, the Bulls miracously pull out 3. And thats stretching it, my friends.

So looking at this optimistically, the Bulls will garner another 10 wins. That will put the squad at 33-49, and even that is not good enough to make the 8 seed in the East.

A Night at the U.C.

February 23, 2008

United Center

As I’ve mentioned before, I have partial season tickets to the Bulls this year. My friend Neil and I purchased 11 games, and this is the 8th we have had tics for. So far this year, we are 0-5, and we sold the tickets to the two other games. So obviously, this investment was turned out terrific for the two of us. Neil had been prodding me to write an entry about a Bulls game, a sort of Simmons-esque running diary of the experience of watching a Bulls game this year. We figured that Friday night’s game against the Denver Nuggets would be as good game as any to write about.

**-Upon waiting for Neil to show up at Gate 2 prior to the game, I watch the people enter the U.C. I then see a guy wearing the greatest jersey of the season so far, even better than the dude wearing an authentic Bears Kordell Stewart jersey a few months ago: this cat had a Trent Tucker jersey. Yeah, thats right. Trent. Tucker.
**-Neil shows up and we make our way up to the 300 level about 15 minutes prior to game time. We get our beers and then spend the next fifteen minutes before tip walking up the stairs to our seats, intermittedly stopping to get oxygen and check our heart monitors. Our seats aren’t that bad; we’re just out of shape and somewhat fat.
**-Finally, the game is about to start. Before the game, like at many sporting events now, the Bulls show a two or three minute highlight film which showcases past great Bulls and then eventually transitions to the key players of today. This year this film has been more comedic than anything for Neil and I. It starts out great…….the movie shows some of the underrated good players of the early 70s like Norm van Lier, Bob Love, and Jerry Sloan, and then shows the guys that we all grew up idolizing (Michael, Scottie, etc.). Then, when it comes time to show the “stars” of today, the names like Duhon, Hinrich, and Sefolosha seem pretty anti-climatic.
*–The game begins, and its already obvious to Neil and I that the 15 year old kid sitting behind us is going to provide us with an immense amount of entertainment. He’s probably watched about 6 NBA games in his life, yet he’s discussing strategies like he’s James Naismith. At one point, the Bulls get a technical foul for illegal defense, and the Nugs send Carmelo Anthony to the line to shoot the free throw. Probably a good call; he’s shooting 81 percent from the line this year. “Why do they have Carmelo shooting the free throw? A.I. is a much better shooter,” proclaims little Naismith. (By the way, Iverson is also shooting 81 percent–but is a career 76 percent free throw shooter compared to Anthony’s 82 percent).
**-A very entertaining first quarter is highlighted by the Bulls opening up a 33-21 lead, a few nice dunks, some very athletic blocked shots by Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah, and the teenage white trash couple in the two seats in front of us realizing they have made a grave mistake. By about the 4 minute mark of the 1st quarter, they realize our stupid heckling and inane comments, peppered with ‘fuck’ and ‘cocksucker’, don’t make for the best date atmosphere. The girl was pretty hot though.
**-Which brings me to another point: I never knew that Bulls games were such an attraction for underage ass. You would think Cubs games would be the go-to sporting events for jailbait in this town, and you’re probably right. But considering the U.C. isn’t exactly on the best side of town, Neil and I have both been really surprised at how many young girls go to these games by themselves. Honestly, the only thing that surprises us more is how drunk they get when we buy them one beer. Great investment for $5.50 guys.
**-By the mid-second quarter, Neil and I are discussing–loudly–our friend’s habit of letting his parents run his life despite being 31 years old. “Why’s John being such a pussy?”, I ask. “I don’t know, motherfucker…..he’s being a bitch.” Meanwhile, little James Naismith watches as Ben Gordon penetrates and puts up a wild layup attempt, missing badly. “He should of kicked it out to Noah!”, he says. “He was wide open from 22 feet!” Yes…..thats what the Bulls need. More perimeter opportunities for Joakim Noah.
**-Speaking of Noah, during a timeout, the Bulls do a ‘get-to-know-you’ thing with Joakim on the scoreboard. One of the questions is ‘Whats your dream job?’ Noah answers, ‘I’d like to run a fruit stand.’ Really? You’re making millions of dollars a year at age 22 playing a sport for a living, and your dream job is selling peaches to tourists for 20 dollars a day? Neil and I are stunned into silence by this.
**-The half ends with a crazy Bulls run, and suddenly the potent Chitown hoops club is up 68-55 at the intermission. The crowd is stunned, as are Neil and I. Little Naismith proclaims that this is what the Bulls should of been doing all along, “Just shooting.” What an offensive mastermind. “It also helps that they’re shooting 64 percent,” I say to Neil. Little Naismith seems upset, but Neil and I are too determined to get more beer.
**-While walking around the concourse during the half, a Bulls fan gets to really enjoy the wide variety of legal ass in the building. It must be the high-priced seats, but the hot soccer moms are out in full force during Friday and Saturday night games.
**-Neil decides to get in the Sweet Treats line for some halftime ice cream. “You’re gay,” I proclaim, and I leave him there to go back to our seats. As the third quarter starts, the Bulls are on fire, opening up a 20-point lead. Meanwhile, the couple sitting in front of us AND little Naismith and his family are all gone. Neil and I must have really been on our game.
**-By the time Neil comes back, the third quarter is almost over. With room to stretch out and only our friends, the fellow season ticket holders, around us, Neil and I get comfortable and loud. “This wouldn’t be happening if Fat Lever were still here,” I deadpan, loudly. “Where’s Alex English? I wanted to talk to him about his groundbreaking role in ‘Amazing Grace and Chuck!”, Neil says, exasperated. The NBA junkies sitting around us love it; others, not so much.
**-Meanwhile, the game has become the most exciting Bulls game Neil and I have been to since 1997. The Bulls are up 101-87 after three, and both teams are just running up and down the court, shooting and dunking. The guys a few rows behind us are good and drunk, and are thrilled because the Bulls have scored 100 and we now get free Big Macs. “I’m trying to get fed, fool!” and “I haven’t had a free Big Mac since that chickenhead I used to fuck was working the fryer back in 92!” are among the statements made. There really is nothing like the 300 level at a Bulls game. Neil and I are very excited that someone used the word ‘chickenhead’. Its about time that word came back.

