Bulls

Hype and Money

Hype and Money

Friday, July 2, 2010
1:09 AM

By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

Just in time for the most American of holidays, those of us who follow sports with unbridled passion are getting a heaping dose of the dynamic duo of the American sporting world. Can you venture into any form of media these days without avoiding the LeBron saga? The amount of attention that hes getting is making Brett Favre blush. The funny thing about this is, Im being asked more questions about NBA free agency than I was about the ENTIRE NBA season! And why not? It combines two of our favorite things: speculation and big time bucks.

The beauty of the constant speculation and opinions being offered is that until LeBron decides, nobodys wrong (operative word being YET!). Who wants to debate the misery that is the Cubs when the pipe dream of LeBrons eminent arrival can dance like sugar plums in the heads of the Chicago sports fan, still intoxicated from the Blackhawks run of a lifetime? (Has anyone else been traded in the last 5 minutes?) Ive always joked, when asked which was my favorite of the teams that I rooted for, that it was always the one that was in their off-season because they at least had hope. Same way here. As long as we dont know, and no one does know, its fun to dream of what can be, like when you waste your money, again, on a Mega-Millions ticket. For now, the LeBron saga has no escape hatch. On radio, TV, or the internet, its 24-7 on whos going where and why, and whos not going anywhere, and why. And also for now, unlike with Favre, Im not fed up with it (YET!).

Like I said before, this past NBA season had a decided lack of interest. People are still fans, but I just dont think that they care as much. I think that one of the reasons is because of the restrictive NBA salary cap, the lack of movement of some top players deprives the NBA of a shot in the arm in cities with struggling teams or teams that are close and need that final piece. It seems that when teams are bad that they stay bad for a long time, until the weight of a bad contract can be lifted. Can you say Ben Wallace? While especially in baseball and football there are ways to deal with a bad contract, theres not a lot of wiggle room in the NBA. Before the season starts, we already know who the major players are, so just like with any NBA game, you just have to tune in at the end. So the prospect of a half-dozen marquis players changing teams, with the possibility of some of them pairing up together is very enticing. Then you have my favorite part of this whole drama: the wild-card. While everything I listen to is pretty straight forward, Chicago and Cleveland are his probable destinations, I would like to think, that with so many moving parts in this game of musical chairs, that something strange could happen, something that no one expected. Thats why one of my favorite things to do while discussing this at the bar is to bring up the crazy Russian theory. That would be the owner of the New Jersey Nets, billionaire Mikhail Prokorov.

This dude is worth BIG-TIME money. Im just thinking out loud here, but I dont think he became the 39th richest person in the world, according to Forbes, by finishing in second place a lot. Hes taking on some risk buying into the league, but is he just another Donald Sterling, content to be the joke second team of a major media market? Do you think co-owner, rap mogul Jay-Z, would buy into that? For both of these guys, everything they touch turns into gold, LITERALLY, would they settle for less here? Doesnt every athlete want to be a musician and every musician an athlete? If you wanted to get into music, wouldnt you want to have Jay-Z close by? And despite the 70 loss season of last year, there are some nice pieces in New Jersey in Brook Lopez, (The Big man in the post every winning team needs.) Devin Harris and Courtney Lee. First round draft picks Derrick Favors and Damion James are extremely talented and well thought of. These guys are better than anything the Knicks have, plus playing in Newark or Brooklyn would still mean that youre a player in the largest media market in the world. Also as an aside, I love the hiring of Avery Johnson as head coach. Hes a great motivator and a winner. So does LeBron to New Jersey seem that far fetched? And thats the beauty of playing this game for us fans, until its over, almost anything can make sense. Come into the bar over the weekend and on Saturday Ill tell you why he definitely is staying in Cleveland and on Sunday why hes going to the Knicks. Im just doing my best to keep the hype machine going and the beer taps flowing!

Three Things to Watch: Bulls dance with Warriors

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Three Things to Watch: Bulls dance with Warriors

Is there any better way to break in your new Black Friday television than Bulls-Warriors tonight? We think not. Coverage starts at 9 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live, and the game is also available to stream via the NBC Sports app

Here are three things to keep your eye on: 

1. Not the score. Let's be honest: the Bulls probably won't sneak out a win at the Oracle. In fact, ESPN's matchup predictor only gives Fred Hoiberg's young squad a 2.9 percent chance to come up victorious. UIC has three times better odds against juggernaut Kentucky at Rupp Arena on Sunday, in case you needed some context.  

