Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Click-a-Bull (Boozer; Rose; Noah; Melo) + Bears (Cutler) + WhiteSox (Manny)

Big batch of links from yesterday: Click-a-Bull (Team USA; Center Rankings; Rose on Boozer & Noah; Melo; Trophies; Trade Deng?; Noah Improving)

And don't miss D-Rose highlights from Monday morning against Brazil: USA v. Brazil: Derrick Rose Highlights (Reverse Layups!)


One on One with Carlos Boozer

Why the Chicago Bulls? What made you choose them over other teams?


They had everything in place and have championship DNA. They got a lot of young players like Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng and, for me, it was the perfect fit. I was contemplating other teams and also thought of staying in Utah, but I was overwhelmed by Chicago’s professionalism and how bad they wanted to win again, and not just one championship but multiple championships. They want to get back to that, and I’m looking forward to being a part of it.

Fast Breaks: USA-Slovenia

A star is born. A Derrick Rose-shaped star. Watching international opponents chase Rose in the open floor is like watching a Volvo try to keep pace with a Ferrari. With the U.S. defending the three-point line well (Slovenia connected on 20.8 percent of their threes) Rose was a monster in transition, scoring seven points and dishing out five assists, several of which went towards the U.S.' 20 fast break points. In the halfcourt Rose and Russell Westbrook assaulted the rim almost at will; their speed and power with the ball completely overwhelmed Slovenia's guards and their strength enabled them to overpower the big men at the rim.

Bright future keeps Rose cruising along in career

Derrick Rose hasn't hit many speed bumps in a professional career that began as 2008's No. 1 pick. And this summer has been even better.

Chicago's front office flanked Rose with their best team since that statue outside the United Center roamed the United Center. He's finishing up the offseason as a starter for the U.S. team at the FIBA World Championships.

Rose is living right, right now.

The waters were somewhat murkier a year ago.

Sanctions had devastated the University of Memphis, Rose's one-and-done college of choice. And though he was never publicly named in the NCAA findings last August that stripped the Tigers of their magical (at the time) run to the 2008 title game, Rose's reputation and image didn't go unscathed.

He was the focal point of an eligibility mess that dated back to his days as a Chicago high school phenom. Rose didn't address the matter much at the time or since, other than maintain his innocence. University officials at Memphis, including the athletic director, backed Rose.

The NCAA's investigation had dogged Rose for most of his first season, but not enough to derail a Rookie of the Year campaign. Another minor headache arose last June when a photo surfaced from Rose's time at Memphis of him apparently flashing gang signs. Rose quickly apologized, hammering home his "anti-gang, anti-drug, and anti-violence" stance.

Rose navigated through the negative headlines with the same poise and assuredness that splits a backcourt trap. He remained focused on his job, giving critics little else to chew on and foes plenty to worry about. By not completely acknowledging what happened at Memphis, it could be argued that Rose ducked responsibility and essentially got off scot-free.

For Rose, it was about moving forward. The Bulls were his priority, and he took on last season determined to stay on course. An ankle injury that wiped out his preseason didn't derail Rose for long. He took command of the team, earning his first All-Star nod and took his game to a higher plane in the playoffs.

Yahoo: Joakim Noah is cool with just about everything


Bulls discussing Melo with Nuggets [as are a variety of others]

Per Jon Rothstein (MSG) twitter:

#Nets look like favorites now but are fighting including lopez...Harris, Favors, and picks are package

#Nuggets would prob. want Kaman and Eric Gordon from #Clippers 4 Melo....that deal would make LAC much worse

#Nuggets discussions w Chicago involves a package of Luol Deng and Taj Gibson


Jay Cutler & Kristin Cavallari Dating?

There's a rumor going around today that Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is dating Thigh of the Week alum, Kristin Cavallari. Even if they're not officially "dating", they were reportedly seen making out like crazy at a club in Chicago last night:

Manny unlikely to be the solution

Adding Ramirez is a low-risk move, but the Sox have too many other problems

I wish I could be in Cleveland to see Manny Ramirez's debut in a White Sox uniform and watch his new team struggle to handle his old team, the lowly Indians.

But I watched Monday's game in my basement, where I plan to catch Ramirez's planned debut as well. It really does emulate the "When do the Buckeyes play?" crowd at Progressive Field, seeing as I'm here by myself.

I filed a more optimistic column as the Sox headed into the bottom of the ninth before Bobby Jenks gave up three runs to send the game into extras Monday.

But there's no reason to think this team is just one hitter away from catching the Twins and making noise in October.

Click-a-Bull (Team USA; Center Rankings; Rose on Boozer & Noah; Melo; Trophies; Trade Deng?; Noah Improving)

Why You Should Adopt Team USA for the FIBA World Championships

Somewhere along the way, the Oklahoma City Thunder became every NBA fan’s mistress. We have and hold our respective teams in injury and in health, in good times and bad, until death do us part, but even the truest of die-hards have been known to flirt with League Pass now and again. It’s nothing major. Just to see what else is out there. Just to pass the time when our teams are away on business. It doesn’t mean anything, we tell ourselves.

But it means everything. NBA fans have wandering eyes, and the Thunder ooze sex appeal. We can try our best to explain away the Thunder’s allure, but there is genuine meaning in it.

Kevin Durant is the obvious draw. Not only is he a phenomenal All-World scorer with a rapidly improving all-around game, but his on-court demeanor and obsessive hunger for all things basketball blend together beautifully. His feet are planted firmly on the ground, even as he reaches higher and higher with his trademarked, absurdly long arms. The man simply loves what he does and works hard to improve himself, and that’s endearing. That he happens to already be an incredible player while maintaining that hunger is what elevates him to cult favorite and Wheaties box role model.

Of course, Durant is but one reason why the Thunder have captivated NBA audiences. They’re young and new, and like it or not, hip. They’re athletic and dynamic, from Russell Westbrook’s jams to Serge Ibaka’s swats. Their success is somehow bizarre, improbable, and yet all part of the plan. They’re 50-win underdogs, tightly knit with an old-school, one-goal fabric, but envisioned with modern basketball sensibilities. There is, really and truly, nothing quite like the Thunder.

There’s also nothing quite like Kevin Durant’s other team. The one that won’t make your steadfast commitment as an NBA fan the least bit confusing. The one that’s playing right now, in the stretch of the off-season that’s most barren.

They’re young. They’re athletic. They’re hungry and humble. They’re incredibly talented even if they’re in a bit over their heads. They are wholly committed to playing great defense, and above all, they have Durant to lead them. There is, really and truly, nothing quite like Team USA either, and if one were forced to conjure the most natural team comparison? It just might be Oklahoma City.

Ranking the centers, 11 through 1

7. Joakim Noah(notes), Chicago Bulls (last year: 15th)

Though his fiery personality and, um, unconventional offseason habits are the Houston forward's polar opposite, Noah almost reminds of a 7-foot version of Shane Battier(notes). The ultimate teammate, Noah is constantly barking out the opposing team's play, his position on the help defense side, and he's the first to meet a teammate when things go perfectly, terribly awry, or somewhere in the middle.

He also put together a double-double last season while playing just 30 minutes per game, a fantastic accomplishment, and he's made huge strides in his rebounding since entering the league as a rookie in 2007, topping out with a rebound rate that flew past the 20 percent mark last season.

Derrick Rose: "I'd hate to play against Boozer and Noah"

You must be really excited about next season, right?

Derrick Rose: Oh yeah. We got a new team, great young players. I think now we have a chance to go out there and try to win every game.

Guess you’ve already talked with new coach Tom Thibodeau.

DR: He’s cool. He’s really a basketball coach – always studying, always in the office looking at film, making sure everybody is doing things right, making calls to every player before the season… That’s a good thing.

What does he want from you?

DR: Leadership, playing defense. That’s the main thing, to be really agressive. The city of Chicago will love him, because as long as you’re playing hard and playing agressive, they love that kind of play.

How’s the city after getting Carlos Boozer on board?

DR: It’s a frenzy, man. Everybody just can’t wait for the season to start. Everybody is there kind of bragging a little bit already, that we should have a chance to compete for the title.

NBA Rumors: Carmelo Anthony Can Rival Miami Heat With the Chicago Bulls

With the summer of 2010 winding down and all the big name free agents already finding their homes, NBA fans haven’t been this excited for a season in quite some time.

Sorry, Allen Iverson, you left the title of “big name” back in Denver.

Speaking of things left in Denver, the Mile High City is currently stuck with Carmelo Anthony. While being “stuck” with an All-Star who scores like Don Draper isn’t normally bad, in this case, Anthony has put the Nuggets in quite the bind.

To trade, or not to trade. That, is the question.

Shakespeare was wrong.

Lots of talk around the NBA has been about whether Carmelo Anthony will stay in Denver. According to today’s Denver Post, new vice president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri will do everything in his power to keep him around.

Will that even matter?

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reported yesterday that Anthony and his people informed the franchise of his intent to leave and that the team would be better off sending him elsewhere in order to get some value back.

