Tuesday, June 30, 2009


The 2003 steroid list (as posted by DC). And the possibility/probability that it is false.

What do you think of the Bulls draft?

Comparing JJ and Taj to Horace and Scottie? -

One’s from a big family, seven brothers and a sister, a remarkably skilled guy who came on fast because of his unique ball handling abilities for a big man, a bit on the practiced side, somewhat uncommunicative. He says he’s a small forward. Played point guard in high school.

The other guy is a skinny big kid, long armed and quick, blocking shots and running the court with a fast smile and enthusiastic personality.

Is this 1987?

Because that’s when the Bulls struck NBA Draft gold that began their march to six championships. They drafted Scottie Pippen, a uniquely skilled big kid from a huge family of 10 kids, a versatile small forward who was painfully shy and suspicious and who was a high school point guard who grew into an NBA forward. They also drafted Horace Grant, a 209-pound sliver of a power forward who was quick and energetic and with an outsized smile and personality.

Hey, we can dream, eh?

BG likely to return to Bulls? Free agent rumors -

Ben Gordon, G, Chicago Bulls – Last summer Gordon just missed the opportunity to re-up with the Bulls for five years at almost $11 million per, but he felt his value was higher than that and wanted to take the next season to prove it. In a lot of ways he did, but he's still a pretty one-dimensional player. Expect Chicago to offer him something in the $9-10 million range with Detroit being the only team with money to spend serving as any sort of catalyst to Chicago's negotiations. A sign-and-trade is always possible, but it seems most likely at this point he returns to Chicago.

James Johnson blog post

Hey everyone, this is James Johnson and let me just start by saying how happy I am to be in Chicago. The facilities here are great, there has been so much history here on the basketball court, and the city is unbelievable. I can’t wait to call this place home and begin training and working out with the rest of the guys.

Looking back at draft night, I was back home in Cheyenne, Wyoming. I spent it with some family members and friends and we were at a place called Jackson’s. It’s a great spot with a lot of TVs. We had our own section and it was great spending that night with people close to me. When they called my name, that place erupted. I didn’t know what to do. I had to sit down, actually, and just gather myself for a little bit. My parents were crying and it was a special moment.

I was definitely happy with how things went that night. I didn’t even know before the pick was announced that the Bulls were taking me. Words can’t explain the emotions and feelings I had at that time. I’m just glad it was the Bulls who picked me, and I hope I can help carry on the tradition in Chicago. I’m already thinking about what I can do to help us get past the first round in the playoffs.

Monday, June 29, 2009

103 of the 104 steroid users from 2003 leaked?

Here's the supposed list before it disappears.

Three 2003 White Sox are on the list....no one of any consequence: Bartolo Colon, Sandy Alomar Jr, and Magglio Ordonez. But almost 1/10th of the list (in a 30 team league) is comprised of 2003 Chicago Cubs...including 4/5 of their rotation that year.

The question now becomes "who is number 104?" Smart money is probably on Albert Pujols...but if it's somehow Frank Thomas, I will be completely crushed. I suppose Jim Thome could be a candidate as well, but I think he's just corn fed country strong.

Best comment I've heard on the list so far:

"I love Carl Everett’s selective belief in science: doesn’t believe in dinosaurs, believes in steroids.


1.Nomar Garciaparra
2.Manny Ramirez
3.Johnny Damon
4.Trot Nixon
5.David Ortiz
6.Shea Hillenbrand
7.Derek Lowe
8.Pedro Martinez
9.Brian Roberts
10.Jay Gibbons
11.Melvin Mora
12.Jerry Hairston
13.Jason Giambi
14.Alfonso Soriano
15.Raul Mondesi
16. Aaron Boone
17.Andy Pettitte
18.Jose Contreras
19.Roger Clemens
20.Carlos Delgado
21.Vernon Wells
22.Frank Catalanotto
23.Kenny Rogers
24.Magglio Ordonez
25.Sandy Alomar
26.Bartolo Colon
27.Brent Abernathy
28.Jose Lima
29.Milton Bradley
30.Casey Blake
31.Danys Baez
32.Craig Monroe
33.Dmitri Young
34.Alex Sanchez
35.Eric Chavez
36.Miguel Tejada
37.Eric Byrnes
38.Jose Guillen
39.Keith Foulke
40.Ricardo Rincon
41.Bret Boone
42.Mike Cameron
43.Randy Winn
44.Ryan Franklin
45.Freddy Garcia
46.Rafael Soriano
47.Scott Spiezio
48.Troy Glaus
49.Francisco Rodriguez
50.Ben Weber
51.Alex Rodriguez
52.Juan Gonzalez
53.Rafael Palmeiro
54.Carl Everett
55.Javy Lopez
56.Gary Sheffield
57.Mike Hampton
58.Ivan Rodriguez
59.Derrek Lee
60.Bobby Abreu
61.Terry Adams
62.Fernando Tatis
63.Livan Hernandez
64.Hector Almonte
65.Tony Armas
66.Dan Smith
67.Roberto Alomar
68.Cliff Floyd
69.Roger Cedeno
70.Jeromy Burnitz
71.Moises Alou
72.Sammy Sosa
73.Corey Patterson
74.Carlos Zambrano
75.Mark Prior
76.Kerry Wood
77.Matt Clement
78.Antonio Alfonseca
79.Juan Cruz
80.Aramis Ramirez
81.Craig Wilson
82.Kris Benson
83.Richie Sexson
84.Geoff Jenkins
85.Valerio de los Santos
86.Benito Santiago
87.Rich Aurilia
88.Barry Bonds
89.Andres Galarraga
90.Jason Schmidt
91.Felix Rodriguez
92.Jason Christiansen
93.Matt Herges
94.Paul Lo Duca
95.Shawn Green
96.Oliver Perez
97.Adrian Beltre
98.Eric Gagne
99.Guillermo Mota
100.Luis Gonzalez
101.Todd Helton
102.Ryan Klesko
103.Gary Matthews

Here's the link....doubt it will last long


Random links

"Scottie Hottie" -

The ladies like to call him "Scottie Hottie" for his rugged good looks.

The Cubs, on the other hand, might have a few choice words for White Sox leadoff hitter Scott Podsednik.

Unprintable words at that, as Podsednik was a one-man wrecking crew Saturday at U.S. Cellular Field against the visiting North Siders.

Even though it was Gordon Beckham's single that knocked in the game winner in the Sox's 8-7 ninth-inning win, Podsednik had one of his biggest games not only since he was re-signed from Triple-A Charlotte on May 1 but of his entire major league career.

Podsednik, who leads the Sox in hitting with a .319 batting average, went 4-for-5 Saturday, with two singles, a double and a home run, added two RBIs and scored twice.

NBA trades to watch for. (None involve the Bulls).

Is the NBA broken?? -

For everyone who cares about the NBA, this will not be easy, so I will do my best to get through this uncomfortable discussion as fast as I can. I love the NBA as much as the next person, and I believe that it houses the greatest collection of athletic talent on the Earth, but there is one gargantuan problem with the Association:

The league is so incredibly broken that the only thing that can save it is a lockout.

I know that this is an uneasy discussion for most, and those who feel sickened by this realization, I understand your pain. This agonizing truth came to light on Feb. 1, 2008, when the Memphis Grizzlies gave up a top 12 player in the NBA in Pau Gasol for four Mexican jumping beans and a pack of Bubblicious.

Just kidding folks, the trade was actually Pau Gasol and a second-round pick for Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittendon, Aaron Mckie, Marc Gasol, and two first-round picks.

Looking at the actual trade makes the former trade seem less absurd. Now soon after this exchange, Memphis General Manager Chris Wallace became the laughingstock of the league and everyone wanted to see if he would trade them a dollar for 30 cents.

For all of you who think that Mr. Wallace willingly executed this trade, I have some swampland in Louisiana that I would like to sell you. The owners of basketball teams are having an increased role in day-to-day operations, and as the economy worsens, their purse strings will tighten on these teams.

How else can you explain the attempted trade of 26-year-old defensive stalwart Tyson Chandler to Oklahoma City for Joe Smith, Chris Wilcox, and DeVon Hardin?

How about the versatile All-Star Richard Jefferson going to San Antonio for the corpse of Bruce Bowen, Kurt Thomas, and Fabricio Oberto?

If you are still not convinced what are your thoughts on the Cavaliers acquiring Shaquille O'Neal for Sasha Pavlovic and Ben Wallace? (Note: Wallace admitted that he is giving serious thought to retiring months before this trade was completed).

The list of lopsided trades in the NBA is so long that the recently Vince Carter for Rafer Alston, Courtney Lee, and Tony Battie looks like the steal of the century next to any of these stinkers.

What's next for the Bulls? -

No need to read too much into the Bulls' two draft picks, 6-8 forward James Johnson and 6-10 forward Taj Gibson.

The Bulls simply fulfilled their strategy of taking the best players available (in their opinion, of course).

This was not a message to Tyrus Thomas. Gibson is the 26th pick, for goodness sake - he's not being brought in to replace Thomas. Neither is Johnson. With his long arms, Gibson probably has more in common with ex-NBA journeyman Chris Gatling than anyone on the Bulls' roster.

And there was no reason to expect a blockbuster trade on draft night, because there is time for that later. The Bulls need more help, but it's reasonable to think they can bring back the same nucleus next season and challenge for a top four seed in the East.

Recent history has shown there are two ways to reach the NBA Finals - be lucky enough to draft a superstar (Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki) or execute a big-splash trade that brings in a player ho can put a team over the top (Pau Gasol, Kevin Garnett, a younger Shaquille O'Neal, Rasheed Wallace, Jason Kidd with the Nets). Notice that the Lakers and Heat struck in both categories.