With the talent gap in mind, though, it will be important for the Bulls to come out with high energy. The Warriors will likely take the contest lightly in the first half, so starting off strong reflects well on the coaching staff and starters. Stay within 10 points by the half, and that's considered a massive triumph. 

2. Lauri Markkanen vs. Draymond Green? Assuming the Dubs start out with Green on Markkanen, this will be rookie's biggest test of the season. Green is an elite defender, capable of wrecking gameplans from the tip. He's physical, quick and athletic. 

Markkanen is coming off two duds on the West Coast trip, but his aggressiveness hasn't wavered. It'll be important for him to continue to attack even with the reigning Defensive Player of the Year hounding him. 

3. Steph, KD and Klay doin' work. The Bulls offense hasn't exactly been a thing of beauty through the first 16 games. Their offensive rating is a brutal 94.4, ranked last in the NBA. Golden State, on the other hand, sits at the top with a rating of 113.1. 

Take some time to admire the skills of Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson because when it comes to working cohesively on offense, they've set the gold standard. 

What Chicago sports fans should be thankful for

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USA TODAY

What Chicago sports fans should be thankful for

Families gather and people talk about things they are thankful for on Thanksgiving, but what are Chicago sports fans happy for now?

Raised expectations on the North Side

Got to be thankful that a “disappointing” season is winning the division and losing in the NLCS. The expectations have skyrocketed, and that’s thanks to a ridiculous nucleus of bats and a steady front office. Not many clubs can say that. Also, though, it’s important to be appreciative of the Wrigley bar stretch. They may charge $8 for a Miller Lite, but it’s always a damn good party.

Javy tags, too. Don't forget Javy tags.

Rebuild sparking hope in White Sox fans

Where to begin? Obviously, be thankful for the plethora of young talent that will soon take over the South Side. Be thankful for Avi Time (while you still can). Be thankful that taking your friends or family to a game won’t cause you to take out a second mortgage. Be thankful for the 2020 World Series and, of course, 2020 MVP Eloy Jimenez. But most importantly, be thankful that Rick Hahn’s phone stays buzzing.

Eddie O back in the booth for the Blackhawks

The Blackhawks are having a rough start to the season, but at least Eddie Olczyk is back in the booth. The longtime Blackhawks broadcaster returned to the booth on Oct. 18 after missing time while undergoing chemotherapy treatments for colon cancer.

With some of the key names from the Blackhawks’ title runs either leaving or being unable to play this season (in the case of Marian Hossa), Blackhawks fans are probably thankful to see a familiar face and hear a familiar voice during games.

Lauri Markkanen leading the Bulls rebuild

OK, there’s not much to be thankful for about the current Bulls team. At 3-13, the Bulls are tied for the fewest wins in the NBA (maybe in the long-term that’s something to be thankful for as well). However, Zach LaVine’s pending debut after his eventual return from injury should help create some excitement.

The thing Bulls fans really should be thankful for this year is the play of rookie Lauri Markkanen. The 20-year-old leads the team in scoring (14.6 points per game) and rebounds (8.3 per game) while shooting at a high percentage (34.2 percent on threes and 50.6 percent on twos). It’s only the beginning of the Bulls’ rebuild, but Markkanen is a good start.

Mitchapalooza

If a few things broke the Bears’ way, Chicagoans could have been grateful that the team was finally out of the cellar. Instead, we’ll settle for the fact that there seems to be some building blocks already in place. Mitchell Trubisky, Tarik Cohen, Leonard Floyd and Akiem Hicks seem to fit that category. Also, some may be thankful that this is likely John Fox’s last season at the helm.

Fire ending a playoff drought

After finishing dead last in MLS in 2015 and 2016, the Fire were one of the most improved teams in the league in 2017. After posting the third best record in the league, the Fire made a first playoff appearance since 2012.

The playoff run didn’t last long with the Fire losing a play-in game at home, but the arrival of Bastian Schweinsteiger and the league’s leading goal-scorer, Nemanja Nikolic, helped fill the stadium with six sellouts and gave Fire fans something to cheer for.