(A “quick” story about that game in 97: the Bulls were playing the Sonics the year after they met in the Finals. The Bulls won in overtime as Michael hit two free throws after a, shall we say, suspicious foul call on Gary Payton with about a second left. It was a great game, but what made it really great were the other things that happened that night. We went with two girls, one of whom got the tickets from her dad’s work. The seats were awesome, in the 100 level just in front of the private suites. In fact, our seats were just in front of the suite used by Michael’s family, and we even got to talk to his mother. I think I thanked her for having her son. She was nice, saying “Ahhh…you’re welcome, sweetie,” and then I’m sure she called security. Also, the two girls we went with got on the big screenb during two seperate timeouts, mostly because one of them had blond hair and a huge rack. Then, after the game, Neil’s friend–who worked as a ballboy–asked us if we wanted to stand just outside the locker room and meet the players as they came out.

So we got down there, and we saw all the great players in that game come out, one by one. Payton, Shawn Kemp, Scottie, Rodman…..all of them. I shook hands with the great Luc Longley and told him ‘Great game Luc.’ I think he had about 6 points. He said “Thanks mate.” Yeah…..’mate.’ My girlfriend at the time, who we shall call ‘Hungry’, got a picture with George Karl. We saw Scottie’s woman go into the locker room and later come out with him, and needless to say she was ridiclously hot. But finally, the moment we had been waiting for…….Michael came out. My hero, three feet away. I don’t know if you’ve ever been around someone that famous, but if you’re not prepared for the experience, you swallow your tongue. You can’t say anything. Eventually, the big breasted blond yells out, in her whiter than white suburban girl voice, “Great game, buddy!” to Michael. Easily the funniest shit ever, as about 25 people then laughed and mocked her. Then, as we were leaving, we had to walk past G.P. and his family and friends, and I actually bumped into him. Remember, he was called for a bullshit foul that cost his team the game about an hour earlier. He gave me a look, and I honestly thought I was going to be on the news. ‘Idiot bumps into the Glove; gets knocked the fuck out….story at 10’. But I said “Sorry,” avoided eye contact, and just kept moving. All in all, a solid experience.)

**-Back to the Bulls-Nugs game. Even as Denver’s J.R. Smith continues to hit crazy shot after crazy shot, the Nuggets can’t get any closer than 6 down the stretch. The Bulls score over 30 in every quarter, winning 135-121. Its their highest total in a regulation game since 1998. Ben Gordon scored 37, while Thomas and Noah combined for 31 points, 21 rebounds, 5 blocks, and about 10 dunks. Melo and A.I both played well also. Easily the best game of the year for the Bulls. Good times.

BREAKING NEWS: Bulls trade one albatross for another

February 21, 2008

Just beating the trade deadline, the Bulls dealt Ben Wallace and Joe Smith to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Drew Gooden, Larry Hughes, Cedric Simmons, and Shannon Brown.

