Archive for the ‘National Basketball Association’ Tag

Here Comes D-Rose…   4 comments


In Chicago, the collective sports fan base desires and demands greatness each and every season.  Greatness alone isn’t good enough for us, though.  We need greatness with some flare, some pizzazz.  The ’85 Bears wasn’t just the greatest football team ever assembled, those guys were monsters (monsters who could awkwardly dance and pretend to play instruments better than anyone else…ever) led by a coach with a fictional hurricane named after him.  The Bulls of the 90’s?  It wasn’t enough that we had the best player to ever play the game, the best “Robin” to set foot on a basketball court, and the best pro basketball coach of all time, we also needed Horace “Fo-Man” Grant with his crazy goggles and Dennis “The Worm” Rodman with his hair follicle antics.  The 2005 Sox won with the most hated catcher outside Chicago and most beloved instigator in the Windy City behind the plate.  Last year’s Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup thanks to an overtime goal by a kid we embraced for beating up a cabbie in Buffalo.

When we as fans finally witness such greatness, we cherish it and hold onto the memories for the rest of our lives.  We carry it around with us ready to throw it in an out of towner’s face anytime he or she tries to tell us that Tom Brady’s near perfect Patriots team could have beaten the Bears Shufflin’ Crew.  When Bill Simmons in his Book of Basketball told the world his hometown 1986 Celtics were the greatest NBA team of all time, we scoffed and (seriously, I might add) asked, “Who would cover Tony Kukoc on that team?”  There is a reason the Chicago Bulls 1990’s Dynasty DVDs are selling on Amazon.com for almost $300 right now while the Lakers Dynasty DVDs are going for a mere $15.  The demand for those memories is just that much greater in the Chicago sports fan population.  I can guarantee that if you are a true Chicago sports fan, either you or someone you know owns the Super Bowl Shuffle VHS or you have downloaded it onto your MP3 player and you can probably still recite at least some part of the song.

I am here to let you know that we are on the cusp of greatness yet again.  There is a hometown kid, born and raised right here in the Second City, who is in the process of making the leap to being not only a solid MVP candidate this year (give Tim Legler two weeks before he’s saying the same thing), but one of the NBA’s greatest players.  He has rejuvenated a franchise that has been in the dumps for over ten years and is doing so with speed we haven’t seen before and new-found gusto (have you seen the commercials with “Slim Chin”?).  Through 20% of this season, Derrick Rose has led a team without its major free agent signing power forward to a 9-6 record atop the Midwest Division, including the first winning record on the dreaded “circus trip” since The Statue won his last ring.   Through fifteen games he is averaging 27 points, 8 assists, and nearly 5 rebounds per game.  Of course you can say the scoring numbers will drop when Carlos Boozer returns to the line up, but with a solid and consistent (sorry Taj Gibson) post scorer, his assist numbers will only increase.  Just for argument’s sake, if Rose conservatively averages 24 points and 9 assists per game for the rest of the season, he will finish the season in a group occupied only by Oscar Robertson, Nate Archibald, and Jerry West.  Of these players all achieved First Team All-NBA Honors and all but Archibald won the MVP (Archibald had a bit of an attitude problem that led him to be traded twice in the prime of his career…D-Rose has no such attitude problem.  In fact, players around the league like Kobe Bryant and even the spurned child of Chicago Kevin Garnett go out of their way to compliment him and his dedication to the game).  In addition, all were honored as members of the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1996 and are enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

If you aren’t already one of the bandwagon jumpers who have joined in the Chicago Bulls herd, you should look into doing so and fast (at the very least for the United Center Nachos…).  I have noticed people who couldn’t tell me the difference between a small forward and a hole in the ground posting Facebook status updates about the resurgence of the franchise and it is only going to get better from here.  In the words of the immortal Stacey King (see, my argument exactly, in no other town would a former bench player turned color commentator like Stacey King be so loved and revered as in Chicago), “this kid is special”.  Stacey’s right and I hope ALL of Chicago and the rest of the NBA start to take notice.

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Go Figure This Blog Starts With the NBA…   3 comments


A few weeks back, thanks to Bill Simmons of ESPN.com, I watched a YouTube video  of Dwight Howard working out with Hakeem Olajuwon this past summer.  In between segments of Hakeem teaching Howard the “Dream Shake” and other fantastic low post moves, Howard was being interviewed and seemed absolutely genuine about making a leap and becoming the most dominant big man this game has ever seen.          

The thing with Howard is he already has a body and the athletic ability to pull off such a feat.  There has never been a player with Howard’s combination of height, brute strength, and quickness.  The closest thing most of us have ever seen to him is a young Shaq and, unfortunately, Shaq is a player that never realized his true level of greatness.  Howard was and could still be on that same track.  Both players are lovable, jokester guys who enjoy being interviewed and making other people laugh.  There is nothing wrong with that, but you cannot have the edge that both players are missing and the jovial personalities both men possess.  Why do you think Maverick only had one friend in Top Gun?  He had “the edge” and people didn’t like him because of it; however, that is exactly what made him a better pilot than Iceman.  And if I recall correctly, everyone did end up liking Maverick just fine after he saved everyone’s ass when the Migs showed up at the end. 

 The reason why I think we could finally be on the brink of witnessing the absolute most dominant center to ever play the game of basketball is because of the talk of the NBA off-season and focus of ESPN’s site “Heat Check” – the Miami Heat.  The two teams are separated by a little more than 200 miles of retirement communities and I am sure no other NBA team has seen more about the Heat than the neighboring Magic.  For the first time, Howard actually seems pissed off about something.  His body language during interviews changes from over-sized “It’s a Small World” character to Tony Montana-like when the “Miami Thrice” comes up.  He was quoted recently as saying about the Heat, “We’re trying to take their heads off,” which is not exactly something the fun-loving man of steel we have come to know would say with an ear to ear smile.

Howard is already a dominant force in the league averaging 18 points and 13 rebounds a game over his career.  What is the ceiling on a player with his physical gifts if he is playing with the grudge of a Confederate widow?  I don’t think we can even begin to imagine that until we see it, and I hope we do.  Selfishly, I hope Howard plays with that reckless abandonment that we saw from Maverick’s flying in Top Gun.  I hope his talent doesn’t go wasted and he doesn’t end up just another washed up player who never quite realized his potential sitting with Ernie on Inside the NBA.  Like Lorenzo tells his son in A Bronx Tale, “The saddest thing in life is wasted talent.”