Sadly, the odds of getting equal value for ‘Melo make the odds of the Clippers winning the title seem likely.

Yet the rumors are certainly swirling. The New York Knicks, Houston Rockets, and New Jersey Nets have had their names tied with Carmelo plenty, but considering the 26-year-old forward is likely to leave in a trade, the possibilities are endless.

So let’s propose something that would rock the basketball world.

Carmelo Anthony in Chicago. The return of The Madhouse On Madison.

White Sox toast with a four pack

The Yankees aren’t an easy bunch to intimidate, but the White Sox gave a shot during pregame ceremonies Friday, with a little help from their friends.

Championship trophies from the 1985 Bears, the '90s Bulls, the 2009-10 Blackhawks and the White Sox’s own 2005 hardware, were all on display during a “Gathering of Champions” ceremony. Richard Dent represented the Bears, Mark Buehrle was there for the White Sox and Joel Quenneville was on hand for the Blackhawks.

Scottie Pippen was supposed to be the Bulls’ representative, but he was late leaving those duties to chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. Pippen was later spotted on the suite level just as the game was starting.

The Yankees might have their 27 World Series trophies, including their most recent in 2009, but no city can stake a claim to a title in each of the four major sports in the past 25 years.

Why The 2010 Chicago Bulls Should Trade Luol Deng

In their pursuit of Lebron James Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade, much talk was going around about Luol Deng going to Portland. Well, Deng's still a Bull, and the Bulls struck out on the big three in free agency.

Though, it's not too late to dump Deng and his bloated contract on some other team. Division rival Indiana comes to mind with shooter Danny Granger. This would be an ideal trade for the Bulls, but I'm not comfortable sending him to a division rival.

Enter Portland, if Deng would go to Portland as reported before the free agent bonanza, the Bulls could take Rudy Fernandez in a trade, but would have to add $10M or so, or else get a third team like the 76ers with Andre Igoudala. Hopefully all the pieces get together to get an unhappy Rudy out of Portland.Rudy Fernandez would likely get the starting job he's looking for in Chicago.

If Igoudala comes to town, he would compete as well for the starting role. He is a local product from Springfield, IL. He has two years completed on a 6 yr./$80M deal. He is more durable than Deng and has a greater upside.

No matter if the Bulls make moves in the off season, or before February, the most important thing after re-signing Joakim Noah is trading Luol Deng.

Joakim Noah work hard, improving jumper, and other random notes

I was talking to a source inside the Bulls organization, and I was told Joakim Noah is living at the Berto Center this summer. He's had an outstanding off-season, and we can expect him to come out really strong this year.

He's still throwing up the sidewinder, but he's knocking it down at an excellent rate, and it may be more of a weapon this year than in the past. We had started to see Noah knock down this mid range jumpers last year, and if he can take one more step forward with it this season then he'll become much more deadly on the court.

Overall, the mood around the team is very positive and everyone is excited for the season. There's no doubt the team is better, and they know it and are ready to prove it on the court.

There's a much better vibe around Thibodeau as head coach than there was around Del Negro. Ever dating back to the initial hire, Del Negro never had the players on his side the way Thibodeau appears to already. Sources had told me even early on in his first season the veterans on the team thought Del Negro was a boob.

Thibodeau commands much more respect, he's simply a much greater basketball mind. I think of all the players on the team right now, Luol Deng stands the most to benefit from the switch and is probably the player most happy to see Del Negro leave (though the departed Gordon/Hinrich also disliked Del Negro).

This season marks the beginning of a new era for the Bulls. New head coach, significant roster turnover in terms of role players, and a new star player added to the team. The talent on the roster now exceeds anything the Bulls have thrown out there since #23 suited up. They bring a post offense, a slashing offense, defensive intensity, and balance to the table.

Monday, August 30, 2010

USA v. Brazil: Derrick Rose Highlights (Reverse Layups!)

Well, I was attempting to post videos here, but both ESPN and NBA.com do not allow any of the highlights to be embedded ... which is so aggravating.

Here's the best I can do: Click here to view the video and pay close attention at the 0:30 mark. You will see a ridiculous drive and scoop from D-Rose.

And for his other awesome reverse layup, I actually got the video to work:

Rose also had another awesome jump-stop-baby-sky-hook-floater-from-the-baseline bucket, but video seems not to exist.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Robbie Gould missed 2 FGs??? I dont believe it.

So all day I've been trying to focus on the positives from the bears 3rd preseason game and unfortunately, I have really struggled. The starting offense and defense played into the 3rd quarter and for the most part it was discouraging for a bears fan. The offense looked out of sync and the defense didnt have a strong performance and Robbie Gould really did miss 2 FGs which i still cant believe. So, here's the good and bad/ugly from the game.

1. The bears have a pass rush and its name is Julius Peppers. He made Levi Brown, the cardinals
OT, look like he was playing for the bears offensive line. He was unblockable and as a result, he
made the rest of the bears D-line better. Tommie Harris also appears healthy and was playing with
some of his old explosion. The D-line had a good game and Peppers looks as good as advertised.

2. You cant run on this team. The bears have been excellent at stopping the run and it was no
different in this game. The defensive line was getting penetration and forcing the running back
to shuffle his feet in the backfield killing any of his momentum. I think the bears will be a top 5
defense at stopping the run this year.

3. The bears have 2 good running backs. Both Taylor and Forte have shown good bursts and
elusiveness this preseason. They both can catch and carry the ball and should have big games this

The Ugly
1. #6 - No one looked worse on the field than Jay. Not only was the offense as a whole confused
but Jay looked like a lost rookie out there. (I was gonna say Dan LeFevour, but he had a really good
game). It was the most inaccurate I have seen Cutler be and he tried to force plays that werent
there. In his midgame interview, he even admitted that he "left a lot of opportunities out on the
field". To be brutally honest, it looked like he was afraid in the pocket. He had happy feet, was
never set when he threw a pass, and wouldnt step up into the pocket when he needed to. He got
sacked 4 times and honestly, I put three of them on Cutler. If he played like this in the regular
season, he would have been benched.

2. The timing offense. The only time that the bears were on the same page about they needed to
get this game over fast. From the 1st play when 2 WRs ran to the same spot, the offense was a
clusterfuck. I actually think the line blocked better but still not good. But the offense routinely had
the playclock down under 5 seconds and Martz has always stressed quick offense so something was
wrong. Cutler even said guys were lined up in the wrong spots on multiple plays. Really?!?!? This
was your regular season preview and you have guys lined up in wrong spots on multiple plays!!
They have 14 days to get on the same page or this is gonna be a long miserable season on offense.

3. Injuries will kill the bears. The bears arent a deep team no matter what Lovie says. Briggs went
out with an ankle injury and you saw a completely different defense without him and Urlacher on
the field. The cardinals(derek anderson & matt leinart) coverted over 40% of their 3rd downs on
the defense. League avg last year was 27%. The cardinals checked the ball down and without those
two guys in the middle of the defense with their speed the cardinals WRs ran for most of the 1st downs.
Lovie's defense requires the LBs to be fast and sure tacklers and without them, it just doesnt work.
I'm praying to the injury god already for briggs and urlachers' health.

There is more that i found ugly from this game (Chris Harris, Tim Hightower says your jock is back
on the field where he juked you out of it. The spot of the 2nd time he did it, not the first) but
dont have the heart to keep tearing apart the bears. The bears play this thursday and the starters
wont be in for more than a series or 2. There are some interesting players to watch though like
the battle for the last RB spot between Garrett Wolfe and Khali Bell, Dan Lefevour and the young
D-line man. Look for my bears season preview to come sometime early next week.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

What to watch for

So, the bears' 3rd preseason game happens this saturday and the starters are slated to play into the 3rd quarter against the Cardinals. The teams will actually game plan for the other team which they dont do for the first 2 preseason games. This is pretty much the game that best reflects how the team will play in the season so there are some things that we all should be watching for:

1. Can the O-Line block anyone? - This one is pretty easy to see. As Cutler goes, so goes the bears. Can the O-Line bounce back after a bad half against the Raiders?

2. The timing between Cutler and his WRs - As has been said repeated times over the offseason, Martz's offense is all about the timing between the QB and WR's routes. Martz preaches to throw to a spot on the field because the WR should be there which is really hard to cover if the WR is there. The defenses have always tried to disrupt the WRs and QBs by blitzing or jamming the WRs. Are the bears' WRs good enough to run a precise route and get off a cornerback's jam at the line? Can Culter be under control enough to throw to a spot and trust his WRs? Watch and see how much Cutler has to pump and then pull the ball down because some WR isnt in the right spot? Hopefully not a lot.

3. Don't let up D - The last couple of years the bears' defense has let the opponent convert on too many 3 downs. And on a lot of 3rd down and longs. The Raiders carved up the bears on the third down. Many things can be pointed at as the reason for this trend but most importantly its the safeties and pass rush. I have no doubt that Peppers will get consistent pass rush but what will the other linemen do? And are the bears safeties good enough in coverage to play man and let others blitz and not just drop back in zone coverage? Watch and see if the bears can get off the field on 3rd down.

