Posted on July 27, 2009 by Bryan Crawford
Last week, Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf discussed several topics regarding the team in an interview with Chicago Sun-Times Reporter Brian Hanley.
However, there was one topic that particularly piqued my interest and that was the subject of Ben Gordon leaving “The Chi” for “Detroit Rock City”. Reinsdorf said that Ben “didn’t fit” anymore and that he wasn’t going to get a whole lot of playing time in a guard rotation with Rose, Hinrich and John Salmons. I read that comment and spent the better part of five minutes just sitting in a state of stunned disbelief.
Not taking anything away from Derrick Rose, but Ben Gordon was the best player the Bulls had last season without question. We all saw the way BG literally put the team on his back in the epic first round playoff matchup with the Boston Celtics and took the defending champs to 7 games. So how does a guy who does that not fit anymore? How do you rationalize taking minutes from a guy who’s lead your team in scoring the last four years and giving them to Hinrich and Salmons who are good players, but can’t hold a candle to what Gordon does offensively? Yes he’s lacking in size and defensive ability, but he makes up for it in the way he can get you buckets at a very high rate.
If Reinsdorf is rationalizing that moving Ben instead of committing to him long term is due to the much anticipated upcoming free agent class of 2010, then I understand that completely. Especially when the prospect of bringing Dwyane Wade back to Chicago to play alongside Derrick Rose is out there. But there’s no guarantee in that. The thought of it makes you feel warm and fuzzy, but the reality is that it may not happen. I know that owners can’t publicly comment on what their future plans are, but Reinsdorf should’ve said something more along these lines instead of just making a blanket statement that the teams best player (arguably) just doesn’t fit anymore.
There was one thing in the Reinsdorf interview that did give me a little comfort. He said he doesn’t mind paying the NBA luxury tax as long as it makes sense to do so. I take that to mean he’d be willing to pay a premium for a marquee player like a Dwyane Wade next summer and then pay a premium the following year to keep Derrick Rose in a Bulls uniform. I’m OK with that.
Still, this is the same guy that signed off on the dismantling of a dynasty. The same guy that traded away Elton Brand and Ron Artest. The same guy that nixed deals that would’ve brought Kevin Garnett and Pau Gasol to Chicago so it’s hard to tell if he’s just blowing smoke or actually serious about making the Bulls a contender again. It’s long been said in the Chicago sports world that Reinsdorf cares more about the White Sox than the Bulls. In 2005 when the Sox won the World Series, he went on record as saying that championship meant more to him than the six championships he’s won as owner of the Bulls. So even though the White Sox are struggling right now, if the Bulls happen to get worse instead of better over the next two years, you can consider me a believer.
Filed under: basketball, chicago bulls, national basketball association, nba | Leave a Comment »
Posted on July 25, 2009 by Bryan Crawford
For those of you that didn’t know, hadn’t heard or simply didn’t care, Stephon Marbury just completed a 24hr webcast and live chat on Ustream this morning. The broadcast started at 6am PST yesterday from his home in LA and history was made a little over an hour ago.
After hearing about it I was initially going to ignore it, yet when I tuned in I spent a considerable part of my day yesterday and the last 20 minutes of the broadcast today watching. I can honestly say that once you tuned in, you couldn’t take your eyes off it. It’s not that there was anything overly spectacular going on, but it was just interesting to get a candid, inside look at the man known as Starbury.
Fans who logged into the chat were allowed to ask questions and he answered a whole lot of them, including the stupid ones. He even answered quite a few of my questions, responded to some of my comments, and gave my two sons a shout out that were watching with me as well. He also took a lot of heat from some of the haters who logged in just to take jabs at him, yet he responded very gracefully although at times you could tell he was a little frustrated by it.
He was also very open and engaging. He talked about his relationship with God and showed that he was a real student of the Bible. He explained why he no longer wears jewelry. He talked about the comments LeBron James made about him during his refusal to suit up for the Knicks and why based on that, he felt the two could never play together. He talked about the situation in New York between himself, James Dolan, Mike D’Antoni and Isiah Thomas. And there were other moments where his candidness bordered on being uncomfortable.
