Tag Archives: chicago bulls

Leicester City: The Greatest Sports Story. Ever.

 

By Nate Flax

As the clock hit the 96th minute of the Tottenham – Chelsea match, the entire soccer world realized that the greatest underdog story in sport history had concluded. After trailing 2-0 at halftime, Chelsea came back to draw with the second place Tottenham Hotspur, thanks to a brilliant 80th minute equalizer by Chelsea’s Eden Hazard. As the final whistle blew to end the heated London Derby, Tottenham’s title hopes were dashed and for the second year in a row, a new Premier League champion was decided at Stamford Bridge. However, this time it wasn’t one of England’s heavyweight contenders, but instead a club that had been written off before the season even started.

Leicester City

Located right in the heart of England, world-famous clubs, always surrounded Leicester with Manchester just to the North and London to the South, but until this year, very few that did not follow the BPL closely even knew a soccer club existed there, even though the team was founded in 1884 (132 years ago). The Leicester City Foxes were simply insignificant, finishing at the bottom of the table the year before and had only received promotion into England’s top league the year before that. They entered the season 5000-1 odds to win the title this year and featured a team that had cost just £80 million to put together (to put in perspective Manchester City spent £80 million on one transfer alone earlier in the year). Billy Beane’s Moneyball scheme wouldn’t stand a chance against this. Other recent previous 5000-1 odds as explained by ESPN’s Paul Carr included 16-year-old Paul Chaplet’s chances at this year’s Masters (where he shot 21 over par and finished dead last) and the Minnesota Timberwolves’ chances to make the playoffs with a month left in the season and their record sitting at 14-35. The odds for Elvis Presley being found alive were also 5000-1.

Being written off before the season even started, Leicester really had no chance of failing any expectations given to them, quite frankly because there were no expectations to start with. But that’s when everything clicked. Led by Riyad Mahrez, Danny Drinkwater, Jamie Vardy, and seasoned manager Claudio Ranieri, the Foxes outdid themselves by continuing to be that pesky opponent that just wouldn’t give up even though they seemingly had no business competing with powerhouses like Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, and Chelsea. Yet somehow, with Chelsea holding Tottenham to a draw, Leicester City sat seven points clear on top of the table with just two games to play, making it impossible for anyone to catch them, and crowning them the kings of England. With the third smallest budget in the Premier League, the Foxes became the first team not named Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, or Chelsea in 21 years to win the title, and just the sixth to win out of 48 that have tried since 1992. After a season that proved that money can’t always guarantee a crown, Leicester City concluded the fairy tale of a season that underdogs could previously only dream of.

2015 NBA First-Round Playoff Preview

2015NBAbracket1stround

By Matt Stevenson

April 18, 2015

Although I say this every year, I AM BEYOND EXCITED FOR THE 2015 NBA PLAYOFFS! The amount of legitimate contenders this year has separated this year’s playoffs from the rest, and significantly so.

The Eastern Conference finally has several power houses that can make the first two-rounds somewhat interesting for the first time since Boston’s Big Three left. Then, of course, we have the usual for the Western Conference. This conference is once again more loaded than your Aunt Ruth’s potatoes! A Clippers-Spurs first round match as well as Mavericks-Rockets is awesome.

I think three questions are critical to answer for the Eastern Conference: Can LeBron and the Cavaliers continue their dominance? Can Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler coincide for a deep playoff run? Will the Atlanta Hawks prove to be a real threat to the future of the Eastern Conference?

In the first round I think the two-seeded Cavaliers win every single positional battle and will breeze through Boston, although I think Boston will take one game, Cavs in 5. The Atlanta Hawks earned the first seed with an incredible display of teamwork in the regular season, also breaking the franchise record with over 60 wins. The obliterated the Brooklyn Nets in the season series 4-0 and I expect nothing less. Although I’m a huge Joe Johnson fan, and Brook Lopez is playing the best basketball he has since he got paid, Atlanta has everything going for them. Hawks 4-0. Boy, what if we would’ve seen a Pacers-Hawks first-round matchup though? Last year’s 1 vs 8 seed went to 7 games between the two and was great basketball.

Raptors against the Wizards is an interesting matchup, as both have more of the “complete team” philosophy. However, the Wizards just haven’t been able to click the way thought they could while the Raptors are playing tough basketball. Kyle Lowry is proving his max contract worth this season when healthy. I thought them nabbing Paul Pierce really could make them threats to any team in the East. Raptors in 6. The last first round matchup in the East is the Bulls vs Bucks. This series is simple for me, Jason Kidd has proved to be a good coach willing to get to players. But without significant depth like the Bulls have (not to mention they have experience as well) the Bucks won’t last. Derrick Rose will get the go to be himself again I think and create a spotlight on the Bulls as reporters will start to get nutty with the idea of a Cavs-Bulls second round matchup. Bulls in 4.