The Bulls got lucky by winning the Derrick Rose lottery. Now they need a big-splash trade, not a roster tweak.

Friday, June 26, 2009

What's the word ...

boring? uninspired? unconventional? stupid?

Maybe it's because I don't watch college hoops, but I was not ultra-impressed with the Bulls. I guess Minny wanted James Johnson at 18, so he must be decent. (Speaking of Minny, why did they take Flynn instead of Stephen Curry to play with Rubio??) I feel like the Bulls created a logjam at the 4 (by drafting 2 power forwards in Round1). Does that make sense after spending the last few years developing our PF of the future?? Who knows ... In Gar We Trust!

Catch up on the whole draft with Bill Simmons' Draft Diary -
6:08: There have been 29 NBA players named "James" and 55 players named "Johnson." Somehow, we've never had a "James Johnson." Now we do. Chicago just took him 16th. I'm glad I'm here.

Draft grades -


Round 1: James Johnson (16), Taj Gibson (26)

Round 2: None

Analysis: I think the Bulls had their hearts set on Tyler Hansbrough and were probably a bit crestfallen when they couldn't move up and get him. Like Hansbrough, Johnson brings toughness, but with a bit of an edge that could make the Bulls a little less comfortable. Gibson is skilled and versatile, but like Johnson, is no sure thing.

I think the value of Chicago's draft will be clearer once we see what happens via free agency with Ben Gordon and potential trades with Kirk Hinrich and Tyrus Thomas. There's upside here, but not enough to get really excited about at this point.

What are your thoughts on the Bulls draft?? Hit up the comments below.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Draft (and Bulls) links

Seems like there is going to be a lot of action before/during the draft tonight. I have to assume the Bulls are making moves, because when you don;t here a lot of rumors - those are the teams that make moves. Did anybody here about RJ to the Spurs before it happened? So we'll see what Paxson, er Gar, has in the works.

What options do the Bulls have? -

1) The Bulls trade both first-round picks for the No. 11 pick.

Though there’s been indication of late that the Bulls are going big, if they swing a trade with the Nets for the No. 11 pick, that may free them up to not pick up DeJuan Blair, Tyler Hansbrough, James Johnson or B.J. Mullens, but rather go after a swingman like Gerald Henderson or Earl Clark who can score and might not be available at 16.

Would this mean they’re expecting Ben Gordon not to re-sign and going after offense instead of bigs? Or does this mean they want a guy like Blair who likely won’t fall to 16?

2) The Bulls trade Kirk Hinrich somewhere.

I would assume if the Bulls are looking to dump Hinrich’s contract and his role on the team, that would mean two things: either they’re looking to draft a backup point guard in the draft (Ty Lawson? Eric Maynor?) or they believe they’ll re-sign Ben Gordon. I suppose there is one other option: they’ll trade Hinrich for a backup point guard (Steve Blake?). Since Hinrich is a more of a combo guard, perhaps if they get a backup point guard through a trade for him, the Bulls are also planning on not re-signing Gordon, as they’d want Hinrich to try and fill the scoring hole of Gordon, as opposed to focusing on backing up Rose.

This is confusing, I know.

3) The Bulls hold court at No. 16.

I suppose we’re looking at Tyler Hansbrough here? Or a shooting guard? Or one of the point guards if they fall through? I’m really not sure. I guess it depends on who is still available on the Bulls’ wish list.

4) Something else happens.

The Bulls pull a Jedi mind trick and get the Clippers and Grizzles to give up their picks for a waft of Joakim Noah’s hair. The Bulls select Blake Griffin and Tyreke Evans and we all join hands in triumph.

I like this scenario the best.

Bulls master plan -

Here's my seven-point plan:

1. Draft DeJuan Blair with the 16th pick.
If the Pitt big man is available, this is the no-brainer of the entire draft (including the Clippers' picking Blake Griffin at No. 1 and the Knicks' picking Steph Curry at No. 8). Blair would be the perfect complement to everything Joakim Noah and Tyrus Thomas aren't inside. Blair is a force on the block. Noah is a warrior, and Thomas is a potential All-Star. Together, they could create the best young, three-headed defensive monster in the NBA. Which, if handled with brilliance, could be the missing piece for Chicago to become the most feared team in the East.

Chat with D-Wade -

I know you've been asked about playing for the Bulls a million times, so I won't even bother with it, but from what you've seen what do you think they're missing the most right now?

DW: I think their team got a lot better this year, with the trades that they made and bringing John Salmons in. That really helped their team out. I think what they're missing is & even though Ben Gordon is great and Derrick Rose is great, what I think they're missing is that guy that they can go to, that really & that guy that they can go to, like a Kobe Bryant, like the Lakers have in him, like the championship teams have. I think they have great talent around. I think they just don't have that "go-to" person yet. & But they're a good team, they're probably way ahead of my team talent-wise (chuckles) that I have in Miami. So, we don't want them to get too much too soon.

So you're saying they're missing a guy like Dwyane Wade is what you're saying.

DW: No, I said Kobe Bryant. (Laughs)

Blogabull showing ESPN Draft updates - "Oklahoma City, Detroit and Chicago made assurances early on Thursday that they weren't dealing their top 16 picks."

Latest HoopsWorld Mock Draft

D-Rose invited to USA minicamp

Kevin Durant, rookie of the year Derrick Rose and college player of the year Blake Griffin are among the 25 players who have accepted invitations to participate in the USA Basketball national team minicamp.

The roster of players was announced Thursday in Las Vegas, where the Americans will train from July 22-25. The minicamp will be used to identify prospects for openings on the U.S. teams in the 2010 world championships and 2012 Olympics.

Durant nearly made the U.S. team that played in the Olympic qualifier two years ago and is a leading candidate to wear a USA uniform. Griffin was expected to be the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft later Thursday by the Los Angeles Clippers.

Also expected at the minicamp are Portland's Greg Oden, Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge and Jerryd Bayless; Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green; Memphis' O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay; New Jersey's Devin Harris and Brook Lopez; Utah's Ronnie Brewer, Paul Millsap and Kyle Korver; Philadelphia's Andre Iguodala and Thaddeus Young; the Lakers' Trevor Ariza; New York's David Lee; Minnesota's Kevin Love; Atlanta's Josh Smith; Charlotte's D.J. Augustin; Indiana's Danny Granger; and Boston's Glen Davis.

Jordan is better than Kobe. Period.

Ran across this article today and since Kobe just won his 4th ring this ridiculous talk of Kobe being even with or better than his Airness has annoyingly re-emerged. This should set the record straight...

Courtesy of: Hoopsworld

(For their careers, MJ played 1072 regular season games and Kobe has now played 948, which gives a comparable sample set):
● Jordan averaged five more points per game (30.1 PPG for MJ versus 25.1 for Kobe)
● Jordan averaged more rebounds (6.2 vs. 5.3)
● Jordan averaged more assists (5.3 vs. 4.6);
● Jordan shot a higher percentage from the field (49.7% vs. 45.5%)
● Jordan averaged more steals (2.3 vs. 1.5)
● Jordan averaged more blocks (0.8 vs. 0.6)
● Jordan averaged fewer turnovers (2.7 vs. 2.9)

If that wasn't enough:
All of Jordan's stats spiked during the playoffs, as his scoring (NBA-record 33.4 PPG), rebounding (6.4), and dishing (5.7) all saw significant increases during postseason play. Kobe's numbers remained relatively stable (25 points/ 5.1 boards/ 4.7 dimes).

So true...
We have learned that simple stats can be influenced by exterior factors such as rule changes, 'pace of play,' and are tempered by the era in which the individual played. (For instance, imagine if opposing defenders weren't allowed to hand-check MJ during his heyday!?)

My first post in awhile...been busy with work...but I felt this needed to be reiterated.

MJ > Kobe....and will always be

More links

KMart already posted some draft links, but it's only 2 days away and the rumors continue to fly.

First, not necessarily Bulls- or Draft-related, but an interesting rumor -

Today, news came afloat that the Celtics apparently offered Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen to the Pistons for Tayshaun Prince, Richard Hamilton, and Rodney Stuckey.

Bulls moving up for Henderson -

The Bulls have held trade talks with several teams about packaging the 16th and 26th picks into one higher selection, with two league sources insisting the target is Duke shooting guard Gerald Henderson.

"We've also had talks with teams about moving back," Gar Forman said. "And we've had talks with teams where either with one or both of our picks, we move out."

Mock Draft -

#16 - Chicago Bulls - James Johnson, F, Wake Forest - A lot of the guys the Bulls would've liked to see drop to #16 did not, and while a guy like B.J. Mullens holds appeal as a project, Johnson's knowns are a little more solid. With Luol Deng's injury history, it will be nice to have some good young depth at the three. (Joel Brigham).

Friday, June 19, 2009

Draft Links - Bulls moving up?

Bulls Moving Up?

The Chicago Bulls are trying to convince the New Jersey Nets to take their 16th and 26th picks to move to No. 11, and one Eastern Conference executive says Chicago’s target is Wake Forest forward James Johnson.

Some say Johnson has been slipping and could be available at No. 16, but no one seems sure about anything in this draft.

The Nets are considering the proposal. They’ve been intrigued by Louisville shooting guard Terrence Williams at No. 11, but could be willing to drop down with the belief that North Carolina’s Tyler Hansbrough could be available at 16.

As for Johnson, if he somehow drops to No. 21, you can count on the New Orleans Hornets letting him pass. After playing pick-up ball with Johnson in Winston-Salem the past two summers, Hornets star Chris Paul(notes) has no use for him, several league sources said.

“He talked way too much trash to Chris,” one source insisted. “Bad idea.”

Sounds about right.