Seattle also dealt Wally Szerbiak and Delonte West to the Cavs for Adrian Griffin, Ira Newble, and Donyell Marshall as the third team in the deal.

Ben Wallace

Its truly a happy day in Chicago. Yes, I know that Larry Hughes is also an expensive piece of crap who shoots under 37 percent and doesn’t like to, well, pass the ball. And Drew Gooden is nothing special. But getting rid of the piece of absolute crap that is Ben Wallace is a great move in of itself.

Wallace was signed as a team leader, defensive beast and rebounding monster. Instead, in just under two seasons as a Bull, Wallace continuously clashed with management, threw teammates under the bus, and averaged 5.7 ppg and 9.5 rpg. Oh, and he was making nearly $15 million per year.

What do the Bulls do now? Eh, I don’t think it matters. Assuming Luol Deng and Ben Gordon are now healthy (which doesn’t seem likely considering both looked very uninterested and eager to get ‘re-injured’ last night), the Bulls rotation will include Deng, Gordon, Hinrich, Sefolosha, Nocioni, Gooden, Hughes, Noah, Duhon, and Tyrus Thomas, with a little bit of Aaron Gray and Cedric Simmons thrown in for good measure. Thats a whole lot of crap.

But at least Big Ben will no longer be clogging up the middle, doing absolutely nothing but missing wide open shots and tapping out totally grabbable rebounds to the opposing team. Now we get to watch Larry take 24 shitty shots before missing three weeks due to an injury. More entertaining, I think.

Random Observations

February 20, 2008

Some of my thoughts on whats been going on in the Chicago sports world lately:

*–The changes the Bears made this week, including the releases of Muhsin Muhammed and Fred Miller and the re-signing of Alex Brown, were all great moves. Muhammed was my most hated Bear the last two seasons. He came here on a big contract, which is fine. I don’t begrudge any athlete getting his money, especially after the great season Moose had in Carolina before he signed with the Bears. But what wasn’t fine was that when he first came here, he talked big about being a leader and a difference-maker. By the time the first half of his first season in Chicago was done, it was apparent that he was only as good as the guys around him. Not only that, but he didn’t hesitate to throw his quarterbacks under the bus whenever given the opportunity. Oh, and he dropped a shitload of passes. So good riddance, Moose.

But was he the main problem with the Bears? Absolutely not. The Bears don’t have a clear cut number one quarterback. I think they can contend for a playoff spot with Kyle Orton, but thats not saying much. I’m a Rex backer, but there is no way that this team can pencil him in as the clear cut number one if he is re-signed. The Bears’ running game is an absolute mess. They need at least 2, if not 3, new offensive linemen. Cedric Benson and Adrian Peterson are both second-rate players who shouldn’t be the feature back. Meanwhile, the Bears’ receiving corps is stocked with number two, three, and four receivers. Like it has been, pretty much, forever. Unfortunately, these problems aren’t going to fix themselves in one offseason. Unless the Bears find gold in the draft this year, expect at least one more putrid year.

*–As baseball approaches, I don’t know what to think about my White Sox. My brain tells me that they are going to suck, royally. But my heart is trying to believe they can contend in this division. Maybe one of the following starting pitchers–Gavin Floyd, Jose Contreras, Jon Danks–has a breakout campaign. Maybe the Sox trade Joe Crede for another arm (Noah Lowry), and that solidifies the rotation. Maybe all of the bullpen arms stay healthy and produce, and the Sox have arguably the best bullpen in the American League. Maybe Jay Mariotti gets bitten by a rat and contracts the Black Death. I can dream.

*–Starting today, the Bulls begin the second half of the season. They open against the New Jersey Nets, a team that recently traded its number one star and might only dress 8 or 9 guys. The Bulls should be getting back Ben Gordon and/or Luol Deng tonight or Friday against the Nuggets. If this squad was ever going to show that the first half of the season was a fluke, its time to show it now. Listen, I know nothing we have seen in the first half should provide us with any hope for the last 30 games. But maybe they make a little run in the second half, finish with the 6 seed or better, and actually play some interesting games in late April and May. I’m not asking for much. Either make the playoffs, or suck so badly that we get a top 5-7 pick.

