Friday, April 02, 2004

It's like he's saying what I'm thinking...

On Tuesday I was stuck in a computer lab at school, and during one of my internet-surfing breaks (which occur about every ten minutes), plastered on the front page of is a picture of Candace Parker, who in case you didn't know, is the High School senior who won the McDonald's All-American Slam Dunk contest. A real live girl. I actually knew who Candace was beforehand, since she's a prep star in the Chicago area (Naperville Central), but I had never seen her play. So after seeing her picture on the *front page* (like, it took up the whole headline section and everything), I was really intrigued to see how these dunks looked, considering that not only did she dunk, she won the whole contest.

So that night on SportsCenter I saw the highlights, and was dumbfounded. The dunks were barely made, and the last one where she did her Dee Brown imitation was as good as me doing my Dikembe Mutumbo impression. They showed the crowd and judges giving her '10's simply because of the impressiveness of a woman performing a dunk at all (and it IS impressive, I'm not saying otherwise). But even without seeing the other dunkers, I could tell right away she did not objectively deserve to win the whole contest. I considered myself duped by the hype, and was mad at myself for not figuring that would happen. I mean, simply look at the Annika Sorenstam hoopla, which had national media salivating over her finishing about 45 strokes out of the lead.

I wasn't really going to talk about it, although I did comment on Eric McClain's post. And I'm glad I didn't yet, especially since the point was articulated much better by a real live journalist, Jason Whitlock:

No disrespect to Ms. Parker, but she was handed the title. Her dunks were unspectacular. She won because the boys in the contest failed to complete their dunks.

Her participation, in fact, undermined the credibility of the contest. Why take it seriously? The people running the all-star game didn't. Eventually, neither did the judges.

Hey, I don't want to sound as intolerant as Vijay Singh. But this is different than Annika Sorenstam visiting the PGA Tour. Sorenstam has the necessary skill to compete with the men on the PGA Tour. Parker has almost none of the skills it takes to compete with boys her age in a dunk contest. I'd rather see Parker compete in the men's game than the dunk contest. She'd have a better chance competing in a game than a dunk contest.

Seriously, Parker dunked as well as an old Larry Bird -- when he had a bad back.

I realize that Parker was being used to drive interest in the event. I realize that sports -- even high school sports -- are nothing more than a vehicle to drive TV ratings. It's all entertainment. I was just disappointed with the unrealistic news coverage of Parker's victory. It was condescending and patronizing.

Her pedestrian dunks didn't advance equality or women's basketball. The judges and the crowd treated her like she'd performed with a disability. Seven judges gave her a perfect 10 on her final dunk. Had a healthy boy completed the same dunks in an all-star dunk contest, he might've been booed off the court.

Is that the equality we're looking for?

Now, unless you have a short memory you can imagine how I feel about his Annika Sorenstam comment, but besides that this selection is EXACTLY what I was thinking after watching the highlights. "The judges and the crowd treated her like she'd performed with a disability." It's just another example of ESPN trying to go beyond the barriers of even common sense to seem progressive. This is completely unrelated, but  let us not forget when they put Women's Basketball scores on the ticker. who hasn't watched and saw Penn St. beat Duke and get all excited....only to see that it was a women's score. Curse them :)

Back to Whitlock's article. He starts out so well, but then falls into the predictable "men are stupid" trap, just to not seem too chauvinistic by daring to criticize such a defining moment for womankind:

There's a strong, militant and active segment of our population that too often measures women by the same standards as men. And who says that's a good thing? Because of the dunk craze TD's [Tim Duncan] game is often overlooked. Think about it. Men's basketball has overdosed on the slam dunk. American players don't have fundamentals because, among other reasons, they spend too much time working on dunks. There are many people who would argue that the dunk has been slowly killing American basketball.

But we see the dunk as an advance for the women's game. Why? Because some women -- in the name of equality -- are dead set on doing every dumb thing we do. The women's game shouldn't be played above the rim. That's not where women excel. It's not what they do best. Their game is different. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

 Oh, those damned men, always entertaining us with those awful dunks. How dare they practice them. If you want to read on, the article then goes on to question why women would  aspire to do anything men do, since men are nothing to be proud of. It gets quite ridiculous, but anyway....

I don't understand why the dunk is looked down upon like this. I often hear Tyson Chandler get criticized for getting all of his points on dunks. Well if that were actually the case, let him try and dunk all the time! It has nearly 100% chance of going in the basket. That's what I call a high percentage shot. Women should be learning and evolving to play above the rim. *That's* progress. It may not be what old-timey Bob Cousy fans enjoy, but I would say that most basketball fans don't mind a Darius Miles' throwdown or two. But I won't get to carried away,  they would also like to see him learn a jump shot....

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Bulls Win!

....HAHAHA April Fools!



oh, wait..they really did win.


As you can see, my awesome design is no more, as I accidentaly deleted the pictures off my student server, and for some reason do not have a backup on my computer. Hopefully i'll come up with something new in the coming weeks.