Positions to Watch - The bears dont have a whole of questions at who is gonna start but they do have some interesting questions as to who will contribute behind the starters.

1. The slot WR - I'm interested in seeing what the bears do here because i dont think there is any question that Hester, Aromashodu and Knox are their best 3 WRs. But, they want to have Olsen on the field a lot and people have been praising Rashied Davis' camp and he has gotten quite a few snaps in the preseason. Who is gonna get snaps as the 3rd WR and how many will they be? This will be the first chance we have to see how Martz will juggle all the players?

2. Left side of the D-line - We know that Tommie Harris and Peppers will start on the right side. Now who will join them? Will it be Mark Anderson or Idonije at the other end (im praying for Izzy)? And who will be in the DT rotation? We know that Anthony Adams will play in run situations because he is solid against the run but who will be the nickle and pash rushing DT next to Harris? Harrison, Melton and Toenia all have a shot to win that job and it should be interesting to watch how they all perform this week. If anyone can make an impact, they will guarantee themselves more snaps and more time come the regular season.

3. The safeties - Like I've said before, I dont think the bears can win with Harris starting at free safety and Danieal Manning at strong safety. It looks like the bears safeties are healthy for the most part and maybe we will see someone else step up and take the free safety spot so that Harris can be moved back to strong. Watch to see on the deep throws to the sidelines and see if how quickly a safety gets there to cover and maybe we will have an answer to the bears safety questions.

4. O-line - Not sure, I need to say much here. They just need to block better because I'm not sure the bears realistically have any other options for players to start on the roster. They must just get better as a unit. Pray for this!

Enjoy the closest thing to real Bears football until September 12th.

Click-a-Bull (Loul Goes Home; Pippen Statue; Power Forward Rankings; D-Rose; Team Flow Charts)

BBS: Must Watch: Luol Deng Goes Home

Bulls to honor Pippen with statue inside United Center

The Chicago Bulls have plans to unveil a bronze statue of Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen that will be displayed permanently in the United Center at some point towards the end of the 2010-11 season.

“Not only is Scottie Pippen one of the greatest players to ever wear a Bulls uniform, but he’s among the best players in history of the league to play the game,” said Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. “He had a tremendous impact in bringing six world championships to Chicago and there is no better way to pay tribute to him than with a permanent statue that honors his inspirational career.”

The statue will be crafted by Omri and Julie Rotblatt-Amrany of Highland Park, Ill., who also sculpted the famous Michael Jordan statue which was unveiled in January 1994 in conjunction with Jordan’s No. 23 jersey retirement.

“Words really can’t express my feelings,” Pippen told Bulls.com. “It’s an unbelievable honor and truly amazing. It’s something you dream of as a kid growing up, but you can never foresee those childhood fantasies becoming reality. You see statues of individuals who have done great things and made their mark on history, but as a basketball player, you never really think about arriving at this point. It’s an amazing honor for the Chicago Bulls to do this for me.”

Pippen was informed of the news the same week that he was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. In his first year of eligibility, Pippen was inducted on Aug. 13 as an individual player and as a member of the 1992 Dream Team which won the gold medal in the Barcelona Summer Olympics.

Having spent several years away from the game, Pippen said he now has a different, clearer perspective on his career, one that makes honors like the statue all the more meaningful.

“I’m more excited now when I look back at what we were able to accomplish,” Pippen acknowledged. “My playing years went by so fast, but I’m happy I was able to make my mark on the game. It’s hard to take a deep breath and look back on it all. At the same time, you are always trying to get to the next level and accomplish something new. I’m at a point now where I can really appreciate what I did throughout my career. To enjoy those things and reap some of the benefits now is very special to experience.”

While the Bulls retired Pippen’s No. 33 on Dec. 9, 2005, his alma mater, the University of Central Arkansas, didn’t officially lift his jersey to the rafters until Jan. 20 of this year. Between that, the Hall of Fame and his return to the Bulls as team ambassador, it’s been a nostalgic year for Pippen.

Scottie Pippen honored with statue

The Chicago Bulls will unveil a statue of Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen that will be displayed in the United Center at some point during the season.

"Not only is Scottie Pippen one of the greatest players to ever wear a Bulls uniform, but he's among the best players in the history of the league to play the game," Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said in a statement. "He had a tremendous impact in bringing six world championships to Chicago and there is no better way to pay tribute to him than with a permanent statue that honors his inspirational career."

Pippen was elected to the Hall of Fame on Aug. 13. He won six NBA titles with the Bulls, was named one of the 50 greatest NBA players and made seven All-Star teams.

"Words really can't express my feelings," Pippen told the Bulls website. "It's an unbelievable honor and truly amazing. It's something you dream of as a kid growing up, but you can never foresee those childhood fantasies becoming reality. You see statues of individuals who have done great things and made their mark on history, but as a basketball player, you never really think about arriving at this point. It's an amazing honor for the Chicago Bulls to do this for me."

Omri and Julie Rotblatt-Amrany of Highland Park, Ill., will craft Pippen's statue. They also sculpted the famous Michael Jordan statue that was unveiled in January 1994 as part of Jordan's No. 23 jersey retirement.

Pippen returned to the Bulls in July as a team ambassador.

Ranking the power forwards, 30 through 21

28. Taj Gibson(notes), Chicago Bulls (last year: unranked)

At the bottom of this list, it really came down to, "who would I rather have on my team in 2010-11: Taj Gibson, or [name redacted]?" And Taj kept winning out. It's a giant mea culpa for me, because I didn't even think Taj was the 26th-best player in last year's draft when he was taken at that slot, but his all-around game and defensive work have me on his side as we enter his second season.

Ranking the power forwards, 10 through 1

6. Carlos Boozer(notes), Chicago Bulls (last year: eighth)

It was a weird run for Carlos in Utah. He stabbed a CBA-cheating owner in the back by reneging on an illegal handshake agreement to sign with the Jazz, and then ran injured for a while, drawing the ire of his new team's front office. Then Paul Millsap(notes) popped up, and while Boozer's backup didn't exactly make him redundant, he did allow for the trade rumors that really escalated before Boozer's 2009-10 player option, assumed-but-eventually-declined 2009 free agency and eventual split in 2010.

Yikes. So, it's as if he never was a member of the Jazz. Now he's a Bull, he sets screens, he gathers well and finishes expertly with either hand, and truly comes straight out of central casting for a team like Chicago. Assuming he averages 65 games a season. Anything less, and Chicago will continue to have Jazz-like issues.

Rose is player of the game against Greece

Rose is now Team USA's second starting guard, and he delivered today against Greece coming up with 13 points by hitting six of seven shots including a three. For his efficient offensive efforts, Rose earned the player of the game award.

What impresses me most about Rose and his team USA experience is his improved defense. Coach K has challenged Rose to become a disruptive defender, and given Rose's length and athleticism that's the type of defender he can play in the NBA as well.

Derrick is playing physical, attacking defense. He's generating steals and looks in the open court. I think Rose is going to actually take quite a bit away from his international team experience. Whether he has the endurance to play this same physical attacking defense while carrying the load offensively is another question, but most star players need time off on the defensive end at times while cranking it up when it's most important.

We've now seen that Derrick Rose can ratchet up his defense when needed and that's going to help the Bulls significantly next season.

Also, while the international three is shorter and Rose hasn't drilled tons of them, the extra arc in his jump shot is apparent. He's obviously worked hard on fixing up his form to become a good three point shooter and whether he's all the way there this year or not, the process has begun.

I'm actually starting to get excited about the Worlds.

This is an awesome compilation of player transactions for each team. Interesting to see how the Bulls got to where we are:

NBA Player Movement Flow Charts

Must Watch: Luol Deng Goes Home

I first heard about this via TrueHoop: Luol Deng Goes Home

"I've never been in a place where I've walked in the street and actually feel home, where I don't feel like a refugee." Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng says.

It's been two decades since Bull forward Luol Deng fled worn-torn southern Sudan, where he was born. Two million people have died, as the region was brutalized by government-sanctioned forces. In January, southern Sudan will vote on a referendum to secede from Sudan and become an independent nation.

Deng recently visited his native land for the first time in 20 years. The BBC documented Deng's trip, and produced a report you can watch on BBC World News America on Thursday at 7p ET on BBC America. An audio slideshow of the journey can be seen here.

I ended up DVRing it because I had softball playoffs last night. (We won.) I watched it this morning and it definitely worth a look. Here's an online version (Click for video):

NBA superstar Deng returns to his Sudan roots

Luol Deng returns to Sudan for the first time since he fled 20 years ago

Luol Deng is getting drenched. While most sports stars spend their off-season on the beach, Britain's NBA superstar is soaking up a Southern Sudanese wet-season deluge.

There is a solemn ritual to it. A United Nations Refugee Agency official hands him an umbrella. Luol accepts it, waits a few seconds, quietly walks over to a line of dripping schoolchildren and then hands it over. The children gaze up, and up and up, smile, and take shelter.

