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Archive for the tag “Taj Gibson”

The Winds Of Change Are Blowing In Chicago

(photo courtesy of Rob Grabowski/USA Today Sports)

(photo courtesy of Rob Grabowski/USA Today Sports)

The Chicago Bulls have had a slow start to the season. There have been games where they have shown up, games where they have been missing in action and everything in between. The firing of Tom Thibodeau and hiring of Fred Hoiberg in his place was supposed to get the offense going. But instead of getting the offense going, the Bulls have seemingly been stunted on that end. They rank at the back end of the NBA in scoring, worse than they did last season. And on the defensive end, they are not giving the same effort they used to. Only one guy has been consistent throughout all their ups and down this season: guard Jimmy Butler. But if they are to pick it up, some things have to change. Jimmy Butler went public this week, criticizing coach Hoiberg and saying that he needed to be harder on everyone, including him. The win on Thursday versus the Oklahoma City Thunder is only is a temporary coat of makeup to cover the blemishes they have. The Bulls have no identity. It used to be that they played harder than anyone else and played stingy defense. But this year that cannot even be counted on and they have coasted in some games as well. In this situation, something has to change and change now.

In the 2015 NBA Draft, the Chicago Bulls drafted power forward Bobby Portis. The young big man out of Arkansas can shoot the three, post up and he can handle the basketball. He seems to be a matchup nightmare for teams on a nightly basis. But because of the gluttony of big men the Bulls have (Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, Nikola Mirotic, Taj Gibson), he cannot get any playing time. As a result, there have been many rumors floating around of shaking the Bulls’ roster up and trading at least one of these big men to free up time for Portis. But which one should it be? Each one of these players bring a different element to the team. And in different times, all of them have stepped up and helped get a win for the team. But standing at 16-12 is not what they imagined this year and something has to change. There will be plenty of people looking at acquiring Pau Gasol. The 36 year old is very skilled and has championship experience (won two rings with the Los Angeles Lakers). Taj is the grit and grime player for the Bulls. But the difference between he and Noah is Gibson can score when given the opportunity and has a better stroke. With Mirotic, the Bulls are still trying to figure it out. He has some good games, but he has some games where he is non-existent. And this staff is also trying to figure out whether they want to play him at the small forward or the power forward position. That leaves Noah, who is currently out with a shoulder injury, as the best possible odd man out.

Noah’s shoulder injury he has is not expected to be anything too series. The veteran center is supposed to be back in two weeks. And if he shows that he is healthy, he will draw some trade interest. The most attractive thing about him is that he is a guy that does not require the basketball to make an impact. He can be your secondary ball-handler, a defensive anchor and he will make all the hustle plays that a championship team needs. And to top it all off, he has a contract that is expiring at the end of the season. Whoever is to trade for him, they will essentially have the rest of the season to check him out. And if they don’t like what they see, then they can let him go and not have to be tied up to his contract. The Bulls would more than likely be looking for another wing player or potentially their point guard of the future in this deal also. Nothing is set in stone, but Noah is definitely dangling out there for someone to take. And for many, it is just a matter of “when” and not “if” when it comes to Noah leaving town.

The Bulls have been identified by two players for some time now: Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose. They both had some good and bad times, but the fact of the matter is their time is all but up in Chicago. Noah is a free agent this season and Rose will a free agent in 2017. The winds of change are blowing in the Windy City and Rose and Noah could be the next few to get swept out of town. But as far as this offseason, the change is definitely necessary because Bobby Portis is too skilled to be sitting on the bench not getting playing time. And Noah may be the guy that has to go that will clear way for him to get more playing time.

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PSA: Say No To Homerism

Patriots fans made it pretty clear what they thought this recent incident was about. (photo courtesy of www.blacksportsonline.com)

Patriots fans made it pretty clear what they thought this recent incident was about. (photo courtesy of http://www.blacksportsonline.com)

The passion for sports seems to stir at the very core of all sports fans. You have to love when a fantastic play happens and when a fantastic finish makes goosebumps pop up on your skin. And what makes those moments even better is when your favorite team is on the positive end of that moment. The pride you have for the team you root for goes to another level. And there are some that talk trash before, during and after the great moment that happened. But along with that, there is also the sports fan that takes it too far. We all know that one sports fan that can never recognize when his/her team or a player on his/her does anything wrong. We call this homerism. And it seems to run rampant at times when a supporter of a team does not know when to recognize things. Unfortunately, there is no talking to this type of fan because in their world, the thought that the team they support did something wrong is insane to them. And in the end, they will never believe you. Honestly, if a homer is reading this piece, they probably will not know it’s talking about them, but maybe they will recognize some of the examples here like the everyday sports fan does.

The New England Patriots fans are passionate about their team. New England has been a successful team ever since quarterback Tom Brady took over for Drew Bledsoe. The pairing of Brady with head coach Bill Belichick has led to great success and multiple Super Bowl rings. But this pairing is not without its criticism. Back in 2007, the Patriots were found guilty of taping the New York Jets signals. Now videotaping things is legal in the NFL, but only within certain parameters. The Patriots violated those parameters and it ended up costing them a 1st round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft(31st overall) and the NFL fined Bill Belichick $500,000. In that instance, there were many Patriots fans that felt the NFL was out to get them. And there were even some that were giving off the vibe that there was nothing wrong with what the Patriots did and the NFL was picking on them. Well, if the NFL was picking on them, would the Patriots be as successful as they were as a franchise? I don’t believe they would if the NFL was deliberately sabotaging them and their success. And in the most recent issue, Deflategate, the same feelings have come about again. The feelings of the league is out to come get them despite the commissioner being chummy with the owner of the Patriots for all these years is something that can be laughable at times. And what is even more laughable is the defense of Brady in this one. Brady could be innocent in this matter and he did answer all questions from the NFL investigators. But when he was asked for information from his cellphone, he refused to do so. Ted Wells, the independent investigator on this investigation, even said that he would not take his phone and only take copies of the texts he asked for. Brady and his representation still refused to do so. Instead of viewing that as an act to cover up things, many that are Patriots fans are viewing Brady as right to not do so. Honestly, if it were someone else that was not a Patriot player, then the Patriots fans would not be reacting the way that they are. They would be reacting with the rest of us in this matter. But alas, the homerism has thrown a glaze over their eyes at this point. And in this matter, the team over everything has become the mantra. This instance even has some Patriots fans throwing out there how the suspension is unfair and judging what Brady did on the field to instances where players got in trouble off the field. Newsflash: each case is a separate entity. Not one of these cases has the same premise. You may not like how they are handled by the NFL, but they do not have one thing that is common about them all. But in the end, there will continue to be those that continue to try an tell us that the Patriots are the “woe is me” team and that “the NFL is picking on them” despite being one of the most successful franchises over the last decade.

