Posts Tagged ‘Rip Hamilton’

 

Remember that pinnacle moment in Mad Men where Don Draper takes out a full page ad to bid good riddance to Lucky Strike in an effort to save face in the public eye? This is going to come off a bit like that, but every word is true in the case of disgruntled Orlando Magic Center Dwight Howard: we don’t need you in a Bulls uniform to win a championship. This year. What we need is a healthy Derrick Rose leading the stampede and keeping the other eleven guys involved as he’s gotten us accustomed to seeing. He is a once-in-a-generation leader, a scoring point guard with jump-out-of-the-gym hops who still distributes the ball evenly and efficiently, keeping the guys involved and ultimately creating an on-floor chemistry that leaks into the locker room and permeates their personal lives. These guys are in it to win it. Together. And Derrick is our leader, our most valuable, our hometown hero.

So, why has the topic of trading for the best center in the league become more than just hypothetical hyperbole? Why would we want a player so arrogantly naive he thinks he’s allowed to make lists of teams he’d like to play for? I was happy to see that we were not on his list of potential suitors. We don’t need him. Seriously. No you guys, I’m serious.

In Bill Simmons’ seminal The Book of Basketball, Isiah Thomas reveals that the most important element of winning in basketball is that “it’s not about basketball.” Sounds ridiculous, right? I mean, of course it’s about basketball. The most talented roster wins, right? The team with the best players will win the most championships, right? Wrong. I suppose if that were true, even though his Heat trumped team defense with superstar prowess last summer, LeBron would have at least ring by now, wouldn’t he? The point Chicago’s own Zeke (and Rick Barry of all people, among others) goes on to make through his stories in The Book of Basketball is that championships are won by teams with the best…wait for it…team chemistry. The San Antonio dynasty that is somehow still intact 13 years after their first championship run together thrives on this very principle: high character guys sacrificing their ego for the sake of winning. Because, despite what you’ve heard, let’s face it:  winning is everything.

High character winners are exactly what the Bulls brass has assembled mostly through the draft but also key free agent acquisitions from Jerry Sloan’s Utah Jazz. MVP Derrick Rose won multiple state championships at Simeon and played in the NCAA Championship in his lone season at Memphis. Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng played under legendary (and Chicagoan) Coach K at Duke. Joakim Noah won unheard-of-nowadays-back-to-back ‘chips at Florida. Rip Hamilton won it all at UConn and got a ring in Detroit. What did Dwight Howard accomplish in college? Oh wait, that’s right…

The point I’m getting at and one that all Bulls fans should embrace is that we don’t need Dwight Howard or any other big name malcontent coming to town and screwing up the fragile chemistry that has powered us to the best record in all of basketball land in this shortened season. We have all the pieces in place to win–now.

Dwight Howard will never be an NBA Champion. We’ve built something the old fashioned way here, and he thinks he’s Superman. Hey Dwight: Shaquille O’Neal already took that nickname! And copycat bullshit is something we don’t, and will never, welcome here in Chicago.

It’s not just about basketball. It never is. It’s bigger than that. Bigger than Superman.

And, fin.

I thought I would do something different for this post.

(more…)

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

I think we all understand that there will never be another Michael Jordan. The confluence of events that came together to create the legend are just not there anymore. Jordan is more than a player at this point, he has become a reference point. Perhaps the most apt description of him is that he is the omnipresent shadow that players either shy from (LeBron), imitate (Kobe), or embrace (Rose).

The void left at the shooting guard position after Jordan’s retirement has been filled by a host of characters that merely borrow certain aspects from the G.O.A.T. We’ve seen the scorer (twice), the defender (once) and the clutch shot maker (once, and that dude was way shorter). Indeed, the desire for a decent 2 guard is something Bulls fans live with. It’s become a part of the fabric for this team’s fandom, much like the want for a low post scorer.

I’d still rather have Boozer, but more on that later.

The focus became razor sharp last year as the Bulls decided to go the unconventional route and start their worst option all year. Keith Bogans, often ridiculed, trudged his Deebo looking behind out there for 80+ games and contributed close to nothing. There was even a Bog6 statistic, citing that the Bulls were 26-2 in the regular season every time Bogans scored at least 6 points.

You know the Deebo music just started playing in your head, don’t lie.

When you get right down to it, the teams fortunes actually do hinge on the quality of play the SG position gives you. It became painfully clear in the Heat series that if the Bulls need buckets, they need Rose to be open. Rose can’t be open if the defense continually decides to ignore a position on the court and focus their attention on #1. Clearly Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer were not the answer either. If there was a way to combine them, the option would be clear and the Bulls would be a real force to be reckoned with, but as it stands they will struggle to score against bigger defenses.

Boozer needs to chip in, but again that’s for a different day.

What the Bulls need is a player that can create his own shot and hit the open jumper. When defenses collapse on Rose as he launches his body into a forest of NBA trees, he needs to have a good kickout option.

Rip Hamilton will likely be a Bull by the time you read this, and he is an interesting option. Rip runs endlessly through screens to get open. He is perhaps one of the best to ever move without the ball on a basketball court. I’ve seen him execute figure eights around Ben and Rasheed Wallace multiple times just to lose a defender and hit the open jumper.

The added wrinkle with Rip is that when he gets the ball on the elbow, he is a triple threat. He can shoot from that position, dribble and finish at the bucket or he can pass out and begin the endless race around the maze, tiring out his defensive assignment. Rip is old and has accumulated hard NBA minutes. He was never a great player, but he is a fine piece and would be an upgrade over Keith Bogans.

Rip is not a perfect player, he is not the ideal fit either. But what he does offensively and defensively still presents a marked improvement over last year’s roster. The rotations all get better as the Bulls eliminate a useless player and give more minutes to players with value. If Korver gets back on track and Hamilton gives you some effort the Bulls improve their team in ways seen and unseen, and do so without giving up their frontcourt strength.

The schedule is going to be a grueling one, and the Bulls have three players with injury issues, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah. I’ve heard a lot of Bulls fans clamoring for a trade, some even suggesting that the Bulls trade Omer Asik or Taj Gibson for OJ Mayo.

It is this line of thinking that deludes people into believing in other, lesser talent. OJ Mayo is on his way to being a bust. He hasn’t improved many aspects of his game, and he comes in with one tool, decent defense. He isn’t a player that can create his own shot, try as he might.

There are even some that still want Ben Gordon to come back, and it is at this point that we all need to realize that the guard we are looking for, the guy who can hit the three, play defense, and create his own shot, doesn’t exist on the free agent market. We all want a skill set that is unavailable and are clamoring the front office to make a move that doesn’t exist.

Rip Hamilton grades out better than any free agent SG. He grades out better than most SG’s that would be available via trade, and the Bulls are going to sign him without giving up any depth.

The upcoming season will be a grueling test, a true war of attrition that will claim many teams. The Bulls may in fact take a step back during the regular season as injuries may disrupt the chemistry that is building with this team. What we all need to remember is that it isn’t because the Bulls only signed Rip Hamilton this offseason. It’s a unique situation, and the regular season matters marginally less than what happens in the playoffs.

The true goal isn’t to dominate the regular season, it’s to win a championship. Whoever the Bulls get in place of Bogans will get them closer to the goal.