As you can tell, I have schizophrenic mood swings about the Bulls going from loving their tenacity one moment to despising the fact that they still need a low-post offensive presence and/or a go-to playmaker the next minute. This week, after two awful and despicable games against the Pistons in the NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals, I’m finally resigned to the latter. Don’t get me wrong – I’ll continue to cheer for the Bulls like crazy until the bitter end and still think they can take a couple of games at the United Center, but I won’t be fooled again into thinking that this is a championship-caliber ball club. Some people might be content with a nice team with good character guys that play really hard every night. You can definitely count me out of that group – I was spoiled by growing up with the greatest player that ever lived in Michael Jordan and a dominant dynasty in the 1990s, so I want championships. Unless the Bulls are able to hit the NBA lottery jackpot with either Greg Oden or Kevin Durant or make a monster move for Kevin Garnett or someone of his caliber, this team is going to be competitive but come up short for the foreseeable future. Anyone who thinks that the Pistons “won without any superstars” seem to ignore that they have an entire starting lineup of players that have made the All-Star Game plus a sixth man in Antonio McDyess that has done so, as well. I think Luol Deng still has the goods to be a complete NBA player, but the Bulls still need a true star if they ever want to win it all again.
As I end this rant, here are some links:
(1) ABC Sets Spring 2010 as the End of ‘Lost’ (New York Times) - I won’t go into one of my pleads to watch this show a la “Friday Night Lights” since “Lost” is admittedly tough to get into unless you’ve watched it from the beginning, but I’m probably one of the few people that believe that the second half of this season has been very good and number of the episodes have been as gripping and well-written as anything else on television (and I’m not really a sci-fi guy outside of my childhood love for “Star Wars”). Hopefully, the 2010 deadline will quell the constant calls for “answers” – I mean, there isn’t much point to “Lost” without the questions.
(2) You’re a Nobody Unless Your Name Googles Well (Wall Street Journal) (FYI – this Journal article was free at the time of this posting, so you don’t need a subscription to see it) – What those with common surnames (i.e. Smith) do to get some better Google search results for their names or even naming their kids to get maximum relevancy for them.
(3) Till Death (Or I Find Someone Else) Do Us Part (Chicagoist) – If you live in Chicago, you’ve probably heard about the, uh, expressive advertisement by one of my fellow members of the legal profession. For those that haven’t yet, well that’s why I’m here to serve you.
(4) Illini’s Weber All Jazzed Up (Chicago Tribune) – If the Bulls don’t get past the Pistons this round (at this point, that’s a 95% likelihood), the Frank the Tank household is going to go Jazz crazy with Deron Williams (he’s guiding the Utah offense right now with the poise of how he led the 2005 Illini, which is amazing considering that he’s only a 2nd-year player – just an incredible leap from his long rookie season) and Dee Brown.
(5) Retirement Good For Mayweather, Bad For Us (Fox Sports) – I didn’t end up springing the 60 bucks for the Oscar De La Hoya – Floyd Mayweather fight on Saturday, but it was the first urge that I’ve had to even consider watching boxing since the last Mike Tyson – Evander Holyfield match. However, I did run across a showing of “When We Were Kings” on television a few days ago and took the opportunity to watch it again. This is the fantastic Oscar-winning documentary about the Muhammad Ali - George Foreman “Rumble in the Jungle” fight in Africa with incredible footage of the weeks leading up to the fight (not to mention the fight itself) and significant commentary from Norman Mailer and the late George Plimpton. It’s been a few years since I’ve seen the film, but it reminded me again of how this is a fascinating time capsule as it relates to today’s world.
First, there’s no greater tragic irony than the fact that Muhammad Ali, whose rapid-fire verbosity and off-the-cuff conversations are shown at full tilt in the film, now suffers from a degenerative disease that essentially prevents him from speaking. Conceptually, you might understand how much Ali was a talker before along with the general effects of Parkinson’s Disease, but comparing the images of his non-stop personality from “When We Were Kings” to how he is today is stunning and awful. Plus, his current image as being a diplomatic peacemaker is a 180-degree turn from the Rumble in the Jungle days – his politically militant attitude as a disciple of Malcolm X was on full display at the time.
Second, George Foreman had a transformation of a completely different nature. Most people of my generation grew up with an image of the boxer as a somewhat lovable bear of a man that named all of his kids George Foreman and being the face of one of the most successful (if not the most successful) celebrity endorsements in history with his indoor grills. Back in the 1970s, however, Foreman basically had a public reputation on the level of Ron Artest today only without the wacky personality. It’s tough for me to think of any public figure that turned his image around in a more dramatic fashion.
Third, Don King, who essentially made his big-time debut as a promoter with the Rumble in the Jungle and gets a prominent amount of screen time in the film, is exactly the same.
Fourth, James Brown, who performed prior to the fight and also got a good amount of screen time, was as militant as Ali.
Finally, there is the bygone era of when championship boxing matches were paid attention to at the level of the Super Bowl today. Boxing’s future isn’t going to hinge on whether Floyd Mayweather retires – the only real way that there will be a turnaround is if a big-time fight gets back onto the major networks where everyone can watch without having to shell out the equivalent of another month’s cable bill. In the meantime, go watch “When We Were Kings” even if you’re not a boxing or sports fan if only because everyone needs to see a true lasting image of Muhammad Ali in his prime.