Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bull-oney: Wade Questions Bulls Loyalty

Miami Heat superstar Dwayne Wade told the Chicago Tribune that he questions the loyalty of the Bulls franchise in terms of former players.

"Anyone who would question our loyalty is obviously misinformed," Forman told "I think it absolutely ignores our record, which speaks for itself."

Wade, your a ruthless competitor and one of the league's best, but you've been misinformed my friend. I'm not saying the Bulls are the most loyal team in basketball, but more than many, including your Miami Heat. Funny, I don't see Tim Hardaway or Alonzo Mourning holding any positions in Miami.

Wade's only two examples we're the two of the all-time legends; Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. I can't speak for either person, but is he insinuating that's because the Bulls just wan't them gone? Michael wanted to opportunity to start his own system, which he's got a great start to in Charlotte, NC. I guarantee anyone that if Jordan had came to Bulls front office and said, "I want in," managements response would have been when & where. They built the man a statue for god's sake in front of their arena for gods sake.

And since Wade only came up with two examples to back his stance up, I'll give a handful to prove mine.

John Paxson, Bill Cartwright, Randy Brown, Bill Wennington, Stacey King, Pete Myers and B.J. Armstrong are some of the former players who have been employed by the Bulls in roles with the either the front office, coaching or broadcasting. Paxon (who now is general manager), Cartwright and Brown each had head coaching opportunities.

Once again, Bulls news goes in one ear and out the other, unless it involves Lebron James. Wade's comments alone were shown on sportscenter, but never once did espn look to get any reactions from NBA analysts. No love for the Windy City Toros as usual.
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Coaching Candidates "Not Appealing" to Bulls Fans

I read a fellow bulls-blogger today on how the Chicago Bulls have/will approach addressing the their head coaching vacancy. I agreed 100% on his stance, and had recently begun spinning some of the same thoughts in my head as well.
The collection of recent Bulls coaches all meet the same general criteria. Youg, in experienced guys coming out of an assistant coaching role who are looking to make a name for themselves. Not all, but many assistant coaches serve no purpose more than a simple marketing scheme to show people how loyal they are to their players. For instance; Brian Shaw. He spent many years with the Lakers franchise and was a part of the team's "3-peat" from 2000-03. But a few years later, he got old and slow and was taking up a space on the roster. Realizing that releasing the well-liked veteran and known "good guy" around the league could be seen as a down-side to free-agents looking for max contracts, Lakers management said heck, give him an offer to be a coach. And I don't blame them; I dig it.
Young coaches are more becoming more popular all over the professional sports world. There's now an appeal for the youthful, eccentric style that young coaches bring. But that's not what the Bulls need right now. Their finally turning the corner in terms of success, and their two biggest problems have been inexperience and inconsistency, two traits that mirror their recent coaching selections. I've like them all, especially Scott Skiles who lifted the Bucks into the fifth seed of the playoffs this season, but it's not the peice the team needs.
The Bulls need a coach that brings significant experience and can weld the foundations together. The talent level is now there, and will be even better after this summer's free agent signing period. A guy like Larry Brown who has made a name by stepping in and putting everything together would be ideal. Unfortunately he's working hand-in-hand with MJ on "the charlotte bobcats project," a team that made their first postseason ever in franchise history this past season. Off the top of the head, guys that could offer the Bulls some of what they're looking for off the top of the head are Avery Johnson, Byron Scott, Jeff VanGundy and Rick Carlisle. Instead the only people we've heard about in reference to the team are guys like Dan Majerle of the Suns, a guy played in the league in the 90's, got an assistant coaching position and wants to make a name for himself. No offense to Mr. Majerle, but I'm hoping the Bulls go in a different direction this time. It could be just as vital a decision as who they land as a free agent.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cease the Chatter....For Now

Nick Friedell, Bulls blogger for , reports that Phoenix Suns assistant coach Dan Majerle has not dicussed the Bulls head coaching vacancy with team general manager Gar Forman or executive vice president John Paxon, but that he would be willing to listen if they call.
"Of course," he said to before Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals on Sunday night. "Yeah, I'm willing to listen to anybody."