Chad Ford of ESPN, has also confirmed that the Bulls are trying to move up.

As was reported on Blog-a-bull, BJ Mullens tweeted that he has a promise in MJ town.

Although that was later refuted by Sam Smith, KC, and Hoopsworld.

Draft Express has Johnson falling to us at 16.

Other names that continue to get thrown in the mix for the Bulls:
At 16
Terrence Williams, SG, Louisville
DeJuan Blair, PF, Pittsburgh

At 26
Austin Daye, PF, Gonzaga
Omri Casspi SF/PF, International

Either way, it's going to be an exciting off-season for the Bull. We will get a pretty good idea of what the Bulls long term plans are after this season. There's been plenty of talk whether that be about possible trades, the draft, or BG. I suppose we'll have to wait till next Thursday to see how the draft shakes out followed by free agency starting July 1st.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Playoff winners -

The Chicago Bulls

Three rounds later, I have to make it clear I remain firmly in the camp which maintains that the Boston-Chicago series in Round 1 -- dramatic, historic and irresistibly terrific as it was -- needed to have a bigger impact on the championship itself to merit any Greatest Series Ever consideration.

You are entitled to disagree, as always, but you are likewise invited to consider how quickly those teams faded from our consciousness as the playoffs progressed. The view here is that if the outcome had no real impact on the Eastern Conference bracket -- an indisputable reality given Garnett's absence -- it doesn't matter how many games went to overtime. The stakes simply weren't high enough to get Celtics-Bulls into the greatest-ever debate.

None of that, though, would dare stop us from putting the Bulls -- pretty much all of them -- high on this list. Derrick Rose playing better in Games 1, 4 and 6 than he ever did during a regular season in which he was the rookie of the year, Joakim Noah suddenly looking like an NBA difference-maker, Ben Gordon performing under pressure -- these guys were catalysts for a postseason that was far more unpredictable than we were all expecting.

BG to Pistons, Rip Hamilton trade? -

A blog posted this week about the future of the Chicago Bulls reads more like the Detroit Pistons’ rumor du jour.

Sam Smith, a former Chicago Tribune reporter who now writes for bulls.com, says that the agent for Chicago guard Ben Gordon has been talking about a promise his client has from the Pistons.

Apparently, it’s a pretty serious promise: $11-million per year for the soon-to-be unrestricted free agent.

The writer finds it hard to believe that the Pistons would truly be interested in yet another shooting guard. But that idea winds up pointing to another rumor — this one involving a trade for Richard Hamilton. Here's an excerpt of Smith's reasoning:

I’ve never fully understood the supposed Pistons interest. Not because teams don’t like Gordon. But because the Pistons have Rodney Stuckey, not a true point guard, and Richard Hamilton. Though the rumors supposedly are the Pistons would trade Hamilton. Though why trade a 6-7 shooting guard to accommodate one maybe a half foot shorter? Though I never say never in the NBA.

Here's that Sam Smith article.

Should the Bulls re-sign BG??
If you're too lazy to click -
We have seen him make buckets like few players in the Association are capable, literally making impossible shots from impossible distances. But we’ve also seen him shoot us out of many games, and let his man (virtually) match him on the other end. Just as you think we NEED his scoring ability, he makes another selfish or stupid play. He is a gift and a curse ... an extremely talented, athletically gifted, idiotic, selfish basketball player.
These playoffs showed us both the best and the worst of Ben Gordon ...

The best:

Game2: Shot 14-24 for 42points – 1rebound – 0assists

The worst:

Game7: Shot 7-23 for 33points – 3rebounds – 4assists;
Game 6: Shot 4-14 for 12points – 2rebounds – 4assists

A recent poll here on BBS showed that most people are in favor of keeping BG for a reasonable salary ...

Given what we know now, is BG worth re-signing for any amount?? Is he what Charles Barkly called him – “a specialist, not a starter”?? We are almost at the luxury cap threshhold, we are going to have to pay JoaNoah, TT and (in a few years) Rose will require a max deal. We already have a lot invested in Luol, and an NBA team can really only have 3 max (or near-max) deals. So with Luol, Rose and Noah/TT (obviously one of them would have to sacrifice some $ or something) … do we have room to pay BG?? And more importantly, should we?

I would love to see comments/thoughts about the enigma that is Ben Gordon.

White Sox v. Cubs

All-Chicago Team -

Two questions:

1. If you could combine the rosters of the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs, who would you take?

2. And even if you could do a combo platter of Sox and Cubs, would it be enough to win a pennant in the National or American League?

The first question is a blatant rip-off of the annual all-Chicago team put together by Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune. These are my picks, but the all-Chicago thing was conceived 11 years ago by Rogers.

The second question is the real toughie. As of Saturday, we're talking about two teams with a combined 58-64 record. I figure the Sox/Cubs could win either the AL or NL Central -- you'd hope -- but after that, who knows?


Based on your votes, here is the roster for your all-city team.
Pos Player Team
SP1 M. Buehrle Sox
SP2 R. Dempster Cubs
SP3 Ted Lilly Cubs
SP4 Randy Wells Cubs
RP Bobby Jenks Sox
C AJ Pierzynski Sox
1B Paul Konerko Sox
2B Chris Getz Sox
3B G. Beckham Sox
SS A. Ramirez Sox
LF A. Soriano Cubs
CF K. Fukudome Cubs
RF Jermaine Dye Sox
MGR Ozzie Guillen Sox
GM Ken Williams Sox
Field Wrigley Field Cubs

Series Preview -

The Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox were leading their divisions when they met for the first time last season, prompting talk of a Windy City World Series.

No such buzz will surround the crosstown rivals as they meet for the first time this year.

In the midst of disappointing seasons, the Cubs and White Sox look to build off dramatic victories when they open a three-game series Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs (30-30) won their second straight NL Central title in 2008, but a sputtering lineup has them chasing three teams in the division this year. After leading the league in runs (855) and on-base percentage (.354) last season, the Cubs are near the bottom of the NL this year with 253 runs and a .324 OBP. That led to the firing of hitting coach Gerald Perry on Sunday.

The White Sox (30-34) haven't been much better offensively.

Could Bears get Brandon Marshall? -
With Kyle Orton's perceived top target looking more like he wants to play elsewhere, the Denver Broncos brought in a guy who looked like he was on his way to being Orton's top target last season.

Denver reeled in Brandon Lloyd, signing him to a contract Monday afternoon. He's no replacement for Pro Bowl performer Brandon Marshall, but he gives the Broncos someone Orton is familiar with heading toward training camp. Lloyd jumped out last summer in the preseason game at Seattle when Orton went to him repeatedly in the two-minute offense. They continued to work well together through the first four games of the regular season when Lloyd was easily the club's leading receiver. But a minor knee injury in Week 4 put him on the shelf and whatever chemistry they had together fizzled before Lloyd returned six weeks later. It came as a surprise to no one when Lloyd exited at the end of the season after his one-year deal expired.

What also didn't come as a surprise was the report out of Denver earlier today that Marshall told Broncos owner Pat Bowlen "I think I'd like to be traded."

Or Plax instead? -

If the Bears were waiting for Plaxico Burress to appear Monday in Manhattan Criminal Court to help determine what course to take in pursuit of the troubled wide receiver, they may have to keep waiting.

Or, they could act boldly before knowing Burress' legal fate.

Your move, Jerry Angelo. Proceed with caution.

Reports out of New York on Friday indicate Burress' criminal lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, has requested a continuance that will be granted Monday when Burress shows up to face two felony gun charges. Brafman told the New York Daily News that he expects to be in and out of court "in five minutes." It will mark the second continuance, and the next court date could come in September, which technically would make Burress available to attend an NFL training camp.


Tips for success from a very successful man, Mark Cuban -

1. Recognize that its ok to live like a student.

It doesn’t matter where you live. It doesn’t matter how you live. It doesn’t matter what kind of car you drive. It doesn’t matter what kind of clothes you wear. It doesn’t matter. Your biggest enemies are your bills. The more you owe, the more you stress. The more you stress over bills, the more difficult it is to focus on your goals. More importantly, if you set your monthly income requirements too high, you eliminate a significant number of opportunities. The cheaper you can live, the greater your options. Remember that.


5. Start the day motivated with a positive attitude.

You are going to screw up. We all do. I cant tell you how many times I did and do. It happens too often. No matter what happens, every morning, the minute after you wipe away the crust from your eyes, remind yourself that you are going to enjoy every minute of the day. You are going to enjoy the 20 interviews you have. You are going to enjoy waiting in the heat for your roommate to pick you up afterwards. You are going to enjoy realizing how frayed your collar is becoming and how sick you are of your one tie. You are going to enjoy all the bullshit you have to deal with as you chase your goals and dreams because you want to remember them all. Each and every experience will serve as motivation and provide great memories when you finally make it all happen.

Its your choice. What are you going to do ?

Sounds like something a wise man once said:
"Every day should be the best day of your life, because why not?"

Monday, June 15, 2009

Team Ranks

Bulls are the 4th best franchise in the NBA -

The Chicago Bulls have won just one playoff series from 1998 to 2009, and from 1976 to 1988 they made it through the first round only one time. Overall, they have lost 50 or more games 11 times in 44 years, haven't had an All-Star in more than a decade and didn't win a conference title in their first 24 seasons.

Of course, I left out the decade from 1988 to 1998 for a reason. The Bulls were so good in that era that they rank fourth on the franchise list, despite doing almost nothing of consequence in their other 34 years of existence.

Led by the greatest player of all time, Michael Jordan, the Bulls won six NBA championships -- and might have had more if Jordan hadn't taken off nearly two full seasons to pursue a minor league baseball career. People forget, but the supporting cast around him wasn't too shabby either. Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, Toni Kukoc and company were good enough to win 55 games without Jordan in 1993-94, and were beaten by eventual conference champ New York because of a dubious foul call on Pippen late in Game 5.