He talked about the incident where he cheated on his wife. He talked about the night his father died and his last moments alive in the back of the ambulance. He talked about losing his virginity because he was molested as a child. And this is just from what I saw. There’s no telling what else he talked about when I wasn’t watching. Still, the fact that he even spoke on these things and didn’t hold anything back gave me a newly found respect for him and you could see that this was not the same guy that came into the league 14 years ago.
Admittedly, I can say that I was a Marbury hater. Like most of us, I shaped my opinion on what I’d seen and heard about him in the media. But this event really changed my mind about him and I wish the best for him in his career. He’s not concerned with being one of the games elite players anymore, instead he’s more concerened with being a better person and helping as many people as he can. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that.
Filed under: basketball, boston celtics, national basketball association, nba, starbury, stephon marbury | Leave a Comment »
Posted on July 22, 2009 by Bryan Crawford
Posted on July 9, 2009 by Bryan Crawford
Something happened on Monday at the LeBron James Skills Academy that I thought was pretty funny when I first heard about it but I had no intention of writing anything on it until it started to pick up steam and is now the hot topic in the NBA.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock then I’m sure you’ve already heard about Jordan Crawford (no relation), a 6’4″ guard from Xavier University and his dunk heard ’round the world. A dunk that unfortunately will never be seen. It happened during a scrimmage between some of the top college players in the country who work as counselor’s at the camp and LeBron James himself.
According to Crawford, the play happened during the first 20 minutes of a game that lasted about two hours. He said he came down the middle of the lane and LeBron was there and he just dunked it. After that play, LeBron called over Lynn Merritt who is Nike Basketball’s Senior Director and they had a conversation. The next thing you know, Merritt confiscated the tapes of the two cameramen who were filming the pick-up game although there are no rules against filming at the camp.
When the news of what happened got to me on Tuesday, I just shook my head. It basically confirmed everything that I’ve been saying about LeBron for a long time — and the very reason why I’m not King James crazy like everyone else seems to be — which is he’s a crybaby and a diva. He’s a very self absorbed person who is very image conscious and thinks everything is about him. This is a guy who takes himself way too seriously.
Getting dunked on is part of the game. It happens to everybody. Sometimes when you’re on the court you just end up being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Even King James isn’t immune to that. For someone who is as image conscious as LeBron is, his attempts at “damage control” to try and keep this tape from getting out has done more harm to his reputation than good.
This story is going to evolve into some type of ridiculous barber shop and street corner urban legend that says Jordan Crawford took off from the free throw line, did a 360 between the legs behind the back jam and dunked LeBron as he chased him down and tried block it. I thought Nike wanted us all to be witnesses? I guess this is what you call “Witness Protection”.
Filed under: basketball, cleveland cavaliers, jordan crawford, lebron james, national basketball association, nba, xavier university | 1 Comment »
Posted on July 2, 2009 by Bryan Crawford
OK, I’ve been wrong before. It’s not often I don’t get basketball related things right, but it happens sometimes. I remember when I thought that Tayshaun Prince was going to be a bust in the league. Rip Hamilton too. Both of those guys turned out to be decent pros don’t you think? Well, I have another one to add to the list as I thought there was no way on earth Ben Gordon would get the same kind of money he turned down in Chicago. Wrong again.
I wrote an article called “The Curious Case Of Benjamin Gordon” where I basically said BG was stupid for turning down $50+ million dollar contract offers from the Chicago Bulls two summers in a row and he would never see another deal like that again. But Joe Dumars and the Detroit Pistons proved me wrong as they offered him a 5 year, $55 million dollar deal.
As a life-long, die hard Bulls fan it pains me to see a guy who was no doubt the only real scoring threat we had leave. What hurts worse than that is seeing him go to the Pistons who I’ve hated since they days of the “Bad Boys” beating up on my beloved Bulls. At first I blamed management for not trying harder to get a deal done with him. But now that he just signed for virtually the exact same money that he was offered here in Chicago (the Bulls offered 5 years, $50 million), there’s no doubt in my mind that BG has a very big axe to grind with management and he signed with the Pistons — a divison rival – just so he could stick it to his old squad four times a year.
