Posts Tagged ‘miami’

Since We Last Spoke: Brian LaHair has become The Babe reincarnated in Cubbie Blue, Josh Hamilton went on a binge (the home run hitting kind, not the other kind), NATO has begun its takeover of our fine city, President Obama endorsed gay marriage, and we’ve achieved peace in the Middle East. Well, maybe not the last one, but while we’re fantasizing about things that never happened but should…

…The Bulls just swept the listless, overmatched, lazy defending, inconsistent, bite-off-more-than-they-can-chew-by-saying-they’d-rather-see-The-Bulls-in-The-Playoffs Philadelphia 76ers, and they’re up 2-0 against the obviously aging Boston Celtics. Doug Collins has pulled out the last of his receding Silver Fox coiffure trying to figure out how to stop reigning MVP Derrick Rose from shredding his entire team en route to averaging a triple double for the series. The few Sixer fans who’ve bothered to show up for the two games at Wachovia Center chanted, “MVP, MVP!” every time Chicago’s finest stepped to the free throw line to put the nail in the coffin of this clearly inferior team. Luol Deng fed off of D-Rose’s championship tone setting play, and he showed why he was an All-Star earlier this year. Joakim Noah tore up the court the way only he can. He embarrassed the hell out of Spencer Hawes at every opportunity. 

I know this was a shortened season with more likelihood for injury and setbacks, but damn! This was simply ridiculous. There will forever be an asterisk linked to whoever claims Larry O’Brien this year, but this really felt like Da Bulls’ year. For real. Legitimately. The same feeling is probably being felt by Oklahoma City or Miami or (yet again) San Antonio natives this year, too. Well, go ahead and marinate on this: take Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden off of the Thunder. Remove LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh from the Heat roster. Timmy goes down along with Manu and Tony? Hell, take the top three players from any contender, and they instantly become candidates for the lottery. 

Fuck the 2012 NBA season. Derrick Rose may never be the same again. A torn ACL takes away a leaper’s leap and a cutter’s cut, especially a 6’3″ point guard’s ability to explode to the cup the way Derrick does (did?). No one wants to hear this, and I guarantee he feels worse than anybody about the whole situation, but it bears mentioning that without Derrick the Bulls might not ever get back to their championship level with Thibs’ current core. 

Anybody remember Penny Hardaway by any chance? Exactly.

But it has been a depressing season this year for Chicago sports. Not the traditional “our teams suck” brand of depression. It’s the brand of depression that involves high expectations, championship-caliber ball being played and then injuries and unforeseen circumstances taking over the fate of a season. The window in professional sports gets smaller and smaller for franchises, and the Bulls’ window might have just slammed shut with one snap of a kneecap. The same happened with the Bears this year. And the Blackhawks. 

Which brings me to a very important existential question: is it better to have loved and lost or never to have loved at all? The sports version of that conundrum boils down to this: is it better to have a great team and have it injure itself before potential gets realized or just to have sucked all along. Maybe we should round up a gang of Cleveland Browns or Charlotte Bobcats (sorry, Mike) fans to gain some perspective into the world of sucking. Or we can just take a cue from one of our baseball teams, and just, oh my gosh, I can’t believe I’m saying this…
…wait till next year.

Moe Rubio is running through the gauntlet and posting every day for 12 straight days, here is day three of Bullsmas.

The NBA villains arrived with pomp, a WWF (I’ll always call it WWF, WWE just looks stupid) style intro to announce that the heels of the basketball world were here to destroy your dreams and crush your hearts. They were winning multiple championships, so just start handing them over. The death knight trio of Bosh, Wade and James were coming.

And so they faltered out of the gates early last season, failed to set an NBA record for wins, were swept by the Bulls in the regular season, had trouble finding chemistry, looked downright lost at times and while they did advance to the NBA Finals, they were beaten by a veteran team that no one predicted would come this far.