And with Jordan? Forget it. Chicago steamrolled the league in 1995-96, when Jordan came back full-time and defensive pest Dennis Rodman joined the mix. Chicago set a record with a 72-10 season in which it led the league in both offensive and defensive efficiency. The Bulls started the season 41-3, didn't lose a home game until April 8 and had one double-digit loss the entire regular season. It goes without saying that they won the title, and this is generally considered the greatest team in league history.

That season marked Jordan's fourth championship. All of Jordan's first four championships came in an era when teams were allowed to partake in much more physical defense than today, making it easier to defend quick guards like Jordan. It didn't matter. Neither the Pistons nor Knicks -- two of the best defensive teams of all time -- had an answer for Jordan, who went through Detroit in four games en route to his first title and the Knicks each of his next three.

The Bulls get 100 extra intangible points for the fact that they had the greatest player ever, and the countless moments he delivered. Anyone who watched the Bulls for that decade walked away having seen more etched-in-stone, all-time moments than fans of most teams would see in a century.

It should be pointed out Jordan's was not the only Bulls team to be a contender. Early in the 1970s, Dick Motta led Chicago to four straight 50-win seasons and back-to-back trips to the conference finals. The Bulls had the misfortune of being in the same division as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but got within a game of the promised land before falling to eventual champion Golden State in the 1975 Western Conference finals -- after the Bulls blew a Game 6 clincher on their home court, and dropped Game 7 by four points. That team had four key players in their 30s and faded to irrelevance once Chet Walker and Jerry Sloan hung up their sneakers a season later, eight years before the Bulls drafted Jordan.

And the 1996 team was the best Finals team ever -

1. 1996 CHICAGO BULLS SCORE: 327.9

Regular-season record: 72-10
Postseason record: 15-3
Avg. scoring margin: +12.2
Avg. scoring margin, playoffs: +10.6
Finals result: Beat Seattle, 4-2

LEADERS (regular-season stats)
Scoring: Michael Jordan, 30.4 ppg
Rebounds: Dennis Rodman, 14.9 rpg
Assists: Scottie Pippen, 5.9 apg
Coach: Phil Jackson
Finals MVP: Michael Jordan

Hands down, the greatest team of all time. How can you choose another when these guys won 72 regular-season games and 14 of their first 15 in the postseason? The Bulls were so good they were first in both offensive and defensive efficiency, and outscored their opponents by 12.2 points per game.

With names like Jordan, Pippen, Rodman, and Toni Kukoc, not to mention a coach like Phil Jackson, this team was pretty much unbeatable -- in fact, seven of its playoff wins were by 17 points or more. The only nit to pick was the Bulls' consecutive losses to the Sonics in the Finals, but they were up 3-0 by then and seemingly bored with how good they were.


Things we should have heard about (instead of Kobe) in the Finals

Not the 2009 Lakers. Take Gasol, who shot 62 percent from the field in the last two rounds. You know how many shots he attempted in those 11 games? 120. You know how many big guys would have been happy with a situation in which their coach said, "I know you score six out of every 10 times we get you the ball, but you're going to have to live with 11 shots a game because we can't win a title unless Kobe's happy?" Not many. Shaq didn't like the arrangement and got shipped out of town. Gasol came from NBA Hell (Memphis), and he was willing to sacrifice to make the Lakers better. He's a big reason they won. He crashed the boards, killed himself on defense and reinvented himself as a complementary sidekick of the highest order.

Did you hear about Gasol's sacrifice during the playoffs? Not really. Just like you didn't hear about Odom's willingness to give up minutes and touches during a contract year (a rarity in the NBA these days), or Ariza's red-hot shooting and the irony of Orlando giving him away last season. We always heard about Kobe sacrificing, but really, the key to the 2009 title was that he finally found three talented sidekicks willing to sacrifice for him. Big difference.


I wish I knew. It was perplexing. In my opinion, the following storylines were more interesting ...

Storyline A: I have written about the "Nobody Believes In Us!" phenomenon many times, but the 2009 Lakers were the first "Nobody Believed In Me!" team. As Washington Post columnist Mike Wise pointed out, the key Lakers were alternately dismissed, dumped by a previous team, pigeonholed as a certain type of player, overlooked for whatever reason or thought to be washed up: Kobe, Odom, Gasol, Ariza, Bynum, Fisher, even Jackson. All of them had something to prove -- not as teammates, but as individuals. Now that's a unique angle. I wish I had thought of it first.

Storyline B: OK, this has nothing to do with anything ... but I can't stop thinking about Joey Buss. Granted, there's a chance I would have been just as tongue-tied on national TV at age 19. But who thought it was a good idea to have him speak extemporaneously in front of a worldwide audience? How did he become the "alternate governor of the Lakers," and what does that mean? Are people in Southern California frightened that two of their governors are Arnold Schwarzenegger and Joey Buss? Did they throw him out there to answer the question, "What would have happened if Fredo had gotten control of the Corleone family?" Did they bring him out to make the Maloofs feel better about themselves as overmatched legacy kids? Has he ever been discreetly stared at by a bunch of country club workers and had one of them say, "Fifty bucks says the Buss kid picks his nose." Do I have to retire the Unintentional Comedy Scale now?

Where was Jerry Buss? Where was Jeanie Buss? How did this happen? How can I get more Joey Buss in my life? And why didn't I know about him before Sunday night? More importantly, when are they putting the Buss boys in charge of the Lakers????? I vote for right now. Like, today. This moment. Please. I am begging you. This would be like a cross between the Hank Steinbrenner Era and "Tommy Boy." I never thought there would be a silver lining with a Lakers title, but dammit, there was.

Storyline C: The 2009 Lakers were built the same way someone goes on a three-hour craps run. In other words, don't even think about duplicating it. Seven solid "What if that coin flip had turned up tails instead of heads?" moments shaped the team. Namely, what if Jackson hadn't developed a relationship with Jeanie Buss? (No way he comes back to deal with Kobe again otherwise.) What if Anthony Carter's agent hadn't forgotten to send in his contract in time during the summer of 2003, creating enough cap space for Miami to sign Odom as a free agent, then giving Miami enough pieces to trade for Shaq a year later? What if the Lakers had traded Odom like they almost did about 35,000 times? What if Kobe hadn't blocked the Chicago trade -- and he did -- right before the 2007-08 season because the Bulls were giving up too much? What if Chris Wallace hadn't given them Gasol for 30 cents on the dollar? What if Otis Smith hadn't done the same in giving away Ariza? And what if Fisher's daughter hadn't fallen ill, forcing an unprecedented situation in which Utah released him from his deal so he could play for the Lakers?

(That's seven "what ifs." Seven. Amazing. The Chicago part remains the most incredible. You forget how close that was; I don't think I saw it explored once during the Finals.)

Storyline D: Kobe and Phil. I know, it has been done. Many times. But the story had so many layers that I still don't feel as if we nailed all of them. My favorite image of the 2009 Finals was Phil's face after Kobe went one-on-four at the end of Game 2, something I jokingly called The "Should I point out to him that MJ would have absolutely passed there?" Face in my column.

You know what his reaction reminded me of? Being married. Spend enough time with a person and you accept their strengths and weaknesses for what they are. For instance, I am messy. I leave clothes on the floor. I will make coffee in the morning, mistakenly leave a little coffee on the counter and not clean it up. I'm just selfishly absentminded about little things like that. My wife stopped complaining about it around three years ago. When I do those things now, she just makes the Phil Jackson Face. Crap. I'm stuck with him. It's not even worth getting into it. The plusses outweigh the minuses. Let's move forward. Jackson never made that face with his first wife (Jordan); with his second wife (Kobe), he makes it every so often. You could say they're an imperfect match, and if you want to keep the domestic analogy going, they even legally separated in 2004 after a couple of unhappy years. Now they might go on like this indefinitely.

It's just one more reason why Phil Jackson is the greatest basketball coach ever. He sold the greatest player ever on the benefits of being a good teammate, which wasn't an easy task because Jordan was a demanding, insensitive jerk at the time. Jackson nearly brought the Bulls to the '94 Finals without the greatest player ever, which remains the single most incredible coaching job of my lifetime. He won 72 games. He won 10 titles. Last but not least, he harnessed the talents of the single most difficult superstar not named "Wilt" the NBA has ever seen. He did this gradually, over the span of a solid decade, and he even had to walk away once for effect. You can't credit him for "changing" Kobe, just for nudging him in the right directions and helping him understand the balance between dominating and winning. What Kobe did with that understanding, ultimately, was up to him.

Anyway, I could have listened to people explain the Phil-Kobe relationship all day. Frankly, I still don't understand it myself. But if a coach spends enough time with a player, they really do start to feel like a married couple. Russell and Auerbach were like the Cleavers. Havlicek and Heinsohn were the Bunkers. Magic and Riley were the Huxtables. Jordan and Jackson were the Simpsons. Duncan and Popovich were the Barones. Phil and Kobe? They were definitely the Sopranos. And I don't need to tell you who was Tony.

[+] EnlargeKobe Bryant
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty ImagesIf you want to remember anything about Kobe '09, remember his remarkable ability to bring it every night.

Storyline E: I'm all for appreciating Kobe's greatness; it's just that my colleagues sold the wrong angle. Since he squashed the Chicago deal, Kobe has won MVP, All-Star MVP and Finals MVP awards; he played in two straight Finals and won a title; he starred on an Olympic gold medal team, took over as its alpha dog down the stretch and handled business in what was shaping up to be Spain's version of the 1980 USA-USSR hockey game; and most amazingly, he played in the maximum 164 regular-season games and 44 playoff games without getting a summer break because of the Olympics. And he did it despite turning 30 in August 2008 and passing the usually dangerous 1,000-game mark last season.

