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46  General Category / Sports / Re: Scottie Pippen in the NBA Basketball Hall of Fame on: August 10, 2010, 01:25:18 pm
Armstrong: Tough to match up with Pippen’s versatility

"I don't know what position Scottie was; he was just a basketball player," said B.J. Armstrong of Bulls legend Scottie Pippen, who will be enshrined in basketball's Hall of Fame on Aug. 13. "He could dribble, shoot, pass and rebound. Defensively, he was excellent. He had quick hands and quick feet with a great understanding of the game. He could do it all."

“Scottie's game changed with where he was at physically,” said B.J. Armstrong of Pippen. “He wasn’t the same player at 21 as he was at 30. Both he and Michael aged gracefully in this league and that’s the beauty of being a professional player. You continue to grow and continue to change your game, but you do it to be just as effective.”
(Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images)

Scottie Pippen | Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame | Class of 2010

By Adam Fluck | 08.03.10

There was a player everyone called “Buck” who B.J. Armstrong and just about everyone else from Michigan watched during the late 1970s and into the 1980s. Buck grew up in Lansing, won the NCAA tournament with Michigan State, and claimed five NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Buck, of course, was Earvin "Magic" Johnson Jr. Years later, Armstrong, in his second season as a pro, was a reserve player for the Bulls, who were playing Magic’s Lakers for their first championship in the 1991 NBA Finals.

Los Angeles stole Game 1 in Chicago and Game 2 looked like more of the same in the first half. There was talk that perhaps the Bulls weren’t quite yet ready to win it all. Then, Head Coach Phil Jackson made a switch and tasked Scottie Pippen with defending Magic for the rest of the series. The move paid off.

“Scottie was so versatile as a player, as was Magic, who was a point guard at 6-9, and he for the first time matched his presence on the floor,” Armstrong said of the match up. “I thought that was a turning point for us in that series because with Scottie on Magic, we could match them size for size, speed for speed, and everything else about the physicality of that match up.”

The Bulls went on to take four consecutive games for their first of six NBA titles. By the time of the team’s third one in 1993, Armstrong had solidified a spot in the starting lineup. Looking back on Pippen’s career in a recent interview, it’s the versatility that keeps coming to mind for Armstrong.

Armstrong came to the Bulls in 1989, just two seasons after Pippen and Horace Grant’s arrival. It didn’t take long for the youth to mesh with Michael Jordan, making them the dominant force in the NBA of the 1990s.
(Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images)
“I don’t know what position Scottie was; he was just a basketball player,” said Armstrong of Pippen, who will be enshrined in basketball’s Hall of Fame on Aug. 13. “He could dribble, shoot, pass and rebound. Defensively, he was excellent. He had quick hands and quick feet with a great understanding of the game. He could do it all.”

Armstrong came to the Bulls in 1989, just two seasons after Pippen and Horace Grant’s arrival. It didn’t take long for the youth to mesh with Michael Jordan, making them the dominant force in the NBA of the 1990s.

“I was very fortunate to be playing alongside some great players for wonderful coaches in a terrific organization,” said Armstrong. “We were all young. But when you put a group of young people together and give them an opportunity to grow and experience their trials and tribulations, good things can happen.”

Coming from the Midwest and playing in the Big 10 at Iowa, Armstrong didn’t have a lot in common at first with Pippen, who grew up in Arkansas and attended Central Arkansas.

“I didn’t know much about Scottie,” admitted Armstrong. “He came from a small school, but it became very apparent that he was a special talent—so long and athletic. The thing that made him very unique as a player is that he would rebound the basketball and then push it up and initiate the break. That’s very tough to defend going against that kind of player, and he excelled at it.”

Where Pippen really made his mark was practice, Armstrong said, where he and Jordan set a standard in which teammates had no choice but to follow.

“As good as he was in games—and he was terrific—he was that much better in practice,” recalled Armstrong. “He and Michael were the best practice players I’ve ever seen. I have no idea why they loved it so much or what their reasoning was, but they enjoyed practice. Scottie never complained about practice; he always showed up with that smile on his face. He was a great practice player and the ultimate professional in that regard.”

To Armstrong, talent and toughness are two qualities a team needs to win in the NBA. Jordan's and Pippen’s talents were obvious to everyone, but the way that they carried the responsibility of being the hardest workers on the team made them the best of the best.

“If your best players are taking a shortcut, they’re going to have problems holding everyone else accountable and responsible. Both Michael and Scottie were very accountable and responsible young men to their team, the franchise and themselves. They took their jobs very seriously and that made everyone else hold themselves accountable.”

Pippen’s leadership was tested in the fall of 1993, when Jordan announced his first retirement. The Bulls faced life without their leader following three straight championships and uncertainty was in the air. But Pippen was ready to respond and Chicago went 55-27 that season.

“Scottie had one of his greatest years and he was an MVP-type performer,” said Armstrong of the 1993-94 campaign. “He was incredible and he had an opportunity to explore every aspect of his game. We had a great year and certainly exceeded anyone’s expectations of what we were going to do minus Michael and that was an achievement in itself.

“The ultimate prize is to play in the final game of the season and we didn’t do that,” Armstrong continued. “But we all proved to ourselves that we could do it. When Michael did come back, his confidence, plus the year or so we had without him, gave us even greater confidence as a team.”

Though Pippen, Armstrong and the Bulls did fall short of the Finals, they put to rest the constant ‘what if Michael were here?’ mentality which was ingrained in the team’s minds. And while Pippen excelled, so did Armstrong, who averaged a career-best 14.8 points per game that year and was voted a starter in the 1994 NBA All-Star Game.

Statistically speaking, Pippen was at his best without Jordan, notching career bests in scoring (22.0 ppg), rebounding (8.7 rpg), and steals (2.93 spg). But Armstrong insisted that his intangibles made him such a valuable teammate.

“He always had a smile on his face. That was Scottie,” said Armstrong. “Everyone talks about a great teammate, but he really was a great guy to play with. He may have been having a 25 or 30-point game, but if he knew you were struggling, he’d find a way to get you going as well.”

As the book on Pippen’s playing career is essentially closed with the highest honor of the game next week in Springfield, Mass., Armstrong echoed the comments made by so many who played with No. 33.

“Tremendous teammate, that’s what comes to mind when I think of Scottie Pippen,” said Armstrong. “He was a very caring teammate who was always concerned about the team. The way he played and expressed himself on the floor exemplified who he was as a player. He was so versatile—he could defend, rebound and pass. He had a great understanding of the game and he was a wonderful athlete. He is so deserving of being in the Hall of Fame.”

47  General Category / Sports / Re: Scottie Pippen in the NBA Basketball Hall of Fame on: August 10, 2010, 01:23:14 pm
Originaly posted "On The Road with Marty Blake".
1) Scottie Pippen (Central Arkansas) – Drafted in the first round of the 1987 NBA Draft as the fifth pick by Seattle and then traded to the Chicago Bulls for Olden Polynice who was taken as the seventh pick in the first round

I had invited a player named J.P. Lovelady (Arkansas Tech) to come to our rookie summer camp in the 1960s when I was GM of the St. Louis Hawks. He was 6-5 ½ and 210 and played both the two and the three and I felt I really had a sleeper since I knew I didn’t even have to draft him. I felt I had discovered another Jerry Sloan and planned to sign him when he arrived in St. Louis. As fate would have it, he was killed in an auto accident before our camp. I made arrangements for flowers and to attend his funeral.

Going quickly forward, near 20 years later I received a call from Archie Jones, who reminded me that he was a freshman on the Arkansas Tech team when Lovelady was a senior. He was now an assistant coach at Central Arkansas and had a junior player who he said had NBA potential. He reminded me of my interest in Lovelady and said, “You have to see this kid play.” He pointed out that Pippen was a little older and more mature than most college players.

I told everyone about him and some teams sent scouts to see him that next season but few turned in glowing reports. An associate of Chicago’s Jerry Krause told him the game was like a YMCA church league game and you couldn’t tell a thing. M.K. Turk, the genial head coach of Southern Mississippi, came to the rescue. He scheduled Central Arkansas on his fall schedule. I flew down to Hattiesburg unannounced, bought a ticket and sat way up in the stands to watch Pippen score 37 (more or less). A quick call to the PIT headquarters earned him an invite to that tourney and the rest is history. Credit Krause for making the moves to get him; Portland was ready to grab him at No. 6 until Jerry switched deals with the Sonics. Scottie played 17 years in the NBA.
48  General Category / Sports / Re: Scottie Pippen in the NBA Basketball Hall of Fame on: August 10, 2010, 01:21:44 pm
Jackson: Pippen an obvious choice for Hall of Fame

“Scottie is an obvious choice for the Hall of Fame,” said legendary coach Phil Jackson of Pippen’s upcoming enshrinement. “I know how much he will value this experience and cherish the honor.”

