It's not hard to figure out why the Bulls are the best team in the NBA. They lead the league in rebounds, assists to turnover numbers, and defense. Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau has each player on his roster gowing for broke everytime they hit the court, and expects nothing less than 110% from each player when their name is called during a game or in practice. Injuries have made position battles more competitive than games against opponents it seems. Why was there no trade made at the deadline even though CJ Watson, Derrick Rose, Luo Deng, and Rip Hamilton have all missed games with various injuries? Because guys like Jimmy Butler, Kyle Korver, and and the signed & released twice Mike James have stepedp up when they are needed. Guys like John Lucas III....
Born in DC to former NBA player and coach John Lucas, Lucas III has played all over the world in his seven years in pro basketball. His time with the Bulls has been a strange trip at times, as he spent the 2010 preseason with the club, Only to get waived right before the start of the season. The Bulls re-signed Lucas a month later, but unfortunately his debut turned into a misery, as he missed two big free throws in the final seconds in Denver. The free throws would have put the game out of reach, instead he missed and former Nuggett Carmelo anthony game down court and hit a game winning shot at the buzzer. Ouch. Lucas was again cut January, but re-signed with the Bulls in March. He started his 1st game ever in january 2012 with a win over Washington, setting a career-high 25 points, and in minutes (45), assists (8), and rebounds (8) .
Yet none of this seemed to matter until the Bulls played the Miami heat without their star point guard.
Lucas was the star of game, scoring 22 points which included a 4th quarter duel with former teammate LeBron James. He carried the team on his back as starting point guard Watson (slowed by injuries) sat much of the 4th quarter. While Deng and Boozer lacked offense during the game, their energy and leadership helped push the non-starters, labeled "The Bench Mob", into contributing tremendously, one player to the next. It didnt hurt that the crowd was super-hot in Chicago, and was ready to go from the tip. Lucas, who hasnt gotten a bunch of playing time this year because of Watson being the back-up, seemed to feed off the crowd 's energy and hit big shot after big shot in the 2nd and 4th quarter. The Heat had no answer for Lucas, which is ironic since they had Lucas on the Heat roster in 2009.
After the game I asked Lucas despite the night's big performance, what he thought he could have done better: "That last turnover," he said. "just being too loose with the ball, but I told myself I was gonna make up for it!"
Lucas spent the 2009 preseason with the Heat, playing in four games, and averaged 7.0 points, 2.3 assists and 1.3 rebounds in 12.5 minutes per game. Then on October 23, 2009, he got the word: he had been waived right before the team bus was leaving the hotel to go to that night's game..
“I had a great training camp for them,” Lucas said. “Spo (Heat coach Erik Spoelstra) and them came to me and said they needed a little more of a veteran, so they brought Carlos Arroyo in. I just took it on the chin. It’s a business. It’s part of the game.”
Playing all over the word and getting sparatic playing time would kill some guys' spirt, but not Lucas.
“I love the game of basketball. I love it with all my heart,” he said. “I would never stop. This is the highest level, so I’m always going to shoot for the highest level.”
With Watson and Deng banged up, and Hamilton being MIA mosted of the season, another big scorer is a necessaity, and if Lucas can becom e that spark off the bench that this team needs the Bulls can go a long way.
‘‘Everybody’s here for a reason. Like Thibs said, ‘It’s not an accident you’re on this team. You’re a professional.’ And if you want to play professionally, you’ve got to step up!"
Could the bears end up with Peyton Manning? Is Randy Moss the big receiver the bears have been looking for? What about Tebow, and how does he fit into all of this? Oh NFL free agency, help bring our team back to the promised land!!
The Chicago Bears are looking for position upgrades that would help them tremendously get back to being truly competitive in NFC. They need depth, but they also have their eyes set on two of the big names on the free agent list list, DE Mario Williams and WR Vincent Jackson. They have over 22 million to spend, so where should it go?
Well, Williams is a monster at the end spot, and the only reason he's a free agent is because Houston didn't want to spend 22 million just to franchise him. Well he did miss 11 games with a torn pectoral, but not resigning him is a huge mistake. Williams is a game changer, the top prize of the 2012 market, and can play end or linebacker. Paired up with Julius Peppers on the other end, this gives the Bears a huge advantage on the line.
Jackson has been wanting to get out of San Diego for a while now....so much that he didnt play the first half of the season in 2011. At 6'5, he's one of the biggest receivers in football, and has the speed of a track star. ask your fantasy football buddies just how good Jackson was last year, even after only playing a partial season. The addition of Jacko makes the Bears average receiving corp a very dangerous one. The Bears made a major upgrade at the position by trading for Brandon marshall, who was Jay Cutler's favorite target in Denver. Marshall has reacjed the 1,000 mark in receiving yards for 5 consecutive seasons, and Cutler's best seasons come with Marshall as his top target. Another perk: Marshall is 2 years younger than Jackson.
