Can Jimmy Butler And Derrick Rose Co Exist ?

” I am a point guard”.

With those recent words Bulls shooting guard Jimmy Butler told Bulls.com that he and Derrick Rose will be a force to be reckoned with going forward or he announced to the world that after claiming the mantle of team leader during last seasons playoffs he is now asking for control of the ball and offense.

Here’s what we Know:

In his fourth season Jimmy Butler (22.9 ppg 44.1 fg% 38.9 3pt% ) per Bulls.com, established himself as a first time All-Star and one of the best two way players in the NBA,

Former MVP Derrick Rose is returning after a successful season ( 20.3 ppg 39.6 fg% 34.8 3pt% ) per Bulls.com, and is working to re-establish himself after a history of injuries as one of the top players in the NBA.

It was alleged Derrick and Jimmy did not get along last season and during the playoffs
Jimmy has to this point offered explanations and insist that he and Derrick are ok and will be united in their desire to win a championship.

Derrick has said little to nothing about the alleged rift.

The Bulls hired 1st time head coach Fred Hoiburg to bring together what was described by some as a toxic locker room during last season.

What are the prospects ?

Per distinguished NBA writer Sam Smith in response to Jimmy Butler’s assertion. ” It sounds like a joke for the guy who was supposed to be a small forward replacement for Luol Deng. But having another guard who can handle the ball and allow Rose to play off the ball with Butler’s defensive prowess provides a potentially exceptional and previously unknown element to the Bulls arsenal. ”

This to me sounds like solid analysis however, isn’t it possible for Jimmy Butler to accomplish all of the above from the two guard position ?

Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars were one of the pre-eminent back courts in NBA history as they shared ball handling duties with each being capable of initiating the offense for the Detroit Pistons.

There were times when Isiah would operate from the wing position and move without the basketball, Joe Dumars would do the same depending on match ups and or tactical advantages.

What I find interesting is Joe Dumars never announced to the world first that he is the team leader and then he plays the position of his teams established point guard who just happens to be a league MVP.

On the surface Jimmy Butler’s new found confidence could just be a natural changing of the guard (no pun intended ). However it begs to question, how does Derrick Rose feel about all of this ? Is Derrick in agreement with Jimmy ? Will he abdicate leadership? Should he?

Maybe a review of game six of last years eastern conference finals could prove instructive where Derrick Rose seemingly backed off during the late stages of the game when the Cleveland Cavaliers turned it into a rout.

There were those who theorized that Derrick was giving Butler room to prove he could carry the team, whether he was or not, it was not a pretty sight for a team that returns it’s entire roster for the up-coming season.

The success of the Chicago Bulls this season could hinge on a rookie coach’s ability to forge this group of alpha males into a cohesive unit.

The Starting Lineup.Net At The Big Ten Media Sessions

2015 Big Ten Football Media Days

Thursday July 30, 2015

1 Quotes provided by Caption Northwest, Inc. – 425-343-4946 http://www.captionnorthwest.com

Illinois Coach Tim Beckman

COACH BECKMAN: Thank you. First and foremost, it’s that time of year again when you get to step out and realize that you’re less than a week away from getting football started. And I think that’s what the Big Ten Media Day is all about.

First, I’d like to tell you about how excited we are as a football team as we move forward to next week.

Secondly, I’d like to express to you the three gentlemen that I have here with me today. The Fighting Illini of Walker nominee Josh Ferguson; Butkus nominee Mason Monheim; and of course, Big Ten nominee Teddy Karras.

If you have that opportunity to meet with those gentleman, please, I strongly urge you to. They’re fine gentlemen. They understand exactly what college football and the student-athlete’s lives are all about.

Before I get started, I would like to express something that I want to make sure that everybody understands about our program. We use the word Oskee not just because of the word Oskee or that it’s a battle cry of the University of Illinois. But it also stands for something. That stance that we use that word for is our success equals the knowledge of being — the K, the knowledge, of being a great student-athlete on and off the football field. Understanding how to be supportive. How to understand to be successful in the classroom.

The E stands for effort, giving all-out effort in everything you do each and every day. And then the last E stands for energy. Energy, being a positive influence on the people around you. Having that belief and that system as being a teammate, being a brother, the band of brothers.