"His greatest strength was his knowledge of how things worked on the defensive end of the floor," Jackson said of Pippen. "Scottie was the voice of our team—figuratively and literally, as he did a lot of the talking and kept our team on the same page." (Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images)

Scottie Pippen | Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame | Class of 2010

By Adam Fluck | 07.30.10

It was a late fall morning very early in Scottie Pippen’s professional career, as it was for Phil Jackson too, for that matter. The Bulls, at the time, held practices at the Deerfield Multiplex, with the coaches’ offices located just off the baseline, only 12 or so feet away from the court.

When Jackson and his staff emerged a few minutes before practice started, they saw Pippen and Michael Jordan on the side of the court working on a segment of the team’s offense called the “corner series.”

“They were making a reverse pivot and Scottie was going to the basket dunking with his left hand,” Jackson recalled in a recent phone interview with “Michael was trying to learn from Scottie how to get the steps right to finish with his left hand. That was something that Scottie could do which Michael wanted in his repertoire.”

Yes, even the game’s greatest player ever learned a thing or two from his teammates from time to time. But Pippen, of course, was no typical teammate. Though he and Jordan had their ups and downs throughout their time together, Jackson’s seemingly insignificant anecdote signified the kind of relationship they had—one that started early on and continued throughout Chicago’s dynasty of the 1990s.

“It was the tremendous amount of respect that they had for each other,” Jackson said regarding why Pippen and Jordan’s relationship worked. “They both worked incredibly hard on their game, always putting in the extra work to be better players. They had an understanding of how to get a job accomplished and there was regular collaboration between the two of them that brought an incredible amount of success to that basketball team.”

“Michael came back from the Olympics and he told me Scottie was the second best player on that team,” said Jackson of Jordan, Pippen and the 1992 Dream Team.
(NBAE/Getty Images)

On Aug. 13, Pippen will join Jordan and Jackson in basketball’s Hall of Fame. The moment will come some 24 years after the legendary coach first saw Pippen, a lanky, relatively unknown out of Central Arkansas, a NAIA school at the time.

It was the summer of 1986 and Jackson was coaching his last season for the Albany Patroons of the Continental Basketball Association. He watched as Pippen put on a show during a draft combine.

“He showed a remarkable amount of capabilities playing the guard position given his size,” said Jackson. “He also demonstrated a tremendous level of activity on both ends of the floor and fast breaks. Defensively, you could see he had a great deal of talent.”

The next fall, the two were paired together in Chicago—Pippen as a rookie with the Bulls and Jackson as one of Doug Collins’ assistant coaches.

“We quickly developed a relationship because of that,” said Jackson. “We would occasionally play one-on-one, as I was able to still play a little bit of basketball.”

Though Pippen did not start right away, averaging only 7.9 points per game his first season, he worked his way into the starting five for good by the time the 1988 NBA Playoffs rolled around.

“It seemed like every time he got on the court, good things would happen,” Jackson recalled. “He had an opportunity to help us win games almost immediately, many times from the defensive end of the floor.”

While Jordan scored at a torrid pace, Pippen quickly became the anchor of the team, providing the stability it greatly needed as the 1990s approached. His scoring came around as well, as his production increased in each of his first five professional seasons.

Though Jackson had played Pippen at the small forward position early in his career, a seemingly obvious choice given his 6-7, 228-pound frame, he made a change heading into his fourth year.

“I always felt Scottie’s contribution to our team became elevated when we moved him from being a forward to a guard in the 1990-91 season,” said Jackson. “Using Scottie at the guard position within the triangle offense allowed him to do all the things that he did so well.”

Defensively, Jackson explained, Pippen had made his mark by then, knowing when to overplay, make steals and play help defense. The shift to the backcourt allowed him to do all of those things on opposing shooting guards, while also taking better advantage of his offensive skills.

“He would rebound and push the ball, which really put us in an ideal situation to set up our offense,” explained Jackson. “His skills at guard with the basketball in his hands put a tremendous amount of pressure on opponents to match up.”

"When Michael retired for the first time and left to play baseball, Scottie took over the leadership of the team," Jackson said of the 1993-94 season. "We all saw him bloom into a star."
(NBAE/Getty Images)

Taking advantage of Pippen’s size and versatility was perhaps never more useful than during Chicago’s first championship run.

Taking on the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1991 NBA Finals, the Bulls lost the first game, 93-91, at the old Chicago Stadium. Jackson made a switch and assigned Pippen to Magic Johnson for the rest of the series, resulting in four straight victories and the organization’s first of six NBA titles.

Not long after, Pippen was chosen to join the Jordan, Magic, Larry Bird and the best of the NBA on the 1992 Dream Team, which will also be enshrined in the Hall of Fame on Aug. 13. That team easily captured gold in Barcelona, captivating the world’s attention and dominating its competition.

Jackson recalled a conversation he had with Jordan following the Dream Team’s legendary run.

“Michael came back from the Olympics and he told me Scottie was the second best player on that team,” said Jackson. “People knew he was a pretty good sidekick to Michael, but all of a sudden, they were starting to recognize that he was a legitimate star in his own right who had really developed over the prior three to four years. He wasn’t just an active, defensive small forward anymore. He was a player who could excel at three, if not four, positions. He was a real force on our team in that regard and Michael recognized that.”

But Pippen’s best work had yet to come. Following the Bulls’ first three championships, Jordan unexpectedly walked away from the game on October 6, 1993. A heavy onus was placed squarely on Pippen’s shoulders, and there was some doubt as to how he might respond.

“When Michael retired for the first time and left to play baseball, Scottie took over the leadership of the team,” Jackson said of the 1993-94 season. “We all saw him bloom into a star. He was MVP of the All-Star game and finished third in the NBA MVP voting. He stepped into his role and had a terrific season.”

That season didn’t start out so great, though. Pippen missed a small stretch due to injury, including the team’s annual Circus Trip, and the Bulls struggled, losing six out of seven games and falling to a record of 4-7 early in the season. Pippen returned on Nov. 30, as the Bulls came home to Chicago to take on the Suns and attempted to get back on track.

“He had a huge game,” Jackson said of Pippen, who finished with 29 points, 11 rebounds and six assists in a 132-113 win. “But it was more than that. Scottie established the fact that we were going to be fine. He showed that night he was going to be comfortable taking over that leadership role. He of course went on to have a great season and we had a great year.”

Whereas Jordan and Bill Cartwright had previously been team captions, Jackson praised Pippen for taking the initiative to step up and embrace that role.

“Scottie moved into that position with a tremendous amount of comfort,” said Jackson. “He was always a very good person on and off the court. He understood his teammates and he helped them out. That was a major development in Scottie’s career.”

For Jackson, pinpointing Pippen’s finest qualities from a career that spanned 17 seasons and seven NBA All-Star appearances comes down to defense.

“His greatest strength was his knowledge of how things worked on the defensive end of the floor,” he said. “Scottie was the voice of our team—figuratively and literally, as he did a lot of the talking and kept our team on the same page. When he wasn’t at the top of the key harassing a guard as a special assignment, he was on the backside of our defense talking his teammates through different situations, whether it was a double team, trap or some other important aspect. Because of that, he was very vital to the run that we made.”

Given Pippen’s knowledge and his new role as team ambassador for the Bulls, Jackson said he wouldn’t be surprised to see Pippen eventually work his way into the coaching ranks.

“Scottie has a great understanding of basketball. I think that he would make a good coach and there is an opportunity for him,” said Jackson, who does not plan on attending the enshrinement ceremony in Springfield, Mass.

“I’m really glad that he’s back with the Bulls and has a chance to find his way in whatever capacity he ends up around the game,” Jackson continued. “This is his opportunity to really re-establish himself back in Chicago, where he didn’t get the chance to play all that much when he closed out his career.”
49  General Category / Sports / Scottie Pippen in the NBA Basketball Hall of Fame on: August 10, 2010, 01:18:01 pm
Michael Jordan to present Scottie Pippen at Hall of Fame

“I can’t think of a better person to do it,” said Pippen of Jordan presenting him at the Hall of Fame. “Michael is someone I shared my career with, accomplishing most of what I have accomplished thus far. He was a great teammate, teacher and admirer.”

Bulls legend Scottie Pippen will be presented by Michael Jordan during his induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday, Aug. 13 in Springfield, Mass.
(Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images)

Scottie Pippen | Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame | Class of 2010

By Adam Fluck | 08.09.10

Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan were side-by-side for countless memories during the Chicago Bulls’ dynasty of the 1990s, winning six world championships in eight seasons.

This Friday in Springfield, Mass., they will come together once again to share what will certainly be a bright spotlight.