So what else do the Bears need? Well here we go:
Back up quarterback - The Caleb Hanie is officially over, and there will be an honest attempt at bringing in a veteran quarterback who can complete multiple passes to receivers on his team. Sorry, there will be no tebowing here. Rex Grossman is available, as is Kyle Orton, Chad Henne, Brady Quinn, and Vince Young. The Bears should show some attention to Jason campbell, the former raiders starter. He was 4-2 before losing his job via injury, and while sitting at home recovering oakland signed Carson Palmer. Ouch.
Offensive lineman - Carl Nicks is the odd man out in New Orleans, as the Saints can't pay Drew Brees and lineman Jahri Evans and still have money for Nicks...which is unfortunate because he is one of the league's best.
Linebacker - The tandem of Briggs and Urlacher have been missing that something extra ever since Hunter Hillenmeyer retired. Finding a steady, consistant 3rd outside linebacker would be a huge boost. Jeremy mincey, much like Williams, can play end and linebacker is a great way to go, as is Dan Connor. Mike Peterson, and Bobby carpenter are amongst the best of the best on the market.
Defensive backs/Safety - Ugh...ugly. The Bears can do all true bears fans justice and bring Tom Zibikowski home. Also on the market are Sean Considine, Jon McGraw, and LaRon Landry. Re-signing Craig Steltz couldn't hurt. Either way, there's no way the Bears can't upgrade with the number of names out there at this position. At DB Cortland Finnegan and Domonique Foxworth are two of the biggest names on the market and could really improve play at the nickle. They are shutdown corners, with Finnegan being the best, that could change the secondary.
The ball's in your court, Bears....the names are there, so let's make it happen!
And let the Epstein Era officially begin!
Spring training has officially kicked off for the 2012 edition of the Chicago Cubs, and you can’t help but have a feeling of optimism, considering what last year’s season turned into, meaning there’s only one way to go: UP. Giant holes left in the St. Louis and Milwaukee line-ups by the departures of Albert Pujols (gone to the Angels), and Prince Fielder (gone to the Tigers), the world of the NL Central division seems a bit brighter doesn’t it? (it doesn’t hurt that 2011 NL MVP Ryan Braun could miss the first 50 games, either). So realistically the Central is up for grabs (well not for you, Houston…sorry to get your hopes up), and in the Era of Epstein why shouldn’t the Cubs believe this could be a big year???
Well here’s why…the Cubs lost their rbi leader (Aramis Ramirez gone to Milwaukee), their best reliever (Sean marshall gone to Cincinatti), their best pitching prospect (Andrew Cashner gone to San Diego), and their homerun leader (Carlos Pena gone to Tampa Bay) yet somehow they are suppose to be better. Ok. Here’s how spring training looks:
The infield – The Cubs let Pena go back to Tampa Bay and have decided to give Bryan LaHair the job at 1st base for now. LaHair came up at the end of last season, played in 20 games and batted .288, thus fans started asking why he didn’t get more at-bats in a season that was all but lost. Well this year there’s no one standing in his way, albeit a step behind in the minors is the organization’s top prospect, Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo was high on Epstein’s list in Boston, and in turn grabbed him from San Diego as soon as he got to town. Rizzo isn’t ready yet…that is unless he tears up spring training. But for now it’s LaHair’s job. If the Cubs are looking for a safety in numbers, fan favorite and former Cub Derrek Lee is still on the market and could probably be brought in for cheap. Lee was a leader in the clubhouse and easily one of the more popular Cubs in recent years, but that’s just an option.
Who is Adrian Cardenas you ask? Well, picked up from the A’s this off-season, Cardenas hit over .300 in Triple A and played all infield positions, besides catcher and 1st. He is expected to challenge Darwin Barney, who had a good year starting at 2nd most of the season. Edgar Gonzalez could also get a look at 2nd base as well. Ian Stewart was picked up from Colorado over the off-season to play 3rd. Stewart needs to rebound from a sub-par 2011, but the Cubs have faith he will do just that playing everyday in Wrigley Field. Blake DeWitt and Jeff baker are also expected to compete for back-up roles, while be on the look-out for prospects Josh Vitters and Junior Lake. Geovany Soto returns to camp in tremendous shape, hoping to rebound form an ugly 2011. Soto will have a new back-up this year as Wellington Castillo and Jason Jaramillo battle it out in camp. NL hits leader Starlin Castro is looked upon to be the future of the Cubs, and will return at shortstop. A kid with unlimited potential, the true question will be is he ready to carry the ballclub with MVP-type numbers???
The outfield – Theres more questions here than answers, so let’s do this: Alfonso Soriano is still a Cub and will be playing left field. Despite the drop in batting average he still played in over 130 games and hit 26 homeruns and drove in 88 rbi’s. Marlon Byrd looks like a completely different person. He’s in tremendous shape and will be in centerfield. The Cubs also brought back fan favorite and hustle king Reed Johnson. Playing rightfield will be the newly acquired David Dejesus. DeJesus had an ok year in 2011, but could put up big numbers playing in a much smaller ballpark and a new league (last season DeJesus played for the A’s). The Cubs also signed Dave Sappelt, which means there’s a numbers game in play. Fan favorite Tony Campana will have to fight and claw his way on the team again this year, but if the scrappy speedster wants to play in the big leagues he’s gonna have to show he belongs. The influx of outfielders also means that unless he tears up spring training like his counter-part Rizzo, then Cubs minor league phenom Brett Jackson will have to wait his turn in the minors. The Cubs were very good at mix and matching outfielders, but from who and where they get their production from is a big concern. For me, I’m hoping prospect Matt Szczur surpises a lot of people this spring.