First off, I don't know anything aout him besides he played for the Suns in the 90's. What has he done for Suns that credits him the opportunity to be a head coach? I'm not saying he's uncapable of managing a team, but I don't think I'm alone in questioning what Dan Majerle has done as an assistant coach that places him at the fore-front. With that said; what makes this news? Did the Bulls reach out to Majerle first? No.... The report itself says Majerle has had no communication whatsoever with Bulls managagement. With that said; why is this even news? Is there anybody out there that wouldn't listen to the Bulls offer?
What is newsworthy about these "sources" and the different rumors/talks around the league is the fact that people like Phil Jackson and Dan Majerle have to be subjected to all this nonsense while their teams are fighting to win a conference championship. It's merely a distraction. No deal is going down for several weeks, no matter who says what in the time-being. I want to hear what Phil Jackson has to say about the Phoenix Suns and what his team needs to do not blow the once 2-0 lead. What he's doing next year is entirely irrelevant, at the moment at least, and he should be able to focus on what is.

Bulls Eye Former Coach

Sources close to both parties (the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers) have been talking a lot lately about the possibility of current Lakers coach, Phil Jackson returning to the city where he won six rings with the most iconic player of all time.

What Bulls fan could possibly oppose this idea? Not many. Personally, I would be thrilled to know that Phil Jackson was returning to Chicago if I didn't know the real underlying reason. Yes, Jackson is the best coach in the NBA but the Bulls are doing this to further gage the interest of one Lebron James. Since I don't want to root for Lebron James next season, I don't know how I would feel if the Bulls inked "The Zen Master" (top 5 nicknames in sports).
There are two basic criteria Lebron will be looking for come time to explore the free agent market:
1. Supporting cast- young, talented promising. Lebron got a first-hand look at the up-and-coming Bulls in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
2. Coach- established, proven, respected. Unfortunately enough, Jackson to the Bulls offers LBJ the perfect package. It would be undoubtedly his first choice.

The Bulls were already heading the list of Lebron landing spots along with New York and New Jersey. If they somehow lured Jackson away from L.A., I don't think it would even be a decision for James. A 'must try' for the Bulls front office, but a 'hope not' for this fan......TO BE CONTINUED

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Un-Wanted 'Germ'

Word on the street is that Dallas Mavericks F/C Dirk Nowitzki will opt out of his contract and test the free agent waters this summer. Ehhhemm.......I repeat......Dirk Nowitzki WILL OPT OUT OF HIS CONTRACT THIS SUMMER. This isn't breaking news people, so why is this getting absolutely NO publicitity?
Hell, the guy has only been a 1st or 2nd All-NBA Team selection this whole decade. The only other two guys that can say that are Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan. Besides his accolades, which rank top 5 in nearly every statistical offensive category, the guy is a winner. Since he took over the franchise in 1999, the team has won 50 games every season.
Even if he's not Lebron James (even though their resumes are identical) he's the next best available. But nobody is even giving it a second thought which floors me. Who couldn't use a 7'0 forward that can do merely everything on the offensive end? Can't think of anyone. But someone who could, would be the Bulls.
The Bulls to me are the best fit for Nowitzki and they need to give it great consideration. They have as strong of a core group as any, and have needed a low-post scorer since forever. Seriously. Nowitzki brings the uber-scorer mentality, and although his downside is defense, the guy standing next to him in the front-court, Joakim Noah, specializes in it.
This isn't just about the Bulls. This guy is an elite, top 5 player in the league. Names like Joe Johnson, Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade, and Amare Stoudemire are well-deserving of the off-season hype, but 'The Germ' out of Dallas is probably sitting there saying, "What about me?" And I sure don't blame him.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Bosh's Wish List, and Mine