*–After talking about my love for the Tennessee squad a couple weeks ago, they have climbed from number 7 in the nation to number 2, and they are traveling to Memphis Saturday night for a battle with the top-ranked Tigers. See, now I don’t want to pick them anymore. I think they are the best team in the country right now, but its like my love for Scarlett Johannson. I first started telling people about her in like 2002, after ‘Ghost World’. Then she started popping up as the hot chick in some bad movies, like ‘Lost in Translation’ (yes, that movie sucked), ‘The Perfect Score’, and ‘The Island’. Then she was rumored to have been given the backdoor business by Benecio del Toro (Bennie the Bull, as I like to call him) in an elevator after the Oscars, and now everyone loves her. Same with the Vols. I like their style of play, they look like a great team in December, I start talking about them, then two months later they’re on the verge of being number one in the country. Everyone loves them. Its bullshit. Its not special anymore.

I’m running out of ideas for the Friday Hot Chick, so if you have any thoughts/requests, let me know in the comments. And to the first commenter that suggests ‘Yo momma’: Fuck you.

Rex of the East Coast

February 4, 2008

Eli Manning v.s. Rex Grossman

He is no longer. Like my counterpart, HHY, I too feel for quarterbacks like young Eli Manning and Rex Grossman for the scrutiny and criticism they go through trying to lead there teams through an NFL season. Both Eli and Rex exhibited similar traits – huge games one week with people comparing them to Hall of Famers, then horrendous games the next with people wishing they never uttered the word “Hall of Fame” in the same sentence.

Eli just shook that monkey off his back last night. And, as with all stories that feature monkeys, you liked every damn minute of it. Superbowl XLII, not to be confused with what some people call my massive head , was one of the greatest football games I have ever seen in my life. I’ll admit – I went into the game wanting to see the Patriots pull it off. I wanted to see the perfect season and not just to shut the Dolphin’s up. It felt like basketball in Chicago during 90’s all over again. The Bulls were the most dominant team I’ve ever watched and I can remember how exciting it was to experience that. That is a sports story that I can relive with my kids, just like how my dad shares his Bears stories with me each year. And to say that I watched the Patriots win all 18 games and then take Superbowl XLII into the records books would have been fun.

But then the Giants win. And honestly, I’m not a Patriots fan. Now I can tell my kids how the New York Giants beat the unbeatable team during their “perfect” season (which will now forever be put in quotes on this blog). Underdogs, going into the playoffs as a wild card team. First NFC wild card team to win the Superbowl. With the line being 12 points against them. Rolling off two TD’s in the second half and rattling Brady so much with their D-line attack that even he’s still trying to figure it out.

So I guess what I’m trying to get to is this: Why the hell are the Giants so lucky with their “Rex of the East Coast” and we lost so badly last year with the Real Rex? And if he actually comes back as our starter next year then he better have been taking notes last night. That and he needs an O-line. And a defense that played like the G-Men did.

I know. Wishful thinking. At least I have a great underdog story to tell to my kids. 

I’m fucking done with these assholes

January 31, 2008

Wednesday, January 30, 2008. The Chicago Bulls enter the Target Center in Minnesota a 18-26 team, 1 game out of the 7 seed in a horrid Eastern Conference.

Although the season has been a major disappointment, there was still a glimmer of hope that this notoriously slow starting team would turn it on in February, March, and April, and provide some excitement heading into the playoffs. Maybe the healthy return of Luol Deng and Ben Gordon would come soon, and the Bulls would gel into a team which could scare Boston or Detroit a bit in the first round. It wasn’t likely… all……but at least it was something. 

Again, I wasn’t expecting much. My hopes for this team have been dashed for quite a while. In October, I bought an 11-game season ticket package because I thought one of two things were sure to happen: One, the Bulls would remain intact as they were and would contend for the top spot in the conference. This would ensure me of seeing at least 3 or 4 playoff games, and perhaps even allow me to see a NBA Finals game, should it go that far. Two, the early season rumors of a trade with the L.A. Lakers to bring Kobe Bryant to Chicago would be reason enough to go to the United Center 11 times this winter.

Well, neither of those things happened. The team has stuggled all season, highlighted by the firing of coach Scott Skiles and the injuries to just about everyone on the team. Kirk Hinrich is being exposed as severely overrated during his first few seasons. The players voted to extend the suspension of first round pick Joakim Noah last month for an outburst against his assistant coach, showing that neither the interim coach, Jim Boylan, or John Paxson, general manager, had any control over this team. Ben Wallace has turned out to be one of the worst free agent signings in Chicago sports history. Tyrus Thomas continues to show bursts of awesome athletic ability and little else, especially in the areas of effort and basketball intelligence. Without the injured Deng and Gordon, the team has lacked offensive firepower and shown little heart.

Then came Wednesday night. The Minnesota Timberwolves were 8-36, and outside of beast Al Jefferson, had easily the worst roster in the league. Sebastian Telfair and Rashad McCants are the starting guards. A very young team, the Wolves are in the bottom five in the league of every category. In other words, there is no reason the Bulls should lose to this team.