But this isn’t the only instance where homerism took over the scene. In Cleveland, emotions are high as LeBron James has returned home and brought with him championship aspirations. And when LeBron-led teams face the Chicago Bulls, it seems that tensions always run high. Earlier in Game 3, there was an instance of words between James and Bulls big man Joakim Noah. That began to rise some of the tension in this series. But in Game 5, the game took another turn late in the fourth quarter. Bulls forward Taj Gibson was thrown out of the game after it was perceived, at first glance, that he kicked Cavaliers backup guard Matthew Dellavedova after those two getting into it a little bit down the stretch of the game. But after further glance, it was noticed that Dellavedova actually locked Gibson’s leg where he could not disengage from him. The result was Gibson violently pulling his foot from Dellavedova’s grasp. Looking around social media, there were plenty that were calling Gibson a few choice words and saying that he deserved to be kicked out of the game. But many of those that were yelling that were fans that did not see the entire incident and also there were many that were Cavs fans. Of course the instigator did not get caught in this instance initially and with replay, he should have been caught. But unfortunately, he was not assessed a technical foul until after the game and that absolutely does nothing for Gibson. And with Gibson kicked out of the game, the Bulls could have used him to maybe secure that big rebound or get a big putback in the game. Instead, he was in the locker room and Dellavedova was out on the court helping his team win. But leave it to some Cleveland fans their player’s actions and focus on the opposing team’s action. And even after seeing the video of the instance, some even were still able to put all the blame on Gibson and none of Dellavedova. Now could Gibson have handled that one better? Yes he could have. But that does not excuse the mess that Dellavedova helped cause and instigate. And if you know any of his history from college, you will know Dellavedova has a history of being an instigator. Apparently, that instigator in him has not changed a bit. But leave it to some Cavaliers fans to say he was a saint on that play.

Both are examples of blind faith and belief that some have in their teams. And unfortunately, this is just a small sample of homerism in the sports world. The unfortunate part is this happens tons of times and these are some of the mild instances where it rears its ugly head. It’s all good cheering for your favorite team. But sometimes you have to take the tint of your team off your glasses so you can see things clearly. If you don’t, homerism has taken over your sports perspective. And that disease could be one that you could potentially not recover from as a fan of sports. This is a PSA for homerism. Don’t do it. It can be a plague on your sports life.

Playoff Time Is The Chicago Bulls’ Time Too?

(Derrick Rose picture via http://www.bleacherreport.com)

The playoffs have finally descended upon us and now it’s time to separate the contenders from the pretenders. People have talked about the Miami Heat. People have talked about the Oklahoma City Thunder. But is anyone talking about the Chicago Bulls? And if people are, should they?

The Bulls once again had a big regular season. In this strike-shortened season, the Bulls finished with 50 wins, obtaining the best record in the NBA and locking up homecourt advantage for the entirety of the playoffs. But this year, they did it most unconventionally.

The Bulls brought in veteran shooting guard Richard “Rip” Hamilton from the Detroit Pistons in hopes of him being able to relieve some of the pressure on Derrick Rose. But what the Bulls didn’t expect was the injuries to pile up. Rip hasn’t even played 20 games this year, as he has dealt with a groin and shoulder injury. He’s been back in the lineup for a good stretch, but can we expect to see the old Rip Hamilton or will we see him continue to breakdown like he has all year?

Rip hasn’t been the only player with an injury this year. Derrick Rose suffered five separate injuries this year and missed a ton of the season as well. Luol Deng also is playing with a torn ligament in his wrist and has been toughing it out all year. He has missed some games as well. But despite all of this, the Bulls have made it through. And some may wonder why or how they have. They have made it through because of their bench.

At some point and time, Kyle Korver, John Lucas III, CJ Watson, Omer Asik, Taj Gibson and Ronnie Brewer have stepped in and picked up the slack for the Bulls. With this added experience, the Bulls have an advantage with depth and potency coming in off the bench.

But is this more experienced bench going to be able to help the Bulls make it to the next level? The answer is no. The Bulls will only go as far as the star power of Rose and the veteran leadership of Rip will lead them. When Rose gets doubled, Rip is their best threat and playmaker and he has to be effective. Another huge factor will be the play of Carlos Boozer. The Bulls brought him in to help lead their team and now it’s time for him to step up. He disappeared in the Miami series last year and has played uneven against them this year. He has to give them something in the post so they can at least have a little bit of a semblance of a post game. In the end, defense can only carry you so far and the offense has to step it up. It should be interesting to see if they are ready or if they are just following the same path they did last year in their Conference finals’ embarrassment versus the Heat.

What are your thoughts? Do you think the Bulls are ready to take the championship this year or do you think their regular season was Fool’s Gold?

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