You know what? We just witnessed one of the great two-year stretches in the history of professional basketball if the determining factors were durability, consistency, individual success, team success, statistical excellence and degree of difficulty. Kobe's 2007-2009 stretch ranks alongside these post-shot-clock efforts (in no particular order): Bill Russell (1961-63), Jerry West (1964-66), Wilt Chamberlain (1966-68), Bill Russell (1967-69), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1970-72), Larry Bird (1985-87), Magic Johnson (1986-88), Michael Jordan (1990-92), Hakeem Olajuwon (1993-95), Michael Jordan (1996-98) and Tim Duncan (2001-03). Not a fraud on the list.

I would rather see Kobe linked with everyone above and not just Jordan, if only because the MJ comparisons are tiresome. We're never seeing another Jordan, just like we're never seeing another Brando or Lennon. It's just not happening. They might compare statistically and stylistically, but Jordan could command a room of 10 people or 20,000 and get the exact same reaction: Every set of eyes trained on him for as long as he was there. His personality, his charisma, his aura, his passion ... indescribable. Like nothing I have ever seen. Nobody remembers this now because he hasn't played in awhile, but Jordan was always the coolest guy in the room. Without fail. He was like Doctor J. crossed with Sinatra. Remember those dopey ads when somebody said, "My broker is E.F. Hutton," and everyone else in the room froze? That was what happened to an arena when Jordan walked in. You would freeze, and you would hear screams, and then it would be a sea of lightbulbs. And everyone was saying the same thing, "I get to say I watched Michael Jordan."

Kobe always wanted people to feel that way about him. He shaved his head, made music videos, jumped cars for viral videos, changed his number, stole MJ's fist pump, created that creepy face where he stuck his bottom two teeth out ... none of it worked. He will never command a room like Jordan did. Sorry. But he does share one crucial trait with Jordan: He's a professional of the highest order. He shows up every single night. It's just ingrained in him. Since they acquired Gasol 17 months ago, the Lakers have not lost three games in a row. Why? Because of Kobe. He will always try hard. Always. It's the best thing about him. And really, that's what made Kobe's performance special this spring: The degree of difficulty for someone maintaining that intensity for 20 months -- without missing a single game or getting a summer break -- is absolutely off the charts. It's remarkable.

At this specific point in his career, Kobe Bryant shouldn't have been able to play as consistently well as he did. He shouldn't have been able to survive overtime periods in Game 2 (his 205th straight game in 20 months) and Game 4 (No. 207) and thrived in Game 5 like he was playing Memphis in mid-January. Basketball might be a team sport, but in this specific case, an individual's will stood out and made the accomplishment of the group seem ancillary.

Look, I don't know how much of Kobe's personality is contrived. I don't know if this is the same selfish guy we watched five years ago, only with a freshly polished veneer that hides every demon lurking inside. I don't know if he learned how to play the part of a leader, almost like a trained actor, to throw everyone off his selfish scent. I don't know if he's sitting there tonight thinking, "I won my fourth title!" instead of, "We won the title!" Odds are, we will never figure these things out.

But I do know this: What Kobe Bryant accomplished over the past 20 months ranks up there with anything that ever happened in the National Basketball Association. He walks among the NBA gods now. Like it or not.

Shaq to Bulls?!

Trade rumors -

As word spread yesterday that Phoenix and Cleveland were working on a trade that would send Shaquille O'Neal to the Cleveland Cavs where he would presumably help out LeBron James, there were plenty of other teams being tossed around. Including our Bulls. Even though ESPN didn't list the Bulls as a major player in the "Shaq Sweepstakes" - and one has to wonder how much a winner the team that lands the 37-year-old O'Neal would really be - The Arizona Republic says otherwise.

It seems the Suns are interested in the Bulls' Luol Deng. According to their report, O'Neal would head to Chicago in exchange for Deng, Tim Thomas, and another player. The reasoning? In the longish run, the Bulls would then look to dump Shaq's salary in trades next season in a bid to clear up cap space to bring in a big free agent like Dwyane Wade in next year's huge free agent class (which includes Chris Bosh and the aforementioned King James). The Republic continues, "And we can't dismiss anything from Chicago, considering the relationships that Suns General Manager Steve Kerr has with Bulls General Manager John Paxson and coach Vinny Del Negro." Hmmm. We figure the Bulls would make a play for one of next year's big fish, but we don't see the benefits of giving away three players for a Shaq that's 60 percent the Shaq of old. Are we wrong?

Grossman faces a struggle in Houston

Former Chicago Bears quarterback Rex Grossman wants to be a starter again.

First, he'll have to make the roster with his new team, the Houston Texans.

Grossman, who signed with the Texans as a free agent last week, joined the team on the opening day of a three-day minicamp to compete for the third quarterback spot behind starter Matt Schaub and Dan Orlovsky.

"It's just an opportunity for me to be in this league and get to where I want to be," Grossman said after the more than hourlong workout. "I'm going to work as hard as I can."

Grossman led the Bears to the Super Bowl in 2006 but has worked mostly as a backup.

He'll compete with Alex Brink for the third quarterback spot. But coach Gary Kubiak isn't sure if he'll carry three quarterbacks into the season, so the 2003 first-round pick will have to impress to earn a spot on the roster.

A sad day: NBA season is officially over.

I have already discussed some options for summer TV watching, but can that fill the void? And what good is baseball when your team stinks??

We have the NBA Draft in less than 2 weeks, then we wait around for Jay Cutler and his laser-rocket arm to lead the Bears to the Superbowl.

Bulls draft needs -

2008-2009 Record (41-41, 7th in Eastern Conference)

Returning Payroll - $56.7 mil

Guaranteed Contracts: C Brad Miller ($12.3 mil), SF Luol Deng ($10.4 mil), G Kirk Hinrich ($9.8 mil), F Tim Thomas ($6.5 mil), SG/SF John Salmons ($5.5 mil), PG Derrick Rose ($5.2 mil), SF/PF Tyrus Thomas ($4.7 mil), PF/C Joakim Noah ($2.4 mil)

Restricted Free Agents: None

Player Options or Early Termination Options: C Jerome James ($6.6 mil)

Expiring Contracts: G Ben Gordon ($6.4 mil)

Team needs: offensive post presence, combo guard

Draft Picks: 16th pick (1st round), 26th pick (1st round)


The Chicago Bulls put everyone on notice this year when they played the defending champion Boston Celtics to an epic 7-game series in the 1st round of the playoffs, which had some people saying it was the greatest 7-game series ever played. After losing the 7th game in Boston, the Bulls had made it clear to everyone that they are the team of the future in the Eastern Conference, if not, the whole NBA.

The most impressive part about the Bulls playoff performance was that they got contributions from all over. Rookie of the Year Derrick Rose had a monster series. Ben Gordon carried the Bulls for parts of the series. John Salmons was scoring in bunches. Both Big men (Brad Miller and Joakim Noah) were effective. Coach Vinny Del Negro used a 7-man rotation in the playoffs and was getting contributions from nearly all seven players.

The Bulls season changed when they made a trade with the Sacramento Kings on February 19th sending power forward Drew Gooden and swing forward Andres Nocioni for center Brad Miller and wing player John Salmons. Shortly after, the Bulls began to gel as a team and it was apparent that the trade was successful. The playoff series vs. the Celtics was the best ball that they had played all year. With most of the core guys being young in their careers, it is unlikely that many changes will be made in the offseason.

The one problem the Bulls have is that Ben Gordon is an unrestricted free agent. He was a scoring machine for the Bulls the whole season and most recognizably vs. the Celtics in the playoffs, averaging 24.3 points, highlighted by his 42 points in game 2 of the series where he made a number of clutch shots. He has most likely made himself the top prized two-guard on the open market this summer, considering he is only 26. And we know that he will not be cheap because he has already turned down two sizeable contract extension offers from the Bulls.

As good as Gordon was for the Bulls down the stretch of the season, the Bulls will most likely let him walk and move on. Small forward Luol Deng who is already signed to a long-term contract did not play during the playoffs and will demand minutes when he returns at the beginning of next season. Guard Kirk Hinrich is the team’s best perimeter defender and is also signed through the 2012 season for big money. John Salmons is a proven scoring option (18.1 ppg in series vs Celtics) that can play both wing positions. Throw in the two first-round picks that the Bulls have this year, and it makes sense to let Gordon sign elsewhere considering the money that he will be demanding. Besides, it is clear that this is now Derrick Rose’s team and everything will be built around him, something that Gordon may not want to stick around and be a part of.

If one of the first round picks is used for Gordon insurance, the other pick should be used to try and get a offensive post presence. Chicago’s big men are productive, but none of them have any scoring ability in the post. Brad Miller is a good outside shooter and plays really tough inside but he is not a scoring option in the post. Joakim Noah can only score from drop off’s or offensive rebounds. And Tyrus Thomas has been trying to prove his whole short career that he is a small forward rather than a power forward. Grabbing someone who could possibly develop into a scoring option out of the post would make sense. The Bulls would be ecstatic if Pittsburgh’s Dejuan Blair fell to them at 16. Ohio State’s BJ Mullens or even North Carolina’s Tyler Hansbrough are possibilities.

If the Bulls do make any big moves in the summer, it could be by trading Tyrus Thomas. He was great in game 1 vs. the Celtics, scoring 16 points, blocking 4 shots, and making big hoops in overtime. But, for the rest of the series he was inconsistent and disappointing, which is much like his whole career. This was the 3rd season for Thomas since coming out of LSU as the 4th pick overall and he has not developed like most Bulls fans had hoped for. With Luol Deng being ready for the start of next season, Thomas could be moved to clear up some minutes for Deng, Noah, and any big men that they draft in the first round.

