Just forget what I said earlier about his change in attitude, its the same old E-Rob. While getting your toe stepped on by Eddy Curry does sound painful, with Robinson this could keep him out till Christmas. This seems to happen every year.
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
I know I just mentioned this in passing so far, and looking back I should've probably given a little more reaction to Pippen's retirement.
One weakness of mine though is that I lack historical perspective on such things. Its better to leave it to those who have covered him during his career, not those like me who grew up with him already a star.
Some nice retrospectives today, pretty much all weighing his great contributions to the franchises while not failing to mention his transgressions off and on the court:
Sam Smith probably offers the best one of all (and nice to see him write a column without mentioning a way to trade Eddy Curry). Smith uses both Pippen's general responsibilities (lock-down defender, ballhandler) and specific game contributuions to show what Pippen meant to the Bulls championships.
Rick Telander is pretty harsh, mentioning naturally the 1.8 seconds he sat out of a 1994 playoff game (while Toni Kukoc made the game-winning shot). While this is something that no fan can truly forgive, and you won't find an article today that didnt' have "1.8", Telander takes it a step farther claiming that Bulls fans will find it hard to choose between that image instead of his positive contributions.
Telander's co-columnist Jay Mariotti, however (!) proves to be the voice of reason here:
But somehow Tuesday, as he stood not coincidentally beside the hardware case at the Berto Center, his legal brushes and incidents didn't seem to matter much. If this was Pippen's retirement day, the overwhelming sentiment was to pay tribute and salute him as the perfect teammate, the ideal complement to You Know Who, surely the only superstar in the selfish, showy, bling-bling era of pro basketball who could have compromised his ego in the best interests of Michael Jordan and the Bulls' dynasty
Ok, Mariotti did take it a little far with the 'bling-bling' tangent, but I won't expect too much out of a guy who never misses a chance to wax poetically for those golden Jordan years over today's 'selfish' players. But his sentiment is what I think Bulls fans share. Most don't care anymore about 1.8 (we're more upset at Hugh Hollins), the gun charges, his constant whining over money, and just a general surly nature.
I for one love to remember Pippen facing the ultimate "stepping up" test in 1994. There's cases on every team in every year of replacements needing to match his predecessors contributions (Ben Gordon and Jamal Crawford this year?), but perhaps never in this magnitude. Kobe Bryant is attempting a similar situation in L.A., but unlike Pippen nobody questioned Kobe's ability. For those who thought Pippen was riding Jordan's coattails the whole time, that year was predicted as a disaster. But Pip put on a nearly MVP season with a team geared to play around Jordan. And if not for the aforementioned Hollins, who knows what Pippen could've wound up accomplishing that year?
The Bulls Dynasty is often referred to as "The Jordan" Bulls, but take out Pippen and those two terms may not have been synonymous. I'll remember his role in those years as the consummate #2. I'll remember graceful drives down the court, thundering dunks, stifling defense at 4 positions if you needed it, the originator (or at least greatest ambassador) of the Point Forward.
What memories the name Scottie Pippen truly conjures up, though, will always come down to this:
Tuesday, October 05, 2004
All of this coverage lately that has resulted from the start of training camp has rebuilt my Bulls optimism. I'm not sure this is a good thing....
(quotes are from the local papers (links on the left), and Bulls.com)
The new slimmed down (and braid-less) Eddy Curry: "I think I'm coming into training camp not looking to lose weight or get in shape. I can come in and actually learn what I need to do and learn what I've been lacking these last three years. I wish I had done this years earlier. But better late than never."
Coach Scott Skiles on Curry: "Eddy looks great physically. We just haven't
seen much of him. From a skill standpoint, we don't know yet where he is. But in
his playing [at Berto], when he's been here to play, there's no question that
he's starting this year way ahead of any other year. We have to take that for
what it is."
The luxury of low expectations for Eddy this summer. I'll give him credit for doing what he set out to do, but getting in shape should be kind of a given, don't you think?
New Bull (and Olympic Gold Medalist) Andres Nocioni: ""I'm a real strong defensive player and have to be tough on that end," Nocioni said. "I'm a rebounder and will work my butt off. The offensive side will take care of itself eventually."
Here's Nocioni showing off the hardware:
And here I thought Jalen Rose's jersey was going to get retired....
Coach Skiles: ''This has been one of the best summers of any team that I have ever been around as far as the level of commitment of the guys,'' coach Scott Skiles said. ''I feel like we're going to take this commitment into the camp and have a very good season."
Ben Gordon: "when Michael [Jordan] and I met and started talking it was like we have known each other for a long time. He kind of took me under his wings, played with me, talked with me and showed me a lot of the little things on the court to make me better. It's a real good experience any time you play with the best player to ever play the game.''
Tyson Chandler: ""My first time out there [in full contact practice] was a couple of weeks ago, and I took my first hit. I jumped up, got hit real hard and got bent back. I was expecting pain and paused for a second. There was no pain. So I feel great."
Frank Williams(my guy): ""I've always wanted to play for the Bulls since I was little and watching Michael (Jordan) and Scottie (Pippen)," said the former Illinois guard. "Just putting on the jersey is a great feeling."
Eddie Robinson: ""I'm not sitting on that bench again," he said. "If
I've got to come early and do all that, then so be it. I have to. I am not
sitting down again. I'm supposed to be playing, helping this team win."
(emphasis added - this is a complete change from his attitude last year, when he refused to give up such superstitions as not shooting before games)
And in this picture, Tyson teaches Eddy (unsuccessfully) about posture, while Kirk Hinrich levitates a ball with his mind.
Hmm...we'll see if my general sarcasm and cynicism can outweigh Bulls optimism. Bulls optimism is a powerful force though, maybe I'm just doomed to be suckered in yet again :-)
Monday, October 04, 2004
Ah...the first signs of Bulls' training camp. Leaves falling, colors changing, all that crap....
Expect more this soon from me, especially since I just received the new Jon Hollinger book: Pro Basketball Forecast 04-05. You don't need to wait for my review, after just a skim-over I can tell everyone should buy it now.