Pippen has chosen Jordan to present him during his induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

“I can’t think of a better person to do it,” said Pippen on Monday. “Michael is someone I shared my career with, accomplishing most of what I have accomplished thus far. He was a great teammate, teacher and admirer. I’m excited to have an opportunity to be the first person that he has presented into the Hall of Fame. I figure if anyone deserves to be on the stage with me, it’s him.”

Jordan, who entered basketball’s Hall of Fame last September, selected former North Carolina State star David Thompson to be by his side. Having grown up in North Carolina, Jordan watched as Thompson led the Wolfpack to the NCAA national championship in 1974.

“I was in love with David Thompson,” said Jordan in his speech of his selection. “Not just for the game of basketball, but in terms of what he represented. We all go through our trials and tribulations. He did, and I was inspired by him.”

Later in Jordan’s speech, he mentioned several individuals who pushed and motivated him throughout his career. Shots were taken, in true Jordan style, but he offered sincere thanks to one person immediately after overcoming an initial rush of emotion—his longtime running mate, Pippen.

“In all the videos, you never just saw me,” said Jordan. “You saw Scottie Pippen, every championship I won.”

Perhaps a second option for Pippen, had he needed one, would have been Phil Jackson, but the eleven-time NBA champion as a coach will not attend the ceremony.

“I wish Phil could be there,” said Pippen. “He did so much for me throughout my career, but this will be a lot of fun. It will give Michael and me a chance to be on a big stage together one final time.”

Pippen said Jordan was “thrilled and overwhelmed” by the invitation.

Besides Jordan and Jackson, Pippen said he considered several other Hall of Famers to present him, including Julius Erving, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Moses Malone.

“I had other guys that I thought about, but Michael was by far the obvious choice and an easy one for me to make,” said Pippen.

As for the days to come leading up to his enshrinement both as an individual player and member of the 1992 Dream Team, Pippen said he’s still got a little ways to go before his speech is fine-tuned and ready for prime time. But he’s getting close.

“It’s going to be a work in progress until I’m actually able to deliver it,” said Pippen. “You always tend to change things. I can see myself getting up there, deviating from my original thoughts and speaking from the heart. After all these years, I just want to express all my thoughts about how grateful I am for the game and everything it has given me.”

On Tuesday, Pippen will be joined by friends, family and former teammates at Chicago’s Trump International Hotel & Tower for a private party. Pippen will arrive in Springfield on Thursday and attend the Hall of Fame’s “Reunion Reception,” featuring the Class of 2010 and returning Hall of Famers, that evening. Following a press conference Friday morning, the highlight of the weekend will take place at 6 p.m. on NBA TV, when the 2010 Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony airs live.

“I’m looking forward to it all,” said Pippen of the upcoming festivities. “To be around my teammates, who were always so supportive, will mean a lot. I can’t wait for that moment when I’m up on the stage. It’s a very exciting week for me and I’m ready to embrace it all. It signifies closing the book on my playing career, so I want to take a deep breath, cherish it, and be thankful.”

For Pippen, time has flown by since getting the call from the Hall of Fame at the end of March. He recently took a job with the Bulls as team ambassador and moved his family back to the Chicagoland area to live full-time. While one chapter of his life ends, another begins.

“It will be a thrill to be joining such an elite group and have my day of recognition,” said Pippen of entering the Hall of Fame. “From there, I’m ready to move on. I’m looking forward to being part of the Bulls organization once again and can’t wait for the season to get started.” and BullsTV will be in Springfield, Mass. for Pippen’s Hall of Fame induction.
Stay tuned all week for more on this historic event
50  Genres of Film & Literature / Videogames / NBA2K11 will feature 10 different versions of Michael Jordan on: July 22, 2010, 03:36:07 pm
NBA2K11 will feature 10 different versions of Michael Jordan
By Kyle Kosteron July 22, 2010 8:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

Gamers who can't get enough Michael Jordan in their virtual lives have to be salivating all over themselves with the news that NBA2K11, which hits stores Oct. 5, will feature a special "Jordan Challenge," in which users can play as 10 different versions of the former Bulls great.

2K Sports, which manufactures the game, previously made headlines when the company announced that Jordan would grace the cover of the title.  This bucks a long trend of selecting one of the NBA's current stars for the honor.

According to a report from CNBC's Darren Rovell, the Jordan Challenge will allow the gamer to operate M.J. at different points of his career - from the 1986 version that scored 63 in the playoffs against Boston to the 1998 version that hit the title-clinching shot against Utah.

Yes, the "flu Jordan" is included. In this, the user will have to guide their virtual No. 23 through virtual sickness.

"We wanted fans to be able to relive those moments and have a chance to play with different Jordan moments," Jason Argent, vice president of marketing for 2K Sports, said. "So we recreated all the teams, the matchups, the uniforms, everything from the time period of his most remembered games."

Play on, players.
51  General Category / Sports / Reinsdorf: 'I think we'll be better' than Heat on: July 09, 2010, 03:12:45 pm
Reinsdorf: 'I think we'll be better' than Heat
July 9, 2010 2:35 PM | 3 Comments
By K.C. Johnson

Jerry Reinsdorf doesn't have LeBron James, but he does still have a sense of humor.

"I forgot to watch TV last night," the Bulls' chairman said Friday in a phone interview. "Anything happen?"

What happened, of course, is that James spurned the Bulls to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. But Reinsdorf said he has no regrets about the Bulls' free-agency pursuits and disputed a report the Bulls refused to meet James' personal demands during their July 3 sitdown in Cleveland.

"He didn't ask for special privileges except for us to hire his trainer," Reinsdorf said. "And we said yes to that. That was it. We certainly didn't say no to anything.

"Look, what these players did was follow a dream, which is their absolute right. They took less money to play together. And LeBron would've made so much more money off the court playing in Chicago than he will in Miami. But they're following a dream. I respect that.

"I also think we're a better team than Miami right now, assuming we get a shooting guard. Of course, with LeBron we would've been a great team. Without him, we're still going to be a very good team. If you look at the Miami roster with these three guys but not much else, I think we'll be better next year."

Reinsdorf said his favorite moment from the Bulls' free-agent pursuits was watching James and new coach Tom Thibodeau talk basketball. James praised Thibodeau during Thursday night's announcement special.

"The interplay between those two was particularly enjoyable," Reinsdorf said. "They had a great basketball discussion. I was really impressed with Thibodeau.

"I enjoyed the process, not only with LeBron but with everybody else. We made great presentations."

Wade met with the Bulls twice over 30 hours on July 1 and 2 and many have speculated Wade only did so disingeniously.

"I don't think he was," Reinsdorf said. "All along, his preference was to go back to Miami; I don't doubt that. But at some point, he was concerned LeBron wasn't going to go there and he would end up all alone. And he considered us seriously as a backup. I got the impression that we were under serious consideration, both from Dwyane and his representative."

Ultimately, the Bulls landed two-time All-Star power forward Carlos Boozer, who was to be introduced Friday afternoon at the Berto Center. Boozer left a Cavaliers franchise led by then-general manager Jim Paxson -- who is now a Bulls' consultant -- under controversial circumstances when the franchise accused him of reneging on a verbal commitment to join the Jazz.

"Thibodeau wanted Boozer over (Chris) Bosh," Reinsdorf said. "He was ecstatic when we got him.

"And we've talked about trading for Boozer over the last few years and Jim always encouraged us to get him if we could."

In other news, the Bulls acquired a 2011 second-round pick after completing a sign-and-trade of Hakim Warrick to the Suns.

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52  General Category / Sports / Cavs coach Scott backs owner's LeBron remarks on: July 09, 2010, 03:11:00 pm

Cavs coach Scott backs owner's LeBron remarks
July 9, 2010 1:25 PM | 1 Comment

A driver in downtown Cleveland expresses his feeling about LeBron James leaving town. (Amy Sancetta/AP)

Tribune News Services

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- Life without LeBron has begun for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

One day after LeBron James ended his seven-year stay with the Cavs by announcing he will join the Miami Heat, a move owner Dan Gilbert called a "cowardly betrayal," general manager Chris Grant and coach Byron Scott say their goal remains an NBA championship.

Scott, hired last month not knowing if James would be back, said Friday that he has no problem with Gilbert's pointed remarks directed at James. Gilbert told The Associated Press he believes James quit in the playoffs the past two seasons.

Scott says he admires Gilbert for being passionate, and says the owner was speaking from his heart.