Things to remember from the 2009 NBA Finals.

Jose Contreras is the AL Player of the Week.

Advancements on ranking NBA defenders

Since the N.B.A.’s inception, the performance of its players has been measured by a somewhat archaic rubric system. Points, assists and rebounds — the plays that meet the eye — are quantified, but the game’s data supply does not expand much beyond the limited horizon of those meager numbers.

The N.B.A. has been faced with the problem of defining what, exactly, is defense? Or, was that goaltending call made correctly?

That could all change shortly with technological advancement aimed at defining what has to this point been indefinable in the N.B.A.

As the Los Angeles Lakers and the Orlando Magic tested one another’s resolve in the finals, the N.B.A. was testing a new tracking system, one that could perhaps alter how the game is watched, measured and coached.

Perched high above and adjacent to the court, six high-definition cameras in a semi-circle have captured and traced the movements of each player, the referees and the basketball in Games 3 and 4 of the N.B.A. finals at Amway Arena. The cameras streamlined information into two data processing computers tucked behind the rafters that are aimed at rapidly defining an N.B.A. game in a way that has not been seen before.

Through the processing computers, the data became relative and relatable. For example, the cross-angle cameras confirmed that a goaltending call on Orlando’s Dwight Howard was accurate. When Howard blocked the shot by Andrew Bynum, the ball had already descended about 3 inches, according to the computers.

In a game of swift movements, when one play can decide the outcome, the technology could be an important step toward verifying the accuracy of calls made by officials. The system is still in its infancy and will continue its trial run through next season with the hope it can be implemented league-wide sometime in the 2010-11 season.

“I would say we’re going to quantify a game that was previously hard to describe with statistics,” said Steve Hellmuth, the N.B.A.’s executive vice president for operations and technology. “We’re going to describe basketball much, much better.”

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Random links

Championship-causing trades -

Trades are one of the main ingredients in constructing a NBA championship team.

For example, if the Detroit Pistons had not traded for Ben Wallace in the summer of 2000, they might not have captured a title in 2004. Wallace's tough defensive presence was a major reason that the Pistons were able to overpower the Lakers in the finals.

And if it the Boston Celtics had failed to land both All-Stars Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in trades, they probably wouldn't have won the championship last year and instead would have remained one of the league's worst teams.

Here is a list of the top 15 trades in NBA history that have resulted in teams winning a championship.

Bulls got #8 and #2. Maybe we can swing this BG-for-Bosh deal and add another to the list.

Studs of the draft from 2005-2008

Derrick Rose – Chicago Bulls – Drafted 1st overall by the Bulls in 2008.
Even though it's only been a season it's easy to see why the Bulls made Rose the top pick last June. He helped lead this team back to the playoffs while winning Rookie of the Year honors, and he did all of this while making his teammates better. Just imagine how good he'll be next year.

Recent mock draft at HoopsWorld
... so glad no one there has the Bulls taking Hansburough.

MJ talks about LeBron and the Knicks

But Michael Jordan, the ultimate Knick killer, threw a wrinkle in the die-hards' wishful thinking Friday afternoon, essentially saying don't hold your breath - or think James can make the Knicks instant contenders.

"He's made his mark in Cleveland. I know New York fans would love to have him, but you need a lot more components than just one player," Jordan said after playing in a celebrity golf tournament at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, L.I., leading up to next week's U.S. Open there. "He's done a heck of a job in Cleveland and they deserve to have him there. He's from that area.

"In terms of the game itself, small markets can benefit from it a lot more than the big markets can. That's not a discredit to New York at all."

Jordan, of course, still went out of his way to tweak Knicks fans.

"You're asking me to talk about the Knicks and I own the Bobcats," he said. "I want to beat you guys every day."

Jordan finished with a 16-over-par 86 to take second in the four-player tournament. It will air June 21 at noon and lead into the final round of the Open on NBC.

... Plus that gives you something other than "Whale Wars" to watch this summer. In addition to that post, here's some more TV:

"Expedition Africa" - 4 people try to re-create an old explorer's path through Africa. Does anyone know what happened to "KINGS" on NBC?! Re-watchable re-runs in my DVR rotation: The Office, Blue Planet, Rob & Big, Arrested Development.

And while we're here, everyone should catch up on LOST in the next 6 months so that you're ready for the final season. Trust me. I'm also currently in the middle of season 2 of "The Wire" and it's one of the better shows I've seen in a long time. (Probably just behind LOST and WHALE WARS).

Thursday, June 11, 2009

More D-Rose "controversy"

Well, the age of 24-hour-sports-reporting-even-when-there's-nothing-to-report has struck the NBA ROY, Derrick Rose. A picture was released in which D-Rose is flashing a gang sign -

Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose issued a statement regarding a photo that features him apparently flashing a gang sign.

"Recently, a photo has been circulating on the Internet which appears to depict me flashing a gang sign," Rose said in the statement. "This photo of me was taken at a party I attended in Memphis while I was in school there, and was meant as a joke ... a bad one, I now admit. I want to emphatically state, now and forever, that Derrick Rose is anti-gang, anti-drug, and anti-violence. I am not, nor have I ever been, affiliated with any gang and I can't speak loudly enough against gang violence, and the things that gangs represent.

"In posing for this picture, I am guilty of being young, naive and of using extremely poor judgment. I sincerely apologize to all my fans for my mistake. I pride myself on being a good citizen, and role model, that young people can look up to and I want to urge all my young fans to stay away from gangs and gang-related activities."

... And to that I say, WHO CARES?!

Raptors/Bosh trade scenarios -

Scenario No. 1: Toronto Raptors trade F Chris Bosh to the Chicago Bulls for G Ben Gordon (sign-and-trade), F Tyrus Thomas, and two first-round picks in 2009 (No.'s 16 and 26 overall)

This is the scenario that is getting pumped out by most rumor mills as of late, and on the surface it appears to make sense for both teams.

After underachieving in 2007, Derrick Rose infused new life into the Bulls franchise and has the Chicago brass thinking about joining the Eastern Conference's elite sooner rather than later. A trade for Bosh would give the Bulls the low-post option that they have been missing since roughly the turn of the century, and a core of Rose-Bosh-Deng-Hinrich-Noah has the capability to take the next step in the Windy City.

For the Raptors, the arrival of Gordon would mark a major improvement at the shooting guard position over Anthony Parker, although BG's deficiencies in the defense and shot selection departments may not bold well for a team that already struggles in both of those areas.

That being said, Gordon's pure offensive exploits are amongst the best in the association and would give a freshly inked Jay Triano many more options on that end of the floor.

Bryan Colangelo originally wanted to mold these Raptors after the high-scoring Phoenix Suns teams from 2004-07, but he was always missing one key ingredient—players who could score. Jamario Moon, Anthony Parker, Jason Kapono and Joey Graham weren't exactly the most intimidating foursome at the wing position, but BG would provide the team with someone who can fill it up from anywhere.

Thomas has been a model of inconsistency during his first few years in the league, but no one can question his athleticism and the excitement he's capable of bringing to the game at any given time. He's received some bad press during his time in Chicago as well, so maybe a change in scenery could do him a great deal of good. On the flip side, the Raptors are making a conscious effort to get "tougher" this offseason (as evidenced by Tuesday's trade for Reggie Evans) and Thomas would certainly help fill that role.

The two first rounders from Chicago would give the Dino's three selections in the first 26 picks and an opportunity to re-tool through the draft process, something the Raptors have failed to do in recent years.

Depending on how things shake down in the weeks leading up to the draft, the Raptors could add another wing prospect at No. 16 (Chase Budinger, Earl Clark, Jrue Holiday), while targeting a backup point guard with the 26th pick (Ty Lawson, Eric Maynor, Toney Douglas). Don't forget that they also own the ninth overall pick, which could land them another blue-chipper (Demar DeRozan is the popular choice at the moment) within the lottery.

Chicago Projected Lineup

G Derrick Rose, G Kirk Hinrich , SF Luol Deng, PF Chris Bosh, C Joakim Noah.

Bench: John Salmons, Brad Miller, Tim Thomas.

Tim Donaghy has had a rough time in prison -

Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy will be released from prison on June 17, 2009. Donaghy, convicted for betting on professional basketball is serving a 15-month sentence at the federal prison camp in Pensacola, Florida.
Donaghy’s release date has recently been in question due to concerns about his medical condition. Donaghy was injured during an assault in November of 2008. During the assault, another inmate claiming ties to the New York mob beat Donaghy with a heavy object. Donaghy suffered severe knee and leg injuries that will require surgery.

Mock Draft -

16. Chicago Bulls - Austin Daye, F
Daye is a lanky 6'10 small forward that can stroke and would bring a significantly taller body to the role likely vacated by Ben Gordon's departure.

However, with two first round picks and Gordon as their top free agent, the Bulls might be active in the trade market.

At least the Bulls aren;t projected to take Hansburough.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Life after NBA Season

Summer TV Recommendations ...


It's a movie on Mark Cuban's HDNetMovies, premieres the Wednesday (June 24) before it hits theaters that weekend.

Real World: Cancun starts on MTV that same night.


Fridays on Animal Planet.

Don't let the title mislead you, this is not just whales bumping into dolphins. This is a group of crazy hippies that drive an old, broken boat through the waters around Antarctica to hunt down Japanese whaling boats, then pummels that boat with all-natural, organic stink bombs.