Relief pitching – Carlos Marmol needs a great spring, because there’s little doubt that new manager Dale Sveum and his staff will have little patience in pulling the trigger on finding a new closer. With the way James Russell and Jeff Samardzija pitched last season in relief, they are starved for a bigger role. Plus the return of one-time closer and team leader Kerry Wood is a huge plus, on the field and off. I am a big believer in the young arms of Casey Coleman and Chris Carpenter, plus bringing in Chris Volstad adds depth to the staff. Add Trevor Miller and Rodrigo Lopez to the mix as veteran stopgates…the weak and short-armed pitching staff the Cubs once had in 2011 looks a lot better. Look for sleepers Scott Maine, John Gaub, Casey Weathers, and Trey McNutt this spring as well. In any event, the success of this season and this staff falls on Marmol. If he has a great year, this team could win a lot more close ballgames and might just be in the hunt til the end.
Most importantly here is the Cubs have finally got some left-handed bats (DeJesus, LaHair, Cardenas, Stewart, Rizzo,etc..) in the line-up.
Starting pitching – Randy Wells needs to get more consistant. The same for Ryan Dempster. Both had shakey seasons in 2011, but have shown that they can be great pitchers at times. Dempster is the workhorse, but Wells either gives you 8 innings or 3 really ugly ones. Paul Maholm and Travis Wood are new additions to the rotation and add left-handed pitching to the mix. Both are young and have a tremendous upside. The Cubs are looking to Matt Garza to be the ace of the staff this season, and he has the potential to do just that. Garza gets flustered easily, but when he’s on his game he is one of the most dominant pitchers in the league. Waiting in the wings to get a starting job is Samardzija, Coleman, and Lopez, along with Volstad and Carpenter. Depth is the key word here, and was the same when Epstein was in Boston.
And the rest – New manager Dale Sveum comes in with the intent to make sure this team competes hard everyday. A no-nonsense guy, he’s determined to make sure the Cubs are much better defensively, which would do wonders for the pitching staff. New pitching coach Chris Bosio has already said that hitters will get knocked down if they look too comfortable at the plate, as the days of the lovable losers are over. Let’s hope so. The depth in pitching and the addition of a few left-handers really helps this team, plus an improvement in defense will keep them in contention. But it all comes down to runs. Who will have a break-out season for this team? And will the Jackson/Rizzo era start sooner rather than later on the northside? For Cubs fans’ sake lets hope it happens later.
This article really should consist of two sentences: The main thing I learned from the Cubs Convention is that Ernie Banks owes me $11. That is all.
Actually I learned a little more than that, but that's probably the most important one, but we'll get to that story later. The 27th annual Cubs Convention may have lacked the star-power of years past but you'd have never noticed with all the excitment Theo and his team brought to the Hilton. So for those who may have sat this one out I'll give you a recap of what a convention veteran like myself learned as the new regime made their first convention appearance.
1. I now know how to pronounce new Cubs manager Dave Sveum's name. (It's like swim...only not).
2. Kerry Wood is going to be buried in a Cubs uniform. (He's never leaving....ever. So if you're stealing his internet connection you can look forward to a few more years of free usage).
3.The Cubs are trying to set a world record for player in the organization with mullets. Seriously, not everyone needs to look like Sawyer from LOST.
4. Brad Zibung of The Heckler: taller in person. Julie DiCaro of the Red Eye: cuter in person. Barry Rosner: cooler in person. Paul Sullivan: shorter in person. Kenny McReynolds: creepier in person.
5. Shawon Dunston has a son in the Cubs organization that could be in the bigs sooner rather than later. Get your Shawn -o-meter's ready.
6. The food at the media social was much better in year's past.
7. Alfonzo Soriano is still a Cub. Carlos pena is not here, yet LaHarr and Rizzo are. Guess we know who's on first.
8. David DeJesus will make all those that miss Todd Walker and Mark DeRosa feel all warm and fuzzy again.
9. There's a new band for the Cubs Saturday Night dance party. Yeah, I'll miss Gypsee Lee too! (fyi she was a dancer at past dance parties)
10. If you don't have a baseball signed by Brett Jackson or Anthony Rizzo you just aren't cool. That Dave Otto autograph will get you no cool points in the lobby.
11. Concerts? What concerts? There's only one concert planned for the summer (oh yeah, and then there's Brad Paisley, and that whole Springsteen thing...)
12. You are insane if you are already in line at 4am waiting for a 11am autograph session for James Russell. Seriously people....seriously.
13. The Cubs trolley has video games on it! It also plays the same songs you hear Mike and Joe play at Cubby Bear. is that exciting?
14. The 2011 highlight video is amazingly missing one thing: higlights of the 2011 season. Ouch. There's a couple in there...but don't blink or you'll miss them.
