Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Monday Night (RAW)

Well nothing like a good old fashioned basketball-fight to add some spice into the bland entertainment that is preseason basketball. To summarize: After a dirty push from behind to Kirk Hinrich by Washington Wizards guard Larry Hughes, Antonio Davis stepped up to Hinrich's defense, only to be sucker-punched by the Wiz's Brendan Haywood. A big-man brawl ensued at midcourt, and provided the world with the odd sight of Eddy Curry getting into the scrum at the very end only to punch Haywood in the sack. (Video here if you want to download ESPNmotion).

I'm not going to get into how dirty the play was by Hughes, what I am pondering instead is how important was this fight beyond its obvious comedic value? Well in the short term it sparked a comeback that took the Bulls from 21 down to win the game 100-95. Led by Hinrich's 32 points the team at least seemed to get some life from the fight when it looked like it had none. One other good thing I can take out of it is seeing Antonio Davis prove his worth as a team leader. Ever since he was traded for I implored that while he is (over)paid like a superstar, he can't and shouldn't be expected to contribute much. One of the ways he *can* contribute, however, is being a leader on this young team. I'm not asking for him to be all brawn and no substance like Charles Oakley, but knowing that he can provide a role that includes toughness and leadership along with some valuable backup minutes is perfect for him. Stretching that role out will not work out well for either Davis or the team.

Can this emotional night translate into regular-season success? Well perhaps in a long-term, 'team chemistry' sense, but initially they will feel the hurt, as Davis and Curry will surely be suspended to start the year. With a relatively winnable opening game at home against New Jersey, I'm sure coach Skiles might regret things got out of hand last night.

The thing that really got me thinking was the sudden increased interest in the team today as a result of last night's game. Using talk radio as my barometer, this may have been the most pub the Bulls have gotten since Pippen's retirement. What this tells me is that the Bulls have a chance to generate some city-wide excitement this winter. The Bears are the worst team in football (and not looking like they'll get any better) and the Blackhawks have joined the picket line that is the NHL. If the Bulls can get off to a good (and perhaps more importantly, exciting) start, they can easily become the number-one sports story in Chicago. This says more about the current scene's sorry state than it does the Bulls, but nevertheless a hot start could expose the dormant (i.e. Jordan-lovin'-only) fan base to a young team worth rallying behind. Now if, instead, they start out like last year....then well there's always Sammy Sosa trade talk.