 "I'm both feet in with him," Scott said.
53  Genres of Film & Literature / Videogames / Re: Michael Jordan to grace cover of 'NBA 2K11' on: July 08, 2010, 04:02:52 pm
The 98 team could have kept it together for one more year, but, as I recall from the papers at that time:  Jackson didn't get along with Krause and was the first to announce he was leaving. No one ever mentions that! Reinsdorf leaned towards Krause (remarkably), but he did offer Phil a one year deal and Phil turned it down. I still remember Phil riding away on his motorcycle away from the United Center. Krause announced that he was going to hire Tim Floyd (we all know how that went), and Jordan, who didn't want to place himself in the hands of a rookie coach decided to retire. From then on, Krause, who built the current team around Jordan, decided it didn't make sense to keep them all together and traded everyone away - Pippen, Luc Longley, Steve Kerr. Rodman, I think, was just let go and the only one they kept was Krause favorite Tony Kukoc. They won 13 games that strike-shortened year, which would have been an easy win had the team been kept together.
The next year, they got a decent new building block in Elton Brand, then decided he wasn't good enough and traded him away to get the rights to draft Tyson Chandler, who they thought had a better "up side."  We all know what happened then as the Bulls tried to pin their hopes on two high schoolers:  Chandler and perpetual underachiever Eddie Curry.
Now, all this happened under Krause, who ended up turning into a pretty petty GM (remember:  "players don't win championships, organizations win championships"), so let's give credit where credit is due.
It wasn't until John Paxson took over that the Bulls even began getting to the playoffs again, five of the last six years, and it is really appalling how people malign him on the Chicago newspaper sites. If the championship years taught us anything, it's this:  in the NBA, where individual talent and drive play a much bigger role than in any other sport, you have to have at least two of the best superstars in the league in order to win a title.

54  Genres of Film & Literature / Videogames / Michael Jordan to grace cover of 'NBA 2K11' on: July 08, 2010, 03:11:43 pm

Michael Jordan to grace cover of 'NBA 2K11'
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6 Recommend An image teasing the appearance of Michael Jordan on the cover of 'NBA 2K11.'
For the cover of its pro basketball franchise, publisher 2K Sports has turned to "His Airness."

The publisher has confirmed Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan will appear on the cover of NBA 2K11 when it releases on October 5.

"It's an honor to be featured on the cover of NBA 2K11," Jordan said in a statement. "I have no doubt that NBA 2K11 will be a big hit with gamers and basketball fans alike. I'm looking forward to getting back out onto the court, virtually. Let's hope they get my dunk from the foul line right."

Jordan's appearance in any sports title is a rare occurrence. NBA licensing deals did not include rights to use the Bulls icon's likeness, so many NBA simulations during his playing career often featured a generic player in his place. Among some of the games Jordan appeared in: NES title Jordan vs. Bird: One on One and SNES game Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City.

Jason Argent, vice president of marketing for 2K Sports, says developers have discussed adding Jordan to the game for years, but it wasn't until 2K11 that a partnership came together.

"We're very confident that this year ... will not only be the best basketball game we've ever put out, but the best basketball game that's ever been put out," Argent said in an interview. "When you start thinking about people that can accurately represent that in the game of basketball, the list is short. And, frankly, the greatest basketball player of all time seemed to be the greatest fit."

Argent did not go into detail on how Jordan will be used in NBA 2K11, which usually reflects the upcoming NBA season. However, he did say Jordan will play an "integral part" in the game's variety of options, and offered input into the development of his virtual persona.

Readers, what do you think of Jordan on the cover?