Watch our audio slideshow

Luol ambles back to the centre of the muddy field, where the welcoming ceremony continues. Within a minute, as his XXXL t-shirt turns ever darker with rain, a further umbrella is proffered, only to end up in the hands of another teenager.

Now that southern Sudan's most celebrated refugee has at last returned home for the first time in 20 years, columns of children run through their sweetly drilled routine. "Welcome, welcome," they sing. "We are happy to see Luol Deng today". As they sing, they march in lilting step.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Click-a-Bull (Noah; 7 Storylines; All-Stars?; 10 Bold Predictions; SF Ranks / Deng)

BBS post yesterday: Week 2: Cutler's S.O.S.

BBS post earlier today: Click-a-Bull (Derrick Rose Links)

VOTE: How many games will the
BEARS win this season? ---->


Joakim Noah giving back to community

It's a few minutes past 4 p.m. on an August Friday and the excitement is palpable at the Variety Boys and Girls Club in Astoria Queens.

Several preteens stand in the lobby while a few parents and a photographer look on, waiting for the arrival of the day's special guest. Volunteers scurry back and forth trying to tie up some loose ends as other neighborhood children shuffle in and out of classrooms, some trying to figure out exactly what is going on. Small banners dot the walls announcing the special events that have already started taking place in the building. The old facility on 30th Street has a different kind of energy to it on this day.

It's not every day that an NBA player, who spent many of his formative years working on his game around the area, comes back to visit. It's also not every day that you see a 7-foot, 260-pound man with a curly ponytail walk around in a red tank top and blue checkered shorts. But then again, you never know exactly what to expect when you see -- and hear -- Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah.

That's why everyone has gathered here today, and that's why they're so excited when the happy-go-lucky big man walks up the steps and strides through the double doors. Seemingly everybody gets a handshake or a hug. He would stand and talk to everybody for a while if he could, but the events are underway and he's got to attempt to stay on schedule. It's his foundation's inaugural Stickman Day, after all, and everybody wants a moment of his time. So he heads down the stairs and down the hall with the same confident swagger he displays on the basketball floor.

Noah has control of any room he enters because of his outgoing personality, but this particular room in the far corner is a little different. That's because the arts and crafts room is filled with young girls, as well as two of the most important women in his life -- his mom, Cecilia Rodhe, and his sister, Yelena. Rodhe, an accomplished sculptor and art therapist, has spent the past couple hours working with the girls, and now it's time to show some of the finished clay sculpture to the man of the hour.

"Hello ladies," Noah says as he ducks underneath the doorway to enter the classroom.

7 curious things about the upcoming season

The defense in Chicago
The Boston Celtics' return to the NBA's upper echelon was predicated first and foremost on their defense. They unleashed a pressurized force field designed and implemented by Tom Thibodeau, and ultimately adopted by other teams around the league, including the Los Angeles Lakers. This June, the Bulls tapped Thibodeau to fill their head coaching vacancy. He joins a Bulls team that put together a strong defensive season last season, finishing 10th in efficiency. Skeptics might look at Derrick Rose -- whose defensive instincts are a far cry from Rajon Rondo -- and Carlos Boozer and conclude that Thibodeau doesn't have the personnel to succeed the way he did in Boston. Yet in 2007, Thibodeau took a quintet that featured Ray Allen (who had a horrendous defensive reputation coming from Seattle), an undisciplined big man in Kendrick Perkins, a second-year point guard in Rajon Rondo who'd started only 25 games and made them one of the best defensive units in basketball. With Joakim Noah anchoring the interior, the lanky tandem of Luol Deng and Ronnie Brewer on the wings, Boozer's sharp basketball IQ and Rose's gifts, Thibodeau should have the tools to sculpt a top-5 defense. If the Bulls buy in, we'll have a better understanding whether Thibodeau's kind of tactical expertise is transferable -- and an inkling of just how dangerous the Bulls could be.

2011 All-Star Game: How Does Free Agent Movement Affect Who Goes?

With all the offseason movement this summer, a lot will look different this upcoming season. One of the biggest and most noticeable will be the new faces who might appear in the 2011 NBA All-Star Game.

The biggest differences will likely take place out West. With players like Amar’e Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer now residing on Eastern Conference teams, a few frontcourt positions have opened up.

But most importantly is how the moves affected the power rankings of the teams in each conference. A couple teams that made the Western playoffs could end up dropping out of the playoffs altogether, whereas a few teams that made the playoffs in the East last season actually improved drastically.

Reason why I mentioned the teams and how they presumably rose and dropped is because winning comes into the equation of selecting who does and doesn’t make the All-Star Game.

For example, Amar’e leaving Phoenix and the likelihood of the Suns dropping in the standings could knock a player like Steve Nash out of contention for a roster selection, whereas a player like Russell Westbrook could be in a great position if the Thunder get off to a quick start like expected.

Andrew Bynum might steal a roster berth if he gets off to a fast start, but then again, Yao Ming is back and will be the starting the season and Tim Duncan will get selected by the coaches regardless of what kind of season he is having.

In the East, Amar’e could find himself left off the roster if the Knicks don’t win early and often. Yet a player like Joakim Noah or Andrew Bogut could find himself on it if their teams improve on last season’s success.

Chris Bosh might miss the game if he isn’t voted in by the fans and it’ll be interesting to see how many fans don’t vote for Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.

All in all, I expect to see more than a handful of new faces at the game this season.

Here’s my picks of the players with the best shot at making it at each position.

Sky High: 10 Bold Predictions for the Chicago Bulls This Season

It's late in summer and most of the dust has settled, the smoke has cleared, and now it's time to look forward to the future.

Notably, the team we are going to be looking at are the Chicago Bulls. I will do my best to make 10 bold predictions for the Bulls' upcoming season in hopes that most of them, if not all, come true.

Keep in mind that some of these may seem a little too optimistic, but that's why they are BOLD predictions.

Without further ado, here are my top 10 bold predictions for the Bulls' upcoming season...

Ranking the small forwards, 11 through 1

8. Luol Deng(notes), Chicago Bulls (last year: 19th)

After a year or two in the wilderness, Luol finally got his wits about him in 2009-10, averaging 17.6 points and 7.3 rebounds alongside his typically sound defense. Deng also chipped in about a steal and block per game, and this is important: Luol came in at under two turnovers a game for the sixth time in a six year career. I understand that his mid-range, rarely-dribbling game doesn't see him taking many chances, but to be able to field a solid-scoring forward for nearly 38 minutes a game and see him turn it over just 1.9 times per? Good stuff.

Ranking Luol Deng

According to Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo!’s Ball Don’t Lie, Luol Deng is the eight-best small forward in the NBA, behind LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Gerald Wallace, Andre Iguodala, Danny Granger and Paul Pierce.

Here’s Dwyer’s commentary: “After a year or two in the wilderness, Luol finally got his wits about him in 2009-10, averaging 17.6 points and 7.3 rebounds alongside his typically sound defense. Deng also chipped in about a steal and block per game, and this is important: Luol came in at under two turnovers a game for the sixth time in a six-year career. I understand that his midrange, rarely dribbling game doesn’t see him taking many chances, but to be able to field a solid-scoring forward for nearly 38 minutes a game and see him turn the ball over just 1.9 times per? Good stuff.”

That seems fair. Now let’s take a quick peek at the comparitive 2010-11 salaries of Dwyer’s top eight SFs (from ShamSports): LeBron ($14,500,000), Durant ($6,053,663 from his rookie contract but jumping to $13,603,750 in 2011-12), ‘Melo ($17,149,243), Wallace ($10,500,000), Iggy ($12,345,250), Granger ($10,973,202), Pierce ($13,876,321) and Deng ($11,345,000).

This biggest knock against Deng is his supposedly cap-killing contract. And yet based on Dwyer’s rankings, Deng’s pay is roughly commensurate with his standing among the league’s elite small forwards.

This — in addition to all the recent talk about potentially trying to flip Deng (and other assets) for ‘Melo — got me to wondering how Luol ranks statistically compared to the league’s other small forwards.

Deng versus the Average Small Forward:
According to Hoopdata, the average NBA small forward gives his team 9.2 PPG, 3.6 RPG (2.7 DR and 0.8 OR), 1.4 APG, 0.7 SPG and 0.4 BPG while shooting 44.9% from the field, 34.9% from downtown and 78.6% from the line (on 2.2 FTA).

Last season, Deng averaged 17.6 PPG, 7.3 RPG (5.4 DR and 1.9 OR), 2.0 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.9 and 0.9 BPG while shooting 46.6% from the field, 38.6% from beyond the arc and 76.4% from the line (on 4.7 FTA).

At a glance, it’s clear that Deng is solidly above average. But let’s delve further. The following comparitive rankings also come from Hoopdata. I have compared Deng to other “full time” small forwards — that is, SFs who played 40+ games and 30+ MPG — across several categories.

Click-a-Bull (Derrick Rose Links)

NBA Floor Generals: Power Ranking the Top 10 Point Guards

So here is the first of six articles I will be writing on power ranking the top ten players from each position and the top ten benches.

