Preps Talk

Starting Five: Bulls at Lakers

Starting Five: Bulls at Lakers

Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010
5:18 PM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

1. Bulls power forward Taj Gibson expects to play in tonights game against the Lakers after aggravating a foot injury Sunday and missing the teams practices that day and Monday. I think I should be able to playWe worked on it all morning, the last couple hours, the day before, said Gibson, who claims he was told by doctors that he couldnt further aggravate the injury by playing. Im feeling a lot better. Once they figured out what it was, that helped it heal faster. When they saw the MRI, did the check-up to make sure I was okay, they said he should treat the injury with some ice and stim electronic stimulation.

Continued Gibson, who said the injury was unrelated to the plantar fasciitis that troubled him since last season: Even if Im a little down, when the game comes, everything just changes. Im looking forward to trying to play; looking forward to playing, actuallyIm just happy that there werent any tears or anything. When we were looking at the film, they the doctors were all shaky-faced; their faces were all screwed-up. Its just a little aggravation. Thibodeau chimed in, He said hes feeling a lot better today, so its encouragingWe didnt think it was anything major, but we were cautionary Mondaygoing to the doctor, see how he feels tonight before the gameand if hes ready to go, he goes.

2. Reserve forward Brian Scalabrine, another USC product, expressed much stronger sentiments about practicing at his rival school. Ill tell you what: I dont have good nights here. I feel like we should have went to SC the University of Southern California, his alma mater or even maybe the Staples Center at shootaround, but I can come in this gym UCLAs Student Activity Center. I dont really have any hatred toward this place right here. I mean, I have some hatred of Pauley Pavilion, UCLAs home gym. Listen, Im not going to hide it: I hate UCLA; thats just the way it is. I like USC, I hate UCLA. I want them to lose, I want USC to win, said Scalabrine before shootaround.

We battled, but Im not like the guys nowadays that have friends and stuff like that at other places. When we were there, we hated UCLA; I wanted them to lose every game. I dont know how they felt about us, but thats just how it is. Added Scalabrine: I played one time in the vaunted summer pickup games at UCLA. They argue too much. Magic Johnson, manhe cheats. You cant ever get any games going. I come to work; I dont come to argue. I could argue at home if I wantbut top-notch runs here.

Scalabrine also opined about the Bulls opponent tonight and whether they were an improved team with the additions of free agents Matt Barnes and Steve Blake, the improvement of Shannon Brown and Kobe Bryants hot start. I think theyre a better team, but for thema team like thatthey won a championship; you dont know how all that is going to work in June. It might work in June. All sights point to them maybe working in June, but you just never know, said Scalabrine.

You never know. In 08, we Boston won the championship and the next year, K.G. Kevin Garnett has the knee thing and we were out in the second round vs. Orlando. You never know whats going to happen. We thought we were poised to win that championship, just like we thought we were poised to win last years championship. I dont think you never know how thats going to play out. Especially in the playoffs, I think the cream rises to the top, and clearly they have guys that have performed at that level and have done well, but the other guys have stuff to prove.

3. After Sundays practice at the Staples Center, Derrick Rose discussed the underrated Lamar Odom, his teammate from the FIBA World Championships gold medal-winning USA Basketball squad. Hes Odom a good dude. Works hard, loves the game, really helpful to his teamhes going to eat offensively. Rebounds, tip-ins, push the ball up the floor. If theres an advantage, hes going to drive the ball, get to the line. Hes going to ball when hes on the floor, said Rose.

When youve got a guy thats been playing the power forward spot for numerous years and you put on a team USA Basketball where hes got to play centerhe started for us at center, so he had to stick Luis Scola and all the other great European centers over thereso that was kind of weird and he took that challenge. Rose went on to talk about Odoms intense pregame preparation. You could just tell Odom was a champion by the way he prepared for the games. He does a whole body workout before a game. I call it a prison workout. Hell be in the locker, the coach will be talking and hell do million little workoutspush-ups, sit-ups. Everybody was laughing like, Man, here he goes with his workout. Put his towel down and do a whole bunch of workouts. But the way he prepares for games in unbelievable. Thats why hes where hes at right now.

Rose also noted his alma mater, Chicagos Simeon Career Academy, being ranked as the preseason top team in the city and No. 10 nationally, with speculation the perennial prep powerhouse could be better than his back-to-back state championship squads. Theyve Simeon got a chance to do it. Theyve got a lot of young talent, good coaching staff there and it would be great if they could have another team like that his own team, said Rose.

4. Thibodeau talked about his history with Bryant after Sundays practice, which goes back to the superstars days as a high school phenom at Lower Merion High School in suburban Philadelphia. He was so driven. He was a high school kid and when he had a day off from school, and hed be in the gym from eight in the morning until eight at night. He was trying to play against the pros and watch everything, lift weights. You know his talent. In high school, when he was playing against pros, he looked like he belonged with them. You knew he was going to be special, but I think his drive is what he really separates him.