So in the Eastern Conference we have a second round matchup between Chicago and Cleveland and Toronto and Atlanta as most expected. I predict the Cavaliers will prevail in this conference as LeBron, Kyrie and K-Love will prove to be too much to handle for the rest of the field.

Now the fun part, attempting to dissect the Western Conference. This is much like March Madness as it might be easier to decipher my picks by flipping a coin, but I will indeed choose off my knowledge of the game. I see only one matchup that will be done in 4 and that is the Warriors vs Pelicans. I love love LOVE Anthony Davis, but he’s going up against the most dangerous shooting team in NBA history. But this shooting team can also beat them in every other way because they can stick David Lee, Draymond Green or Andrew Bogut on Davis. Warriors in 4. Grizzlies vs LaMarcus Aldridge’s Blazers can be a great series, however I think it will be done quickly. No Wesley Matthews or Batum for the Blazers therefor relying on who? Alonzo Gee… LaMarcus Aldridge is one of my favorite players in the league but him and Lillard can’t get it done by themselves against an experienced Grizzlies team. Memphis in 5.

Now my two favorite matchups in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. The Houston Rockets taking on rival Dallas Mavericks is an exceptionally great first rounder to watch. The Rockets won the season series 3-1, but I have a bad feeling about this. There is one key factor in this series, Rajon Rondo. If Rondo can finally mesh with the Mavs (which he hasn’t so far) they have the best starting line up top to bottom. But of course, what about James Harden? He is my pick for MVP and with Dwight Howard they are a scary team. But they don’t have the guards to defend Dallas’. Scoring won’t be a problem for Harden, as it never is. But I think Dirk Nowitzki has a favorable matchup, as does Rondo. Oh yes, Chandler Parsons who darted Houston for Dallas last summer is going to show his previous franchise why they should have paid him. With two great guards in Monte Ellis and Rondo and the absence of lock down defender Patrick Beverly, I’ll take the Mavs in 7.

Perhaps the most exciting first round matchup in NBA history in my opinion, the young and freakishly athletic Clippers host the defending Champion Spurs. Chris Paul said last week, the window is closing for the Clippers to figure it out and he is salivating for that trophy. I think he gives the Spurs problems and will make Tony Parker go to work. Griffin and Jordan pose threats to the Spurs as well and I think they will do a surprisingly good job defending Duncan. But the X Factor is Kawhi Leonard will come through. JJ Reddick and Jamal Crawford aren’t going to stop him, and Matt Barnes is too old to play significant minutes against Leonard. He’s in a contract year, and the Spurs know Duncan and Ginobili may very well retire this season. Pop and the Spurs get it done, in miserable fashion,  by a series at 4-2.

So in the Western Conference we look forward to a Warriors vs Grizzlies and Spurs vs Mavericks. Talk about great basketball. However, in this conference I pick the Warriors to head to the NBA Finals. Although I am a firm believer in the philosophy that just shooting doesn’t win championships, the Warriors are young, fresh and healthy. In which is the Spurs’ weak point because I don’t see the Spurs having the guards to defend the Splash Brothers along with the athletic Livingston off the bench.

So Cavs and Warriors in the NBA Finals and as a Cleveland fan I’m going Cavs. The time has come and it’ll be a great year for Cleveland. The NBA playoffs are finally among us, and they are going to generate much excitement across the sports world. The first round has incredible potential regarding match ups and it will spark the greatness to follow.

Chicago Bulls Lose Another Great: Jack Haley

By Ellen Chlumecky

March 20, 2015

The year of 2015 has been quite a sad time frame for the sports world and its fans. We have lost a numerous amount of beloved athletes, coaches, and businessmen this year. We lost Al Rosen, Minnie Minoso, Anthony Mason, Earl Lloyd, Jerome Kersey, Steve Montador, Jerry Tarkanian, and on March 16th, we lost former Chicago Bulls center Jack Haley. Jack Haley passed away at the age of 51. His family confirmed his death as one of a heart disease. He died on Monday at Los Alamitos Medical Center in Orange County.

Jack Haley played nine seasons in the NBA which included a special spot on the Chicago Bulls’ 1996 championship team. He played with the likes of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, John Salley, and Toni Kukoc. While he wasn’t obviously one of the most well-known players but he was treasured member of that team. Especially to former teammates Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman who both sent out thoughtful tweets in memory of Haley. Pippen stated that he was a great guy who he had always stayed in touch with over the years. Rodman talked about how close he was to Haley’s family and kids and how he was truly like a brother to him.