I also list an honorable mention and a few of the young players to look out for in the future.

We will start with the leaders of the team, the point guards. These are the ones who are in charge of carrying this team and running the team's offense. Point guards are there to set up their teammates, as well as being looked upon to be the team's secondary scorers.

These players play a pivotal role when it comes to winning games. If your team doesn't have a great point guard, you are in some trouble, unless of course you have Dwyane Wade and LeBron James on your team. Point guards carry the burden of making decisions under extreme pressure, and are always under ridicule if they do not succeed.

Overall, the point guard is the one on whom everyone relies to make that game-changing decision, whether to pass the ball to the hot hand, or take it to the hole themselves. So here is a list compiling the top 10 point guards in the NBA.

Let the debates begin!


7. Derrick Rose: Chicago Bulls

Rose uses his great frame and fantastic speed to blow past defenders with ease. Then, once he is able to blow by the defenders, he uses his explosive leaping abilities to either dunk on defenders or just elevate over them.

He possesses great one-on-one skills that he uses to his advantage when driving to the basket. He is a good combo guard right now, but needs to learn to be a half-court type point guard where he is able to come in and make moves to set up teammates, rather than doing so in the open court/transition game that he is ever so good at already.

Lastly, Rose is another player that falls under the "must improve shooting stroke" in order to enhance his skills that much more.

Call me a biased Bulls fan, but D-Rose at 7?! Seems about 5 spots too low. This next article is more what I'm thinking for D-Rose ...

6 reasons Derrick Rose will emerge as the best PG in the NBA this year

Before any people want to disagree with my statement, hear me out. I will provide you with six solid reasons why there is a good chance my statement will come true.

Derrick Rose is already an established all-star and with the recent summer the bulls have had, it's time for Rose to flourish and take the next step into superstardom and stamp his name as the best PG in the NBA.

National Team Gives Chicago’s Rose Bigger Stage to Prove He Can Lead

Derrick Rose grew up on the South Side of Chicago, so he has a keen appreciation of Michael Jordan’s Bulls. Those teams were far different from the more recent incarnations, and Rose, who was 9 when Jordan was in his final season in Chicago, has seen many players come and go since then.

Derrick Rose, who hopes to play for the USA Basketball at the world championship in Turkey, was the Bulls’ first All-Star since Michael Jordan in 1998.

But when LeBron James and other high-profile free agents decided against playing for Chicago this summer, Rose was left as the face of the franchise. And now, as a member of the United States national team, he can show he is ready to stand out on a big stage when the Americans play two exhibitions this weekend in Madrid as they prepare for the FIBA world championships Aug. 28 to Sept. 12 in Turkey.

Rose is competing for minutes, perhaps even a roster spot, on a team filled with point guards. If he emerges with a role on the team, it will be a positive step toward becoming the player he will need to be for the Bulls.

Mike Krzyzewski, the United States coach, said Rose had elevated his game, particularly on defense, since the team started training. “There’s no maintenance,” he said of Rose’s play. “You’ve got a guy doing all those things who you never have to motivate.”

In two N.B.A. seasons, Rose has started to blossom. He was the league’s rookie of the year in 2008-9, and he became the Bulls’ first All-Star since Jordan in 1998, Jordan’s final season in Chicago.


Week 2: Cutler's S.O.S.

It was just the 2nd preseason game. I have to keep reminding myself this. Hopefully, the bears can improve mightly in the 3 weeks before the opener. Here are what I took as the positives (not many) and the causes for concern out of saturday night's game:

1. The bears 1st teamers outscored the raiders first team 14-13 for one half of football. And this was basically without a kicking game because there didnt have a long snapper. The raiders may not be a great team this year but they will be solid and beating them at half is a positive sign for the bears 1st teamers.

2. Brandon Manumaluena can block and is a huge man. Mike Martz wasnt kidding when he described this guy as a 3rd OT at TE. He cleared the way for the bears running game with some punishing pancake type blocks. Matt Forte also showed us the burst that we all remember from his rookie season. Positive things happen in the running game.

VOTE: How many games will the
BEARS win this season? ---->

3. Julius Peppers is as good as advertised. He didnt tally a sack but he did cause havoc in the backfield on a lot of plays and flashed the ability that the bears are paying 13.5 million for.

Definite concerns
1. Is Orlando Pace still available? For that matter, can someone call John Tait and Rueben Brown back from retirement? Chris Williams, Frank Omiyale and Lance Louis got consistently beat in pass blocking. Williams was the worst offender. He made Cameron Wimbley and his speed rush look like oldschool Lawrence Taylor. But, Omiyale got pushed around on pass blocking as well. The 1st team O-line gave up 5 sacks and had Jay scrambling for his life. Now, some of it was Jay's fault as he failed to step up in the pocket and avoid atleast 2 of the sacks. But still, I'm not sure what the answer is to this O-line problems because i dont think a better option exists on the roster. It seems we must cross our fingers and hope for someone improvement from this young line.

2. Chris Harris can't play free safety. Harris can be a valuable player up in the box and near the line of scrimmage but the bears might be better off with me playing the deep safety. There has to be a better option on the bears roster at free safety than Harris even if Major Wright is hurt. Harris was late getting over and he just doesnt have the range to cover the necessary ground. After the game, he said that the safety spots were interchangeable in this defense but clearly they arent when every pass downfield had him getting there late from his deep coverage. The bears traded him 2 years ago because they knew he didnt have the range for free safety, why do they think he can play it now?

3. Someone has to step up on the defense. The Jason Campbell had too much time in the pocket on most plays, receivers were running down the stems open and raiders RBs were making people miss. Peppers looked good, Urlacher, Tillman and Briggs looked solid. But these are guys we know are going to perform. What will make this a good defense is if someone unknown can step up and make an impact. Tommie Harris had some flashes this game. But, I have pretty much given up on Mark Anderson to anything besides celebrate when his teammates do something good or for Danieal Manning to be anything but a confused athlete. Let's hope Irsael Idonije (who showed some flashes this game), Major Wright or Matt Toeaia (who i think can be a DT ala Chris Zorich) or anther defensive player can step up and become an impact player. Because without that, this defense is just middle of the pack.

Stay tuned for some updates on position battles and who to watch in next week's 3rd preseason game.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Click-a-Bull (Ira the Idiot; Rudy/Henry Update)

LeBron’s new spokesman? We nominate Wade

Dec. 2 and March 29 in Cleveland? The forecast is for considerable storminess.

Jan. 15 and Feb. 24 in Chicago? Apparently, clear skies.

Give Dwyane Wade credit. Amid a summer of Heat villainy, he continues to emerge as a voice of reason.

His returns to Chicago this season are setting up like nothing close to what LeBron James is expected to receive in Cleveland.

Thursday, Wade spent time on WSCR in Chicago, promoting his charity weekend there. During the radio interview, he was asked about his spurning of his hometown during free agency, after dropping numerous hints about the possibility of a return.

Dwyane Wade has spent the offseason saying the right things.

He was as smooth as, well, the anti-LeBron.

“Like I said, it was very close and I had to take my emotional side out of Chicago and not making an emotional decision,” he said. “But, at the end of the day, I think those guys understood, first of all, they have got a great team. They did an unbelievable job at getting the right team around them to get themselves in a position to compete for a championship real soon. They did a great job.

Leave it to a beat writer in Miami to get the pulse of Chicago Bulls' fans about D-Wade. What a f$%^ing moron. Maybe I'm in the minority of Bulls' fans, but I hate anything related to that punk group of chumps down in "South Beach". Wade can talk a good talk about Chicago being his home, but the only reason he's not the most hated athlete in Chicago is because we all hate LeBron just slightly more. Warm reception at the UC? I think we'll save the cheers for our own team.

The only reason I want Wade to be successful at all is because I'm hoping LeBron gets hurt near the end of the regular season and the Heat win the title without him. That way that little punk-bitch has to accept the ring that his teammates earned while he sat on the bench with a broken leg. And now I'm hoping he gets hurt colliding into this ass-hat Ira Winkleman and they both end up in wheelchairs. Stick to Miami and your hated Heat. Leave the real basketball, and the real fans, in Chicago where it belongs.

Odds and Ends; Rudy update and Henry's situation with Memphis

A couple minor news items came out over the past few days, and I didn't feel like creating a whole blog post for either, but on another slow August day (is there a worse month in sports than August? Seriously?) I figure it's worth an update.

First, Rudy Fernandez no longer wants to play in the NBA, or at least he's willing to say that in hopes of getting his release from the Blazers.

"He has indicated he would like to return to Europe to continue his basketball career," Miller told Yahoo! Sports on Wednesday. "He is more comfortable in Europe. He'd rather be in Europe than the NBA. He understands the circumstances in which he wouldn't be coming back. I don't see any scenario in which he'd want to be back."

Well I can think of a scenario where Rudy would love to return to the NBA. One where he's not on the Blazers and isn't losing a couple million dollars a year over what Europe would pay him.