So we’re really, really excited about the future of this program. These young men have been working since September to make sure that the Fighting Illini are getting better and better each and every year.

I’m open to questions.

Q. Tim, in off-season, there’s been some allegations made about your coaching style or mistreatment of players. I’m just wondering how you respond to those allegations. And if you don’t mind, secondly, have you been asked to change your approach? Or do you feel like you will change your approach in light of the investigation and these allegations?

COACH BECKMAN: Shannon, I’ve been around football for 50 years of my life. I’ve been around some great, great individuals throughout my career, from high school coaches on up to the college coaches that I’ve been able to play for and work for.

You know, we’re focused right now on a 2015 football team. We took off from last year after a great end of the year. And we’ve been focused since January on becoming a better football program. The philosophy that we continue to use is what these football players believe in football.

2015 Big Ten Football Media Days

Media coverage provided by Mona Lisa Drake of the starting lineup.net

Are The Chicago Blackhawks A Dynasty ?

“D’s Corner”

Are the Chicago Blackhawks a dynasty? Yes!

The Chicago Blackhawks have just won their third Stanley Cup in the last six years which everyone acknowledges is a tremendous feat but the question being posed right now (mostly from the media) is are they a dynasty?

Short answer in my opinion, yes!

However, the question that no one has yet (in my opinion) to answer is what exactly defines a dynasty?

That’s where the ‘blurred lines’ come in because the definition varies depending on who you ask. Some simply say yes because they’ve won three Cups in six years…nuff said (I’m more in that ‘camp’). Some call it a “modern dynasty” (like “Jeopardy”…I’ll accept that answer) because since the 2004-05 NHL lockout (which cancelled the entire season that year) they are the first team to win three Stanley Cups. Why should that make a difference you may ask? Because after that lockout the NHL instituted a salary cap and unlike the NBA (which still allows teams to go ‘over’ the cap) the NHL doesn’t allow for a team to pay a ‘luxury tax’ should they go ‘over’ the cap…it is what’s called a ‘hard’ cap…you CAN’T go over it!

This makes it MUCH harder for a team in the NHL to win championships consistently because they are ‘bound’ by the cap. You can’t simply just go out and spend on the best players to your hearts content or maintain them (like you could before the lockout) you now have to actually scout, nurture and cultivate young talent through your minor league system (while still spending on free agent talent whenever possible) and then bring them up to your team and hope and pray they materialize into great players (Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Corey Crawford, etc…). While knowing you will LOSE some of those same great players in a short period of time because of the salary cap.

Some say they aren’t a dynasty (prefaced by “not yet” in most cases while still acknowledging it being a great feat) because they compare the Blackhawks to the Montreal Canadians of the 1970’s who won five Stanley Cups (between 1973-79) or the New York Islanders of the 1980’s who won four straight (1980-83) or the Edmonton Oilers who won five (between 1984 and 1990). All dynasties and great accomplishments obviously, but this was all PRE salary cap. While taking absolutely nothing away from those great teams I doubt if they could have won ALL (some if not most) of those Stanley Cups had a salary cap been in place because they couldn’t have signed or kept all of those great players they had.

But my definition of a dynasty goes a little deeper than maybe most because I look at sustainability.

In other words, were you able to maintain a consistent level of excellence in the years you DIDN’T win the championship? Were your teams competitive, a perennial playoff contender during those ‘down’ years? If the answer is yes, (see most recently over the last few years the New England Patriots, San Antonio Spurs, St. Louis Cardinals and yes…the Chicago Blackhawks all in each ‘major’ sport who can claim that mantle) then you my friend have what in my book is called a dynasty!

All of these organizations have maintained ‘power’ over a period of time (not ‘winning it’ every year which is close to impossible) and always being ‘in the hunt’ as well as seeing no immediate end to that power or dominance…that’s a dynasty!

Or break it down to it’s lowest common denominator, what’s the old saying? If you have to ask the question you already know the answer. I will say, in this ‘new’ era of the NHL salary cap that literally ‘forces’ and almost ‘rigs’ parity which also has a playoff format that really doesn’t ‘favor’ the ‘top’ teams what the Blackhawks have done in the last six years is downright amazing!