By Brett Molina

Tags:NBA Michael Jordan 2K
55  General Category / Sports / Countdown to the LeBronocalypse on: July 08, 2010, 03:05:44 pm
Countdown to the LeBronocalypse Bill Simmons
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Careful; this column will self-destruct at 9 on Thursday night. I can't remember writing a column that had a shorter shelf life. Twelve hours and it turns bad like leftover sushi. Let's call this "Twenty-Three Random Thoughts Before Tonight's LeBronocalypse."
1. A few weeks after the 2008 Summer Olympics, Someone Who Knows Things told me the following rumor: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Chris Paul became such good friends during the 2007 Olympic trials, and then during their 2008 Olympics excursion in Beijing, that they actually made a pact in China to play together. You know, like one of those pacts in a chick flick where two friends agree to get married if both of them are single when they turn 40.
As the rumor went, the 2010 free agents (LeBron, Wade and Bosh) would sign with the same team (at that point the Knicks if they created enough cap room), then Paul would join them in 2012 (or sooner). I thought this was the craziest thing I had ever heard -- so crazy, I only mentioned it once (in a November '08 column). It reminded me of being in my mid-20s in Las Vegas, gambling in the wee hours with my single high school buddies, then all of us drunkenly saying, "We should all pick one city and live there, we'd just go out and kill it every night!" Then you wake up the next morning and forget it was ever discussed. So even if the China rumor was true, that didn't mean it was actually going to happen. Or so I thought.
2. Fast-forward two summers: If LeBron says the word "Miami" tonight, does that mean the rumor was true? Or at least discussed by those guys? Because how could anyone make up something that loony? In 2008, you and I could have sat in a room for 10 hours trying to make up the craziest possible sports rumor and never come up with "Bosh, LeBron, Wade and/or Paul all made a pact in China to play together" without throwing in some improbably bizarre addendum like, "And they did so right after covering up the shooting of Jayson Williams' chauffeur." Was the rumor accurate? Did they stick to their guns? Will we ever find out the truth? Because if they did make a pact, that means …
3. Stephen A. Smith wins the Woodward & Bernstein Award for reporting last week that Wade/LeBron/Bosh in Miami was "done." I thought it was ridiculous. How could it be "done"? Bosh and LeBron were committing to an owner, president and coach without meeting any of them?
My guess at the time: Smith got word that Miami was in the lead, took it and ran with it, then hoped he was right. If he was right, he became the big winner of the summer of 2010. If he was wrong, he could always claim that he WAS right, but that something got screwed up and things changed. I busted his chops a few times on Twitter about it; when he reported one week later that Bosh might be heading for Houston, it sure seemed like Smith was talking out of his butt like Ace Ventura. But if LeBron announces Miami tonight? Then Smith is vindicated and I'm giving myself the byline "William J. Simmons" in my next column as an apology. Although …
4. I'm still not crazy about any report that says "done" unless it's definitely, 100 percent done.
Quick tangent: I like the engagement-ring corollary for all sports reporting. If a friend calls me and says "I'm engaged," I always want to know if they actually got the ring. Give her the ring, you're engaged. If not, "Let's get married" may have been something thrown out there during a drunken dinner, right after sex, during a makeup session after an argument … who the hell knows? I want to see that ring. Once you get the ring, there's no going back. You're locked in. You can get out, but it's almost impossible, and even worse, you might have a one-carat diamond whipped at you at 65 miles an hour.
Had Smith said, "I learned tonight that Miami is the prohibitive favorite to get all three; someone would have to go back on their word for this not to happen," then it played out the way it had, he would have been the Nostradamu-SAS of this thing. But he tried to get engaged without the ring. Still, he gets a partial credit for sniffing it out. Nobody else had the Miami scenario. And if Smith DID have accurate intelligence and it WAS done, then that means the guys panicked and concocted every event these past eight days -- every waffle, every leak, every extra meeting -- just to throw us off the scent.
Did they willfully snooker the general public? Four red flags indicate they may have (assuming LeBron signs with Miami, of course).
5. Red Flag No. 1: Wade and Bosh (who have the same agent, by the way) hired documentary crews to follow them around. As any reality-show junkie knows, if there's no drama, you have to manufacture it. Well, how could a free-agency documentary (or reality show, or web series, or whatever they do with this footage) have drama if both guys decided where they were going weeks ago? You'd have to center it around Wade's upcoming divorce, or Bosh struggling to decide whether to stay with his girlfriend or hook up with those gorgeous half-Cuban models that only exist in South Beach. And neither guy would ever do that. So what works? Indecision. Meetings. More meetings. A lot of "agonizing." If this footage ever sees the light of day, I bet the acting is worse than your average episode of "The Hills." You wait.
6. Red Flag No. 2: Wade's second visit with Chicago (the old "I really might do this, look, I'm meeting with them again!" trick) was a textbook reality ploy. Look, I've logged my fair share of reality TV over the years. It's one of my vices, along with gambling, Sour Patch kids, Sly Stallone movies and unprotected sex in hotel saunas. (Fine, I made that last one up.) If I were producing Wade's documentary, I would have told him, "After we meet with the Bulls, let's leak information that you want to meet them a second time, and that you want to be closer to your kids post-divorce, then after the meeting we'll shoot a scene of you walking along Lake Michigan deep in thought like you're deciding what to do. Just trust me. It will be great TV." That's what you do when you fake reality. And that second Chicago meeting sure seemed fake.
(Also helping this theory: Multiple teams -- that's right, multiple -- believe Wade went through the free-agency process partly to spy on Miami's competitors for Pat Riley. And if he did? Savvy. Why not? Did you ever think an NBA free-agency period would include the word "spy"? That would have been the wackiest thing that happened this summer if Darko Milicic, Channing Frye, Amir Johnson and Drew Gooden hadn't signed for a combined $114 million on the same day Atlanta offered Joe Johnson $120 million to thank him for leading the Hawks to a four-game sweep in Round 2 in which they were outscored by 25 points per game.)
7. Red Flag No. 3: Wade is 28 years old and just finishing a bitter divorce. He's earned max money for exactly three years and doesn't have a second payday looming in 2016 like Bosh and LeBron do. As we learned with Antoine Walker and Allen Iverson, "wealthy" superstars are never quite as wealthy as we think. Walking away from a sixth guaranteed year in Miami (and no state income tax) when he's battled serious injuries in the past? No way. This was his one chance to bank as much money as possible. It was always going to be Miami.
8. Red Flag No. 4: Bosh clearly wanted to emerge from this summer more famous than he was. I know this because he hired his own documentary crew. Because he made an "Entourage" cameo last month. Because someone who attended one of Bosh's free-agent meetings told me that Bosh was considerably more concerned with his camera crew than hearing the team's pitch. Because he asked his Twitter followers where he should play next year -- a slap in the face to everyone in Toronto who supported him these past seven years -- and because I attended two different 2010 Lakers games at which Bosh inexplicably walked a complete lap around the court while holding hands with his girlfriend, like someone who just wanted to be seen. And it worked. You see a 7-foot basketball player strolling 0.02 miles an hour around a basketball court, you're going to notice him.
If you want fame, then attaching yourself to Wade and/or LeBron in a major market is the way to go. That's what Bosh did. Orlando's Stan Van Gundy even hissed yesterday that Bosh followed Wade around for two weeks like a "lapdog." Doesn't sound like someone who ever seriously considered anywhere but Miami. Add those four red flags together and it's pretty clear, in retrospect, that Wade and Bosh never seriously looked elsewhere. You know, because any time you can play in a city with such rich basketball tradition, you have to do it. It's hard not to get inspired during the national anthem when you see Rony Seikaly's number in the rafters.
9. If one more person refers to Bosh as a "superstar," I'm going to scream. His résumé: seven seasons, 11 career playoff games, one second-team All-NBA selection, never played in a big game in his life other than the gold-medal game of the 2008 Olympics. Now he's fleeing frigid Toronto for South Beach, no state income tax, Dwyane Wade, max money and the playoffs … and this makes him a "superstar"? Did we really drop our standards that low?
Look, I need my NBA superstar to sell tickets, generate interest locally and nationally, single-handedly guarantee an average supporting cast 45-50 wins, and potentially be the best player on a Finals team if the other pieces are in place, which means only LeBron, Wade, Howard, Durant and Kobe qualify. There's a level just a shade below (the Almost-But-Not-Quite-Superstar) with Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Carmelo Anthony, Brandon Roy, Chris Paul and Deron Williams. (Note: I think Derrick Rose gets there next season.) Then you have elite guys like Bosh, Pau Gasol and Amare Stoudemire who need good teammates to help them thrive … and if they don't have them, you're heading to the lottery.
You know what we call these people? All-Stars. Although if LeBron picks Miami, we have to call Bosh something else: lucky. On a good team, he could absolutely thrive like Gasol did on the Lakers, although he's not as sure a bet because Gasol played in so many big games overseas before the Lakers stole him. (Bosh had the opposite experience: He's never played in a Sweet 16, a Game 7 or even Round 2 of the NBA playoffs.) Hearing Bosh referred to as a "superstar" these past few weeks left me with the same face Jake had on Monday's "Bachelor" special when Vienna wouldn't shut up and kept undermining and emasculating him. If Chris Bosh is your third-best player, you're in tremendous shape. Just don't think you can win a title with a 228-pound big man who doesn't block shots and grabs 10 rebounds a night. You need more help than that. Which brings us to …
10. Let's say LeBron signs with Miami. Can you even make the Finals with LeBron, Bosh, Wade and nine minimum-salary guys? Because that might be next year's team … and if that's what happens, the answer is "no effing way." You don't win titles just because of your top three. That belittles the meaning of guys like Derek Fisher, Robert Horry, Steve Kerr, John Paxson, Brian Shaw … you could go on for hours naming role players who swung a title. The 2008 Celts lucked out by getting James Posey, Eddie House and P.J. Brown for practically nothing; Miami wouldn't have that luxury this summer, not with so many role players jockeying for contracts one year before the possible lockout. Nobody is taking less money to showcase themselves for a summer that might not happen. Even if Miami could spin Michael Beasley for a fourth guy (say, Trevor Ariza), that's still not enough. They'd need one more rebounder, point guard, a 3-point shooter and a center. Good luck.
11. Another problem: You realize how many minutes these guys would log on a three-man team? About 42-44 minutes for 100 games … and if anyone missed an extended stretch of games, then that would put even more pressure on the other two. Crazy. No way they win more than 50, especially with teams gunning for them every night. We've also never seen two perimeter superstar alpha dogs coexist for an NBA title -- not even when Jerry West and Elgin Baylor teamed up with Wilt Chamberlain against the aging Celtics in 1969. LeBron would have to accept becoming Mega-Pippen to Wade's Jordan. (Yeah, right.) Even during the final quarter of the 2008 gold-medal game, when everyone on the American team was staring at each other wondering who was going to step up against a red-hot Spain team, there were a few minutes of tentative, "I don't want to step on anyone's toes here" basketball before Kobe said, "Screw it, get out of my way" and took over the key portion of the game.