15. Mike Hill, the Cubs former event operations chief is not around. Mike passed away a few eeeks before, but the notoriously all-business/jokester who would spend much of Saturday being the only guy besides the players wearing dark sunglasses was sorely missed. Many of the staff wore pins in his honor.
16. Rollie Fingers still owns a weird moustache. Why is Rollie Fingers here...good f'n question!!!
17. Ran into Dutchie Caray...literally ran into. Yes she's ok...Seconds later ran into Tom Ricketts. Yes, my job is still ok.
18.The silent auction offerred autographed items from many 7th inning stretch singers. After further review (and witnessing several items not bidded on) i have determined that we need an upgrade on 7th inning stretch singers.
19. The brunch/lunch for the players/staff in the mornings...sucks. Come one, eggs, bacon...something!!! Man cannot live off cinnamon rolls and Sierra Mist all day.
20.Ernie Banks owes me $11. Now let me explain, Mr. Cub isn like other players, he knows everyone. He knows everyone because he talks to EVERYONE! His 1 hour session turned into a 2 hour yap fest with every fan that walked by. Now thats fine....did you not say more personal attention? Did you not tell my wife more personal attention! (Jerry Maguire). Now i'm making sure the session goes smoothly, no biggie, talk that talk, Mr. Cub. I made the mistake of saying that I would get Ernie "whatever he needs". His eyes light up! "Really", he says...pulls me close and asks for a glass of Merlot. Ok fine, no biggie. I was thinking more of the free Sierra Mist but hey, he's Ernie Banks! So I send one of my guys to find a glass from one of the hotel bars, and even give him money to get it...not thinking this half of cup of grape juice would cost $11 dollars.
What else did I learn? Well Marlon Byrd looks in the best shape I've ever seen him in, we have an abundance of young pitchers, Brian LaHarr has weird hair, and Len Kasper just may be the nicest guy around.
So after another crazed weekend amongst Cubs fans my level of optimism is pretty high. How they'll do next season is anyone's guess, but at least we'll have a goal to shoot for: actual baseball highlights on the 2012 higlight video.
Remember that awful WB Tv show Unhappily Ever After? Of course you don't, it was awful, it was worse than awful, and even more it knew it was bad, kept getting worse, and never seemed to end. It just fell off network television. You only had reason to watch because well you were A. male and Nikki Cox was at her all-time hottest moment in life, or you were B. male and liked the comic stylings of Bobcat Goldthwait and a puppet bunny. You probably also lived in your parents basement and collected X-men comic books. I only bring up this pathetic display of a show because for the past 10 years that's how Bears fans have been living, unhappily ever after, thanks to general manager Jerry Angelo...or should I say former general manager. Yes people, someone has finally cancelled this show!
It went on entirely too long if you ask me. A barrage of bad choices and horrible drafting, added with bad roster management and what you got yourself is a recipe for disaster. Actually what you have is the San Diego Chargers, a mediocre team going nowhere with high expectations of themselves that only they believe...and generally fall flat on their faces without ever changing their god-awful team management. Yet year in and year out we put our faith behind Angelo, head coach Lovie Smith, and money man Ted Philips, and almost every season they brought us weeks upon weeks of confusion. Outside of a Super Bowl victory there was no way Angelo was surviving another season as GM. Remember his confidence in the offensive line this summer, and not wanting to get another experienced lineman? That worked out well, didnt it? Remember him drafting another broken offensive lineman from college with more injury problems? Did you not get the memo on Chris Williams? Did you really think this offensive line, the same offensive line that watched Jay Culter get tossed all around the field the previous season resulting in leading the NFL in an embarassing stats of giving up the most sacks, would be better be better somehow and would remain healthy all year long? As for picking up a back-up veteran quarterback...totally overrated. Sure everyone loved Caleb Hanie after that play-off game against Green Bay, but we didnt love him after a very awkward pre-seaon. You couldn't find one veteran quarterback? We'd have taken McNabb, Kerry Collins, maybe even Fav...maybe not. But hell, Bubby Brister is available. Check the Score 670 am, they seem to have a ton of ex Bears there, a few qb's to spare.
The end also came for offensive coordinator Mike Martz, which is two years too late. Martz' system works...well it did for the Rams in the early 2000's. Unfortunately we are a decade late with nothing close to the same level of recievers. Sure I love Johnny Knox (not as a fantasy football coach I don't) but if he's your fastest reciever (sorry Devin Hester is not a reciever) then you've got issues, because he got benched for Roy Williams. Let that tell you something about putting together a roster. In pre-season before he was even in shape and making any type of impact on the practice field, the bears annouced Roy Williams as the starting wide reciever over knox. Hmmm. Now look at the stats...go ahead, I'll wait. Now did you see the part where Knox has 200 more yards in one less game than Williams? Did you also see the part where rookie Dane Sanezbacher from the bench led all wide recievers in touchdowns? It's at this point you're remembering that Earl Bennett is Cutler's favorite target, just like last seson when Greg Olsen (540 yds with 5 touchdowns this season) was his favorite. What happened to Olsen you ask? Oh yeah, Mike Martz didnt like him, and Angelo probably traded him for a pack of black bic pens.