But at the ‘end of the day’ it’s up to us the individual to decide (in our own minds I guess) how we want to define the 2014-15 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks!

Me myself, I like the answer Scotty Bowman (Senior VP of Hockey Operations for the Blackhawks) and father of current G.M. Stan Bowman (named after the Cup) gave after the team won this current Stanley Cup…”oh yeah, it’s a dynasty”!

Who is Scotty Bowman some of you may ask (longtime hockey fans already know)?

He is only the former coach with the record for most wins in NHL history (fourteen hundred and sixty seven) total, the record for Stanley Cups as a coach (nine) which includes those five I listed above with the Montreal Canadians, one with the Pittsburgh Penguins and three with the Detroit Red Wings and five additional Stanley Cups as a player. I think he knows the definition of a dynasty.

And for those who may say he’s biased because his son is now the Blackhawks G.M. my answer is simple…so!

After all of his accomplishments (that I just listed)…I think I’ll take his definition of the Blackhawks being a dynasty (and any possible bias) over oh…I don’t know…EVERYBODY’S (mine included)!

Honestly, is there ANYBODY out there that has accomplished more in this sport than him and can claim to know more?

Once again, if you have to ask the question you already know the answer!

No matter where you may stand on this issue I think there’s one thing we can ALL agree on…

Congratulations to the 2014-15 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks!

D

Daryl is also a contributor to thestartinglineup.net

Are The Cavaliers On The Verge Of An NBA Title ?

Sight seen. Golden State Warrior star guard and league MVP Stephen Curry leaving the court after a loss by his team by the Cleveland Cavaliers 96 to 91 in game 3 of the NBA finals.

As Curry left the floor his head was down and shaking from side to side clearly displaying his disappointment in going down two games to one in this best of seven series.

Curry had his best game of the series leading his team with a game high 27 points but it was not enough to stymie Lebron James and the Cavs who through three games have somehow managed to control the tempo of each contest.

Who knows what was going through Curry’s mind at the time ? Maybe he wished he could be playing better or maybe his team mates could’ve upped their games ?
Nevertheless, walking off the court at the end of a key game with your head down was not good form.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are deliberate and physical and they have basically dictated the terms of battle. On defense the Cavs are jamming cutters and contesting shots. Power forward Tristan Thompson (pressed into duty after the season ending injury to starter Kevin Love) has been on a Moses Malone like tear in attacking the offensive glass.

The Cavs have successfully used their size advantage to discourage drives to the basket as they enjoyed a 44 to 36 advantage on points in the paint while holding the Warriors to 40% shooting overall.

On offense Lebron James enjoys dissecting the Warrior defense from the post as keeps the pressure on with strong moves to the basket and laser like passes to open team mates.

With the exception of Steph Curry the Warriors are a rhythm shooting team but in surrendering the pace and tone of the game the Warriors have allowed the Cavaliers to crack their offensive code.

To have a chance to even the series the Warriors will need to force Cavalier defenders, particularly Timofey Mozgov and Thristan Thompson to defend the entire floor.

To accomplish this the Warriors have to utilize more ball movement particularly from side to side while probing the defense for weaknesses.

On defense the Warriors need to assign two players to follow JR Smith and Iman Shumpert everywhere ( use crazy glue if needed).

To be fair, this series is a long ways from over but then I return to Mr. Curry walking off the floor with his head down.

You see part of the stark beauty of the Finals is that to win an NBA title a team must be willing to raise their level of intensity to near injury levels ( Cleveland is there) and most importantly, experience teaches that psychological tactics are in full effect.

Steph Curry’s gesture could very well just be an honest expression of disappointment but as the leader of his team he appeared defeated and that my friend, is never appropriate during the NBA Finals with your team watching. (Contrast Curry’s exit to LeBron leaving the court after a game one Cleveland loss. He was pissed and he was defiant)

If the Warriors can remember who they are while raising their level of intensity this could become really interesting really fast. But?

Who will win the prize ?

Can’t say for sure but there is a pretty good chance that by this time next year we could looking at the next U.S. Senator from the great state of Ohio…..LeBron James.
COMING HOME

Is The Window Closed For The Bulls Title Hopes ?