While he played for the Bulls, he played for a myriad of other teams as well. He also played for the New Jersey Nets, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the San Antonio Spurs throughout his entire career. He averaged 3.5 points and 2.7 rebounds mostly as a reserve. He did sit out the whole 199-1993 season because of an injury. A graduate of UCLA, he helped the Bruins with the NIT championship in 1985. He was the 97th pick overall in 1987 after playing in Spain.

Even though his time was pretty short, the Chicago Bulls organization was saddened to hear of the passing of their former player. The Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson stated that, “Jack was always supportive and enthusiastic teammate and a valued member of the 1995-96 championship team that went 72-10. He always brought energy and enthusiasm to our organization and we send our condolences to Jack’s family.”

Haley’s death truly shows us the importance of his influence on the team. While he wasn’t the main scorer, the enforcer, or the stand out rookie; he was the kind of player who wanted the best for his teammates and the teams he played for, someone everyone needs on their team. Sometimes these people are thought of as an after thought but as we mourn his death today we celebrate his dedication and enthusiasm for basketball. We hope that players today can reach inside themselves and demonstrate his remarkable qualities as well.

Joakim Noah’s Dedication to the Bulls

By Ellen Chlumecky

March 10, 2015

Chicago sports’ teams seem to have a curse upon them. Whether they can’t catch a break with untalented players, a team that can’t get their acts together, or they’re plagued by injuries. The last time the Chicago Cubs won a World Series was in 1908. The Chicago White Sox haven’t won a World Series in 2005. While the Chicago Blackhawks have won the Stanley Cup in 2013, they have the second longest Stanley Cup championship drought which lasted 47 seasons. While the Chicago Bulls had the Michael Jordan era, they are not without their slumps or faults.

The Chicago Bulls are remaining at a stand still. Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson and Pau Gasol are still under medical watch as they try to heal to make sure they’re at 100%. Just when it seemed like events couldn’t get any worse, the thought that Joakim Noah might be leaving soon to go play for France at the European Championship in September.

Thankfully for the Chicago Bulls, they will be able to hang on to Joakim Noah for a little bit longer. The Chicago Bulls center and fill in leader is unlikely to play for France in September for the European Championship. In addition to the teams’ serious of downfalls, Noah is also still recovering after his surgery on his left knee in the off-season. You could say that his season has been a little bit more than rough.

Noah told the L’Equipe newspaper that he was planning on focusing on his NBA career. He has made it clear the Noah’s first priority is building up his career with the Chicago Bulls. While he has stated before, “the French team is a great experience, but it has been my priority.” The France technical director Patrick Beesley also made it clear that if he decides not to play Euro Basket, he would be selected for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics either.

I think it’s quite noble of Noah to skip out on this opportunity to finish out his season with the Chicago Bulls. He clearly wants to show them what he can give and part of what he is clearly indicating that he can give, is his time. Noah is averaging 7.9 points and 10.1 rebounds this season. He comes in every day knowing that his team is down a couple of great players but the glimmer from his eye isn’t gone yet. He has stepped up this season and I look forward to seeing all he’s got to give.

 

Another One Bites the Dust in Chicago

By Ellen Chlumecky

March 3, 2015

Earlier this week, All-Star Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls had meniscectomy to repair a torn medial meniscus in his right knee. On Saturday morning, February 28th, Rose was back at the Chicago Bulls’ training facility beginning his rehab process. However, we all know that once things seem good, they usually take a turn for the worst.  While Derrick Rose is going through rehab, Jimmy Butler is now scheduled to have surgery on his left elbow and Taj Gibson is now wearing a walking boot.

Jimmy Butler left Sunday’s 96-86 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers after hyper extending his left elbow. He left and did not return to the game. He’s now scheduled to have an MRI on Monday, March 2nd. Taj Gibson missed Sunday’s game after spraining his left ankle in Friday night’s win against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Gibson is now wearing a walking boot. It’s not unusual because he’s missed a substantial amount of time this season because of the same ankle injury.

In addition to the injuries, Pau Gasol is currently under the weather. While he did play through the illness on Sunday, he’s still not 100%. He was a trooper by playing through an illness otherwise. It just seems as if the Chicago Bulls cannot seem to catch a break this past week. Three injuries and an illness, someone on the Bulls must have ticked off the basketball gods to receive this kind of karma.

Many Bulls fans and basketball fans alike have made their doubt known about Derrick Rose. Many fans are quick to say that the season’s done and Rose should just retire at this point. It doesn’t help that in addition to Rose, some of their best players are out as well. It doesn’t make the future look all that bright for the Bulls. To think they had a great chance with Rose, Butler, Noah, Mirotic, Gasol, and Gibson, now slowly being taken away from them by these injuries.

Joakim Noah seems to remain disheartened but certainly hopeful though. After their loss, he stated, Nobody feels sorry for us, we just go to hope he’s all right and come ready to work.” When your top players are out, I would be equally as discouraged as Noah. The Bulls need to know who their main line of offense is with Gibson and Butler’s uncertainty.