Well, at some point, Wade and LeBron will have one of those 2008 Spain moments … but what happens if both guys say, "Screw it, get out of my way"? You need to have a special type of mentality to want that moment; that's why Scottie Pippen melted down in that 1994 Bulls-Knicks playoff game, because Phil Jackson had spent that entire year building him up and making him think, "We can win without Jordan, you're just as good, we can DO THIS," then designed the biggest play of the season for someone else. It was a slap in the face. Pippen reacted terribly, but still, don't you want him to be pissed there? Isn't that what being an alpha dog is all about? Don't you need a special level of swagger and confidence to carry that load every night? And once you reach that level, doesn't it become impossible to share the spotlight with someone else? Of course …
12. Maybe LeBron knows that he isn't wired that way.
Maybe he wants to be an unselfish creator like Magic or a do-it-all wingman like Pippen. Maybe he has too much Doctor J in him, as I theorized after Game 6. Maybe he believes that if Wade carries the crunch-time load, it will free LeBron to do LeBron things and average a triple-double every game without having that burden of "I've gotta create every shot for us in the final four minutes." Maybe he thinks it's his best chance to win. And if so …
13. I think it's a cop-out. Any super-competitive person would rather beat Dwyane Wade than play with him. Don't you want to find the Ali to your Frazier and have that rival pull the greatness out of you? That's why I'm holding out hope that LeBron signs with New York or Chicago (or stays in Cleveland), because he'd be saying, "Fine. Kobe, Dwight and Melo all have their teams. Wade and Bosh have their team. The Celtics are still there. Durant's team is coming. I'm gonna go out and build MY team, and I'm kicking all their asses." That's what Jordan would have done. Hell, that's what Kobe would have done.
In May, after the Cavs were ousted in the conference semifinals, I wrote that LeBron was facing one of the greatest sports decisions ever: "winning (Chicago), loyalty (Cleveland) or a chance at immortality (New York)."
I never thought he would pick "HELP!"
14. LeBron joining Wade after his 2010 playoffs flameout, in my opinion, is like Conan O'Brien getting kicked in the teeth by NBC, then overreacting and forming a late-night version of "The View" with Chris Rock, Adam Carolla and Jeffrey Ross over trying to create his own show somewhere else. (Note to Carolla and Ross: Don't get excited, it's only a hypothetical.) Total cop-out. The move of someone who, deep down, doesn't totally trust his own talents any more. And maybe he doesn't.
15. What should LeBron do? Pick Chicago. That's where the rings are. The fact that he didn't say to Bosh, "Come to Chicago with me, we'll play with Rose and Noah and win six titles together" was the single most disappointing outcome of the summer. That team would have been a true juggernaut with pieces that actually complemented each other, unlike this pickup-basketball situation that's brewing in Miami. Even with Boozer there in Bosh's place -- and I think he's a great fit for them, with or without LeBron -- it could still translate to multiple titles, because Rose could have been the best second banana since Kobe in 2001.
Just know that Kobe would have caught a whiff of those rings and gone to Chicago. Same with Jordan. Same with Magic and Bird. Chicago had the biggest competitive advantage of anyone: room for two max guys along with an under-23 franchise point guard and one of the only elite defending/rebounding big men in basketball. How can you care about winning and NOT go to Chicago?
16. I need to make that point a second time: How can you care about winning and NOT go to Chicago? Unless …
17. LeBron picks New York. Ballsiest move. Fulfills his "global icon" wishes, puts him in the best possible basketball city, allows him to live a relatively normal life in our biggest city, gives him the biggest possible challenge (saving basketball in New York) and the biggest possible reward (going down in history as the guy who saved basketball in New York). I wouldn't love the thought of him crushing Cleveland for a similarly shaky situation, but if he spun it the right way, you could talk me into it. And here are the words I'd want to hear:
"Bringing New York a championship -- and doing it in the biggest city in America, in the best arena to play basketball -- would mean more to more people than anything else I could do as a basketball player. It's a challenge I could not resist."
Say that and I'm signing off. Anything less … no.
18. I ruled out the Knicks last week after details trickled out about LeBron's comical New York meeting, which sounded like a "Saturday Night Live" sketch because of Donnie Walsh being in a wheelchair and wearing a neck brace (he just had neck surgery), and James Dolan being James Dolan. Now the Knicks are gaining momentum thanks to the "He's coming!" buzz that drove MSG's stock price up 6.5 percent Wednesday. Where did this buzz come from? As far as I can tell, nowhere. But there's buzzing. You have to believe me. My BlackBerry practically blew up yesterday with e-mails from sports-industry friends with "KNICKS???" in the subject heading.
If he spurns them, then suddenly we're looking at the most disastrous decade in the history of New York sports -- first the Layden Era, then the Isiah Era, then Walsh spending two years gutting the team so he could spend $100 million on a guy with a bad knee and a bad eye who hasn't played defense in six years. Do you realize the Knicks will have given away top-10 lottery picks in 2004, '06, '07, '09, '10 and, potentially, '11 and '12 without making the playoffs or landing one superstar? How is that even possible?
(Important note: The fact that David Stern stuck Rod Thorn in New Jersey, Walsh in New York, David Kahn in Minnesota and Stu Jackson in Vancouver has to be added to his Wikipedia page. Like, right now. He's the Pied Piper for putrid GMs.)
19. I always thought the goal was winning rings. That's what Russell, Bird, Magic and Jordan taught us. That's what I grew up believing. But sports are different now. You're a brand as much as an athlete. In the past 72 hours, with the suspense building for his announcement, LeBron created a Twitter account, launched his own website and agreed with ESPN on a one-hour live selection show that, incredibly, was the exact same idea that a Columbus reader named Drew had in my Thanksgiving '09 mailbag … but I thought he was kidding. Now I think he's Nostradamus. Or even Nostradamu-SAS.
Drew from Columbus looked into the future, and here's what he saw: A world in which it was totally conceivable that an NBA superstar would sell an hour-long show in which he picked his next team and tainted his legacy in the process. I played along and pushed a "Bachelor"-type setup ("The LeBrachelor!") in which LeBron whittled 29 teams down to six, then four, then two, then one over the course of six episodes. Hell, have him hand out roses. Why not? It's not like this would actually happen, right?
20. Seven months later, it's happening. I can't wait to watch for the same reasons I couldn't turn away from O.J.'s Bronco chase or the Artest melee: it's Car Wreck Television. If LeBron picks anyone other than the Cavaliers, it will be the cruelest television moment since David Chase ended "The Sopranos" by making everyone think they lost power. Cleveland fans will never forgive LeBron, nor should they. He knows better than anyone what kind of sports anguish they have suffered over the years. Losing LeBron on a contrived one-hour show would be worse than Byner's fumble, Jose Mesa, the Game 5 meltdown against Boston, The Drive, The Shot and everything else. At least those stomach-punch moments weren't preordained, unless you believe God hates Cleveland (entirely possible, by the way). This stomach-punch moment? Calculated. By a local kid they loved, defended and revered.
It would be unforgivable. Repeat: unforgivable. I don't have a dog in this race -- as a Celtics fan, I wanted to see him go anywhere but Chicago -- but LeBron doing this show after what happened in the 2010 playoffs actually turned me against him. No small feat. I was one of his biggest defenders. Not anymore.
And here's where I really worry, because I don't think LeBron James has anyone in his life with enough juice to hurl his or her body in front of the concept of "I'm going to announce during a one-hour live show that I'm playing somewhere other than Cleveland." It's the best and worst thing about him -- he has remained fiercely loyal to his high school friends, but at the same time, he's surrounded by people his own age who don't stand up to him and don't know any better. Picking anyone other than Cleveland on this show would be the meanest thing any athlete has ever done to a city. But he might. Assuming he's not malicious, and that he's just a self-absorbed kid who apparently lost all perspective, that doesn't make him much different than most child stars who became famous before they could legally drink -- or, for that matter, Tiger Woods. That's just the way this stuff works. Too much, too fast, too soon. You don't lose your way all at once; just a little at a time. Then one day you look up and there's a TMZ photo spread with 15 of your mistresses, or you're agreeing to stab an entire city in the heart on a one-hour television show.
(When Kevin Durant announced his own five-year, $86 million extension with an endearingly simple tweet yesterday, we all had the same thought: "Now that's how it's done." Pretty sad that an NBA star stood out for being humble and only caring about basketball.)
21. I don't think LeBron will pick Cleveland for the simple reason that he didn't want to meet with Tom Izzo a few weeks ago. If he was staying, he would have wanted to meet someone who may have been his next coach. He didn't care. That tells me he's gone. But what do I know?
22. I think he should pick Chicago, and if not the Bulls, then New York. But I live in a dream world where NBA superstars only care about winning titles and/or playing in the biggest basketball cities with sophisticated fans and tons of history. The truth is, New York might not mean anything to LeBron, just like college football recruits don't care about Notre Dame any more. He isn't old enough to remember Frazier's Knicks, or Bernard's Knicks … hell, he's barely old enough to remember Ewing's Knicks. And he might be too egotistical to follow Jordan in Chicago, like it was the sloppy seconds of NBA cities or something. But what do I know?
23. Before I heard that tonight's announcement was taking place in Greenwich, Conn., I would have bet anything on Miami … as well as my next column having the byline "William J. Simmons." The Greenwich thing threw me for a loop. I am still picking Miami. Cautiously. Then again, what do I know?
(Actually, I do know one thing: By going for 24 thoughts instead of 23, I have to nail only six of them to win the LeBronocalypse MVP. Let's go one more.)
24. The goofiest part of these past few weeks: The way media people have been speculating in a way that seems like a cross between learned information and opinion, except we're never really sure what's real and what's conjecture. Thanks to Twitter and the 24/7 news cycle, the lines have been blurred completely. Chuck Klosterman thinks the true hero of the LeBron saga is Brian Windhorst, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter who cranked out articles and Tweets by the boatload -- never speculation, always facts, always backed up by sources, and there were a couple of times when he made you wonder, "Wait a second, is Windhorst hiding under a table in LeBron's office right now?" Maybe he was.
Sifting through the various reports and tweets, trying to figure out fact from fiction, glancing at my BlackBerry every 15 seconds to see if anyone e-mailed me … that's what I'll remember from the LeBronocalypse more than anything else. And also, who knew anyone could keep a secret for this long in the Twitter/TMZ Era? Even yesterday, when I was batting around LeBron theories with my buddy Connor, we were breaking down the Greenwich thing and had this exchange:
-- Connor: "Greenwich, that's nine minutes from the Knicks' practice facility. That has to mean something."
-- Me (thinking): "Maybe they KNEW it was nine minutes from the Knicks' practice facility, so they put it there to throw people off the scent."
I mean … what the hell kind of sporting event is this? It's like college signing day crossed with JFK's assassination. LeBron's team wanted to keep people talking and promote his website, and really, that's what happened. The man nearly exploded Twitter and melted ESPN. He transcended free agency, the World Cup, everything. He will draw a massive television audience tonight; he's the only professional athlete who could have pulled that off.
What a week for LeBron's brand. I just hope he remembers to wipe the blood off the knife after he pulls it from Cleveland's back.
Bill Simmons is a columnist for and the author of the recent New York Times best-seller "The Book of Basketball." For every Simmons column and podcast, check out Sports Guy's World. Follow him on Twitter at
56  General Category / Sports / NBA store selling LeBron James Bulls jerseys on: July 01, 2010, 03:08:39 pm
NBA store selling LeBron James Bulls jerseys
July 1, 2010 12:51 PM | 6 Comments