Martz' offense was oh so confusing for a team that works best with simplicities. Martz was determined to make lemonade with oranges, all the while having one of the best oranges in the league (Matt Forte) at his disposal. Eventually Lovie Smith realized the error of Martz's ways, and his own in handing over the reigns to a 90's madman. In turn Lovie showed Martz who Forte was since they seemingly needed an introduction, (its not good when you have one the leagues best runningbacks and you never run the ball) and then showed him the door afterwards.
Oh do we even need to go into more players formerly of the Dallas Cowboys we picked up?
So now the entire mess falls back on Lovie. Its his damn team, his mess, his offensive coordinator. Somehow he gained more power out of all of this! Most expect offensive line coach Mike Tice to get the gig. Um...sure. I understand that he wasnt really given the right horses to run with, however he was the coach of the offensive line, the same offensive line that nearly broke Jay Cutler in half on several occassions each season. Lets just get a second opinion, that's all I'm saying...A much better option would be current Jets offensive coordinator Brian Shottenheimer.
The Bears also did something that most "insiders" consider a no-no in not firing Lovie Smith, which means whatever GM that gets hired is stuck with Lovie and his offensive coordinator for the year. Its an interesting corner to put the man running your football program in, since they usually like to have their own people, right Theo Epstein??? Some of the more talked about options for the GM job are Ed DeCosta from Baltimore, Les Snead from the Falcolns, both directors of personel, John Dorsey, a scouting guru from Green bay, and Bill Polian. Polian ran Indianapolis' team until being fired recently, and considering the Colts went to two SuperBowls in the Lovie/Angelo era, thats a good place to start. Polian has a tremendous track record with the Colts, Buffalo, and Carolina, and definitely knows talent (yes he did draft Peyton Manning, which is like drafting Jordan in his prime I suppose..a no brainer) which should make him the Bears' first option. However here what one Colt insider said about Polian:
"Bill Polian is a fine football architect. He’s a smart man, who knows he’s a smart man and who tends to talk down to people he doesn’t respect or doesn't believe are as smart. Those qualities could make him somewhat of a tyrant -- especially to some branches of the media, but not to them exclusively -- which is hardly the worst thing you can say about a football executive."
And you thought talking to Mike Martz was fun. what will n ot be fun is keeping up with Green Bay and the up and coming Detroit Lions. Plus can you guess the number of offensive coordinators Jay Cutler has had in Chicago since becoming a Bear? This will be number 4 in 5 seasons....that could be a record, folks.
Next season will definitely be interesting. Who's going to play wide reciever for this team? Will there be anymore ex Cowboys on the roster? Will Lance Briggs still be in a Bears uniform? Will Brian Urlacher be healthy? Who's going to be on the line? Will Matt Forte have a contract by then? Will the defense still suck to high heaven some games? What will become of Brock Lesner? Who's going to be on Dancing with the Stars? Will Snooki and The Situation finally hook up? Will Jay Cutler be married or break off another proposal before the seaon start??
Either way addition by subtraction is sometimes the best possible answer, right Theo Epstein (Goodbye Carlos)! No matter what happens from this point on we know the Bears are headed in a new direction, and hopefully a much better direction..
This must be what a 16 year-old girl feels like when Breaking Dawn part one finally hit the big screens....happiness, relief, excitment. Why am I gushing? Why am I making this silly reference to 16 year-olds and pale yet beautiful-looking vampires that have never seemed to age despite being hundred of years of age? Well its because of three simple letters: NFL.
You see, the NFL has been the vain of my existance since...oh, August. I had such high hopes for the Bears to do well. I believed in Mike Martz and Jay Cutler coming together for a terrific season. I believed Matt Forte was going to dominate the NFC conference. I couldnt wait for our big showdowns with Green Bay, and watching Brian Urlacher toss Rodgers and Jennings like rag dolls. More importantly, my fantasy football teams relieved heavily on the producition of said players, as well as my secret weapon, Johnny Knox.
Well everyone of those guys with the exception of Urlacher is now injured. Infact, all of my running backs, even the subs, are no longer playing football today. My quarterback situation is about as shotty as my dating situation, and did I mention I lost my 1st kicker on the first damn day of the season. I'm on kicker number 4 btw...and I dont even care about having a kicker but the "league" says we need one...ugh. How comes there's no black kickers? Just sayin....The NFL has just done me wrong this year. Ive stopped updating my rosters for weeks now...who cares anymore. Facebook had to remind me that the "biggest game of the season" was still occurring, the Bears versus Packers in Green Bay. Thanks for nothing, facebook.
So needless to say I am frickin' happy as pie that the NBA season is finally in full gear. While I dont like bad basketball, it at least gives me something credible to watch for the rest of winter. The idea of seeing Kobe bryant's relationship drama play out for an entire season has me pumped. Plus that means another season of VH1 Basketball wives, I'm sure that will make for some interesting tweets. I'll finally know what Spike Lee is doing with his life...you'd think he'd spend more time talking to Woody Allen, wouldn't you? Weird. Shaq is joing the TNT studio crew, which makes tv's best sports gre-game/post game show even better. Plus, i'll admit, I actually like Kris Humphries. I do. I even know what team he plays for...do you?
