Bulls

Sam: Reinsdorf in favor of quick end to lockout?

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Sam: Reinsdorf in favor of quick end to lockout?

As NBA labor negotiations again go deep into the night -- somewhat minimized by the circus going in State College, Pa. -- with the hopes of ending the ongoing lockout, one aspect that hasn't been considered is the faction of league owners who aren't hard-liners. Among them, according to reports, is Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf.

That shouldn't be surprising, given that under Reinsdorf's leadership, the Bulls have been one of the most profitable franchises in the league. Of course, much of that is due to the impact of Michael Jordan, but after His Airness' (ironically, one of the aforementioned hard-line owners, reportedly) second of three retirements in 1998, the Bulls continued to rank among the NBA's leaders in attendance, even when they had some truly horrific squads.

In the nation's third-largest market, coming off a successful season and having the reigning league MVP and one of the NBA's brightest young stars, it's only logical that Reinsdorf would want a deal made as soon as possible. With Reinsdorf signing off and through the astute personnel moves made by executive vice president John Paxson, general manager Gar Forman and the rest of Chicago's front office, as well as recommendations of head coach Tom Thibodeau, assembled a cohesive, fiscally-responsible roster that's clearly built to contend for a title and equipped with enough youth, assets and flexibility to make adjustments down the road.

Why wouldn't Reinsdorf want to capitalize on that momentum?

Without knowing his net worth, just by owning the White Sox, it's clear that Reinsdorf has at least one other lucrative revenue stream. Therefore, it's unlikely that he's hurting as much as some of these small-market owners claim the NBA's current system has affected them.

Conversely, this is a man who also deals with baseball's more free-market economy and while the Sox's last World Series title was recent, Reinsdorf was at the helm when he bought a fairly downtrodden Bulls team (which coincided with Jordan's arrival), saw the organization become a dynasty, watched it go through another frustrating era and then stayed patient long enough to see it again grow into a league power.

In short, he might not say it -- due to NBA commissioner David Stern's gag order for owners during the lockout -- but no, it's not shocking at all to learn that "The Chairman" wants an end to this never-ending circus, even if his franchise will miss its annual November circus trip.

Michael Jordan delivers heart-wrenching eulogy for Kobe Bryant

Michael Jordan delivers heart-wrenching eulogy for Kobe Bryant

Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant were more than competitors, more than peers... More than even friends. Jordan made as much clear in eulogizing Bryant at a public memorial for him and his daughter Gigi at Staples Center on Monday.

Amid a beautifully numbing overall ceremony, Jordan’s comments struck the perfect balance between reflective, hilarious, heart-warming and gut-wrenching. My words couldn’t possibly do it justice. Here are Jordan’s, in full:

 

“Maybe it would surprise people that Kobe and I are very close friends,” Jordan said. “Kobe was my dear friend, he was like a little brother. Everyone always wanted to talk about the comparisons between he and I. I just wanted to talk about Kobe.”

And so he did. Highlights included a perfectly-timed ‘Crying Jordan’ meme quip and Jordan recalling countless late-night (and early-morning) conversations with Bryant about everything from basketball to business to family. On a day meant to be a celebration of life, Jordan delivered a deeply intimate look into his and Bryant’s relationship, and all the ways Bryant inspired him. It was incredibly powerful.

 

“He wanted to be the best basketball player he could be. As I got to know him, I wanted the best big brother that I could be,” Jordan said.

That manifested in those aforementioned conversations, which Jordan said turned from an “aggravation” to a deep passion over the course of knowing Bryant.

“He knows how to get you in a way that affects you personally, even if he’s being a pain in the ass,” Jordan said. “But you always have a sense of love for him, and the way he can bring out the best in you. And he did that for me.

“I remember maybe a couple months ago, he sends me a text. And he said ‘I’m trying to teach my daughter some moves, and I don’t know what I was thinking or what I was working on, but what were you working on as you were growing up trying to work on your moves?’ I said ‘What age?’ He said: ‘12.’ I said, ‘At 12 I was trying to play baseball’... And this was at 2 o’clock in the morning. But the thing about him is we could talk about anything related to basketball and anything related to life.” 

Jordan’s most emotional moments of speaking came when he detailed Bryant’s passion for basketball and family, and his unwavering desire to make those around him better. Those are the things that will endure.

“When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died,” Jordan said. “I promise you, from this day forward, I will live with the memories of knowing that I had a little brother that I tried to help in every way I could.” 

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NBA Power Rankings: Lakers dynamic duo will be tough to beat in the playoffs

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USA Today

NBA Power Rankings: Lakers dynamic duo will be tough to beat in the playoffs

The latest chapter in the storied rivalry between the Celtics and Lakers unfolded Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles with a national television audience watching all the drama.

Boston’s Jayson Tatum continued his ascension as one of the league’s clutch scorers by pouting in 41 points, helping his team grab a late lead at Staples Center. But when it comes to clutch performances, it’s hard to beat the Lakers’ superstar duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

James hit a step-back jumper to give his team a one point lead and then Anthony Davis hit three of four free throws down the stretch to give L.A. a 114-112 victory, increasing their latest winning streak to five games.

The Lakers are now five games up on Denver for the top seed in the West and they’ve strengthened their bench with the addition of veteran forward Markieff Morris, who was bought out of his contract by the Pistons last week.

While many NBA analysts believe the crosstown Clippers should be favored over the Lakers in a potential conference finals, it’s hard to beat the chemistry that James and Davis have displayed in their first season together.

James has become the de facto point guard for the Lakers, with his primary focus to get the ball to Davis at his favorite spots on the court. James is more than willing to accept the co-star role at this point in his career as he looks to win a fourth championship. And that approach should serve the Lakers well as they get ready to start the playoffs in mid-April.

The Clippers might look good on paper, but with Paul George in and out of the line-up because of a variety of injuries, time is starting to work against Doc Rivers’ team in trying to develop the on-court chemistry that is critical to playoff success.

Barring an upset, the battle of L.A. should play out in an exciting seven game series in late May. Basketball fans can hardly wait.

Now on to this week’s power rankings.