Finally, an original plan that I liked very very much. Remember when the Bulls had Chris Bosh on the radar last off-season? And during the heat of the trade deadline this a couple months ago, it was almost certain a last-second deal involving Bosh, Salmons and Luol Deng would go down. But it never did, which not to mention could have GREATLY affected the rest of their season because they wouldn't have had to play Cleveland in the first round. And they would have had a low-post presence since.....well, ever. Seriously the guy is an annual all-star. When was the last time ever the Bulls had a dominant low post scorer? It's funny to me this issue is never brought up. During the 90's, the most relevant names were Horace Grant, Bill Cartwright, Bill Wennington and Luke Longley. For an interesting "now-and-then" comparison, Bulls back-up C/F Scott Williams salary was $150,000. Nobody in the league in a long time has less than doubled that. Easily.
I have said for a long time I would love to see Bosh come to Chicago and feel the same way despite the Lebron nonsense. I would much rather take a player who doesn't have to have the spotlight and attention and meshes well with the style of a play than someone who could disrupt the chemistry and offensive flow. Not to mention I have a strong dislike (lightly put due to blogspot's adult content feature) for the man, but people who have been following me for a while are already scholars as to why so I won't go there (shoutout to all my COMM 410 classmates who have to suffer through my ranting and raving).
The Bulls are one of the few teams that have a starting lineup drafted by the franchise. Paxson and Reinsdorf have done a great job and are good at what they do. They also apparently know what they're doing. The point to this is that they have been building this team and it's style of playfor a while. They finally got the star they needed in Derrick Rose, who surrounds a bunch of solid guys, each with a repetoire that contributes in a different way. They are one peice away from being true contenders in the Eastern Conference, and the answer doesn't have to be Lebron James; that's all I'm saying.
Bosh alone transforms the team from decent to good, but the Bulls have the capability of signing two attractive free agents. If they got Joe Johnson along with Bosh, I can say in all honesty and no bias, that is more appealing as a fan and a basketball critic.
I understand that when a player of James' caliber becomes available, it's going to be the focal point of every team. But this whole hands-down go for Lebron campaign is too much. What happened to teams having criterias and agendas, and different systems to meet the goal of winning a championship?How can it be that when one guy gets on the market (besides a select few whom LBJ is not), it becomes the best fit hands down for every single team??
I for one do not have the answer. If you do, please, leave a comment on this post.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A More Relevant Comparison

It's inevitable that for the rest of Lebron James's career his game will continue to be associated with the likes of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. But these comparisons that are so rediculously unjust, go far beyond the fact that each have a handful of rings [no pun intended, Jordan (6), Bryant (5)] more than the so called "king."

More than the obvious abscence of finesse in LBJ's repetoire, the reigning MVP's attitude and willingness to stand alone separates him from the two future hall of famers. When I watch James play, I am be being completely honest when I say that what I see doesn't impress me. His numbers are phenomenal no doubt, but again, it just doesn't impress me for some reason. The ball is in his hands 80% of every possession, and every defender collapses on him because of his freakish athletic abilities. In addition, he's 6'7 250 something and all he can do is over power people. His ball handling is not great, his instincts are not great, he's not a great jump-shooter, and he's really not all that clutch when it comes down to it. His game resembles that of a power back running the "FB Plunge" in Madden 2003. Again, he's a dominant player who puts up impressive statistics on paper, but all these rediculous comparisions need to cease. He crumbled in two of the most important games of his career this season, and will probably jump ship this off-season. Next point.

If you told Michael Jordan that he couldn't shoot a blind-folded free throw left-handed, he would go to all lengths just to prove you wrong. Since he began his career in '84, MJ made a committment to bring the Bulls franchise to greatness, and he did it to an extent that no one had ever before.

Lebron has been faced with a challenge since being taken number one overall out of high school in the 2003 NBA Draft. He has brought the once disfunctional Cavalier franchise from the very bottom to conference contenders. But for once in his career, James is finally being questioned if he actually has what it takes to put the city on his back and carry them to the top of the basketball world. And because of this recent scrutiny, he will thoroughly explore his free agency this summer and look for a place to justify his career.

Kobe and Jordan each have spent their career's with one franchise which only adds to their legacy. Jordan spent the first seven years of his career without a championship trophy, and was determined to show that he could rise he and his team to greatness. Kobe won his first three with Shaq, but was criticized heavily afterwards that he couldn't do it without him. He also was determined to silence the critics, and did so in '09 with hopes of repeating this year as well.

If Lebron really wants to earn respect and join the elite, there would be no better way to do it than by bringing the Cavs a championship. The impact on the franchise itself would be huge, but the impact on the city of Cleveland would be far greater. Unfortunately enough, James will tank both the Cavs and the city of Cleveland, the same way he did in his soon-to-be final series with the team from the area he calls "home."

Bulls Not Pursuing Lebron-Calipari Package

A source close to the Bulls said today that the team believes they have enough to lure the MVP to the windy city without guaranteeing the current UK coach running the sidelines.