Staff report

UPDATE: Well, they were selling them, but now the page is gone. Here's a screen grab of the page.

Does the store know something everyone else doesn't or is this just a ploy to pry money from the wallets of hopeful Bulls fans?

Either way, they're already selling LeBron James No. 6 Bulls jerseys. Anyone can go to the NBA store and customize a jersey with any number and name and while this was listed as such, it appeared on a page with all other available Bulls jerseys.

A search of the Knicks, Nets, Heat and Clippers store turns up nothing. Granted Mario Chalmers wears No. 6 for the Heat and Courtney Lee the same number for the Nets, so that might be a little unfair to those players.

So what happens if you shelled out $65 for that jersey and LeBron signs elsewhere
57  General Category / Sports / Time to give Jamie Moyer his due as he closes in on dubious record on: June 23, 2010, 04:44:26 pm
Time to give Jamie Moyer his due as he closes in on dubious record   

Story Highlights
Philadelphia's Jamie Moyer is about to set the record for most home runs allowed
The record of 505 is currently held by Hall of Famer Robin Roberts
Moyer, a 47-year-old lefty, has been pitching in the major leagues since 1986   


It's been a familiar act for Jamie Moyer during his 25-year-career: waiting for a new ball while a batter rounds the bases after hitting one of the 504 home runs he's allowed.
Icon SMI
Now that he's about to do it, now that Jamie Moyer will soon set the alltime record for home runs allowed, let's give the man the credit he's due. Moyer, the Phillies' ancient 47-year-old lefty, enters Tuesday's start against the Indians in Philadelphia having allowed 504 home runs in his career, just one shy of the record held by another Philadelphia legend, Robin Roberts. Do you know what kind of career you have to have to give up that many home runs? The longevity it requires? Moyer has been working toward this record since 1986. Right below him on the list are Ferguson Jenkins (484), Phil Niekro (482) and Don Sutton (472). Nice rotation.
UPDATE: Moyer ties Roberts' record in 2-1 win over Indians.
But when you look at Moyer's home run totals, the man who should also come to mind is a more traditional home run king, another player who went on and on and on: Mr. Henry Aaron. Aaron never had a season with more than 47 home runs, and he had a bunch of years with totals like 22 and 27 and 33. When the whole thing was over, 23 seasons of it, the grand sum was 755.
That's how Moyer's done it, too. Sure, he had one big HRA year, his best season, in 2001, when he went 20-6 and guys went yard on him 44 times. But most years his numbers were less showy, years when he gave up 22 and 27 and 33. What he did was amass the innings and the years. "I never thought of the total," he said the other day. "I thought of the pitch, the inning, the game." And it added up to a number nobody's ever reached.
In Cooperstown now there's a special exhibit honoring Aaron called "Chasing the Dream." There's also a tribute to Moyer as the active pitcher with the most wins, 265. Moyer never gave up a homer to Aaron -- he missed him by a decade -- but he did allow home runs to a lineup of Hall of Famers, starting with the third baseman he grew up rooting for, Mike Schmidt. Schmidt's career HR total (548) includes two off Moyer.
RELATED: Moyer's home runs allowed, by the numbers
Moyer, the pride of Souderton, Pa., gave up his first home run to Schmidt's teammate, Juan Samuel, on June 23, 1986, while pitching for the Chicago Cubs. The chase was on, not that Moyer was thinking about it then. Or, really, now, when he's pitching for Schmidt and Samuel's old team and Samuel is the manager of the Baltimore Orioles, one of the seven big league teams Moyer has played for.
"The only time you think about stuff like [the record] is when writers mention it," Moyer said. He's on the second year of a two-year contract and this year he's looked, at times, brilliantly crafty, ordinary and worse. As per usual. Meaning he'll still be pitching next year, and still adding to his HRA total. After every outing, some new record seems to fall. He's now one of three pitchers to win 100 or more games after turning 40. On May 7 he became the oldest pitcher in baseball history to pitch a complete-game shutout. He's also the oldest Phillie to ever get a hit. He's still looking for his first career home run with a bat in hand, not a ball.
"The home runs I've given up, I'm not proud of them, of course," Moyer said. "But if you're throwing strikes and you're at it for a long time, it's going to happen. You're going to give up home runs. Sometimes you make your pitch and the guy just beats you. You've got to tip your hat. Now sometimes the guy stands there and poses. Or does some slow trot around the bases. Then you have to deal with that. Back in the day, guy did that, next time up he got drilled. So I've been told." When Moyer starts talking "back in the day," he's usually got his old Texas Rangers teammate Nolan Ryan somewhere in the back of his mind. He loves the old guys, men who remember the draft and know the pain of the walk-off home run. Moyer knows the latter.
Many home runs are innocuous. "If nobody's on a home run is probably not going to ruin your outing," Moyer said. Nearly 60 percent of his home runs allowed are with the bases empty. "Sometimes a homer's good. It can be a rally-killer. Next guy up, at least the bases are clear.
"One thing I really didn't like to do is give up a home run to the first batter in the game. Wade Boggs hit a leadoff homer off me. Then I shut them down for the next seven or eight innings." That was in '95, when Moyer was pitching for Baltimore and Boggs was a Yankee. "Some guys could hit homers off me that weren't really noted for power. Bernie Williams. Early on, I got him out on a regular basis. Then he started getting me."
Bernie (seven total) has good company. Manny Ramirez is the leader the clubhouse, with 10 home runs against Moyer. Carlos Delgado has eight. Frank Thomas, Eric Chavez and Alex Rodriguez each have six.
Then there's another group of players who didn't have as much home-run success off Moyer, but players whose go-yard potential worried Moyer the most: Barry Bonds (5), Chili Davis (3) Schmidt, Dale Murphy (2), Darryl Strawberry (1), Dave Parker (0), Jack Clark (0), Steve Balboni (0).
"Barry Bonds, he stood on top of the plate and he wanted the ball away, so he could extend his arms for the most power," Moyer said. But Bonds was so strong, Moyer says he could hit it out of the park with balls practically on his wrists, too. A nightmare. What's a pitcher to do? Walk him.
But the ultimate nightmare is Wrigley during the day (when batters can see the ball better), with the wind blowing out. Moyer has allowed 36 home runs in Chicago. The ballpark where he has allowed the most home runs (89) is Safeco Field in Seattle, despite the fact that Safeco is a safe haven for a fly ball pitcher who works the paint and relies on a changeup. Wrigley's another matter. Some home runs there, Moyer said, can almost make a pitcher laugh. "You've got pop-ups there that wind up in the basket," Moyer said. "Guys swing up with the wind there and they sail. What can you do? Don't waste energy on things you can't control." Moyer himself hit balls almost to the ivy at Wrigley. His last home run -- that he hit himself -- came when he was playing in an adult league, during one of his college summers. "No fence and I just ran the bases hard," Moyer said.
According to, only one of the homers Moyer allowed was an inside-the-park job, by Kevin Seitzer of the Kansas City Royals on May 13, 1989. A lifetime ago, for some guys in the majors. Moyer doesn't remember most of the homers he's allowed. "You try to learn from your mistakes, but you don't want to dwell on it," he said. If you've been watching Moyer over the years, you know he's got at least a half-dozen moves after allowing a home run. His most common one is come off the mound looking for a new ball right away. "I want to turn the page," Moyer said. "I don't want it to smolder." Sometimes he'll watch the spot in the fence where the ball barely cleared. Or he'll look in his glove. Now and again, he'll glare at the batter if he thinks the trot's going too slowly. He'll nod grimly, tiny little east-west head shakes, if his thinks his manager is coming out with the hook.
Moyer and his wife, Karen, are noted for their philanthropic work. For years now, Moyer has given $100 for every strikeout he's recorded to two charities, his only family foundation, the Moyer Foundation (, and another one called Touch'em All, a children's charity. He doesn't make special donations for allowing home runs. Of course not. Anyway, he has 2,381 strike outs, and nobody would call him a strikeout pitcher. All those K's are good for Moyer and for his causes, too. Every pitcher in the game would gladly give up a home run for every five strikeouts, if you could promise them Moyer's 4,000-inning (and counting) career. Well, he's not quite at 4,000 yet. But he's getting closer, with 10 more innings to go. There's always another milestone in the works for Moyer.
As for Robin Roberts, he logged 4,688 innings. Moyer saw Roberts, who died in May, often over the years. They'd talk about the 1950 Phillies, winners of the National League pennant. They'd talked about the 2008 Phillies, when Moyer got the final out that secured a Phillies World Series win over Tampa. They didn't talk about home runs allowed. Why would they? They knew the deal. To give up 500+ dingers, you have to be really good. Roberts was a Hall of Famer. As for Moyer, he keeps going and going, mediocre outings followed by good ones, gopher balls followed by crafty tissue-paper shutdowns. He's not done yet, not in HRAs or anything else.
58  General Category / Sports / Re: Thibodeau weighs in with vision for Bulls on: June 23, 2010, 01:28:58 pm
A closer look at new Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau
Childhood pal Roby hired Thibodeau as assistant at Harvard

June 23, 2010
It has been 18 days since the Bulls came to terms with Tom Thibodeau on a three-year, $6.5 million contract to succeed Vinny Del Negro and become the franchise's 18th head coach.

But we've yet to hear a peep from Thibodeau. I have no idea what his voice sounds like, whether he has a good sense of humor or any other aspect of his personality.