Are you hooked yet? What if I told you the following about the first episode:

- The hippies' boat is called the "Steve Irwin"

- Aa helicopter pilot that is so high he confuses north for south. They cover this up by saying that Antarctica is "disorienting"

- The hippy try-outs for "throwers" (who will heave the stink bombs in battle) consisted of trying to throw objects into buckets from across the hull

- They misfire by 20 miles on a route that only required 1 right turn

- A guy crashing the boat into chunks of ice because he doesn't understand the directions his guides are telling him.

Have I convinced you to watch this show?!

BG for Bosh?!

The rumors are swirling about BG for Bosh -

On Tuesday, the Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers broke the unwritten rule about making trades during the Finals and swapped role players in a minor deal.

The Raptors acquired power forward Reggie Evans in exchange for sharpshooter Jason Kapono.

This deal wasn't anything major, which is probably why nobody either noticed or cared that it took place on the day of Game Three of the Magic-Lakers Championship series. But the domino effect that might happen could be something everyone notices.

Let me state again, for emphasis, what the Raptors did yesterday: They traded for a power forward.

This comes within a handful of days of the Raptors' franchise player, Chris Bosh, saying he would join Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter on the list of Toronto's former franchise players after the 2009-10 season.

There have been rumors since before the trade deadline this spring that there are nearly a dozen teams interested in the young superstar, but this specific trade brings one rumored exchange into focus.

The Chicago Bulls are looking at losing guard Ben Gordon either in free agency or, more likely, in a sign-and-trade deal this summer.

Gordon's name was linked to rumors about Bosh before last season, and his playoff performances against the Boston Celtics certainly raised his profile as an elite scorer in the league. He isn't going to average 35 a night, but he can get his from anywhere at any time.

Again for emphasis, the Raptors unloaded their best (maybe only) three-point shooter to acquire Evans.

Monday, June 8, 2009


Bulls draft needs -

Behind a rookie point guard and a rookie coach, the Chicago Bulls made an improbable run into the post-season, falling only after taking the Boston Celtics to seven games. The Bulls are loaded with young talent and solid veterans, but as bright as the future seems in Chicago, there is just as much uncertainty. For one, there is a logjam in the backcourt, with Derrick Rose, Kirk Hinrich, and Ben Gordon all demanding big minutes, with Rose being the only clear franchise priority. Tyrus Thomas’s future is also largely unknown, with rumors floating around that he may be dealt before the 2009-2010 season. Therefore, despite the tremendous strides made last season, this looks to be another action packed summer for the Bulls.

There is no telling how the Bulls will conduct their off-season, but with two first round picks, they can certainly add some quality rotation players to their roster if they play their cards right. The team’s most glaring need lies in the frontcourt, where the team still lacks a consistent scoring presence. Similarly, the Bulls could also help on the wing, to either backup Ben Gordon or potentially replace him. With two picks the Bulls have options in this draft and despite the uncertainty that faces their roster this summer, they should be able to add some more quality young talent.

First Round Candidates: (#16) Gerald Henderson, James Johnson, Terrence Williams, (#26) Sam Young, Chase Budinger, Omri Casspi

BG to Olympiakos? -

Ben Gordon(1.91-PG/SG) is rumored to have been offered to Olympiakos by his agent and this is something that is being confirmed by a plenty of greek sports portals, redplanet.gr and gazzetta.gr to name a few. This sets a new spin on the transfer targets of Olympiakos because Ben Gordon has a british passport. That means he occupies the position of a bosman player and not of a foreign player.

Gordon would theoretically replace Lynn Greer(1.88-PG/SG) who is considered to be leaving Olympiakos as his contract ends this month and there doesn't seem to be any thoughts about renewing it. The Chicago Bulls have made it one of their top priorities to renew the contract of Gordon according to GM Vinny Del Negro : “Our hope is we’ll be able to get Ben back in a Bulls uniform next year.” Gordon initially rejected the offer of the Chicago Bulls but in the end he accepted their qualifying offer as he couldn't get that money elsewhere. However the sum of 4.8 million dollars that was his current salary is not out of reach for Olympiakos.

Rose "scandal" could cost Memphis wins

The NCAA met with Memphis Tigers officials on Saturday to discuss major violations and the school must now wait at least six weeks for a ruling on whether its 38 wins by the men's basketball team from the 2007-08 season will count.

The most serious allegation taken up at the meeting was whether an unknown person took the SAT for a player.

The NCAA has said the athlete in question played for the Tigers for only the 2007-08 season and the 2008 NCAA tournament. The only person who fits the description in documents obtained by The Associated Press is Derrick Rose, the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft after that season.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Lil Wayne track "Kobe Bryant"

This mock draft has the BUlls taking Brandon Jennings (skipped college to play in Europe) and Terrence Williams (SG from Louisville). Is that assuming BG is leaving? WHy else would we need 2 guards?

Follow up on the NBA rule that requires players be 1-year removed from college ... Congressman calls it 'vestige of slavery' -

A congressman has written a letter to the National Basketball Association and the players union asking them to repeal the rule governing the minimum age of players.
Skip to next paragraph
Letter from Representative Steve Cohen to N.B.A. Commissioner David Stern (pdf)

Steve Cohen, Democrat of Tennessee, wrote that the four-year-old rule, which requires that players be 19 years old and one year removed from their high school graduation, is of “deep concern.”

“It’s a vestige of slavery,” Cohen said Wednesday in a phone interview, noting that most of the players affected by the rule are African-American. “Not like the slavery of 150 years ago, but it’s a restraint on a person’s freedoms and liberties.”

White Sox 2-month report -

The bartender at my favorite local watering hole had one question for me at the end of April: "Who goes first?" he asked. "Kenny Williams or Ozzie Guillen?"

His question didn't come as much of a surprise. The White Sox looked old and washed up throughout the first part of the season. The team lacked energy and couldn't hit or pitch with any consistency. In the past three weeks, though, the White Sox have made the type of turn that you don't usually see from a struggling ballclub: They've gone from sellers to buyers -- by using a trade that never happened as motivation.

Let's take a closer look at some of the other events and people who have shaped the first two months of the White Sox's season:

The turning point: If you're looking for the exact moment in time when the White Sox turned the sinking ship around, consider May 21 as the starting point. In the span of about six hours, the Sox got crushed 20-1 by the Twins and received word that Jake Peavy had nixed a trade to the South Side. Instead of feeling sorry for themselves, the team has gone on to win eight of its past 10 games and climb back to around .500 (25-26, entering Wednesday's game against the A's).

"I've always told this to anybody who will listen," Williams said before Monday night's game against the A's. "Sometimes the best deals that you make are the ones that you don't make."

Bears links and Gordon Beckham

Jay Cutler and Devin Hester -

One play into Wednesday's full-team Bears scrimmage session confirmed the most interesting bit of progress at Halas Hall still three months before the 2009 season-opener.

Jay Cutler glided back into a seven-step drop, set his feet in a pocket protected by left tackle Orlando Pace, and peered downfield where wide receiver Devin Hester had gotten a step on his defender.

For aesthetic purposes, ignore for a moment that cornerback Zack Bowman was limited in how physical he could get with Hester in this non-contact drill.

But that is beside the point.

The point that will be driven home whenever the Bears offense takes the field from now until September came in the way Cutler's arching spiral hit Hester in stride and landed gently in his hands. And the way Hester kept running to the end zone like it was a play he would go home and watch on "SportsCenter."

But is Cutler a trade risk? -
Tony Dungy isn't sure Jay Cutler is the answer for the Chicago Bears -- not yet, at least.

The former Indianapolis Colts coach, now a studio football analyst for NBC, on Wednesday questioned whether Cutler had the leadership and maturity to take the Bears to the next level.

Dungy said the Bears gambled when they dealt starter Kyle Orton to the Denver Broncos for Cutler, who had a very messy, public divorce with the Broncos and new coach Josh McDaniel.

"[The Bears] took a risk [trading for Cutler]. I think they took that risk specifically with beating the Green Bay Packers in mind," Dungy said Wednesday, according to the Chicago Tribune. "I really think Chicago gave up a lot to get a quarterback who they believe is going to be the final piece of the puzzle. But I am not sure he has won enough to merit that yet."

And I don't have ESPN Insider ... Can someone who does let me know what that says about the Bears and Plax??

Sox called up Gordon Beckham

Gordon Beckham tried to sleep and 20 minutes after he shut off the TV, he knew there was no way it was going to happen. He was still revved up, his emotions running too high after getting the news he waited all his life to hear.

Gordon Beckham's promotion shouldn't be ignored by Fantasy players in need of help at the middle infield positions, Jason Grey writes. Blog

Beckham was going to the major leagues to join the White Sox. He got the word after Wednesday night's game with Triple-A Charlotte and, after a sleepless night, he caught a 7:15 a.m. flight to Chicago before landing in the starting lineup Thursday afternoon against Oakland.

"I couldn't even describe it," Beckham said, recalling his feelings when Charlotte manager Chris Chambliss delivered the message.

"It's one of those things where you think about it a lot, but you don't really understand what it feels like until you get called up, until they sit you down and say, 'You're going to the big leagues.' It was one of those feelings I will never forget, for sure."

Beckham made the majors 364 days after he was drafted No. 8 overall by Chicago last summer. At 22, he is the fastest White Sox first-rounder to reach the majors since pitcher Alex Fernandez made it in 58 days in 1990.

... How long will it take before he has the #1 selling White Sox jersey??

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Bulls and Bears Links

M-A-R-I-S-T is headed back to state in volleyball -

With the win, Marist will make its first appearance in the state finals since 2002, when it won the school’s only championship in boys volleyball.

... obviously it won't be as good as the first time. That 2002 team was ridiculous!