Rudy's gone on to discuss how he was depressed last season, doesn't like his role, and feels the Blazers broke promises. I'm not going to jump on him. This is a guy who probably lost about 6 million bucks so far by coming to the NBA and doesn't feel he's had an appropriate chance to play his style of game to earn a quality NBA contract.

I'm sure promises were made given how much he had to leave on the table to come over, and so he has every right to be pissed off that those promises were broken.

However, while I understand Rudy's plight, at this point, he's certainly made himself undesirable for teams to trade for him. That may certainly be his intention as it's likely he's being incredibly straight forward when he says this isn't what he wants, and he wants to play in Europe again.

As for Xavier Henry, he's still battling with Memphis over whether a few hundred thousand in his contract will be guaranteed or not, and what types of things need to happen to make that money guaranteed.

The center of the argument hinges on Memphis desire to make part of his money incentive based on achieving one of three metrics (all rookie team, rookie / sophomore team inclusion, or 15 minutes a game for 70+ games). It's common to have incentives in contracts (virtually every rookie contract now has them), but performance incentives are rare in rookie contracts.

Is Memphis pushing the envelope too hard here? I'd think they are well within their rights to try to push it however they want. As noted on shamsports creative financing in the NBA article, this is a tactic the Spurs have used all the time.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Derrick Rose + Skittles

Derrick Rose got his own, custom made Skittles machine. Top that Durant.

Skittles are where it's at. Forget Lamar Odom and his candy obsession, that's just one M&M in the bag. More NBA players than you think love Skittles.

I mean love. Michael Beasley sung their praises. Kevin Durant's neighbors bring them to him. There are many more NBA players who you can always catch with a bag of Skittles on them.

But Derrick Rose has taken it to a new level.

He now has a custom Skittles machine in his pad, as CNBC's Darren Rovell reports.

Earlier this month, they brought a custom, tricked-out Skittles vending machine to his house and promised to keep it stocked with Skittles for at least three years.

Rose gets the machine and the Skittles for free; the Skittles brand has a chance of getting more love from Rose; and the Bulls, I guess, hope Rose's sugar highs peak at the right time.

The folks at Wrigley would only confirm the following facts: The picture is real. The machine holds every variety of Skittles. And it even tempts him, in his own voice, whenever he walks by the machine.

Bulls 2010-11 Commercial
(posted earlier today)

2010-11 Bulls Commercial: Rose & Noah (The Bulls Finally Got a Commercial Right!)

(Click-a-Bull links from this morning)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Click-a-Bull (Overacheivers?; Rose Disrespected?; Deng; Reader Links)

"Click-a-Bull" is likely the only Bulls update you'll get here at BBS for a while. I've already started my "2010 Season Preview" (which have been lengthy in the past), so I'm saving all of my thoughts/ideas for that. Looking like it will be a two-part post. But stay current with links ...

Overachievers? Chicago Bulls Will Be "Big Four" Team in the East

Now that free agency has lulled some fans into a snooze, it is time to start looking speculatively at what teams can do this upcoming season.

Clearly, the Eastern Conference has taken major strides in becoming a more well-rounded group, and one of those teams prepared to make a jump are the Chicago Bulls.

Yes, the Miami "Thrice," Boson Celtics, and Orlando Magic stick out on a level of their own, but it appears Chicago is ready to break down the door and enter among the East's beasts.

Despite not having the hopes of teams like Miami (72 wins, really?), there are clearly higher expectations in the Windy City.

To realize these expectations, there will be areas where the Bulls will perform, and some where they may have to "overachieve" to get to the promised land.

Here are four areas that Chicago will need to perform to be apart of the "Big Four," and whether it will take more than just 100 percent to surpass and take down some of the best teams in the Eastern Conference and NBA.

Ranking the point guards, 10 through No. 1

5. Derrick Rose(notes), Chicago Bulls (last year: 11th)

I take in quite a bit of noise for Bulls fans for pointing out Rose's bad defense, his inability to consistently get to the line and his so-so passing. But I also saw him hit a 3-pointer a few days ago -- it had arc, rotation, follow-through; the whole schmear -- and I can't help but bump the guy up. Especially with a screening-and-finishing partner in Carlos Boozer(notes) waltzing into town.

Top 10 players for the next five seasons, where's Derrick?

There are many ways to value players. How much would this player help you in one year? How much would this player help you if you were starting from scratch and had to build a team over a number of years? Do you factor in present contracts when making these choices? A top 10 player list can look fairly different depending which of those rules you take.

For our purposes, I'm going to go with the pick the best player for the next five seasons disregarding contract and just looking at projected on-court value over that period of time. The assumption, of course, is that teams will be formed via dispersal draft, so talent will be spread out evenly throughout the league.


#8 Derrick Rose
I waffled with where to put Rose, because amongst all players, with Rose you are really projecting what he can become rather than what he is right now. I'd put Rose as a top 15 or so player right now, but the leap to the top 10 is fairly big. He needs to improve shooting and defense, but we've heard good reports in both aspects this off-season.

Rose started simply dominating the game at the end of last year, and his overall numbers are skewed negatively as he struggled to recover from a leg injury early on that robbed him his athleticism. His mid range shot is one of the best in the NBA, and he can get open looks at will with his amazing quickness and ability to hit it off the dribble.

Chicago Bulls' Luol Deng Dominating International Play

With the news of Carmelo Anthony wanting out of Denver, many Chicago Bulls fans have willingly offered up Luol Deng and an assortment of players and picks for the Nuggets' superstar.

Not so fast.

As a member of Great Britain's national team, Deng has quietly put up fantastic numbers as arguably the best player on his squad.

Deng put up games of 32 points and nine rebounds, followed by 23 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists. Then against Ukraine he posted 28 points, seven rebounds, and four assists.

Sure, these stats are inflated by a lower level of competition. But what would it say about Deng if he put up worse numbers against the same opposition? At least he is dominating when he should be.

More importantly, his time with Great Britain could provide a boost to his confidence and leadership, particularly after his name was thrown around in all sorts of speculative moves. Remember how poorly the Bulls performed after trade talks for Kobe Bryant?

His performance also serves as a reminder to fans that he is still young (25 years old) and is just nearing the time when most players enter their prime. People act as if he's washed up, when really he has just had bad luck with injuries.

I want to believe Deng is going to be a great player on the revamped Bulls. I want to believe his injuries are behind him. I want to believe he has the drive to prove all the doubters wrong who call him "soft."

But I just can't right now. Not even after his strong showings on the international stage.

I asked BBS readers if they had any blogs or links to include, and got a few cool responses. Please keep them coming in and I will include in future "Click-a-Bull" posts. Here's the first set:

Search For a New Favorite Team: The Chicago Bulls?

I’ve spent the last several years as a die-hard LeBron James fan, and by association a Cleveland Cavaliers fan, ever since I got a fist-bump from LBJ at a game. In the the wake of the LeBron Circus, however, I’m in the market for a new favorite team—and I’m chronicling my search. Maybe I’ll announce my decision on ESPN.

Subscribe to the RSS feed to get the continuing saga.

The Chicago Bulls are in a great spot. Their roster is unbelievably loaded, and yet thanks to the Miami Heat they’re still going to start this season well, well under the radar.

Talk about a dark horse to win the Eastern Conference. If the Heat don’t gel, the Boston Celtics keep getting older and the Orlando Magic continue to not improve then the Bulls could swoop in and take the East when nobody’s looking. It sounds like a lot of if’s, except that all of them seem possible—if not probable.

We don’t need to say anything about Derrick Rose, right? Top five point guard, getting better each year, only 21 years old, blah blah blah. In these next couple years Rose is going to be informing us all whether he’s decided to become a real-deal superstar, or just a regular ol’ star.

He put in 20 points and six dimes per game last year, and is the undisputed leader of an offense in which he won’t be the only legitimate contributor this year. If he can parlay his athleticism into some frisky defense, he’ll quickly go from awesome-to-watch to just-plain-awesome.

You know what ups the ante on the Bulls, though? Joakim Noah. I hated the guy when he played at Florida, and figured his hustle game would never translate to the NBA.

Joakim Noah
07-08 6.6 5.7
08-09 6.7 7.5
09-10 10.7 11.0

I couldn’t have been more wrong. Noah has a nose for the ball that is almost unmatched in the league, as we’ve seen his rebounds go from 5.7 to 7.5 to 11.0 per game in his three years in the NBA. He’s got the size for it, at 6’11”, but it’s his uncanny ability to get into position that translates into boards.

Throw in ten points, a block and a half, wicked cool hair and improved shooting from the stripe (74% last year—downright respectable for a center), and at 25 years old you’ve got a big man you can do business with.

Screenshots of Michael Jordan in NBA2K11

It took time to appreciate Scottie

Growing up in central Illinois in the 1990′s if you weren’t a Chicago Bulls fan you were pretty rare. There were usually two schools of thought on who your favorite player was, obviously most went with Michael Jordan and everyone else rooted for Scottie Pippen. I fell into the first camp. I loved MJ he was the man. I knew Scottie was good but he was just Robin to Michael’s Batman. He was my little brother’s favorite.