The Bulls led 14-8 after the first quarter. 22 total points in the quarter, and only 8 by the Wolves. Then the potent Wolves blew up. 25 points in the 2nd quarter. 30 points in the third. At the end of the third quarter, the worst team in basketball led the Bulls 63-52. Did the Bulls get fired up and lead a charge in the last 12 minutes? Did they wake up and realize they were about to blow a great opportunity at a victory and play inspired basketball in the last quarter?

No. They scored 15 points in the final 12 minutes. They shot 4-of-17 in the quarter from the field. The Bulls turned it over 6 times in the quarter, giving them a season-high 23 for the game. By the way, coming into the game, Minnesota averaged about 14 forced turnovers a game, good for 20th in the league. Their opponents field goal percentage was near 49 percent, good for 28th in the NBA. So we’re looking at one of the five worst defensive teams in the league, as well. And the Bulls scored 67 points on them, losing by 15.

So, I’ve officially had it. I’ll still go to the games I have tickets for, but only because the money is already spent and its a good way to see decent players and teams from outside Chicago. But I no longer have hope. Not just for this season, but for this regime. John Paxson has proven to me that he is not a strong general manager. Whether he could of made the trade for Kobe is debatable; however, Paxson himself has admitted the Bulls were a major player for both Kevin Garnett and Pau Gasol, but for one reason or another, the deals were not made. Many feel its because Paxson didn’t want to deal ‘his guys’, the players like Gordon and Deng who he scouted and eventually, overvalued. The nucleus of this team has already peaked. Luol Deng, when healthy, is a solid player. But he’ll never be the number one option on a great team. Ben Gordon is a nice player to have. You can bring him off the bench to fill up the scoresheet or if your team needs an offensive boost. But he can’t handle the ball or play defense, so he’s very limited. Hinrich is a mediocre NBA point guard, at best.

There have been a few brightspots this year. Thabo Sefolosha has come on of late and could be the big guard the team has needed. Joakim Noah has had some off-court issues, but his play on-court has been a surprise, as he has provided energy and effort. And veteran Joe Smith is having a career year. But none of these players will ever be the impact guy an NBA team needs to make a serious title run. They are bit players on a championship team.

Its time to blow it up, kids. From the general manager on down, I’d be happy if the only remnants left from this year’s team going into the 2008-09 season were Deng, Noah, Sefolosha, and possibly Gordon and bit players like rookie Aaron Gray. But for a lot of reasons, that isn’t very likely. I guess we’ll just have to struggle through.

the kobe trade and moronic sports fans

October 31, 2007

If you have any interest in either Chicago sports or the NBA, you know that there is rumored intense trade talks between the Bulls and Lakers involving Kobe Bryant.Personally, my feeling is that as long as a relatively strong nucleus is left in place, I’m all for dealing for Kobe. What do I mean by a relatively strong nucleus? Two of the following players have to remain Bulls: Luol Deng, Ben Gordon, Kirk Hinrich, Joakim Noah, Tyrus Thomas. It seems that Deng is the sticking point in the deal; the Lakers reportedly won’t make a deal without him, and the Bulls really don’t want to give him up. On top of that, Kobe has a no-trade clause, so if the Bulls were to offer up the farm for him, Kobe would nix the deal because his whole reason for demanding a trade is to be dealt to a winner, not another rebuilding project.But what gets me is the reaction from Bulls fans towards this possible deal. Talk among the majority of the fans is that they either don’t want Kobe or are not willing to deal guys like Deng, Thomas, or Gordon for him. Listen to sports radio. You’ll listen to callers to WSCR 670 am’s afternoon show with Terry Boers and Dan Bernstein, and you’ll hear callers who don’t want to trade Deng because he’s a blooming superstar. One guy said he didn’t want Kobe because he’s never shot 50 percent from the field. Another guy said the Bulls can’t deal Thomas because he’s going to be James Worthy, only better. A third caller said he didn’t want Kobe in his city because he ‘has a wife and daughter’ and he felt Kobe would threaten their safety. Seriously.Folks, let me break something down for you. This isn’t baseball or football; those are team games, where it doesn’t matter if you have the best player. A NFL team with LaDanian Tomlinson could start the season 4-3. A MLB team with A-Rod could win 70 games and finish last (see his stint in Texas). The NBA is different. As much as us fans love the ‘team concept’ and the idea of 12 guys, all working together and each functioning perfectly in their own role, if you have the chance to acquire one of the best players of all time in his prime, then you do it. With Kobe, the Bulls have things they haven’t had since their last championship team:

  • A finisher who can get easy buckets
  • A player who can get his own shot
  • An All-NBA Defensive first team member

Not only that, but imagine Kobe and Gordon on the same team. Kobe driving to the lane, drawing defenders and kicking out to a wide open Gordon. Gordon puts up 20 points a game now with guys all over him. Imagine what kind of damage he could do when either open or single-covered all the time. If the Bulls have to trade Ben? Then put Hinrich in that same situation. He’s not as deadly a shooter as Gordon, but he’s solid. A team with Kobe, Hinrich and/or Gordon, and Deng as its nucleus has the chance to do some special things, not just this year, but in the years to come.But you might be saying, ‘The current Bulls team is fine as is?’ I disagree. Will this team play hard and always compete? Absolutely. They might even get hot and advance to the NBA Finals. But the goal is to win championships, and I really don’t think the team, as currently constructed, can do that. Deng has room to grow as a player, but I don’t think he’ll ever be a top ten NBA star. Gordon, while a great weapon, has huge ballhandling and defensive holes in his game. Hinrich might improve some, but this is his fifth year; we may have seen most of Captain Kirk’s growth as a player already. Who knows what will become of Thomas, Noah, Thabo Sefolosha and the rest of the team.So Bulls fans, don’t fear Kobe. Cheering for Kobe and hoping for the Bulls to acquire him doesn’t mean they are a sinch to win the title, but it also doesn’t mean you have to lock up your women. It doesn’t mean that you’re being unfaithful to Michael. It means you want championships. It means you’re a good fan.

HHY 2007-2008 NBA Preview

October 23, 2007

I am truly excited about this NBA season. I don’t know why. I bought an 11-game season ticket package with the Bulls, so maybe that is part of it. But I haven’t been this interested in an NBA season since Michael was still in town.

I am putting out this preview, complete with predictions, with a disclaimer: I’m not an NBA expert. While I feel very confident about my baseball and football knowledge, I am not quite as confident when it comes to the Association. I understand the game, for the most part, but I had to go to the WWL to check the division realignment that took place like four years ago. Oh well.

So here’s the preview. Of course, these picks are subject to change should a certain two-guard in Los Angeles get dealt.

Eastern Conference–Atlantic Division
Boston–This one is relatively easy. I’m not in the camp that this Celtics team will challenge the 96 Bulls’ 72 wins, I do think that the big three are good enough for 55-57 wins in the Eastern Conference. I am interested to see if Jesus Shuttlesworth Ray Allen is truly done or if he finds new life playing with Garnett and Pierce.
Toronto–I love this Raptor team. I was tempted to place them above Boston, but I’m trying to write with my head and not my gut, which is ample. Chris Bosh is a beast, but supporting characters TJ Ford, Anthony Parker, Andrea Bargnani, and Jose Calderon are quick and solid shooters. If Toronto can improve their defense, they will be a major Eastern force.
New Jersey–This is where the division starts to fall off. Jason Kidd started to fall off last year, and while Vinsanity and Richard Jefferson had decent seasons, Nenad Kristic was the Nets’ second leading scorer. Ick. 45 wins would be stellar for this team.
Philadelphia–After the trade of Iverson, the 76ers actually improved. With the addition of first round pick Rodney Carney to the solid Andre Iguadala and Andre Miller, the Sixers may sneak into the playoffs. But I don’t see them having enough offense to be a force.
New York–This is a great fantasy team. Zach Randolph. Stephon Marbury. Jamal Crawford. Eddy Curry. Quentin Richardson. David Lee. This team has a ton of talent, and it may be a stretch to say they’ll finish below New Jersey and Philly. But I predict the poor cohesion and coaching of the Knicks will keep them out of the playoffs and near the bottom of the conference.
Central Division
Chicago–No, this is not with my heart. I think the Bulls will put it together this year en route to 53-57 wins, which should be good enough to win this division. Luol Deng is ready to make the leap to one of the 10 best players in the East. If Tyrus Thomas can overcome rumors that he is in Scott Skiles’ doghouse and be a force off the bench, Chicago would be the deepest team in the division.
Detroit–The Pistons began to show their age a bit last year, and while they may have been the better team, they got outplayed by LeBron and the Cavs in the East Finals. I see them getting 50 wins and being a team that will contend for the conference title, but I don’t see them being a better regular season team than the Bulls.
Cleveland–I love LeBron. What he did in the postseason last year was very Jordanish. But I see a letdown for him and the Cavs this year. Its quite a burden to have to carry a team game in and game out, and after 100-plus games in 2006-07, I think the lack of depth will take its toll this year.
Indiana–After a poor 2006-07, the Pacers look to slip into the playoffs this year. Jermaine O’Neal may be dealt around the trade deadline, but the Pacers have enough young talent to finish ahead of the team below them. Will they make the postseason? Not sure about that.
Milwaukee–The Bucks are horrible. Yes, Michael Redd can score in bunches and on the right team where he isn’t the second option, Andrew Bogut might be a nice player. But unless first round pick Yi Jianlian adjusts to Wisconsin and blows up to Rookie of the Year proportions (doubtful), this team won’t win more than 35 games.
Washington–This division sucks, but I love Agent Zero. Hibachi could drop 55 on you. He could also drop a 1-for-17 on you. But that’s cool. The Wiz also have Caron Butler, Antwan Jamison, and rookie Nick Young, and thats enough to win this division.
Miami–The Diesel is pretty much finished, but he’s got enough in the tank to play 40 or so games and combine with a healthy D-Wade to contend for a top four spot in the conference. But the Heat are real old. Did you know Anfernee Hardaway is on the roster? He and Shaq are trying to get Dennis Scott out of retirement.
Orlando–Dwight Howard is a beast, and he no longer has to look over his shoulder for the intimidating presence of Darko trying to take his job. If Dwight can get some help from Hedo, rookie James Augustine and the rest of the Magic, they could surprise some peeps and perhaps win a playoff series. Probably not, though.
Atlanta–The Hawks have never been good, I don’t think. I know they won a bunch of games in the 80s. I think the Bulls played them in the playoffs a few times in the 90s. And although they have a ton of young talent, the Hawks are not ready to contend, even in the East. Their roster is like a who’s who of good college talent from the earlier part of this decade, though. So they got that going for them.
Charlotte–Apparently Morrison is hurt. Not like it matters. I don’t think I’ve been more wrong about a player than I was about Sean May. Sure, injuries have hurt, but I believe he’s not good. I was sure he was going to be a beast. The Bobcats do have Emeka Okafor and Jason Richardson, but thats just enough to struggle for 30 wins.