By Lamar Battle

Home loss against the Cavs in a game that saw the Bulls seemingly quit.

The Bulls lost in six games to a Cavalier team akin to a wounded animal. Starting power forward Kevin Love was out for the playoffs and starting point guard Kyrie Irving was seriously hampered with an injured ankle.

Could the Bulls finally get past long time foe ( and soon to be G.O.A.T.) Lebron James 53120-derrick-rose-chicago?

No !

What seemed to happen was a Bulls team that literally gave up and accepted defeat in front of the home faithful. The once vaunted Chicago defense started taking on water and the players suddenly appeared to forget how to score.

Did coach Thibodeau fail to make the needed adjustments for victory?

Former Bulls coach( as of today) Thibs was the subject of a season long feud with Bulls General Manager Gar Forman and team V.P. of Basketball Operations John Paxson.
Coach Thibodeau was undermined in front of his team from the start of the season ( key players were approached and told the coach does not have teir backs) establishing him as a lame duck coach.

To be fair, Thibs was accused constantly of overworking his players ( possibly contributing to key injuries) and perhaps suffering from a lack of offensive creativity in his play calling.

There were adjustments that could have been made on offense.

But, there is a flip side.

What if the Cavalier game was lost in January when a players mini mutiny almost cost coach Thibs his Job? Bulls players were harping on each other for not working hard enough while simultaneously complaining that that the coach was working them too hard.

What if coach Thibodeau lost his team at that point ( in January) when, after calling for a team practice he was over ruled by John Paxson who suggested instead that the team have a meeting where players could voice their concerns.

These were indeed uncharted waters for the Bulls, an organization that always seemed to avoid the type of coach killing players that always popped up on mediocre teams.
Bulls management has always suffered through acrimonious relationships with their coaches but players rarely if ever got themselves involved.

One thing is certain, when a coach loses his platform as the leader it doesn’t matter much which offensive and defensive schemes he employs.

What if the Bulls lacked the personnel to compete against the Cavaliers of the world ? Pau Gasol was old, Joakim Noah, Kirk Hinrich and Taj Gibson were getting old and unlike the Cavaliers, Spurs, Blazers, Warriors and Rockets the Bulls possessed only one player who could create for himself and others, ( Derrick Rose).

The NBA is a players league that is changing as we speak. Teams are trending towards 3 point shooting, speed, length and athleticism.

Maybe, just maybe the Bulls were running the sets best suited for their personnel?

What if any moves need to be made by the Bulls to rebound ?

The team has rights to the 22nd pick in this years draft so don’t expect much help there.
The team has immediate needs in rebounding and shot blocking ( for those of us who caught Tristan Thompson’s one man destruction of the Bulls front line).

Basically, playing time has too be found for young players like Tony Snell, Nikola Mirotic’ and Doug McDermott.
Picking up a tall scoring back up point guard would also be a step in the right direction and as hard as it may seem, tough decisions have to be made regarding Hinrich, Noah and Gibson.

This all leads us to the question?

Is the championship window for this current Bulls version closed ?

Answer: How long before LeBron James turns forty?

You don’t Get Punished for Cheating…You Get Punished for Getting Caught Cheating !

New “D’s Corner”…

Look, Tom Brady cheated!

I’m sick and tired of all of the pundits trying to generalize, parse words or use semantics when describing what is obvious to any non-nut! The NFL found MORE than enough evidence against Tom Brady to determine that he played a HUGE part in having the balls used in the AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts deflated. PERIOD!

Ok, most athletes and or coaches (hell, teams and organizations) do whatever they can to gain a competitive edge against their opponent…

Examples: A particular MLB team leads the league in stolen bases so let’s have our grounds crew ‘water down’ our infield so as to limit their traction on our field making it harder for them to steal against us or this NFL team has some of the worst fans on earth so let’s ‘pipe in’ crowd noise to make it harder for the opposing team to hear plays being called because we can’t generate that noise organically ourselves or one (or more) of the players on a particular NHL team has their sticks ‘curved’ beyond the league limit because it allows them to control the puck better or an NBA coach asks one of his players to ‘intentionally’ knock a cup of soda out of his hands onto the court to gain an additional timeout…I could go on and on but you get my point.