Im guessing you proabaly arent as excited as I am about the league returning, but let me give you just a few reasons why you should watch:
Miami's holy trinity of evil is back. The team everyone hates is back and are the favorites to win this yhear's NBA championship. Talent-wise alone, Wade and LBJ are incredible enough to beat every team in basketball, unfortunately you have to play with five. The Heat took a major step in the right direction by signing Shane battier. Who you may ask? Well besides being my favorite current NBA player (yes it's true), Battier is the one player in the NBA who is willing to do anything and everything for a team while still playing at a high level. The 6'8 guard/forward plays defense like a monster while also being able to shot the 3 ball very well. Unfortunately it's two steps forward, one step back as the heat also signed Eddy Curry for some odd reason. Curry is collecting over 10 mil for eating Big Macs the last 3 years. He's probably played in A game (yes, 1 game) and might as well be wearing a ski mask over his head while cashing checks. I hope he has direct deposit. The Heat also decided not to upgrade their point guard position, relying on Mario Chambers to develop. Thats great and all, but putting your faith in Chambers to turn into a starting point guard is just about the same as putting your faith in Kevin Smith not making another movie that doesn't suck. (sorry Kev, it's true. Step your game up, bud.) While I fully expect the heat to compete if not win it all this year, watching them fail and get beat is always a highlight for any basketball fan.
I would like to see if Kim and Kris can work things out, plus how is Khloe going to adapt to living in Dallas? Speaking of Dallas, why are people still signing Vince carter to any type of contract. He's not even good on NBA2K12 anymore. You know you're starved for basketball when you can't wait to see the Clippers play. Yikes! let's not forget the trials of GSW. Who's that, you ask" Well GSW, or the Golden State Warriors, are a team from Oakland or San Francisco...who even knows anymore, who...well lets just say they have issues with 'winning". They have no issues scoring, yet they seem to be allergic to defense. Like your friend's kid is allergic to peanuts and needs a shot if he eats one, yeah the Warriors need a shot nightly. New head coach Mark Jackson has high hopes and big dreams of bringing a defensive mentality to Golden State. Jackson also had big dreams of beating the Bulls when he was with the Knicks and the Pacers. some dreams just don't come true, mark. At least you'll have some coaching experience, even if it was with GSW.
And since we are talking about Chicago, let me tell you there is not alot of good that comes out of Englewood. There's like....me, and Derrick rose. We'll give Derrick the headlines here as he did just sign a 90 million dollar contract after being named league MVP last season. To come so far from so little is impressive, and shows kids that it is possible. it's also possible that the Bulls could go to the finals this year. They are bringing back basically the same team, with key additions being the rookie Jimmy Butler and veteran shooting guard Rip Hamilton. Butler will help ease the pressure of guarding LBJ and Wade as he has the size and speed to keep up with them for a few minutes, so that neither will be able to torture Kyle Korver for minutes at a time He tries so hard, doesn't he? Kyle, we get it, you shoot 3's...you're not suppose to be guarding 6'9 300lb "small" forwards. Hamilton steps in as starting guard along size Rose and fits like a glove. A 100% upgrade from last year's starter Keith Bogans, Hamilton can shoot the lights out and play defense, and will punish defenders trying to double or help on Rose, Deng, or Boozer. If they stay healthy, the Bulls have more than a legitimate shot at not only repeating as the NBA's best team, but as this year's newest NBA champions.
It wasn't that long ago where I gushed and gollied over what an incredible album Jay-Z and Kanye West's "Watch the Throne" collaboration turned out to be. While so called experts and critics felt it was 'under-whelming" and 'self-absorbed", I knew better. And quite frankly the streets don't lie. You know what else doesn't lie...numbers. And by the shear amount of sell-out crowds and acclaim garnered from previous stops on their 'throne" tour, you just knew the touchdown in Chicago was going to be epic. Not only is Chicago the hometown of Mr. West, its also one of Jay-Z's favorite spots to perform.
I've had the pleasure of seeing Kanye West at Summerfest in June, and while he was very theatrical, he also was extremely emotional and energetic. So I knew what to expect from the hometown kid who was bout to live his dream of playing a packed house in his hometown next to his hero. As for Jay-Z, well he's gotten better and better each time I've seen him, so with their last two shows in my head I came in expecting nothing less than a total euphoric hip hop experience.
No opening act needed for these two, as the sounds of "HAM" came reigning through the speakers (yes I know how I spelled reigned...I like that description!). With both performers on dual rising cubes across from each other, they tore into a "Throne" favorite "Who gon stop me", in which Jay-Z just tears through his verse like Jason through the first hundred Friday the 13th movies. Why Kanye thinks wearing a kilt cool is anyone's guess, but hey, he's Kanye., he does what he wants...clearly.
Both artists took turns on stage seperate and together ripping through crowd favorites back to back to back...there was no time to rests as the crowd spent the concert on their feet the entire night. I once pointed out the differences in stage approaches in both Jay and Kanye, and it was the same here: Kanye, emotional, eccentric, not sure what he's going to do or say, while Hov is like the world's best poker player on stage, never letting his guard down, never giving you too much, always making sure each gesture and lyric is well planned, well thought out...none more evident that the encore where as Kanye would put on any hat thrown on stage by the crowd , as Jay stayed focus...Yankess hat tilted over his eyes, only removed for purpose and to get his point across.