Western Conference–Northwest Division
Utah–This team looks like clearly the class of this division. If Andre Kirlienko comes back to his 2006 form, this team is a little talked about contender for the NBA title. As is, Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer are both all-stars, and Mehmet Okur is a solid post player. The Jazz are a good, good team who has an outside chance for 60 wins.
Denver–Can Iverson and Carmelo, with a season under their wings, play well together again and be a force in the West? Or will the team self-distruct? Third option: Iverson and Melo play well, and the rest of the team–who’s best player is either Marcus Camby or Kenyon Martin–shit down their leg. I will say this–if Camby and Martin stay healthy and find the fountain of youth, look out.
Portland–This is my big surprise. How can the worst team in the league a year ago, a team who lost number one pick Greg Oden for the season, improve this drastically? I really like Brandon Roy. I feel LaMarcus Aldridge will have an improved second season. And finally, the Blazers have decent depth and size. They could win 40-45 games and contend for the eighth playoff slot.
Seattle–How good is Kevin Durant? I don’t know. I think he could very well put up 27 points a game this year. I also think he has little help on the Sonics. Can fellow rookie Jeff Green be a player? This young of a team will show flashes of greatness but ultimately will struggle to win games, especially in the West.
Minnesota–After years of shopping Kevin Garnett, the Wolves finally dealt him before KG went on a killing spree. In return they got a solid young player (Al Jefferson) and a couple guys who I think truly suck. Minnesota did draft Corey Brewer, my favorite player outside of Durant in last year’s draft. He and Randy Foye could be a solid backcourt for a long time. But this year, the Wolves will struggle to win 30.
Phoenix–This Suns team is in its final go round here. Its put up or shut up time. And I think, after getting royally screwed by the league and its refs last year, that they will. Will they trade Shawn Marion? I don’t know. I do know that if they hold on to him, they are my pick to win the title.
Golden State–Everyone jumped on the Warrior bandwagon in the playoffs last year, as they hit shot after ridiculous shot and played solid defense in beating the top-seeded Mavs. I think they’ll ride that wave into a good 2007-2008, and with the addition of first round pick Brendan Wright, Golden State have an outside chance at 50 wins.
LA Lakers–I mean, if Kobe gets traded, this whole preview is up for grabs. For now, I’ll stick them in third in the division. It might be the best thing for the Lake show to trade Kobe; they can add to an already decent young nucleus and hope to contend for a title in 2009 or 2010.
LA Clippers–Throw the Clippers and the Kings in a hat, pull out a name, and choose who will finish four-five in the Pacific. The Clippers followed up a strong 2006 with a disappointing and injury plagued 2007, and now Elton Brand is hurt. With a lot of points (and shots) out there to be had, Corey Maggette could score 25-plus this year and be a prime deadline deal guy. Also, first rounder Al Thornton could be a poor man’s Brand and put up 18 and 10 and I wouldn’t be surprised.
Sacromento–The Kings really missed their window four or five years ago, and its a shame because the home crowd there was ridiculous. Now, they get to watch Mike Bibby, Ron Artest, and Kevin Martin run around and get 30 wins.
Dallas–I think Dirk and the boys were really embarassed last year (great insight), and could come back with a vengence this year, win 70 games and blow the rest of the NBA out of the water. Or, when they have their first tough road game at San Antonio or Phoenix, Dirk and the boys will have flashbacks and collapse. I think the Mavs will again win 60-plus games and fall apart in the playoffs. Maybe not in the first round, but they won’t beat a determined Suns team.
San Antonio–The defending champs, I believe, are done. Sure, they’re good enough to win 55 games and contend again. But the Spurs haven’t been able to repeat before (huge criticism, I know) and I think Duncan will have trouble health-wise this year. Mr. Longoria showed he is the best player on the team in the Finals, but for him and Tim to carry the Spurs for 100 games won’t work again.
Houston–If I could count on T-Mac and Yao playing 164 games this year at the level they eachare capable of, with full health, I would put the Rockets in the Mavs and Spurs class with ease. But they won’t. I think they’re a playoff team, but thats where it begins and ends with H-town.
Memphis–0-8 in the last two postseasons. Just go away, Grizz. Maybe its the constant ‘Pau Gasol is the Bulls’ answer’ talk here in Chicago, but I really don’t think much of this team. And I don’t think I should. After two quick exits the last few years, the Grizzlies will fail to even make the playoffs this year.
New Orleans–I’ll tell you what, this might be the worst team in the league. Yes, they were close to a playoff spot in 2007, but I really don’t think the Hornets are very talented. And I’ll tell you another thing: Tyson Chandler can suck a big, herpes infested dick. For four or five years, he was an absolute bitch for the Bulls. Missed numerous games because of injury, feuded with Skiles, bitched about his contract even though he was making nearly 8 figures. 5 points and 5 rebounds a game in 2006. The Bulls trade him like he wanted, then he proceeds to put up a solid 10 points and 12.4 rebounds a game in 2007. What a little bitch.