I believe that Joakim Noah needs to assert his leadership even more than before. The other players really look up to him and he has the skills to back it up. He’s there best hope for a true leader right now to lead the team to a successful victory.

 

Started from the Bottom Now We’re Here

By Ellen Chlumecky

On Saturday night, Derrick Rose once again sat out against the Indiana Pacers because he was recovering from a strained left hamstring. Rose and Tom Thibodeau, the Bulls coach, are trying to give the injury time to heal and be patient with his recovery.

The Bulls ended up losing on Saturday to the Indiana Pacers 90 to 99. There was a player on the court that night who showed the United Center that the Bulls have a new star filling in for Rose. While the Bulls looked uninhabited on Saturday, this player gave life to the team. That player’s name is Jimmy Butler. While the team didn’t get the W, Butler scored a career high of 32 points.

This career high may be something new to Butler but the consistency of his point scoring has been unstoppable this season. Butler has shown his team that he can be a force to reckon with not only on defense, but recently on offense as well.

Kicked to the curb at the young age of 13, Butler had very little to look forward to in his life. After he was finally adopted by a kind family, Butler spent time playing for Tyler Junior College trying to get a college scout to notice him. He worked hard on the court and off the court academically and eventually received an offer to go to Marquette. Marquette’s coach, Buzz Williams, pushed him hard and saw the immense potential that Butler had. Working day in and day out at Marquette, Butler became the 30th pick overall by the Chicago Bulls. Now at only 25 years old, Butler is making a splash while star player Rose is out right now.

So working hard is nothing new for Jimmy Butler especially with his rough past. With Derrick Rose out, the entire team needs to step up in terms of point scorers and leadership. However, all the Chicago Tribune can talk about right now is how Derrick Rose is currently out.

I understand that Derrick Rose’s recovery is something that all Bulls’ fans are dying for right now, but when a rookie made a career high of 32 points it is something important to celebrate. I personally believe that Derrick Rose leads the Bulls effectively and efficiently but while he is out, players need to step up. And the fact that Butler is trying to, says a lot about his character as a player.

While NBA.com did not think Butler accomplished enough in the game because they didn’t win, just like Rose, it will not bring Butler down. Butler has overcome adversity in so many different ways. Nothing in his life came easy to him. I’m sure that losing a game to the Pacers doesn’t qualify as the worst thing that’s ever happened to him. Congratulations to Jimmy Butler, I look forward to seeing more from you and I cannot wait to see what you and Rose can do when he’s back.

 

Derrick Rose Looking on the Bright Side

By Ellen Chlumecky

Derrick Rose’s return created a huge excited buzz around Chicago and the NBA in general. Everyone was on the edge of their seats, waiting to see what this phenomenal player was going to bring to the court when he returned. Unfortunately, as soon as he was in, he was back out again.

On Friday, October 31st, the Chicago Bulls played against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The excitement around the game was huge. Everyone wanted to see the big comeback of Rose battling against Lebron James. But luck was not on Rose’s side on Friday. Rose sprained not one, but both of his ankles on Friday’s game. While one of the ankle injuries isn’t labeled as serious, it didn’t seem like an ideal situation. Leaving Bulls’ fans thinking that their beacon of light was once again out.

In true Derrick Rose fashion, when interviewed about the injuries, our fearless leader almost seemed to shrug it off. He stated that he stayed out of the rest of the game because he wanted to stay smart about staying off the ankles as to not cause further problems. Rose made it clear that he was not going to let this stop him but he was not going to run blindly into it and force another serious injury.

While Rose was a scratch on Tuesday for the Magic game, he still remains positive. Coach Tom Thibodeau is also just as confident as Rose that this is just a minor setback. Thibodeau states that coming back from a long injury always takes some time and that’s what Rose needs. The coach wants him to come in every day trying but at the end of the day, it’s about time. NBC Sports even defended Rose’s honor by saying that Rose’s current injury is just a minor fluke and that it’ll just take a little time for him to recover. They stated that this injury could happen to anyone.

While they seem to be confident that Rose will be back in brand spanking new condition, others do not seem to have the same view. After the game, Twitter was blown up about how Rose was made of glass and how he has no hope to return to 100%. Some Bulls fans, some non-believers, think that because of these ankle injuries he will never return to the Derrick Rose he once was. No major news media has stated that Derrick Rose cannot return from this, probably because they don’t want to state anything prematurely.

Non-believers can think what they want, but Derrick Rose is determined as ever to prove himself. I wrote an article about Derrick Rose’s return last week and he ended up with the ankle injury. I hope after writing this one, he doesn’t break an even more important body part. I do not want to be a jinx for my favorite NBA player.