Lebron-Cal deal not on radar

Bulls management believes that the core group of Rose, Noah and Deng is just one peice away from title contention, which I've agreed with all along. But I don't believe for a second that if James told John Paxon, "I will sign a contract right now if you give me Calipari," he would be so quick to reject. They want to win now, and that pressure will take a progressive toll as the free agency date approaches.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Playoff Thoughts: Celtics Impressive Post Season Run and Kobe v. Nash

The Bulls are watching the remainder of the 2010 playoffs from home now, and are doing little in terms of progression to find a replacement for Vinny Del Negro. So I guess i'll offer some thoughts on the four teams that are relevant.
I was telling a friend last night that I thought the Magic would overpower the Rondo-run Celtics in just five games. He (and not just because he's Ray Allen's #1 fan) thought I was crazy and labeled the prediction "rediculous." And after seeing what the Celtics did this afternoon in Game 1, thanks to the play of Allen coincidentally enough, I've begun to question my own sanity as well.
Maybe I just haven't been paying close enough attention, but the Celtics do look in the same form as the '08 squad that brought Boston it's first championship since the Bird era. Rondo has emerged as a star in the league, but everything still goes through the Big 3. Pierce, Garnett and Allen lay are the blueprint of the team's gameplan and Rondo feeds off of them, or at least should. In the regular season when Rondo was running the show, scoring and all, the team was inconsistent and most were doubting their impact in the Eastern Conference. Well, three rounds in and the Celtics are one series away from their and every other team's preseason goal and are riding the play of the three OG's. To me, the fact that Garnett has gotten healthy and returned to form has been the biggest factor.
I'm not saying that I no longer feel the Magic can pull it out and head to the Finals for the second consecutive season, but 4-1 might have been a slap in the Celtic's face.
Most of my attention for the remainder of the month will be with the Conference Finals out West however. I'm always pulling for Kobe, but Steve Nash has been one of the best overall guys in the league for a decade, and desperately needs a Finals appearance to help justify his hall of fame career. There isn't a single person that doesn't respect the guy and wouldn't want to see him get a shot to hoist the trophy.
I think the Lakers are just too big however, and having the best closer in the game doesn't hurt either. The series will be close though. I can't imagine either side wrapping things up in less than 6 games. This series just stands out more to me and seems to be more exciting. I'm looking forward to watching Game 1 tomorrow night while writing high school baseball recaps. 18 hours 52 minutes and counting....

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Sports Fan's Nightmare: Queen LeBRICK Windy City Bound?

