A Work In Progress
Camp Randall; Madison, WI, Sept. 2007
It’s game week. I’ll be at Camp Randall this Thursday for the kickoff of the season. I’m pumped to see how Russell Wilson looks in the Badger offense, how the defense is without J.J. Watt, and how dominant the new three-headed monster at running back (Montee Ball, James White and Melvin Gordon) will be.

Camp Randall; Madison, WI, Sept. 2007

It’s game week. I’ll be at Camp Randall this Thursday for the kickoff of the season. I’m pumped to see how Russell Wilson looks in the Badger offense, how the defense is without J.J. Watt, and how dominant the new three-headed monster at running back (Montee Ball, James White and Melvin Gordon) will be.

On Wisconsin! Welcome to Madison, Russell Wilson! http://bit.ly/lEcmGI

On Wisconsin! Welcome to Madison, Russell Wilson! http://bit.ly/lEcmGI

Congrats Dirk, You Deserve It.

One of the most dominant players in NBA history called it quits today. It was tough watching Shaq limb around in the Celtics’ second round series against the Heat, but I’ll always remember the big fella dominating opponents and backboards. Here’s hoping he ends up TV, preferably on TNT with Charles Barkley.

One of the most dominant players in NBA history called it quits today. It was tough watching Shaq limb around in the Celtics’ second round series against the Heat, but I’ll always remember the big fella dominating opponents and backboards. Here’s hoping he ends up TV, preferably on TNT with Charles Barkley.

Big Ben From Below, London; June, 2009

Big Ben From Below, London; June, 2009

Best NBA Draft Duos since 1985

ESPN reported on Saturday that the Cleveland Cavaliers were attempting to pull of a three-team trade that would net them the 2nd overall pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. If the trade goes through, the Cavs would have the first two picks of draft, which they would reportedly use to select Duke point guard Kyrie Irving and Arizona forward Derrick Williams. It doesn’t sound like the trade will actually happen, but the speculation got me thinking, if you could pick pick a duo from any draft of the past 25 years, which draft would you pick? So, I made a list. I didn’t just take the 1st and 2nd picks of each draft, I did some revisionist history to find the best duos from each draft regardless of where the players were selected. Here are the top 10 draft duos:

10. 2001: Pau Gasol (3rd pick) and Joe Johnson (10th pick)

Gasol and Johnson, both multiple time all-stars with excellent offensive skills, would make a solid inside-outside duo to build a team around. While LeBron, D-Wade and Chris Bosh headlined the epic 2010 free agent class, Johnson actually came out the richest. Johnson signed a max contract with the Hawks, while James, Wade and Bosh all took pay cuts to join forces on South Beach.

Also in the 2001 Draft: Gerald Wallace (25th), Zach Randolph (19th), Tony Parker (28th), Gilbert Arenas (30th)

9. 1995: Kevin Garnett (5th) and Jerry Stackhouse (3rd)

Kevin Garnett, a future hall-of-famer and one of the best defensive players in NBA history, was a no-brainer selection. Stackhouse was a tougher choice. Michael Finley and Rasheed Wallace would have been solid selections as well. Garnett and Wallace, teammates on the 2010 Celtics, would have been a tenacious defensive pair in their primes. However, Stackhouse’s scoring ability makes him the better choice to pair with Garnett.

Also in the 1995 Draft: Wallace (4th) and Finley (21st)

8. 1994: Jason Kidd (2nd) and Glenn Robinson (1st)

Kidd is one of the best point guards of all time, who is still dishing it out with the Mavs, and Robinson was one of the best power forwards in the NBA during his prime. Picking Robinson over Grant Hill was a tough decision. Hill battled injuries for a good part of his career, but he’s still playing for the Suns, while Robinson has been retired for six years.

Also in the 1994 Finals: Hill (3rd), and Juwon Howard (5th)

7. 1997: Tim Duncan (1st) and Tracy McGrady (9th)

Tim Duncan, an MVP, three time Champion and future hall-of-famer, is  simply one of the best players in NBA history. McGrady, a winner of multiple scoring crowns, was a dominant force in his prime. Unfortunately, his prime was cut short due to injuries, but that doesn’t diminish how much talent he had.

Also in the 1997 Draft: Chauncey Billups (3rd) and Stephen Jackson (43rd)

6. 1992: Shaquille O’Neal (1st) and Alonzo Mourning (2nd)

You might not choose to draft two centers in the same draft, but Shaq and Mourning would form one monstrous set of twin towers, on par with other great sets of big men like Tim Duncan/David Robinson and Hakeem Olajuwon/Ralph Sampson.

Also in the 1992 Draft: Christian Laettner (3rd), Latrell Sprewell (24th)

5. 1998: Dirk Nowitzki (9th) and Paul Pierce (10th)

Dirk and Pierce, two future hall-of-famers, would make for one high scoring forward pair. Pierce already has a ring, and hopefully, Dirk gets his in a week or two.

Also in the 1998 Draft: Antawn Jamison (4th), Vince Carter (5th) and Rashard Lewis (32nd)

4. 1996: Kobe Bryant (13th) and Steve Nash (16th)

1996 was one of the deepest drafts in NBA history, featuring three future NBA MVPs. Bryant and Nash would make for the best duo, although a combination featuring Allen Iverson or Ray Allen wouldn’t be too shabby.

