Monday, August 10, 2009

Bull Bear Sock ... Tiger! (Links)

The picture brings back some memories of the era that all Bulls fans have blacked out.

When the Bulls were Dominant

Trends say to watch out for D-Rose -
New Orleans' Chris Paul and San Antonio's Tony Parker aren't as tall as Rose, but probably qualify as role models for the Bulls' reigning rookie of the year. Last season, Paul averaged 22.9 points and shot 50.3 percent from the field. Parker produced 22.0 points while shooting 50.6 percent.

The question is, how often does an NBA guard accomplish such a feat - average at least 22 points and shoot better than 50 percent from the field?

Go ahead and think about it. You have to go back more than 10 years and the answer is not Michael Jordan.

Actually, it was the late Drazen Petrovic, who scored 22.3 points and shot .518 for the Nets in 1992-93, his final season before he was killed in a car accident.

What's interesting is during the 1990-91 season, four guards reached that milestone - Jordan, Chris Mullin, Reggie Miller and Kevin Johnson - while two others barely missed. Ricky Pierce averaged 22.5 points and shot .499, with Mitch Richmond at 23.9 points and .494.

Paging through career stats of the all-time great players listed in the NBA Register, it's easy to spot 22-50 seasons. Besides the names listed above, I counted 12 others who have done it, including Sidney Moncrief, Rolando Blackman, Dale Ellis, Magic Johnson and Clyde Drexler in the 1980s. Jordan did it four times, Mullin five.

So why is it something that used to be fairly common didn't happen at all for 15 seasons?

Well, 50 percent shooting should be an indication that a guard is getting to the basket frequently. A case could be made that 1993 was when hand-checking became a dominant defensive tactic.

Many have blamed the "Bad Boy" Pistons for the introduction of stifling, physical defense. But in 1988-89, the year they won their first title, the Pistons allowed 100.8 points per game.

By 1993-94, 10 teams averaged less than 100 points allowed. The Pistons might have set an example, but Pat Riley's Knicks were probably more responsible for the NBA's descent into rugged, low-scoring games.

A few years ago, the league tried to outlaw hand checks and last season's efficiency by Paul and Parker might be proof that the new rules are starting to take hold.

That could be great news for the Bulls. Rose shot 47.5 percent while scoring 16.8 points as a rookie, and he should be ready to make a significant jump in his second season.

Hester wants to be a top WR -
If only it could all come so naturally. Not just running with the football, but also running to catch it. Not just catching it, but also having to talk about it afterward.

In his fourth year of pro football, Hester wants to make it all easy again. But if he has learned anything, it is that some things just take time.

"It's all about venturing into new things," he said. "I pretty much succeeded in the return game. Now let's try to move on to something bigger."

Hester ranks fourth in NFL history with scores on 11 combined kick returns, and he set an NFL record as a rookie with six return touchdowns. Bigger than that is no small task, but one that Hester says he is up to accomplishing.

"Hopefully, I can be a Pro Bowler at the receiver spot," he said.

No huddle offense too tough for Bears D? -
When the Bears' first-team defense takes the field for Saturday's exhibition at Buffalo, facing the no-huddle offense - led by flamboyant receiver Terrell Owens -- could give Bears fans a glimpse of what improvements the defense has made, or how far it still needs to come.

``It's going to be a good challenge for us,'' said linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa, one of the new additions to the defense. ``Gosh, to think on your toes, to try to get a play called and executed in such a short amount of time is going to be very difficult. But it will be good for us in terms of getting our tools sharpened.

``The good thing is, we've been working against our offense that has run a similar no-huddle, just not as fast. Come game time, we'll find a way to manage.''

Cutler's burden -
There's no question Jay Cutler is the most talented quarterback the Bears have had since Jim McMahon.

After all, it's not as if Pro Bowl quarterbacks grow on trees. Nor is it every day that a team can lure away such a lofty talent from an opposing team, as the Bears did in obtaining Cutler from Denver in early April.

And with Cutler having grown up in Santa Claus, Ind. (yes, there really is a town with that name in the southern part of the Hoosier State), Bears fans are excitedly thinking the fourth-year NFL veteran might have some big presents in store for them, including several Super Bowl victories in the offing.

But as talented as Cutler is, history hasn't been kind to Bears fans when it comes to quarterbacks meeting high expectations.

Ozzie in the news again -
The Sox have been hit 44 times this season, which is the fifth-highest total in the majors.

Guillen said he doesn't care if he gets suspended for retaliating.

"[On Saturday] I get upset, they hit one guy and they throw in into another guy," Guillen said on Sunday. "I got upset.

"I know for a fact they're not throwing at nobody, but enough is enough. I have Konerko bruised all over the place. Around the league, be careful because we're going to hit people. I don't care if I get suspended because I need to protect my players.

"When we went to Cleveland, they hit two guys, not on purpose, but someone can get hurt out there. You can pitch in, but if you don't know how, don't do it. It gets to the point when they hit us seven times, 20 times in one week, and we hit one and they're the headhunters and that's a [problem] with Major League Baseball."

Guillen warned that if one of his players gets hit, and he believes it was on purpose, the opposing team will pay a stiff price.

MLB Power Rankings.

Reliving Buehrle's PERFECT GAME -
I'm sure a large majority of people thought the perfect game was going to end as soon as Kapler hit the ball, but I refused to believe that. Buehrle had been unstoppable throughout most of the day, and I figured there was some way Wise would catch that ball. Sure enough • he did. Wise's catch, with everything that was on the line, was the best single catch I've ever seen in person. The Cell exploded in excitement when he finally came down with the ball and from that point on I felt like there was no stopping Buehrle. It was his day.

When Jason Bartlett grounded out to end the game everything turned into one big blur. The usher was looking for someone to high-five. Nobody could believe that they had actually seen what had just happened. Andrew and I raced down the stairs because the elevator wasn't getting to us fast enough. By the time we actually made it to the field, Buehrle was walking back into the dugout with his arms extended in the air. Everyone always talks about the buzz you feel at certain sporting events -- well it was palpable at the Cell that day.

The excitement in the press conferences and the clubhouse was just as palpable. Buehrle's wife, Jamie, sat on the right side of the media room holding the couple's baby in her arms. She sounded emotionally drained, but extremely proud of her husband. Buehrle looked kind of dazed during the media session because he literally couldn't believe what he had just accomplished. Of course, just a couple of minutes later, the magnitude of the moment grew because the media session was abruptly ended for Buehrle to take a call from the president. White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf stood off to the side beaming like a proud papa.

Tiger's 70th PGA win
The battle was everything Tiger Woods expected. The finish was nothing anyone imagined, except for Woods hoisting another World Golf Championship trophy at Firestone.

Woods was in trouble in the trees on the famous par-5 16th hole, one shot behind Padraig Harrington, trying to figure out how he could squeeze out a victory Sunday in the Bridgestone Invitational.

He delivered another signature moment, this one an 8-iron from 178 that wound up a foot from the hole for birdie. Moments later, with an official timing his every shot, Padraig Harrington rushed his way into a stunning meltdown. He hit five straight shots without losing his turn, made triple bogey and became a mere bystander the final two holes as Woods won for the 70th time in his career.

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