Oh, and read below as I just posted last night.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Sam Smith has always been realistic....compared to Peter Vescey

My Man Sam(tm) had one of his trademark wacky Monday columns, but this time he tempered his enthusiasm for 'helping' the Bulls. No talk of Kobe Bryant coming here for Tyson Chandler and a sack of magic beans. But was his most recent proposal as 'realistic' as he claimed? I'll do a good, old fashioned fisking.

First, we need some definitions. You may have read about "changing the culture." What that means is: "We want different players other than those named Kirk Hinrich." And it's probably time. After all, Scott Skiles is the Bulls' third coach in less than three years, and nothing is different. There's probably not a less competitive team in the NBA, with the possible exception of Orlando.

I gotta agree with him here, as much as it pains me to say. The Bulls haven't even had their trademark late-season surge, which usually is the case thie time of the year when the games don't matter. But that's undoubtedly the cause of giving away minutes from Crawford, Chandler and E-Rob for the likes of Jannero Pargo and Paul Shirley. But the fact that the Bulls haven't been competitive in these games really don't matter, just as it turned out them beating up teams at the end of last season didn't matter either.

That said, I also believe the Bulls are not that far away, and it might not be that difficult to make the jump. I am holding off, though, on my third consecutive playoffs prediction in the last three years.The Bulls need a perimeter shooter to spread the floor, a wing player and a go-to scorer who can draw a double team. And I have a realistic plan.

I'm with Sam again here, and like him I also was predicting playoffs. Now as far as what they need, technically all three of those things can be done by one player. But that would take somebody special that is unlikely to be be attained(although I will be proposing scenarios soon). I would like to add that the wing player needs to be a good defender. The kind of guy who can guard talented counterparts in the East like Carter, Pierce, T-Mac, and that LeBron guy. The lack of a perimeter shooter has really killed the team this year, and while Hinrich and Crawford are decent shooters, both are very inconsistent from long range. And as far as a go-to scorer? Again...the 'plan' was for that to be Crawford or Curry. Depending on your sense of optimism, you can see how that player may have to be brought in from the outside.

So Sam, how's it gonna go down?

The Mavs need to reduce the scoring logjam and get tougher. They've allowed 13 different players to score their career highs against them this season.

So here's deal No. 1: Jamison and Eduardo Najera for Tyson Chandler and Antonio Davis. The Mavs add a young, defensive-oriented big man, plus Davis, who doesn't need shots and who has two fewer years on his contract than Jamison, which gives them flexibility for the future. The Bulls get a big-time scorer in Jamison (back-to-back 50-point games once) who can finish games, along with a hustling role player thrown in, though that's negotiable if the Mavs want to insert someone else.


I love the idea of trading Davis for Jamison, especially since I think Dallas would consider it. Dallas would save financially, and get a guy who can defend for 25 minutes or so a game. As I've said before, AD really doesn't have what he used to, but is a valuable asset if you limit his minutes. The Bulls are simply are depending on too much from him. Jamison plays the 3, but he spends most of his offensive time in the paint area.  I'm not sure he is the wing player that is needed, but at the least he's a dependable scorer. In fact, I don't even see how Chandler is needed for this deal to happen. and the fact that he's even included in this deal shows how low Smith appraises his value. Now how does that wing player come?

 Deal No. 2 is with the Timberwolves. They're in trouble, in case you haven't noticed, having lost eight of their last 15. They're sliding out of the Midwest Division lead and perhaps into another first-round playoff exit. And it's clear they have a chemistry problem with Wally Szczerbiak averaging nine points off the bench, unable to replace Trenton Hassell in the starting lineup.

Szczerbiak is on the books for five more years at an average of $11 million for a team paying the luxury tax. It's clear he doesn't fit there anymore, but he can with the Bulls as a hard-working, catch-and-shoot three-point threat.

So the Bulls get Szczerbiak and give Jamal Crawford to Minnesota, and I'll bet the T'wolves will take Eddie Robinson, who has just two years left on his deal compared with Szczerbiak's five. The Bulls also would throw in the maximum allowable $3 million to ease Minnesota's financial burden and agree to exchange first-round draft picks in 2005, which would give Minnesota a higher pick.

Anytime you're basing the possibility of a deal on the fact that you need to make time for Trenton automatically can be labeled as far-fetched. That said,  the financial implications of the deal would have Wolves GM Kevin McHale at least listening. And while Jamal has his faults, as a 3rd or 4th option on the Timberwolves he could flourish as someone simply put out there to score. Oh, and you get rid of E-Rob, which is nice. So how do these deals leave the Bulls for next season?

So here are your 2004-05 Bulls: Curry, Hinrich, veterans Szczerbiak and Jamison, who are both 27, and the No. 1 draft pick, which ideally would be Emeka Okafor. If the Bulls don't get Okafor, they could easily pick up a role-playing free-agent big man like Boston's Mark Blount.

The Curry-Chandler-Crawford anchor is no more, finally. These moves change the character of the team and address deficiencies while providing needed support to take the pressure off Curry. They make sense for the teams involved. And they bring about my third annual playoff prediction.

