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Posts Tagged ‘Shaquille O’Neal’

The Bulls Are Not A Good Team….And Time Is Running Out

Posted by sportsmaven on January 19, 2008

Watching the Chicago Bulls play the Golden State Warriors tonight in a 119-111 home loss, it occurred to me that the Bulls are flat out, not a very good team. And that’s about as polite as I can get about a team that really lacks game-breaking talent or any semblance of leadership, organization, or passion. The Bulls also lack a clear identity and that’s been a long running problem for this team and organization. The Bulls have somehow figured out a way to take two and a half steps back on the path to reclaiming their glory days of the Michael Jordan years.

Bulls Lose To Warriors 119-111

(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

It appeared that the Bulls were assembling good, solid, fairly skilled players that are fundamentally sound and would be great complementary pieces to a marquee free agent signing. The Bulls then signed F/C Ben Wallace and paid him a boat load of money, but I’m still not exactly sure WHY they signed him. He was a high profile name, coming from a successful, NBA Champion pedigreed team in the Detroit Pistons, and seemed to be high energy with the heart of a gamer. A closer look at Ben Wallace shows an undersized F/C that was clearly on the downside of his career, a defensive stopper with no offensive game, a free throw shooter on par with Shaquille O’Neal, in short, not the marquee name to slide into the star role the Bulls sorely lack and need.

Future drafts and free agents signings brought in good, talented players from successful college programs. The Bulls were assembling more complementary talent, that I was sure was earmarked for a trade to bring a game-breaker or two. Then the Tyrus Thomas pick….GM John Paxson moved off the playbook and drafted for potential, bypassing C LaMarcus Aldridge for a more athletic, less fundamental, sky high potential of a freak athlete with only two years of college basketball under his belt. Then the whole thing blew up under the weight of high expectations following a 49 win season in 2006-2007.

After tonight’s home loss the Bulls record stands at 14-22, 8 games under .500 and having a very Chicago Bears-like season. The Bulls, owners of a win streak no longer than two games, are a mess. The Joakim Noah farce was the latest in a turbulent season that has seen gross underachievement, the firing of very successful head coach, Scott Skiles, on Christmas Eve, nonetheless, the two day pause in naming Jim Boylan as interim head coach (as if Skiles was fired with no plan for a replacement in mind) and now G JamesOn Curry developing a urination problem that required resisting arrest and an overnight stay in a Boise, ID jail cell.

The record and poor play would have been more than enough to dislodge the faithful. Add in the endless public relations nightmares, repeated over and over again, the lack of any clear direction or vision for this team, and the lack of any action to forge an identity (pointing out lack of pulling triggers on trades for Memphis C Pau Gasol, C Kevin Garnett, SG Kobe Bryant, or any other playmaker that can make a difference). Now there is talk that the Bulls may be interested in Tracy McGrady. Please. The Bulls are turning into the New York Knicks, and doing it so well, that people are forgetting about the real New York Knicks. Only in the NBA Eastern Conference, would a team like the Bulls be sniffing a playoff spot with this kind of karma……Note to Ben Gordon and Luol Deng: you should have signed those contracts.

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SportsMaven Returns With A Flourish — Chicago Bulls Crush the Washington Wizards

Posted by sportsmaven on April 16, 2007

Hello loyal readers! The SportsMaven is back from a break and ready to catch you up on all things Chicago sports! In my absence, a lot of things have happened in the Chicago sports world, but I wanted to kick off my return post beginning with the Chicago Bulls. I attended today’s Chicago Cubs game against the Cincinnati Reds this afternoon. I actually attended the entire three game series this weekend, but today’s game was on one of Wrigleyville’s famous rooftops (thanks to the folks at Beyond the Ivy). More to come on the Cubs, but one of the cool things about going to a rooftop game is the fact that I was able to watch both the Cubs game live and the Chicago Bulls play the fading Washington Wizards in an all important game for the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference.

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I’m happy to note that the Bulls looked OUTSTANDING again today. They are peaking at the exact right time of the season. After today’s 101-68 blowout of the Washington Wizards, the Bulls are on track to finish their season with 50 wins and the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference. The beauty of the situation is that the Bulls are getting better and better as the season goes on. With each passing day, the Bulls are proving that they are a strong contender for the Eastern Conference championship and a shot at the NBA Title.