Years later Scottie Pippen has made it to the Basketball Hall of Fame. It wasn’t till a few years ago, after watching and re-watching countless games on dvd, ESPN Classic, and NBA TV that I truly began to appreciate Scottie Pippen as a basketball player.

He was truly ahead of his time. I myself have been guilty of being in awe of how much of a freak that LeBron James is but give me Scottie’s smothering defense and I like my chances. He was a 6’7 point forward that could literally guard all 5 positions. MJ could take chances on defense to get his highlight dunks because he knew Scottie had his back. Playing against the Bulls defense with all its length and Scottie as its anchor was like trying to throw a hardball through a tree try as you might you weren’t making more than a dent.

Scottie got steals, blocks, and for my money is the greatest player I have ever watched at taking charges. He would throw his body in front of anyone to get a stop. I can remember a playoff game in the late 90′s where he took 4 charges! That’s in one game! Find me a time a superstar took 4 charges in a playoff series let alone a game!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

PK's First Post: White Sox / Twins Series at Threat Level Orange

Hello BBS community. To piggyback off of the earlier statement of the other new addition to the writing staff, Pete, I would like to say that it is a real privilege to have the chance to contribute to this great forum for fans of Chicago sports that have meant so much to them over the years. I will be trying to put together some post as the season winds down on my favorite Chicago squad, the Chicago White Sox, with some Blackhawks thoughts thrown in as a “Johnny Comeback Lately” to our city’s hockey team.

I have always loved baseball, as a kid growing up it was the sport that shaped my childhood more so than any other and the game that I have grown most attached to now that I am nothing more than a washed-up, ex-athlete at the ripe old age of 26. However, each of those 26 years has been spent as an avid Chicago White Sox fan, something that is not always easy to do once you move out of the South Side community that embraces their team. This is a Cubs city, which I am ok with (but I am sure will be the topic of conversation for at least one post along the way here). I take solace in my team and look forward to each spring with “enthusiastic pessimism” that I think a lot of fellow Sox fans share with the start of each season. This season has not disappointed in providing its fair share of both those emotions. To the disappointment of seeing a lack of offensive production early in the season, only to bulldoze through June and July with a 25-5 record going into the all-star game, only to come back down to earth over the last 10 days dropping series to the O’s, Twin’s and Tigers. Which have all combined, brought us to this week’s 3-game set against those same Twin’s (a team that I have nothing but respect for from top to bottom, but a team that has caused me more frustration than an overly jealous girlfriend or when people dress their dogs in designer clothes).

I see this as being a big to moderately huge series for the Sox who currently sit 3 games back going into tonight’s game in MN. Here are a few things that I am interested in keeping an eye on over the next 3 games (both enthusiastically with some pessimism mixed in).

  1. The probable starting pitchers do not include the name Freddy Garcia. This is good. Although I have been pleasantly surprised with the production we have gotten out of Sweaty Freddy, it looks like the season has begun to wear on him a bit. Instead, left-hander John Danks (12-8, 3.19 ERA) will pitch in the series opener for the White Sox against Twins right-hander Scott Baker (10-9, 4.76. In Game 2 on Wednesday, White Sox right-hander Gavin Floyd (8-9, 3.70 ERA) will face left-hander Francisco Liriano (11-7, 3.26). And in the series finale Thursday, White Sox left-hander Mark Buehrle (11-9, 4.05) will face right-hander Carl Pavano (15-7, 3.27). I think that having 3 innings-eaters like Danks, Floyd and Buehrle going in the series is huge help, mainly to try to spell our bullpen after a much needed off-day Monday also. With Putz and Thornton logging a lot of time, Pena having been scored on in his last 5 appearances and Bobby Jenks with a nagging back the real bright spots have been the young guys in Santos and Chris Sale who the Sox brought up earlier this month. Helping to save those arms has been something Danks, Floyd and Buehrle have done well as of late. John Danks, who after Freddy Garcia's short outing Tuesday, went 8 quality innings giving up 1 run on six hits while striking out 7 and walking 2 in Wednesday's victory against the Tigers. Gavin Floyd, who had been one of the best in the majors over the last few months, needs to get back to that form and get some revenge agains the Twins who dealt him his worst start since June 2 in his last start (surrendering six earned runs in a 6-1 loss to the Twins, topped off by a 3-run homer to Jason Kubel, who has made a name as one of the biggest Sox killers, in the 7th – a pitch I don’t think he should have even thrown to the Twins left-handed hitter as he had already thrown 120+ pitches at that point and Sale was warm in the Sox bullpen). Buehrle, is 24-17 vs. the Twins which is his highest win-loss total vs. a team, is an innings-eater by trade and needs to avoid the occasional 4 to 5 runs in the first couple innings before settling down.

  2. Although it is a small sample-set, I was happy to see Mark Teahen having good at bats with his return to the line-up against the Tigers after is 2 ½ months on the DL with a fractured finger. After not signing Jim Thome (who I will never speak ill of even if he hits 35 homers against the Sox in their remaining 2 series with the Twins because of the respect I have for him), the Sox not picking up a big left-handed bat at the trade deadline or to this point and Mark Kotsay having a rough go of it and not really being a DH the Sox need a little pop from the left side this series against Baker and Pavano. I am not saying that Teahen is the same as Thome, Dunn or Fielder in terms of left-handed pop, but he doesn’t need to be one of those guys with a month and a half left. He needs to get consistent at bats, give some guys some rest with his versatility in the field and maybe breathe some life into a team their own manager said didn’t look like they came to play on Sunday against the Tigers.

  3. Lastly, the Sox need a shot in the arm by taking 2 of 3 in this series to start getting on a little bit of a run. Over their last 10 the Sox are 3-7 while the Twins are 8-2, winning 7 of their last 8 games. It would be nice for the Sox to get a little bit of swagger back with upcoming series against the Yankees, 1 more set with the Twins and ending their season with series against Oakland, LAAAAA and Boston (teams the Sox have had their struggles against). Twins finish up against the rest of the AL Central which they have killed this year (31-17) and could probably stand to be cooled down a bit by dropping a series at home against the Sox.

I will try to end each post with a different quote from the biggest homer announcer in baseball, Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, starting with an appropriate one for the series that kicks off tonight – “Time to cinch it up and hunker down!"

Click-a-Bull (Are Bulls Good?; MJ = GOAT; Rose / TeamUSA; Miami Douchebags)

Are the Bulls As Good As We Think?

What if the Chicago Bulls aren't as good this season as everyone expects them to be? In the eyes of many it's something of a foregone conclusion that Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer, and Co. will automatically be a top four seed in the Eastern Conference, but a number of factors both with the Bulls organization and the rest of the conference could stop that from happening.

There's no question that this is a better team than it was last year; Rose is on the cusp of superstardom, Boozer adds the inside veteran presence the organization has coveted for years, and the team is deeper than it's been in years.

Despite the improvements, however, both internally and through trades and free agency, even the most die-hard Bulls fans have to ask if they're expecting too much for this group to be a top-three team in the conference right away.

For starters, this is a team that really doesn't know each other well. For all the criticisms the Miami HEAT have taken regarding all these new pieces being thrown together, the Bulls really aren't a whole lot different. The team will have two new starters and at least seven completely new teammates, and you can add in one or two more as the team looks to finalize a roster that still stands at only 12 guys.

Not only that, but the team is under the leadership of a rookie head coach, albeit one that many expect to eventually be very good. However, when you consider the fact that Tom Thibodeau will be instilling an entirely new system in Chicago, and over half the team is brand new to the organization, we have to consider that there could very well be a lengthy period of time when the Bulls struggle, especially in the beginning of the season as they adjust to each other and, inevitably, head out west for the annual circus road trip. This is a team that tends to start off slowly, and that could be compounded this year simply because everybody is more or less new to everybody else.

All that, however, says nothing to Chicago's chances in the conference, let alone the Central Division. Few would argue that Orlando and Miami are the clear 1-2 teams in the East this season, and beyond that the Bulls, Celtics, Hawks, and Bucks are likely to fill out 3-6 in some order.

Are the Bulls a 3-4 team, or a 5-6? It's impossible to argue that they're a top six team, but we rarely hear much of teams seeded fifth or sixth after the second round. It will be hard for Chicago to live up to expectations if they can't even secure home court advantage in the first round. It's not an impossible thing to do, but it's far from a certainty.

And you sir, are no Michael Jordan

Yes, I'm looking at you Kobe Bryant. I'm looking at you LeBron James. It's not your fault, the media screwed you both on this by bringing it up all the time, but in case there's any doubt, let me clear it up for you. You may be great, but you are no Michael Jordan.

For whatever reason the media loves to dust off the "is this guy better than Michael Jordan" talk every couple years with some guy who's clearly not better than Jordan. There's only two men who can rightly be compared to Michael Jordan. Wilt Chamberlain (the domineer of raw stats) and Bill Russell (the domineer of wins). They both lose, but you at least have some type of argument for either guy.