This starting 5 certainly is promising, and would have a more consistent offense than the one on the floor now. Sam did a good job working within the means of the salary cap and reality, the latter a realm he usually is beyond. There are problems with this plan though. Both Jamison and and Wally are sub-par defenders at their position, and lets not forget the shortcomings of Eddy Curry on that end of the floor. Emeka Okafor would help with his shotblocking and rebounding abilities, but that's a ton of pressure on a rookie. So while this new team would be an improvement, the chances of it becoming a championship team is STILL hinged on Eddy Curry becoming a superstar. Sam isn't so optimistic about that:

Yes, I'm keeping Eddy Curry. The problem really isn't so much Curry as the team he's on. So what if he scores 14 points in the first quarter and four more the rest of the game? They still count. Yes, it has gotten so bad I'm sympathizing with Curry. The problem is the Bulls want him to be something he isn't, so they're disappointed. He's a nice third offensive option who isn't a fourth-quarter scorer. Take what he can give you, and look elsewhere for what he can't.

 "a nice third offensive option"? The man(er...kid) averages 14pts and 6 rebounds in 28 minutes a game. He's 7 feet tall and 21 years old. Lets wait a little longer before we pigeonhole his (and Chandler's for that matter) niche in the league. I'm not saying that he's shown that he's destined for stardom, I'm simply saying its way to early to determine that he'll never get there. I still have faith in him becoming a #1 option. And no matter how many "realistic" deals Sam or me or me or anybody else come up with, Curry needs to become a star for a 7th banner to hang from the rafters.


Monday, March 29, 2004

He Said, He Said

If anyone didn't catch last night's sportscenter, they had a piece on Bulls 2nd round draft pick Mario Austin. For those who don't know the story:

Austin left Miss St. early with a supposed guarantee by his agent (Bill Duffy) that he'd be picked in the 1st round. The Bulls told him that he probably wasn't going to make the team, and negotiated a contract signing with CSKA Moscow. He suffered a collapsed lung over there shortly after he arrived. After finding out that most of the monitors in the hospital were powered by field mice, and the doctors' diplomas were made of cardboard, he left for the states. He also  terminated his relationship with Duffy and was subsequently sued by the Russian club and Duffy for breach of contract. Austin sued them back for false representation. got all that?

On the sportscenter piece they had interviews with Austin, Duffy, and Bulls GM John Paxson. It degenerated into a case of Pax/Duffy's word against Austin's. Austin claimed that he never knew that he received a tender (non-guaranteed contract) from the Bulls, and he could've went to camp instead of Russia. Paxson and Duffy claimed that not only did they tell him, they had a conference call between them (and also Austin's mother). Austin and his mother deny any such call took place.

While the piece tried to make Duffy look like a snake (he would've received much higher compensation from Austin signing with CSKA than with the Bulls), I am of the opinion that Austin simply screwed up. Its hard to imagine that he had no idea that he could've stayed in the states and tried out if he wanted to. Paxson (and undoubtedly Duffy as well) simply gave him the advice that he had a better shot getting playing time and experience overseas. And it wasn't like Austin had no incentive to go there: he was receiving a 2-year contract for I believe around 1.5 million dollars.

So I'm siding with Paxson here, and this is what I think really happened: While he was probably pressured by the Bulls and Duffy, Austin completely understood what he was doing, but after he got injured and felt alone and vulnerable, he decided he made a mistake. Now here he is on ESPN grandstanding how he was exploited. I do feel bad for him, but only as bad as you can for a man throwing away millions to play Basketball. Some harsher (but funnier) comments can be found on the Bulls4ever discussion board by user Bulls_Fan:

Austin has shown me that he belongs on the bulls. He is a mental midget, who wont take responsiblity for his own actions. He would fit in well w/ the other bulls players.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Links Update

I've overhauled the links section, partly because it needed to be done, partly because I just don't feel like talking about the Bulls' death spiral.

So as you can see I broke up some of the categories as well as adding new entries:

Essentials: These are sites I go to multiple times a day for info.

Workin' the Beat: All of the major Chicago newspapers, to be more specific their Bulls content. Lets face it unless you're some sort of insider you're getting most of your information from the press.

Bloggers: I took out some sites, and added some as well. Some that haven't been updated in a while were jettisoned, as I'm trying to run a tight ship. All of these blogs I frequent a few times a week, some more than others. Its also a nice way to get my blog linked in return. Or as I call it, "The Link Dance of Love" Some of the newbies:

  • Hoops Junkie
  • Mark Cuban (Yes...THAT Mark Cuban)
  • Off Wing Opinion
  • Chris Hiller
  • College Basketball

For the Statheads: Pretty self-explanatory. Where I get the info for when I venture into stat table madness every so often.

Non-Basketball: Well, all 3 are baseball sites now, but here are examples of non-basketball blogs that I try to read every day. Just put up there as an homage I suppose.

Fan Sites: Like George Washington, I cannot tell a lie...I do not go to all of these sites. But I decided to put them at the bottom of the page just as a reference for visitors. I actually lifted the list from AllThingsNBA, a great site if you want to see every basketball page out there. I cannot vouch for all of these however, click at your own risk (of boredom)

So click away for now, and I'll try to have some original content this week.