When you combine that drive and his intelligence with his talent, hes top of the line, recalled Thibodeau, who joked that his knowledge of Bryants game hasnt helped me very much. His dad former NBA player Joe Jellybean Bryant was coaching at La Salle and John Lucas was the head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers. They had known each other for a long time and we were practicing at St. Joes St. Josephs University. In Philly, everyone was around. High school players, college players, you had prosthey were all in the same gymbut you could just tell. The way he would study everything was amazing for a high school kid.
5. Dont forget to follow me on Twitter at @CSNBullsInsider.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.coms Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Breaking: LW East AJ Henning to Michigan

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NBC Sports Chicago

Breaking: LW East AJ Henning to Michigan

Lincoln-Way East 4 star ranked running back AJ Henning (5-foot-10, 183 pounds) today gave the University of Michigan his verbal commitment.

"At the end of the day Michigan was just the best overall for me," Henning said. "Michigan has stuck with me in this process for a long time including when I was injured and never backed off. Michigan also recruited me but also  got to know my family well which really made a strong impression on me."

Henning, who narrowed down his final list of schools to Michigan. Georgia, Notre Dame and Penn State new that Michigan was his school after his recent official visit. 

"When I made my official visit to Michigan is when I knew that I found my school. I was able to just get a great feel for the coaches and the guys on the team on my official visits. I just felt that I will be a great fit at Michigan socially, athletically, academically and that I really fit in well with the guys on the team. After my official visit I knew that Michigan was the place I needed to be."

Henning, who ended up selecting Michigan over scholarship offers from 33 FBS schools  is bit thrilled and relived to have announced his college choice.

"It's definitely a relief, but just being able to be recruited and offered scholarships from 33 different schools is a true blessing. I'm just glad I found a home in Michigan."

The 1995-1998 Bulls belong on the list of 10 greatest lineups in NBA history

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AP

The 1995-1998 Bulls belong on the list of 10 greatest lineups in NBA history

Listen, Tom. We like you. A lot. You do incredible work and you give us shoutouts. But we had to read through your latest piece, “Ranking the 10 greatest lineups in NBA history,” a few times before realizing you had a massive omission.

We present the following: The 1995-1998 Chicago Bulls.


PG: Ron Harper
SG: Michael Jordan
SF: Scottie Pippen
PF: Toni Kukoc
C: Dennis Rodman

Total All-Star appearances: 23
MVP Players: 1
DPOY Players: 2
Finals MVP Players: 1
Titles won together: 3

We thank you for mentioning Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in your piece. They were pretty good, we agree. We’ll dig a little deeper on those two to begin our argument. From 1995 to 1998, Jordan averaged 29.6 points on 48% shooting, 6.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.9 steals. He also didn’t miss a game, playing in 304 of a possible 304 games. He was also named league MVP twice and Finals MVP all three years. Pippen wasn’t too shabby a sidekick, averaging 19.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.8 assists in that three-year span.

These guys were all-time greats, but you might have forgotten that they weren’t alone.

All Dennis Rodman did in this three-season span was lead the league in rebounding all three years (15.3 per game). He wasn’t the same All-Star talent that he was in his Detroit days – also a two-time Defensive Player of the Year – and his San Antonio stint but he was still critical to the Bulls’ success. The Worm had a little bit of Draymond Green in him, not afraid to take on any defensive assignment to allow the Bulls a little more versatility. He got assignments of Shawn Kemp and Karl Malone in the Finals.

Kukoc is where we bend the rules a bit, but we hope you’ll allow it (mostly because our argument turns to dust if we need to talk about Luc Longley). Kukoc was the 1996 Sixth Man of the Year (hey, you said they could be closing lineups, too) and was a model of consistency in those three seasons. He averaged 13.2 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists and gave the Bulls another ball handler and distributor, as well as versatile defense. He’s at times the forgotten gem of the Jerry Krause era, and he’s more than just a funny story from the Dream Team era.

The Bulls had their Iguodala, too. Ron Harper averaged a modest 7.7 points and 2.7 assists in these three seasons with the Bulls. But he also did it with a 14.9% usage rate. That was lower than Bill Wennington’s usage rate of 17.0% in that same span! Let’s not forget that Harper had averaged 19.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists in eight seasons with the Cavaliers and Clippers before signing with the Jordan-less Bulls. He would have had a much larger and more effective role had Jordan not returned (we’re glad he did). In 1998, Harper also had the pleasure of guarding Gary Payton and John Stockton in the Bulls’ three Finals victories. Have you had enough of the Iggy comparisons yet?

So there it is. Five incredible players to put together three remarkable championship seasons that included the Greatest Team in the History of Basketball (our capitalization intended). Feel free to update your story as needed.