Before we begin, let me address the argument that because we're having a conversation about this that somehow it validates the idea. I had a conversation yesterday with my five year old where she told me I no longer need to go to work. She said she called my boss and made sure it's okay, and that he understands that she misses me too much. I asked what his name was, and she replied "barbecue".

Having a conversation doesn't validate in any way the contents of the conversation. If you've ever spoken with a moron (I assume we've all done that at some point) then I doubt you feel their thoughts were validated merely by being spoken outloud. The media are simply morons with this. Except they're not actually morons, they're shameless self-promoters trying to boost their ratings by attempting to prop up the players playing presently on their networks.

There are many ways to sum up this argument, and what makes it so simple is that Jordan wins all of them. That's why the case of comparing Kobe or LeBron is so absurd. Neither guy wins any argument against Jordan.

It'd be easy to close the book on where these guys are right now. There are so many open and shut ways to do so. I could say look at the rings. Look at the Finals MVPs. Look at the stats. Look at the league MVPs, defensive MVPs, any statistical or subjective metric etc... Those would all fairly simply prove the point Jordan is the best to ever play the game, and any rationale person would choose Jordan after hearing those arguments.

However, I'm not going to do that. I'm going to take it a step farther. I'm going to show you that no reasonable extrapolation of the rest of their career for Kobe or LeBron can ever put them ahead of Jordan regardless of how many rings they win from here on out.

That's right. If Kobe wins the championship the next three seasons or LeBron rattles off eight straight, neither guy is better than Jordan. They just aren't, and the rings if they come (which they probably won't in enough volume for either guy to pass MJ anyway) then it still won't matter. Jordan will still be the best ever.

Rose, USA National Team heading to Spain

Derrick Rose may not have had a big game statistically speaking when the USA National Team took on France in an exhibition game Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden, but it didn’t bother him in the least.

“I feel good about how we played and we got the win. That’s the biggest thing,” said Rose of USA’s 86-55 victory, in which he recorded two points, three assists and three rebounds in 15 minutes of play.

“Our game today was just pushing the ball,” said Rose, who wore No. 6 and entered at the 5:35 mark of the first quarter with the USA up 6-2. “Everybody was making shots and we eventually got out to a good lead.”

The game started slowly, though, for both teams, as through one period, it was tied at 16-16.

“France played well and we had some jitters to start out the game,” said Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, who leads the USA National Team’s coaching staff. “It’s the first time for most of these guys to play for our country in a game. That’s why these exhibition games are so important for us.”

Krzyzewski, who said he was pleased with his team’s defense and effort, opted for a starting lineup that consisted of Rajon Rondo, Chauncey Billups, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Durant and Tyson Chandler. Hence, Rose came off the bench, but again, he’s taking no issue with that whatsoever.

“I’m a ballplayer and I’ll continue to play,” said Rose. “My role on this team is defense and pushing the ball. When I’m in, my job is to pressure the ball so opponents aren’t comfortable bringing it up the court. There are a lot of great scorers on this team, so I don’t need to score. I’m working hard on defense and pushing people different ways, just trying to be as aggressive as I can.”

Rose proving himself with Team USA

The 2010 USA Basketball Men’s National Team’s first taste of international competition—or any competition outside of their own team—came on Saturday afternoon with Derrick Rose and his teammates leaving Madison Square Garden with an dominating victory over China.

The teams participated in a scrimmage, with four 10-minute quarters and a scoreboard that was reset at the end of each frame. The Americans won the first three quarters convincingly, including an impressive 35-8 third frame, before coming up short 17-16 in the final period.

Rose, aiming to make the final roster of 12 players which beginning training in Madrid, Spain on Aug. 17 and compete in the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Istanbul, Turkey Aug. 28 to Sept. 12, scored 12 points and dished out two assists in the winning effort. The USA team, which has not won the FIBA World Championship since 1994, will look to take its first real step in doing so when it meets France on Sunday back at the Garden (12 p.m. on ESPN2).

“I’m just trying to put pressure on my opponents and play well,” Rose said following the scrimmage, which opened the doors to a limited audience of about 500 people, including the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, who sat in the first row near the American bench.

Danny Granger led all scorers with 22 points, while Eric Gordon contributed 15 and Kevin Durant chipped in with 14.

For Rose, the experience with the USA team has been different from what he is accustomed to, with more focus on transition play and fewer amounts of possessions, he said.

“We as guards really have to take care of the ball and make sure we don’t make any dumb plays,” said Rose. “We’re also full court pressing all the time. You always have to make sure your man is in front of you so you can pressure and make it difficult for teams to run their sets. It also allows you to take some time off their shot clock.”

USA coach Mike Krzyzewski seconded Rose’s thoughts following the scrimmage.

“We need to play the full court so teams don’t just come down and have an extra six seconds,” he said. “I thought our effort was real good today.”

As for Rose, Krzyzewski likes what he is seeing out of his fellow Chicago native. But he wants to see a little more of that swagger he knows is in the 21-year old point guard.

“He’s been good, especially with his ball pressure,” commented Krzyzewski. “All of these guys sacrifice their egos to be on here, but we don’t want them to lose their egos. When he’s in the game, we want him to have a Bulls ego rather than just trying to fit in. That’s a little bit of a process.

Derrick Rose: ‘I am not worried about the Heat’

When speaking with the media, Rose was about a potential rivalry brewing with the Miami HEAT. ``I am not worried about the HEAT; I am just worried about the Bulls. I know that my team is ready.``


HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: The late John Wooden would have liked Derrick Rose.

Coach Wooden always told his UCLA teams not to worry about their opponents and to focus on playing, which is the approach Rose is taking with the Miami Heat.

Instead of worrying about Chris Bosh, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade, instead of worrying about the attention the Heat are getting, Rose is punching the clock, putting in work, and extending his three-point shot.

Of course, this will make him unstoppable.

Rose has always been able to get to the basket. Defenders have such respect for his athleticism they back off him and concede the jumper.

If Rose can consistently knock down three-pointers, defenders won`t be able to back off him, which will make it easier to penetrate and create scoring opportunities.

The third year point guard should head into 2011 as a pick-your-poison player. And it will be because he took a ‘Wooden’ approach to this summer.

Rose Wants to be the Best
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A big year is ahead for Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose. The Bulls are expected to be one of the powerhouses in the Eastern Conference and his development is a big reason why along with the additions of head coach Tom Thibodeau and All-Star power forward Carlos Boozer. Part of Rose's preparation for his big year includes participating in Team USA and playing for Coach K, which has really helped his game in his quest to become the game's best.

"If anything he is a motivational speaker and he really has humor when he talks," said Rose on ESPN Radio. "If anything you are going to listen to him because he is going to be a legend, a Hall of Famer I mean in this game. For him to be coaching me is wonderful. Too bad I didn't go to Duke, but it's great even just being here with him and his staff is great and I am lucky to be on this bus headed to the gym.

"I hope everybody out there put me as one of the top players in the NBA if not this year or last year, hopefully one of the years I do play in the NBA. But I am not going to stop; there is no point of playing this game if you are not trying to be the best. So while I am out here working out and all that stuff, I am playing to be the best player."

Seriously, do these guys want to look like douchebags?

I posted a couple days ago about Dwyane Wade continuing to raise his level of douchebaggery. I mean seriously, how dumb do you have to be as Wade to say the stuff he said here?

You've got LeBron James keeping mental notes about all the people who pointed out he's a douchebag. Hey LeBron, every look back at this and think that people might not call you such a douchebag if you weren't being such a douchebag? Who has their own hour long show to tell their hard core supporters to f 'off.

Now Chris Bosh, who had, up until now largely been just called Wade's bitch because people had hurt feelings while not really doing anything too negative has stepped up his game when it comes to douchebaggery.

"If you think about how many times somebody asks you, 'How are you,' that's how many times I was asked, 'Where you going? So it's like, well, in my case, I'm going to have fun with it. I'm going to play with people's emotions. I'm going to be high and low."

"I wouldn't call it a game because it's serious, but, I mean, it's entertainment at the end of the day . . . "It's entertaining to see people react to your real emotions because if it wasn't fun I wouldn't do it."

So, a good time to Chris Bosh is screwing with peoples emotions? Look, I get where you are coming from. It's aggravating to have people all up in your face asking you about your plans all the time, but show some respect you m----- f------ a-----. You know those people who you're screwing with?

They're the ones who make it possible for you to be paid an outrageous sum of money rather than to work some minimum wage job, so maybe you should back up the truck and appreciate them a bit more.

I'm trying to go back in my mind and think of three guys who were extremely popular, who managed to combine forces which in and of itself should have created something wonderfully popular, but instead completely assassinated their own brand and popularity.

To put this in perspective, they have turned Kobe Bryant, who was at a minimum an adulterer and possibly a rapist, into a hero. Think about that for a minute. These guys have lowered themselves to a status which falls beneath alleged rapist (which says something fairly horrible about fandom in general).