As a sports fan, I can't think of anything worse than having the team you covet sign one of your LEAST favorite sports figures ever. If Lebron did land in Chicago, I'm not sure how I would approach it.
First off, I will always root for the Bulls and for their success. However if Lebron James did end up signing with them, I would have the hardest time coming around for it. It would be like that Ashton Kutcher movie where his old gym coach who he despises ends up dating his mom. A train wreck to say the least.
I am constantly accused for my "LBJ hating," as being ignorant, because people think my perception of Lebron is that he isn't a good player. He is a good player, a great player at that. His numbers are phenomenal, and he's a force on the court. But to me, it's the comparisons to Kobe and MJ that make me want to pith a fit. The difference when asked why not? Finesse. Lebron is a freak of nature. He's a tremendous athlete who overpowers people. It gets the job done, but it's not impressive to me. The way Kobe and MJ play the game is so much different. It's smooth, and full of that word: Finesse. To Lebron, it's a show and he/the team admit it. They joke around constantly with and are accustomed to all these ridiculous dances and gyrations. Save it for the celebration when you actually accomplish something. In addition, you would never see MJ or Kobe walk into the stands after being fouled and snag a french fry from a baseline fan. They would just approach the free throw line and sink the free throws, minus the showboating/jokes/nonsense, whatever you want to call it. Also, Kobe and Jordan have each been dunked on, crossed up, or somewhat "made-a-fool-of" on the court. They probably never thought twice about calling up the camera men and having the evidence erased.
The bottom line is he has much maturing to do. And I'm no one to question the seriousness or lack-thereof of any individual, but I'm also not the icon for the sport of basketball in the world.
Watching Jordan and Kobe is comparable to watching Tiger Woods two shots back on the final five holes of the Masters. It's sports at it's finest. To me, watching Lebron is like watching the circus; It's a show and merely nothing more. You don't see that game face in the fourth quarter signifying a takeover, like that look Kobe gets when he shoves him bottom jar out three inches further than the top as if to say, "you can't stop me," after hitting a beautiful fade away in the faces of two defenders. It's unpredictable. With Lebron, it's always like he's telling everyone "get the hell out of my way, I got this" before he puts his head down and drives through the paint similar to a fullback out of the backfield barrelling into opposing linemen.
There's no question that nobody can stop Lebron, but unstoppable in a much different, less appreciable way than players like Kobe, Jordan, Magic & Bird. No player on the level that Lebron has been placed with would EVER come out with a performance like his game 5. NEVER. Everybody has bad games, but that's what separates the good from the elite. A game of that importance would never be tanked the way LBJ did Tuesday AT HOME. And as of half an hour ago, the so called "King" has been knocked out of the playoffs once again. And I never would guessed, but Lebron himself proved my point. I've said forever Lebron should be putting up 25/8/8 on every night, it's just his style of play and the way the offense is run around him. Tonight, in a series closing, losing performance, James posted a triple double. Just because he puts up those numbers does not make him elite! He put up a tripe-double on the stat page, but his performance was nothing spectacular. He almost made it a quadruple double with 9 turnovers, and made crucial decisions when the game was still in reach. With those same numbers, he's handed a crown if they win. But with those same numbers, the Cavs lost tonight and the blame cannot be placed on his teammates. He made terrible decisions in the fourth quarter, and was far from a leader on the court.
Nobody knows why or how this collapse occurred, because it never actually has. Lebron has never really been criticized before and blamed for anything, and he didn't know how to handle it/respond. He flopped, folded, all the above.
All the hate aside, LBJ is a great basketball player. He will probably win a ring some day, but he hasn't yet and he won't this year. So the comparisons need to stop.
And with all this said, it would be a shot to the heart if the Bulls landed Lebron. I like to "hate" on Lebron because I just don't see what everyone else does I guess. But you have to give me that being hopeful for Lebron in Chicago would be more than a stretch. Who doesn't prefer liking all the players on their team's roster? It's like fantasy sports...when drafting players, your not going to draft Derek Jeter if your a Red Sox fan. It's like the #1 unwritten rule of being a fan.
The Bulls are not far from contention. They've got the floor general in Derrick Rose who can take the ball in the fourth quarter. They've got a passionate defender/rebounder/shot blocker in Joakim Noah. They've got talent on the wings in Luol Deng and Taj Gibson who made the all-rookie squad. I have and would be much more interested to see how the Bulls can fair with a player like all star Chris Bosh, a low post threat the Bulls haven't had since...well....Luke Longley? (as I cringe typing those words). Only time will tell, but in an unsure, panicky-kind-of way I'm becoming more intrigued in this summer's free agent signing season.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Hope Yet for Vinny?

It was almost a certainty a month ago that head coach Vinny Del Negro was going to be fired at the end of the season in light of conflicts both on and off the court. The Bulls were in the midst of a crucial slump, plagued by injuries, and GM John Paxson & Del Negro were getting into fist fights (no "jk" either) over C Joakim Noah's minutes that were limited due to plantar fasciitis in the foot. Vinny's job was dwindling as he knew it and it and even the players were playing like a team with no chemistry, All in all, they were under-performing and falling short of expectations.
But Del Negro never really seemed to let the adversity get to him. He coached every game the same, with the same excitement. He never looks relaxed, and he isn't kind of coach who you'll ever see sitting down for an extended period of time. His coaching style has actually kind of grown me.
When I was reading ESPN Insider's Rumor Mill this morning, I found myself somewhat relieved to see a report that Del Negro's future in Chicago might not be as determined as anticipated. He overcame the struggles, got his team into the playoffs, and put up somewhat of a decent fight against the conference favorite Cav's. At least, they got their message off to soon-to-be free agents:
1. we have a strong core group, including rising star Derrick Rose. Noah and Deng have had breakout years as well and are double-double threats every night.
2. We have attitude, mostly thanks to Noah (who's really not that annoying if he's on your team)
3. We play in the second best sports market in the country, and have the second highest attendance rankings per year (c'mon,we can't compete with L.A.)
4 And don't forget Michael Jordan played for us
Bottom line is Vinny's done a decent job while he's been here, and I think giving him a chance to build on these past two years might be worth while. They've improved each year, and have been together now enough to possibly put it all together next season.