The duo hit an entire catalog of hits, and the visual aspects on the background screen helped give some of the "throne" songs more of an emotional connection. But this show wasnt about selling an album, it was the two kings of hip hop and music worldwide showing just why they are in a league of their own. A setlist like no other hip hop or rock show before it, its clear why they have gotten rave reviews in every city. Its a can't miss show filled with 3 hours of nonstop hits. From die-hard to casual fans of eaither artist, this is the show you'd want to see.
My favorite moment of the show..one that was repeated from last year's Jay-Z show is when the lights go out upon the crowd as Hov finishes up his monstorous crowd pleaser "U don't know", and they show the entire crowd, hands in the air in the diamond position rocking back in unison to Jay-Z like an army...its a breath-taking thing to witness as its amazing when music connects so well with its biggest listeners.
I didnt sit down until the encore...well, midway through the encore, which was the duo ripping through their hit "Niggas in Paris" a record 8 consecutive times! This song is currently the hottest record on radio and even in high school gyms (almost every high school basketball team has this song in their warm-up, which means it must be hot, right? The kids are even listening to it!!) Hearing a song 8 times in a row is just way too much for me, no matter how hot the song is at the moment, but it was clear that the duo was actually having alot of fun on stage together, and enjoying the chemistry and crowd reaction. You could tell they were having too much fun as even the poker-faced king of rap let down his guard with a smile and tip of his hat, as he ripped through his "Paris" verse a 6th and 7th time. And despite it all the crowd ate it up.
There's currently a lil' Wayne/Eminem tour oversees that may make its way to the states before the year is out, but it will be hard-pressed to come close to the energy and emotion given by Jay-Z and Kanye on this night.
2. Who gon stop me?
4. Welcome to the jungle
5. Gotta have it
6. Where I'm from
7. Jigga what, Jigga who?
8. Can't tell me nothin'
9. Flashing lights
10. Jesus Walks
11. All falls down
14. U don't know
15. Run this town
18. Made in America
19. New day
20. Hard Knocks Life
22. Empire state of mind
26. On to the next
27. Dirt off your shoulder
28. I just wanna love you
29. Thats mu bitch
30. Good life
31. Touch the sky
32. All of the lights
33. Big Pimpin
34. Gold digger
35. 99 problems
36. No Church in the wild
37. Lift off
38. Niggas in Paris
39. Niggas in Paris
6 more renditions of Niggas in Paris (tour record).
Up in Denver Tim Tebow is making miracles happen. Tebow, who has the unfortunate reputation by players and critics alike as “not being much of an NFL quarterback”, somehow has made it all work. His limited skills have been effective in running the ball, and passing when he really needed to; helped out by a super-tough defense. It’s a game-plan the Bears better get used to, as not only do they face Tebow’s Broncos soon, it’s a game-plan they may want to subscribe too, themselves.
The Bears looked like a bad high school team on offense against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. Quarterback Caleb Hanie isn’t the answer, and he has the numbers to back it up. Any thoughts of calling up just-released qb Donavan McNabb were laughed at…well,
that is until Sunday night came about. Add that with the injury to running back
Matt Forte, and the seven sacks the offensive line gave up to a weak KC
defensive line, and you’ve really got some offensive issues! The good news is
when Jay Cutler does return next season he’ll have a new offensive coordinator,
as Mike Martz not only turned down an extension for next season, but he’s
rumored to be looking everywhere but here. Oh, that’s not good news, is it?
Defensively the Bears played a very tough game. They kicked the Chiefs all over the field, and only gave up 10 points. In a normal game, that’s a win for the home team! But alas, the Bears are not a normal team, not anymore, not with Hanie behind center. And it’s not
all his fault. Again, seven sacks?? Six in the second half alone! No Forte, who
is the Bears biggest offensive weapon btw, means you have to throw to your receivers
more, and the receivers did a magnificent job of sucking. Don’t believe me? Ask
Roy Williams how his day went. Stop by Earl Bennett’s locker while you’re at
The Chiefs only scored a touchdown because of a botched defensive play by the Bears where Brian Urlacher had an end zone hail mary interception in his hand only to have it knocked out by safety Chris Conte into the hands of a waiting Chiefs receiver. Ouch.
Offensively it was a horrid day all around, from Hanie to the receivers, even down to kicker Robbie Gould’s missed field goal. The defense did a tremendous job, and should feast on an awful qb like Tebow, however, much like the Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning, Brian
Urlacher and his teammates can’t play offense. Well I’m sure they could, I just don’t recommend it.
The Bears without Cutler still have play-off hopes. The Bears with Hanie do not. The Bears without Forte will have a better shot at Andrew Luck than the play-offs. When you can’t beat the average Oakland Raiders, or the lifeless Kansas City Chiefs you deserve to stay
home and watch the NBA return to television on game days. I hear Shaq is joining
the TNT studio team, that should be fun to watch!