» Click to enlarge image
Ex-Harvard coach Peter Roby says new Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau (with Nate Robinson) has had the players' respect everywhere he has worked.
(Getty Images)

What should Bulls do with 17th pick?
Centers are no sure things, lots of projects
Bucks add Maggette, pick up 2nd-rounder
That all was set to change this morning with the Bulls scheduled to officially introduce the ex-Boston Celtics assistant during a news conference at the Berto Center.

But to get a better understanding of the person the Bulls hired, I contacted a few people from his past over the last 2 1/2 weeks to provide some insight.

Arne Duncan, the secretary of education and former CEO of Chicago Public Schools, played for Thibodeau at Harvard in the mid-1980s and spoke glowingly of his ability to teach the game and relate to players.

But perhaps no one knows Thibodeau -- the person and coach -- better than Peter Roby, the former Harvard coach who is the athletic director at Northeastern in Boston.

Thibodeau and Roby grew up in New Britain, Conn., and they've known each other since Little League. Although they went to different high schools, they spent a lot of time together looking for basketball games in central Connecticut and became close friends.

Roby is surprised Thibodeau, 50, didn't land a head coaching job before now.

''I felt like he was very knowledgeable, he knew the league and he had the players' respect at all the places he worked,'' Roby said. "He had worked for some very good coaches and organizations, so I was surprised, and I felt like he deserved it before now.

''But it's funny how things work out. If he had gotten the opportunity to become a head coach before he came to the Celtics, who knows how long it would have been before he tasted a world championship, and now he's had a chance to get to two [NBA] Finals and win one. He's gonna benefit from all that experience, and he's gonna have more credibility when he walks into the locker room with the Chicago Bulls for the first time.''

Roby has been more than an observer of his friend's career and gave Thibodeau his first big break. When Roby was hired to coach Harvard in 1985, he immediately added Thibodeau -- who had been the head coach at Division III Salem State for one year -- to his staff.

''It's funny, I think he was 25 when he got the head coaching job at Salem State and I was 28 when I was named head coach at Harvard, so we had some of the youngest coaches in the country at the time,'' Roby said. ''I know I was the second-youngest coach in Division I when I got named head coach at Harvard.''

Passionate about game
So why did he hire someone so young?

''The first thing was I knew I could trust him because we grew up together,'' Roby said. ''I think anyone will tell you when you're putting a staff together, one of the things they have to have starting off is knowing the people that you hire are good people and you can trust them and they're gonna do everything they can to help you be successful and do right by the kids you're gonna recruit.

''The second thing was I knew Tom was very passionate about basketball and was gonna work really hard and was gonna help us to develop our players. He had a good eye for talent and would identify players to come to Harvard, which he did.''

Roby and Thibodeau were together for four years at Harvard before Thibodeau moved to the NBA in 1989. Roby has remained in the Boston area since, and the two got to reconnect more often after Thibodeau joined the Celtics in 2007.

Now that Thibodeau is moving to Chicago, they'll see each other less often, but Roby doesn't seem to mind.

''I'm thrilled for him, and the whole city of New Britain has been celebrating with him since this whole thing broke,'' Roby said.
59  General Category / Sports / Re: Thibodeau weighs in with vision for Bulls on: June 23, 2010, 01:27:57 pm
Bulls announce Tom Thibodeau as head coach

June 23, 2010
The Chicago Bulls announced today the hiring of Tom Thibodeau as the 18th head coach in franchise history. In accordance with team policy, terms of the contract were not announced.

“I am extremely pleased to welcome Tom Thibodeau as our new head coach. As I went through the process to search for the next head coach of the Chicago Bulls, the longer the process went it became apparent that Tom was a perfect fit for the Bulls,” said Chicago Bulls General Manager Gar Forman. “He is a great communicator and teacher of the game, and he fits our organizational philosophy from a defensive standpoint. With his experience and knowledge of the NBA, I am confident he will be a great leader for our team.”

Thibodeau, 52, most recently served as associate head coach for the Boston Celtics for the last three seasons. As the lead assistant on Doc Rivers’ coaching staff, Thibodeau was responsible for the team’s defensive principles and strategies. During his time in Boston, Thibodeau and the Celtics advanced to the NBA Finals in 2008 and 2010, and claimed the Celtics 17th NBA Championship in 2008.

“I am very excited to be here and to join the Bulls organization. Chicago is a great city with great fans and a storied history,” said Thibodeau. “I would like to thank Jerry Reinsdorf and Gar Forman for presenting me with such a terrific opportunity. We have a talented team with a good nucleus of players, and I am eager to get started.”

While in the NBA, Thibodeau has also manned the sidelines for the Minnesota Timberwolves (1989-91), the Seattle SuperSonics (1991-92, served as an Advance Scout), the San Antonio Spurs (1992-94), the Philadelphia 76ers (1994-96), the New York Knicks (1996-2003) and the Houston Rockets (2003-07). Over that span, he has worked under Bill Musselman, John Lucas, Jeff Van Gundy, Don Chaney and Doc Rivers.

An NBA veteran of 21 years, his teams have compiled an overall record of 896-794 (.530), and have made the playoffs 14 times, including three trips to the NBA Finals (1999, 2008 and 2010). His teams have also amassed a postseason record of 88-79 (.527). In 21 seasons, he has helped his teams rank in the NBA’s Top 10 in team defense 16 times. While with New York in 2000-01, the Knicks set a then-NBA record when they held 33 consecutive opponents under 100 points.

Over the last seven seasons, he helped the Rockets and Celtics rank among the top five in scoring defense seven times and in defensive field goal percentage six times. Over that same span, his teams finished in the top two in opponent field goal percentage six times. During the Celtics’ championship campaign in 2007-08, Boston allowed 90.3 ppg (99.2 ppg previous season, 18th in NBA), which ranked second in the NBA. The Celtics also limited their opponents to a league-low .419 shooting from the field (.468 previous season, 24th in NBA).

Thibodeau began his coaching career in 1981 as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Salem State College. After three seasons with the Vikings, he was promoted to head coach. In 1985, he joined Harvard University’s basketball staff as an assistant coach. He spent four seasons with the Crimson before embarking on his NBA career in 1989.

The New Britain, Conn. native graduated from Salem State with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in counseling. A four-year letter winner in basketball, he was inducted into the New Britain Sports Hall of Fame in 1998.
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60  General Category / Sports / Thibodeau weighs in with vision for Bulls on: June 23, 2010, 01:25:22 pm
Thibodeau weighs in with vision for Bulls
June 23, 2010 11:45 AM | 13 Comments | UPDATED STORY

New Bulls coach Tom Thibodeua meets the media Wednesday at the Berto Center. (Chris Walker/Tribune)

By K.C. Johnson

Tom Thibodeau waited 18 years to become the 18th head coach in Bulls franchise history.

Wednesday morning, 18 days after verbally accepting a three-year, $6.5 million deal, general manager Gar Forman introduced Thibodeau at a Berto Center news conference.

No longer an anonymous assistant specializing in defensive strategies, Thibodeau, 50, said he's ready to take this big step after serving as the Celtics' associate head coach during two trips to the NBA Finals in three seasons.

"It's been a long wait for me and to be in this city with this team is a dream come true," Thibodeau said. "I certainly understand the great tradition and history of the team."

Thibodeau said the Bulls made an impression on him during their epic seven-game, first-round playoff series in 2009. "They had no fear," Thibodeau said.

When asked about free agency in general (and LeBron James in particular), Thibodeau noted that it would be against league rules to comment on specific players, but said, "I can't imagine why any free agent wouldn't seriously consider this team."

On Derrick Rose, Thibodeau said:  "A big part of Derrick's growth has to be on the defensive end."

On Luol Deng: "He's one of the most underrated players in the league. He does so much without the ball. He's in constant motion."

On Kirk Hinrich: "I've always admired his game because of his versatility. He has great competitive spirit."

On Joakim Noah: "He plays to win. I'd like to continue to see him get stronger."
Thibodeau has served as an assistant with seven teams over 18 NBA seasons, finishing in the top-10 defensively 15 times. But sources said Thibodeau wowed Forman and executive vice president John Paxson during an interview in Los Angeles on the eve of Game 1 of the Finals with creative offensive ideas centered on drive-and-kick and pick-and-roll schemes, as well as thoughts on player development.

Asked about making the move up from his longtime assistant's role, Thibodeau said, "The big thing when you become a head coach is you're making final decisions. As an assistant, you're making suggestions."

Sources have indicated Thibodeau will retain assistant Pete Myers and bring back Ron Adams, who worked for the Bulls under Scott Skiles but had spent the past two seasons with the Thunder.

Other candidates to fill Thibodeau's staff include Andy Greer and Eric Musselman, whose late father, Bill, hired Thibodeau for his first NBA job with Minnesota. Thunder assistant Maurice Cheeks is a longshot because he has a year remaining on his deal.
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