At the beginning of the year, I was supremely confident in the advancement of the Bulls and even predicted that they would make it to the NBA Finals. Still, after the way that they faltered against the Nets on the last day of the regular season, I was questioning aloud the team’s intestinal fortitude, even after beating the Heat in the round 1 opener of the NBA Playoffs. However, by the end of the third quarter on Friday night in game 3, my belief in the Bulls was resurrected. I saw a team that answered every single charge from the defending champs that will ultimately put multiple players into the Hall of Fame with poise and efficiency. In game 4, they did the exact same thing by taking one last punch from the Heat and then completely knocking them out. I’ll be honest – I thought that this was going to be a 7-game barn burner as opposed to a Bulls sweep. Yet, with the way the Bulls took out Miami with such vigor and strength, I’m ready for a true revitalization of our rivalry with the Pistons. It’s going to be a tough road and who knows whether the Bulls can hang with the Detroit team that they’re modeled after, but I can’t wait to see NBA basketball being played into May in Chicago once again.
On to some more links:
(1) Deng’s Emergence Isn’t Totally Unexpected (ESPN.com) - I don’t agree with Scoop Jackson very often, but I’m right with him in understanding long before the Heat series that Luol Deng would be the key to the Bulls when no one else noticed him. Here’s what I said in my NBA Preview in November: “The real X-factor is how much Luol Deng improves this season. If he stays injury-free, he could very well become the top all around player on the team that’s the go-to guy that the Bulls have been lacking. In my opinion, how well the Bulls will do this season will depend upon the progress of Luol Deng more than anyone else.” That is the first and last time that I’ve said anything right on this blog.
(2) ‘Idol’ Gives Back, We Give Up (Moraes on TV – Washington Post) - As a whole, I enjoy the pomp and circumstance of “American Idol”. However, when Elvis was brought back from the dead to do a duet with Celine Dion, I almost ralphed on the couch.
(3) The Latest Must-Have for Yuppies: A Blog About the Neighborhood (New York Times) – I grew up as a south side White Sox fan and despised Wrigleyville for its yuppie quotient. When I presented this reasoning to my wife one day, she looked at me increduously, called me out as a hypocrite and basically said that I was one of the biggest yuppies that she had ever met. After feverishly denying this, I then took a look at myself and came to a disheartening conclusion. I have a house in Naperville after previously living only blocks away from Wrigley Field (not Wrigleyville per se, but close enough), got business and law degrees, actually crave Chipotle burritos, would take a foreign luxury sedan over a Detroit muscle car as a dream car any day of the week, don’t mind a Starbucks every once in awhile and would rather go to Ravinia than a rock concert these days. In other words, my wife was right – I have become one of yuppies I used to abhor. Really, I used to be cool… seriously, OK? I’m still a Sox fan, so that counts for something, right? Right???
(4) The Right Pick, Despite Wrong Agent (Chicago Tribune) – The Bears took tight end Greg Olsen from Miami in the first round of the NFL Draft, who looks like a beast, yet all anyone seems to care about right now is that he’s represented by Drew Rosenhaus. The slick agent also represents Lance Briggs, who is pretty much holding up the status of the Bears linebacker core for next year with his insistence on getting a long-term contract into place. Still, the fact is that Rosenhaus has a number of the top players in the NFL and it’s likely the Bears are going to have to deal with him for a long time. I just hope that both parties can work to get mutually beneficial deals into place (unlike, say, the apparent inability of the White Sox to get anything done with baseball super agent Scott Boras).
As a side note on the NFL Draft, I’ve been saying ever since that I started this blog that Brady Quinn was overrated (I fail to see how anyone could have reasonably thought that he was in the same class as JaMarcus Russell after this year’s Sugar Bowl), but the way that he dropped down all the way to #22 after being projected to go as high as even #2 made Matt Leinart’s time in the waiting room last year look like a nice Saturday in the park. The Browns would have been insane to take Quinn at #3 and made the right call with Joe Thomas, yet subsequently being able to get the quarterback they wanted much later in the first round (and for a lot less money) was the draft day coup.
Also, I enjoyed the fact that the Detroit Lions actually had little choice other than to take Calvin Johnson, who is yet another wide receiver for that team. There was little questioning of this move since Johnson was almost unanimously considered the best athlete in this year’s draft class, but Matt Millen’s development of marquee first round wide receiver draft choices has been about as successful as the long term growth of Mark Prior and Kerry Wood for the Cubs. It’s just unbelieveable that after using high first round choices on wide receivers in four of the last five years, the Lions still fell like that they had a need there.
Finally, my gut reaction to the New England Patriots getting Randy Moss in exchange for a fourth round draft pick was a great move. There are going to be voices out there stating that the Pats shouldn’t be bringing trouble into their locker room, but the fact is that the team needs a top flight wideout and they grabbed someone who is still one of the best talents in the NFL. Something tells me that Moss is going to have a bit more success getting back into the end zone with Tom Brady at quarterback instead of Aaron Brooks. Honestly, I’m glad Moss didn’t end up with the Packers as was rumored for the last few weeks. A lot of Green Bay fans might have had a visceral reaction to that thought, but judging by how that team went 8-8 last year, adding a top wideout would have made that team even more competitive immediately. Fans can get over prior enemies pretty quickly (see Dennis Rodman with the Bulls) when they help you win after turning to your side.
(5) Michael Jordan Ready To Bag Champaign Coeds (Deadspin) – Those that know me understand that my love for the University of Illinois knows no bounds while Michael Jordan will forever be my idol. So, with the announcement that Jeff Jordan is heading to Illinois, the thought of MJ being on the prowl in Campustown makes me smile.
(Image from Chicago Tribune)