Still, my basketball mind says this signing leaves more questions than answers. The biggest one being how long is Ben Gordon going to be happy with coming off the bench if the Pistons don’t plan on moving Rip Hamilton? BG was very unhappy coming off the bench in Chicago even though he was much more productive in that scenario. He’s always maintained that he feels he’s a starter in this league. I can’t knock his professionalism because even when he was unhappy in his role, he didn’t quit on the Bulls and he came to play every night. That’s why he was a fan favorite. Still, when you have a player sulking or complaining about their role it undoubtedly has an effect on team chemistry.
Chicago Bulls fans have a history of still cheering and rooting for guys even after they leave town as long as they played hard while they were here and represented the name on the front of the uniform with pride and passion. Had Ben Gordon gone anywhere else besides Detroit, he would still be loved here in the city. Now, this “Natural Born Killer” just became “Public Enemy #1″.
Filed under: basketball, ben gordon, chicago bulls, detroit pistons, national basketball association, nba | Leave a Comment »
Posted on June 25, 2009 by Bryan Crawford
If you don’t have Twitter yet then you REALLY need to get it. It breaks news faster than every sports media outlet around. After a day of trades that saw Richard Jefferson go to the Spurs and Randy Foye & Mike Miller go the Wizards, last night the Twit-o-sphere was buzzing at the news the Phoenix Suns had traded Shaquille O’Neal to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
This is a great deal for Phoenix who unloads Shaq’s expiring $20million dollar contract and saves them $10million in the process as they get both Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic who both have expiring contracts as well. It also allows them to go back to the up tempo, run-and-gun style that they’re used to playing instead of the half court style they ran with Shaq which clearly didn’t work.
On the other hand, for the Cleveland Cavaliers it’s very obvious this deal was made in an effort to neutralize Dwight Howard who totally dominated them in the post during the Eastern Conference Finals. And with Shaq’s track record of winning championships with All-Star perimeter players, the front office — and LeBron James who lobbied for Shaq — obviously feel that this is the move that will bring an NBA Championship to northeast Ohio. But I disagree.
Last week when this trade was still a rumor I didn’t feel it would help the Cavs win a championship. In fact, I felt it would put them further away and not bring them any closer than they are now. Now that the deal has been made, I think they’re still the third best team in the Eastern Conference behind a healthy and in tact (see the Rajon Rondo trade rumors) Boston Celtics squad and the Orlando Magic. I know that Shaq is the most dominant big man of all time and he does give them a better low post scoring presence than Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Ben Wallace, but does anybody really think he’s missing piece to the Cavaliers puzzle?
You have to ask yourself these questions. Does Shaquille O’Neal give the Cavs an advantage over the Celtics who have a high/low post combo of Kendrick Perkins and Kevin Garnett? Given Shaq’s age, can the original Superman really neutralize the younger and more athletic Dwight Howard aka Superman II? And if we do finally get to see a Lakers/Cavs finals next year, is he the guy that’s going to get them over the top against another good high/low post combo of Bynum and Gasol should Los Angeles find a way to upgrade at the PG spot and keep Odom and Ariza? I don’t think so.
It’s obvious that Dan Gilbert and Danny Ferry are doing everything they can and pulling out all the stops to try and keep LeBron in Cleveland and showing him that they’re serious about winning a championship. They also know that the window is closing and they only have one year to do it. But I think Shaq’s best days are behind him despite reports that he’s in the best shape of his life. No disrespect to the big fella, but I think the Cavs would have a better chance of winning a championship by bringing in another wing guy to run with LeBron like a Lamar Odom, Trevor Ariza, Ron Artest or Shawn Marion who are all free agents and could’ve been swayed to play in Cleveland if the price was right. This was a very high risk/high reward move and for the sake of the Cavs front office I hope they got it right. If not, they’d better be prepared for life in the basement of the Eastern Conference next year.
Filed under: basketball, cleveland cavaliers, lebron james, national basketball association, nba, phoenix suns, shaquille oneal | 1 Comment »
Posted on June 23, 2009 by Bryan Crawford