A great "mailbag" from BS today -

Q: So who are you picking??? Come on! Make a pick! Who are you taking?
-- D. Howard, Orlando

SG: You tell me, Dwight. How bad do you want this?

Q: I want it. I really, really want it. I don't want to be the big happy guy everyone knows from the Slam Dunk Contest and the Superman gimmick. I don't want to be the guy everyone knows for his Mr. Universe physique, the shaky free-throw shooting and the sarcastic "I can't believe you just called that" smile. I don't want to be the guy Kendrick Perkins defended without help in Round 2. I don't want to be the guy you called "the worst great player ever" a few weeks ago. I want to become the NBA's next big superstar. I want to be the next Shaq. I want to be the guy who commands a double-team at all times. I want to be the guy who slaps up a 26-16 in the Finals, protects the rim and can't be stopped. I can be that guy. Bynum and Gasol aren't tough enough to handle me. I can be that guy. Let me be that guy.
-- D. Howard, Orlando

SG: Hmmmmmmmm. I just don't think you're ready yet. Your team has just enough "happy to be there" potential that it makes me nervous. And how can you guys keep shooting 3s like that? I'm going with the Lakers in six. Kobe is due. He is. You have plenty of time.

Q: You realize you're betting against God AND the "Nobody Believed In Us" Factor, right?
-- D. Howard, Orlando

SG: Crap.

Bears getting Brandon Marshall?!?

Brandon Marshall has been a superstar in Denver since Jay Cutler got there. The two have been good friends for years, and now Cutler is a Chicago Bear.

Marshall wasn't suspended for any games during the season, but it is possible that he could hold out. This is a great time for the Bears to make a run for Marshall. If they could acquire him, I have no doubt that they could go far into the playoffs.

Cutler really wants Marshall in Chicago, but Jerry Angelo has to make the decision.

In the past, Angelo has gotten his primary players in the draft, and he isn't big on free agency. Cutler has received a lot of respect in Chicago, and if he put his word in to get Marshall, then I believe that he will have his proposal considered.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Some links

More on D-Rose "scandal" -

One month after Memphis lost to Kansas in overtime in one of the most thrilling national championship games in recent memory, the Tigers were rocked by an e-mail from the NCAA.

It was then that Memphis was first notified that star freshman point guard Derrick Rose, who helped the Tigers to an NCAA-record 38 wins and was soon going to become the No. 1 pick in the 2008 NBA draft by his hometown Bulls, had an invalidated standardized test score the previous year at Chicago's Simeon High School, according to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the e-mail.

Bulls to take best available -

The Bulls head into the June 25 draft without any single glaring need.

Their overall team wish list would include better interior defense, a post-up scorer, a taller shooting guard, someone who has a chance of guarding LeBron James and more speed or outside shooting to complement point guard Derrick Rose.

In other words, they're in a spot to take the best player available player and hope he becomes an asset.

Since the Bulls are getting close to the luxury tax, unloading a pick or taking someone who will play overseas for a couple of years is another option.

Del Harris retires

Bulls assistant Del Harris will announce plans to retire from coaching today.

Harris, 71, worked one season on the Bulls bench after spending the previous eight seasons as an assistant with Dallas.

The Indiana native was a head coach for 14 seasons with Milwaukee, Houston and the Los Angeles Lakers. He was NBA coach of the year in 1995 with the Lakers and led the Rockets to the 1981 NBA Finals.

There was speculation during the season that Harris might stop traveling with the team next season, but he is expected to make a complete break from coaching.

Longtime Bulls assistant Pete Myers will most likely move up in the chain of command to replace Harris on the bench.

Kmart beat me to this story yesterday in his "Hate on LeBron" post. But does Pete Myers moving up mean we can get a real big-man coach?!

D-Rose "scandal" again -

Experience it in IMAX . . .

Thank goodness for this Derrick Rose embarrassment.

This fake-test-taking, grade-changing, broken-rules-all-over-the-place embarrassment.

We needed this. We in sports and life, I mean. We needed this to pop like a zit in the middle of your forehead.

I’m in favor of anything that makes the point that college is the biggest cesspool in sports. Colleges themselves, the actual ivory towers, are the most overpriced, overhyped institutions in America, extortion with elbow patches, but that’s a whole other rant. If college sports isn’t the biggest cesspool we cover, it’s at least tied with the Olympics, and how fitting that one scandal is rooted in the corrupt city of Chicago and some people want to bring the other slimy event here.

Good luck finding ethics in any of it -- college sports (and by extension the stench of us media types glorifying snot-nosed, booger-eating teenaged athletes before they even get to high school sometimes), the Olympics, Chicago, the state of Illinois. There’s too much money and power to stop.

More D-Rose -

Memphis was unable to find proof a former player cheated on his SAT exam in its internal investigation of NCAA allegations against the men's basketball team.

The investigation report, released to The Associated Press and other news outlets Tuesday under a public records request, details Memphis' internal investigation into allegations that a former player -- widely reported to be Derrick Rose -- allowed a stand-in to take his SAT test and of grade tampering.

School officials argue that even if the NCAA's Committee on Infractions believes a former player cheated, the program should not be penalized because the school was unaware of any wrongdoing.

Memphis was first notified by the NCAA by e-mail in May 2008, one month after the Tigers lost to Kansas in the NCAA championship game, that star point guard Rose had an invalidated standardized test score the previous year at Chicago's Simeon High School, multiple sources with direct knowledge of an e-mail told ESPN.com.

Most names in the report released Tuesday were redacted by Memphis because of privacy concerns, but multiple sources have told ESPN.com that representatives of Rose did tell Memphis he took the SAT in question.

The report said the school had no reason to suspect the SAT was fraudulent until notified by Educational Testing Service that the player's score had been canceled. That letter came May 5, 2008, after Rose's only season at Memphis.

"The university ... took all reasonable steps to confirm that [name redacted] had met eligibility requirements," the report states.

Isn't the real issue here the NBA's rule that does not allow players to go straight from hig school to the association?! Players have no choice but to go to "college" for a year, but they have no reason to try/care about academics in high school or college. Players like OJ Mayo and Derrick Rose know prior to their senior year of HS that they are headed to the NBA, but they have to find a way to waste a year in between.

If the NBA is going to keep it's 1-year-out-of-HS requirement, then Stern needs to put some serious effort into making the D-League legitimate. As of right now it turns "college" into a one-year minor league system, makes a joke of the academic-side of college, and steals scholarships from kids who want to get an education. Rose had no choice but to go to college for a year, so can you blame him for doing what was necessary to make it work?!

A timely article that I just found ...

The one-and-done rule -
There are probably a lot of people out there who still believe that the NBA’s age limit is a good idea. Who are certain that the best high school basketball players’ annually spending a mandatory year in college benefits the player, college ball and the NBA.

Those people will watch the NBA Finals starting this week, gaze at Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard (and, for that matter, Andrew Bynum), and recall the marquee players they overcame to get where they are, like LeBron James and Kevin Garnett, and conclude, “Yes, the NBA is much better off stopping the flow of players straight from high school.

Devastating, the havoc these kids have wreaked on the poor NBA lately. It’s been horrible, the way the ratings and buzz and widespread interest in the recently-lagging sport have risen this postseason, led by such unschooled, unskilled, unprepared youth.

Speaking of “unschooled,’’ I forget – how did Pau Gasol’s and Hedo Turkoglu’s teams do in the NCAAs? What about Yao Ming’s? Luis Scola’s? Tony Parker’s? Manu Ginobili’s? Dirk Nowitzki’s? Nene’s? Any handwringing about their high-school GPAs, or are only U.S. players lucky enough to receive that kind of grief?

Thankfully, though, there are plenty of recent examples of the wisdom of the rules, from the college end. The two signature one-and-done players of the 2007-08 season, for instance, are now central figures in the two ugliest scandals in the sport – O.J. Mayo, who allegedly received money from Southern California’s head coach before enrolling; and Derrick Rose, whose high-school grades and SAT before arriving at Memphis are now being brought into question by the NCAA.

Yup, paid players and academic fraud. It’s that sort of atmosphere of higher learning to which the NBA wants its players exposed before joining its ranks.

It’s been so beneficial all around, the NBA reportedly is prepared to ask the players association to agree to raise the minimum age by a year – to 20, or to two years beyond high school – when they next meet to discuss the labor agreement. Awesome. One extra year to funnel money illicitly to a player instead of allowing him to earn it above the table. One extra year to find substitute test-takers, falsify transcripts and create fake classes with phony credits in order to keep a player “eligible.’’

If the impressionable youngsters don’t take valuable life lessons from that, then when will they ever?

Better those lessons, though, than the unsavory ones being taught by Bryant, James, Howard and Garnett – that one is entitled to make a living off one’s skills, even at age 18, rather than be forced to give those skills away for someone else to make a living off of them. (Someone like, say, Tim Floyd or John Calipari or the athletic department officials at their schools.)

Or, if that lesson is way too fundamentally American and constitutional, then: If you’re good enough to play in the NBA, you should go do it. And if you’re great, you can have the sport’s very foundation built around you. A couple of puppets are tossing up chalk and displaying their rings in agreement.

Another award for a member of the Bulls -

Chicago Bulls Head Team Physician Dr. Brian Cole has been named the 2009 NBA Team Physician of the Year as voted on by the National Basketball Athletic Trainers Association (NBATA).

"The Bulls organization is proud of our association with Dr. Brian Cole and this award recognizes what we have been keenly aware of the last five years,” stated Bulls Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations John Paxson. “Brian is an outstanding doctor who cares about our players and works extremely hard to give them the best care possible. The entire Chicago Bulls organization congratulates Brian and thanks him for his dedication."

In addition to the award, the NBATA will be making a $1,000 donation to the charity of Dr. Cole’s choice.