A win on Wednesday against the New Jersey Nets will seal the #2 seed in the East and a date most likely against the same Nets team or possibly the Wizards, who are in a free fall and predicted to be a quick exit from this year’s post-season. I LOVE the Bulls chances to get to the Finals this season. The Eastern Conference is wide open and the Bulls have beaten the conference’s top team, the Detroit Pistons three of four games this season. If all things hold true, look for a classic Bulls-Pistons matchup that has more sub-plots and drama than a good Shaquille O’Neal – Kobe Bryant feud.

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Oh My, Oh My, Miami

Posted by sportsmaven on February 3, 2007

Friday in Miami, what a spectacle. The NFL has been in town, in force, for two weeks now, bringing their biggest event, Super Bowl XLI with them. This is the first time since 1999 that the Super Bowl has graced Miami and you would think that the town had never seen the likes of the NFL, ever. The Super Bowl is a celebration of the NFL season, a reason to have ginormous, decadent, over-the-top parties with intoxicated, scantily clad women chased by men with a libido of a teenage boy, and oh, by the way, a championship game that rivals no other. Everyone who’s everyone is here in Miami, at least celebrity-wise. You can’t go a stone’s throw away from the Atlantic Ocean without hitting some sort of party event by the plethora of NFL corporate sponsors.

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In case you’re wondering, Playboy is having a Super Bowl party at the American Airlines Arena on Saturday night. For a tidy sum of $5,000, you can purchase a ticket to eat gourmet food by Chicago’s very own Levy Restaurant Group with over 30 wonderfuly friendly and sexy Playboy Playmates and models. Not to leave anyone out, but Penthouse is also having a Super Bowl party in Miami, their Goin’ Deep Party on Saturday. Party with 28 Penthouse Pets until 5am. Shaquille O’Neal had his “Sexy 60” party last night at the Versace Mansion. Even Tony Siragusa is sponsoring a Super bowl Cheerleader party. I gotta go find this guy!

Other notable parties include Leather & Laces party with Carmen Electra, Jenny McCarthy and others. How about a two day, two site party Bauer’s Pure Rush Super Bowl party on Thursday and Friday night. The Maxim is tonight at an undisclosed location in Miami. There is a Prince concert tonight, A Jimmy Buffett concert tomorrow night, and Billy Joel is rumored to be sliding into a local haberdashery and doing an impromptu piano bar tickling session on a local Steinway piano.

Everywhere you walk, there are beautiful women, lots of food and drink, sports shows, media members, ordinary football fans, cars, celebrities, all drinking the Kool-Aid of the Super Bowl life. There is beach, surf, fun, and sun. A $100,000 Pepsi Can for a giveaway, plus two tickets to the Super Bowl for life (or 60 years, which ever comes first.) And then, there are the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears. It amazes me how these two team can be right in the middle of all this temptation and stay out of trouble. It takes intense focus and commitment to a higher team goal and a overpowering realization of what exactly is at stake.

Both these teams possess that focus and commitment, taking the lead of their perspective head coaches. This has to be the most harmonious, lovefest of a Super Bowl between two opponents in the history of the NFL. Both coaches are virtually best friends. Both teams had nothing but good things to say about each other. Lots of handshaking, backslapping, smiling, laughing and cajoling with intermingling players from both team. It’s hard to hate anyone with the Indianapolis Colts, I try, but I can’t bring myself around to it. They are likeable guys, no TO’s, no Bill Romanowski’s in this crowd. They are both teams with midwestern values, coached by two respectable, low-key men.

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If I were Lovie Smith, I would be pulling all the motivational stops out, playing every disrespect card I can play to whip my team into a frenzy. The Bears are underdogs in every way possible, and they seem to be relishing that role, as if they know something that virtually everyone else is missing. If I were Lovie, I would take the team on a midnight field trip to the Miami Convention Center and walk each player, individually, right by the Vince Lombardi Trophy, letting them know that they are “this” far away from bringing that baby home to Chicago. I would let the team know that they only people who believe in them are the 53 men in the locker room, the coaches and staff, and the 4th phase of their game, the Chicago fans, Folks, the pressures is off the Bears now. They weren’t even the consensus pick to be in the Super Bowl, and now, definitely not the consensus pick to win the Super Bowl. Lose is what everyone EXPECTS from the Bears. The Bears can come out loose and free, enjoy every moment, and play as though this is the last game of their lives.

The stage is set. Tomorrow is the last day, the last dress rehersal for Sunday’s big show and the players, coaches, and staff can’t wait. For everyone else, I hope the game is a half as good as all the parties I wish we could attend……

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