Basketball narratives are a fickle beast. Destiny has been calling for a Kobe-LeBron showdown of epic proportions, the battle to determine whose legacy will be everlasting. It’s the type of match up that dreams and nightmares are made of, the classic battle of two sublime basketball would be legends looking to forever cement themselves in the minds of bucket heads as the superior player.

It hasn’t happened yet, and with the dwindling star of Kobe Bryant fading into the background, a new epic is looking to unfold. There are many challengers to the throne, but the two teams whose fates are seemingly intertwined are the Chicago Bulls and the Miami Heat.

Miami has been building towards this moment. There have been numerous rumors circulation around when Dwyane Wade began to whisper sweet nothings into the ears of James and Bosh. You can look back on the false ceremony celebrating a basketball God, when the Heat retired the number of Michael Jordan a full year before the summer of LeBron. LeBron would later fill out the paperwork to change his number from 23 to 6. At the time Bulls fans took it as a sign that the King would make his court in the shadow of a legend.

Perhaps the challenge of living up to Jordan proved too intimidating, but the more likely story is that James and Wade had this planned all along, hoping to drum up interest for themselves and have a lavish coming out party. Like debutantes strolling out to meet their dates, the trio made its way down a catwalk, hoping that destiny would take notice and hand them something that every NBA legend has worked for.

And so the series of events that were set in motion from years previous marched on. Two franchises that have developed somewhat of a minor rivalry pushed both fan bases into full on hate mode.

Being labeled the bad guy is one thing, it’s entirely a different thing to embrace the cold and unloving embrace that is the villain moniker. LeBron James is struggling to find his bearing as the bad guy. Ultimately I think James is a good man. He loves his kids, looks out for his friends, and the brand of basketball he plays isn’t cutthroat. It’s smooth, majestic, it’s beautiful ball.

Being labeled the good guy is one thing, it’s entirely a different thing to rise up and slay the dragon when it comes your way. Derrick Rose has the soul of an assassin within him, and as last year proved he is willing to push it to the limit when it comes to improving his game. This Bulls team has to rise to the challenge with him, because I feel that a rematch with the Miami Heat is inevitable.

It has the makings of an epic story, a true rivalry that the NBA has lacked since the days of Bird and Magic. The dogs of hell will be unleashed again as the two teams will likely do battle again for Eastern Conference supremacy. The pleasantries should be gone by then, and the question will be renewed again with Rose and James.

The Heat improved their fortunes by adding a battle tested veteran in Shane Battier. His contributions are both visible and intangible. He can hit the open 3, plays great defense and is one of the smarter players in the league. He adds depth in the frontcourt, something Miami has been sorely lacking since their deal with the devil.

This is the nicest, least creepy picture I could find of Lucifer.

The arms race is being won by the Miami Heat at this point, but as we all know, champions are not predestined, they are not determined by the offseason. The Heat will have to find out what LeBron James is made of in the playoffs in order for them to succeed. For all the brilliance we witnessed in the Bulls series, the giant became a dwarf on the games biggest stage.

LeBron missed his call to join and perhaps even surpass Michael Jordan. The most sublimely talented athlete I’ve ever seen is a mental midget. He’s 6’8 and 260 lbs of fast, but when the time comes for him to impose his will, he disappears. The cold blooded killer is missing in him. The constellation of NBA superstars is littered with great athletes and tremendous talents, but the inner circle is reserved for those who didn’t shy away from the challenge.

The basketball fan in me knows that LeBron James will eventually be a champion. His talent can only be denied for so long before it shows itself in full force on the games biggest stage. But for most fans something will always be missing, he will be more Dr. J and less MJ.

The NBA anti-heroes have a clear inside lane to a championship. The team in their way is perhaps the perfect underdog to root for, but make no mistake, the Heat are a team to be reckoned with.

The Heat and the Bulls play each other 4 times in a shortened season, that should tell you all you need to know about what the league thinks of this match up. The song that best describes the rivalry is below.