Oh yeah, about Tebow, he had another miracle game against Minnesota, this time going 10-15 for 202 yards and 2 touchdowns in another late victory. He’s 6-1 since being in the line-up. Is another miracle on board for next Sunday’s showdown in Denver? I wonder who the Bears would pick if they had a vote, Hanie or Tebow…
Yes kids, the lock-out is officially over. Life is back to normal. Dogs are back chasing cats. Dinosaur Train is airing again everyday on public television, there’s another Twilight
movie, Bruce Willis is making another Die Hard movie, Lindsay’s back in jail, ….yep,
life is truly back to normal.
So you’re probably asking yourself, why do I care if the NBA is back? Well you have to be curious on what Prince looks like these days. Khloe and Lamar without the NBA turns into Kendra…and nobody wants to see that. Plus with Jack not making movies much these days you have to be curious if he’s even still alive, right? Laker games will keep you
updated. Plus Justin Bieber literally grew up before our very eyes at NBA games.
Aren’t you curious to see if Jay-Z, Kanye, and Diddy are still friends, or if Spike Lee
got a new Knick’s jersey? You know you want to see Kenny Smith show the world
just how insane Charles Barkley is 2 nights a week on their NBA show. I know I
do. Seriously, your fantasy football season is almost up…it’s true, face it. What
obnoxiously overplayed artist will be played on the arena loud-speakers this
year…hopefully Ne-Yo and Pitbull, we need more of that. The NFL is done in
January, and with Jay Cutler out and the Packers still undefeated, well, there
really isn’t much to look forward to if you’re in Chicago (until the Packers fail miserably in
their chances of repeating or staying undefeated). You know what comes after
football season? March Madness! Yes, more basketball. Such a fun part of the
year…it’s where you get to see more guys headed to the, wait for it…NBA!
February and March has nothing to offer you but spring training baseball. If you’re a
Sox fan, well first off I feel sorry for you, and secondly, um, you need a new
GM. Oh I kid, I kid, I like the Sox, you’ve just had a series of bad
off-seasons. And while the Cubs may have a buzz about them, well let’s face it, they are still the Cubs. Rome wasn’t built in a day…and Wrigley Field damn sure ain’t Rome.
So where does that leave you…in the loving arms of Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, of
course. The Miami Heat would love your support this season, as they try to get
past that “overrated” tag that’s followed them the past year. This time things
will be different, they promise. Remember the hometown kid, Derrick Rose? He
was the MVP of the league last year…good kid, plays for the Bulls. Well he’s
back too. Shaq’s gone…I know, but he’s promised no more movies of rap albums so
we’re good there.
Oh, and just how do you expect VH1 to show Basketball
Wives without basketball? I’m still curious to see just how billionaire
Mark Cuban flaunts his team’s NBA Finals win from last season. Will he give his
team golden Ferraris and strippers, championship belts, watches, platinum unicorns?
Plus you know you’re curious about the latest nonsense that goes on in the NBA.
Did you know Ron Artest changed his name, or that Sacramento and Minnesota still have franchises? Plus that NBA2K12 game is going to make a lot more sense once you can download free agent and rookies to the rosters, won’t it?
Anyways, welcome back NBA…you’ve been gone way too long.
Ok, the worst of it is over.
The tough part of the Bears schedule has them and a surprising 5-3 record at this point, and it looks like the machine that is the Bears offense is finally running on all cylanders, especially after a Monday Night Football bashing of sports newest "dream team", the Philadelphia Eagles.
Jay Cutler, newly cemented back in his relationship with Kristin Calvilari was also newly cemented in the pocket, as he stayed home and made good passes all day without being pressured too much nor sacked. The offensive line has finally come around, protecting Cutler like a mama Bear protecting her cubs. Speaking of protecting, Cutler's favorite reciever returned, Earl Bennett, and Jay made sure to find him when he needed him the most, inc luding for a touchdown. Matt Forte has taken his new contract crusade to primetime, convincing millions that he is one of the elite running backs in football. Well, except for that whole goal line, short yardage,issue. Luckily the Bears have Marion Barber to cler that up.
With the team on a 3-game winning streak, they have built up momentum for thier showdown next weekend with the NFL's newest most hated team, the 6-2 Detroit Lions. The Lions, who are 4-0 on the road, travel to Chicago next weekend.The Lions currently sit in 2nd place in the Central, with the undefeated Super Bowl champions Green Bay Packers in 1st. The Bears need this win to gain some respect and help clear up a very crowded play-off picture. The Bears took it on the chin hard in the last game against Detroit 13-24, but at that point the Bears offensive line looked more like the stars of the new Muppet movie than actual football players. lets hope this time around things will be different.
and for those of you who think Brian Urlacher is past his prime, guess who lead the Bears in double-digit tackles this week.
After this weekend the bears will head west - playing the AFC's west division, including the angry Philp Rivers of San Diego, the reason Jay Cutler got traded from Denver in Matt Cassell from KC, Carson Palmer of Oakland, who 3 weeks ago was spending Sundays ordering Subway and going to brunch with Payton Manning, and football jesus himself, Denver's Tim Tebow.