Also in the 1996 Draft: Iverson (1st), Allen (5th), Stephon Marbury (4th), Antoine Walker (6th), Ben Wallace (Undrafted)

3. 2003: LeBron James (1st) and Dwyane Wade (5th)

As a Bulls fan, it pains me to say this, but when it’s all said and done, this could be the best duo in basketball history. Scottie Pippen probably agrees with me. Right now, before they’ve won a ring together, this duo is third. The 2003 Draft was stacked Carmelo Anthony went 3rd and the third Heatle, Chris Bosh, went 4th.

Also in the 2003 Draft: Anthony (3rd), Bosh (4th), Chris Kaman (6th) and David West (18th)

2. 1987: David Robinson (1st) and Scottie Pippen (5th)

Two members of the Dream Team and hall-of-fame. Maybe Pippen and Robinson wouldn’t have been quite the duo that Pippen and Jordan were, but the two would have been a force.

Also in the 1987 Draft: Reggie Miller (11th), Kevin Johnson (7th), Horace Grant (10th), and Mark Jackson (18th)

1. 1 1985: Patrick Ewing (1st) and Karl Malone (13th)

These two hall-of-famers would have made one hell of a front court. Maybe if Ewing and Malone had
played together these two wouldn’t belong in the “best players to not win a championship” club.

Also in the 1985 Draft: Chris Mullin (7th), Joe Dumars (18th)

Just missed the cut: 2002 (Amare Stoudemire and Yao Ming), 1989 (Shawn Kemp and Tim Hardaway), 2007 (Kevin Durant and Al Horford), 1993 (Chris Webber and Allan Houston), and 2008 (Derrick Rose and Kevin Love)

Barcelona from Montjuic; Congrats to FC Barcelona on winning the UEFA Champions League! I wish I was in Barcelona right now, I’m sure it’s rocking.

Barcelona from Montjuic; Congrats to FC Barcelona on winning the UEFA Champions League! I wish I was in Barcelona right now, I’m sure it’s rocking.

Bulls on The Brink

Game 4 took a lot out of me, just likes Games 2 and 3. These games are battles, every possession means so much. It’s going to take awhile to get over this loss, maybe the whole summer if the Bulls can’t pull off an epic comeback.

The Bulls had a golden chance to even up the series with 8 seconds left in regulation, but couldn’t take advantage. It pains me to think back to the joy I had when LeBron James was called for an offensive foul, and the Bulls were given such a monumental opportunity. I love D-Rose, and he’s obviously the Bulls’ best player, but I was disappointed with the play call. LeBron is a freak, he’s 6’8, strong as a bull, and quick as a cat. LBJ on Rose, one-on-one is a total mismatch in the Heat’s favor. An iso for Rose in that situation was destined to fail. And it did as Rose threw up an air-ball as time expired. I would have liked to have seen the ball go to Luol Deng, who was guarded by the shorter Dwyane Wade. Luol would have driven to the paint and gotten a better shot opportunity than Rose got with LBJ in his face.

Sports can be so cruel. These last three games have been griding, and in the end, painful. The Bulls could have won all three, but instead they face a 3-1 hole. Thanks to the recent rebirths of roleplayers Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller (he was a +36 tonight!), the Heatles suddenly look like the juggarnaut many thought they would eventually become. The Bulls need to win three in a row now if they want to advance to the team’s first NBA Finals since 1998. Can it happen? Sure. It is likely? Hell no. But it’s not over yet, we can still believe.

It’s Now or Never For Bulls in Game 4

It’s simple, Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals is the biggest game of the 2011 Bulls season. A win, and the series becomes a three game series with the Bulls holding home-court advantage. A loss, and the Bulls are forced to win three straight games, an unlikely feat against the mighty Miami triumvirate. With the Heat winning the last two games, many have started to prematurely write off the Bulls. It’s easy to forget the Bulls’ dominate Game 1 victory, or the fact that the Bulls were very much in Games 2 and 3 before the Heat made 4th quarter runs to pull away.

As it has been all season for the Bulls, their fate will be determined by the production of Derrick Rose. In the 4th quarters of Games 2 and 3, Rose’s play was far from MVP-like. Over the last two fourth quarters, Rose had four points on just six shots. Rose needs to be more aggressive in the fourth quarter, driving to the hoop for layups and drawing fouls. The Bulls just simply will not win if Rose continues to be passive in the fourth.

The Bulls could also use some offensive help from their 2-guards. Against the Pacers and Hawks, and in game 1 against the Heat, the Bulls were getting solid 3-point production from Keith Bogans and/or Kyle Korver. Bogans and Korver have combined for just four made 3-pointers the last two games. The Bulls need one of them to get hot from beyond the arc tonight to keep pace with the Heat offense.

One more thing, I really don’t like hearing people say that the Bulls are just too young, and that they’re a year away from truly being a title contender. It’s bullshit. The Bulls can win now, and most likely, they are in better shape to win this year than they will be next year or the year after. Yes, the Bulls need to add a scoring 2-guard. I hope it happens, they will be a better and more complete team if they do. And I’m sure Foreman/Paxson will be trying their hardest to make it happen, but it won’t be easy since they don’t have much extra cash to spend this offseason. My main point is that the Heat will only get better in the years to come. Wade/James/Bosh will get better as a threesome as they play more games together, and their supporting cast can only get better. For the majority of the season, the Big 3 was surrounded by corpses in basketball jerseys. Just getting a healthy Udonis Haslem back in Game 2 improved the Heat’s play drastically. The Heat are at their most vulnerable this season and the Bulls have to take advtange. It all starts with a victory tonight in Game 4.

Santa Monica Pier, 2011

Santa Monica Pier, 2011