East Playoffs–Boston over Orlando, Chicago over Miami, Toronto over Washington, Detroit over Cleveland, Boston over Detroit, Toronto over Chicago, Boston over Toronto.
West Playoffs–Phoenix over Portland, Dallas over Golden State, Utah over Houston, Denver over San Antonio, Phoenix over Denver, Utah over Dallas, Phoenix over Utah.
NBA Finals–Phoenix 4, Boston 1

There ya go. Let me have it.

thank you bulls for freeing the headband

October 2, 2007

Head-Banned? No Longer – Just Headband!!

i have a strange obsession with headbands. i have an orange one that i have been wearing since i went to the final four in st. louis when dee brown and deron williams were leading the illini. my friends that night couldnt stop making fun of me when they saw me wearing it. their opinion slowly changed as people were offering me twenties to sell them the headband. i refused. i wear it whenever i go snowboarding and always have women come up and compliment me. so i am never gonna stop wearing it and you guys will never stop hating on me.

finally the bulls have come to my side and are gonna allow big ben wallace to wear the headband. sort-of. the bulls still have a ‘no headband’ rule for their players. however, there is now a big ben clause to that rule. the bulls left it up to the players to allow mr. wallace to wear his signature headband and since they are not idiots – they decided to let him wear it.

the headband gathered national attention last year when it was worn and ben wallace was benched for violating a team rule. i always found it ironic that in the ads around chicago for the bulls ben was always wearing the headband. the lack of the headband contributed to a lack of production for the playoffs. the headband would have been a huge factor and its importance has not been discussed enough.

“Hopefully, that will translate into more blocked shots, more rebounds and more steals,” joked teammate Ben Gordon.

oh please ben gordon. hope?! i think you know what this does for your team and chances at perhaps making it to the finals this year. its enormous and you know inside your heart that by christmas you will buy every player on the team a headband and perhaps an under appreciated wrist band and the entire rule will be taken off the books as the bulls roll over the non-headband wearing opponents.

with this announcement – i think its times to start thinking about the nba. my preseason mvp is – the headband and possibly a co-mvp with the fro. because they go together like peanut butter and jelly.