And you know what? As a former high school, college and semi-pro baseball and football player I didn’t then nor do I now have a huge problem with it. It’s called trying to gain a competitive edge any way you can. It’s been going on since the beginning of all sports and will never stop.

He, like most QB’s in the NFL likes his football’s a certain way which I understand but in at least this case (and I’m sure other cases) the football’s didn’t meet regulation inflation (hey, that rhymes). Anyway, is it the ‘worst’ thing you can do in the NFL? Of course not!

When I played baseball in high school I was a ‘student’ of the game (thank mom’s for that) and I learned how to steal the other teams ‘signs’…this ability I was able to acquire was then and is still now in all levels of baseball considered cheating. My attitude was/is if you’re dumb enough to ‘tip off’ your signs I’m dumb enough to steal em’. I saw it as no more than ‘gaining a competitive edge’.

Those who label cheating as cheating no matter the severity will never ‘get it’ and will ask that the perpetrator be punished to the ‘full extent of the law’ and those who feel like me and know it’s simply ‘part of the game’ will never look at it as ‘truly’ cheating.

All that being said…do you REALLY want to know why the NFL punished Tom Brady with a four game suspension (pending appeal)?

Mainly because he got caught (the preponderance of evidence was overwhelming) but here’s the REAL reason for the severity of the punishment…Tom Brady and that ‘smug-ass’ and ‘arrogant’ attitude of his and the way he went about trying to be ‘above it all’ as if to say…”do you know who I am?”!

I learned a lot from my parents and one thing I distinctly remember my dad saying to me was…”know when the jig is up”!

You’ve been busted, you’ve been caught, give it up. Admit what you did and ‘move on’! Not Tom Brady…he decided to basically ‘double-down’ and come very close to Ryan Braun-ville by trying to implicate two team employees (and why would the Patriots suspend both these guys before the league could get to them if ‘nothing’ happened?) and have them take the fall. That I don’t respect and neither did the league and this is one time where I’m with the league. He deliberately went out of his way to ‘stall’ the investigation as best as he could and then refused to cooperate in any meaningful way even after knowing…”the jig was up”!

And of course, after last year’s Ray Rice debacle (by the way, you will NEVER see him in the league again) the NFL wants to make sure that punishments are doled out properly and also, don’t forget ‘Spy-Gate’…the Patriots have a ‘history’ of (getting caught) cheating therefore, you get (what some deem as harsh) the four game suspension.

Do I hate the Patriots? You damn right I do…do I feel sorry for them? Not in this life! But (as I’ve stated in these pages before) I also hate the Yankees, Packers, Notre Dame, Duke, etc…etc…however, I can hate a team and STILL respect what they’ve accomplished and how they go about winning in which case I still respect how the Patriots simply win!

But the Patriots to me ‘major in the minor’…in other words, they cheat when they really don’t have to. They win primarily because they have more talent than anyone else and a better coach than most…that’s the only competitive edge they need. They don’t win because they cheat. ‘Spy-Gate’ and ‘Deflate-Gate’ really had nothing to do with them winning Super Bowl’s. So you might ask…why did they cheat? Same reasons Barry Bonds, Roger Clemons and Alex Rodriguez cheated…paranoid, arrogant, greedy and stupid to use a few adjectives!

None of them needed to…they all would have been Hall of Famer’s (Brady will get in for the NFL) anyway because they were extraordinary and superior talents…just not always in the ‘up stairs department’ if you know what I mean! They all got caught and are now paying a price for it (Bonds, Clemons and Rodriguez the ultimate price…no Hall of Fame…probably ever).

I’m about to tell my age now but they remind me of Richard Nixon back in 1972 ‘bugging’ the Democratic Headquarters at the Watergate Hotel (for those of you too young to know or too old to remember…the term ‘Gate’ e.g. ‘Spy-Gate’, ‘Deflate-Gate’, ‘Bounty-Gate’, etc…when speaking on any major scandal derives from the Water’gate’ break-in in 1972) when Nixon wound up winning 49 of 50 states in that year’s election anyway! What the hell do you care what’s in the Democratic Headquarters? Of course, we all know what happened after that…Nixon was ‘forced’ to resign…not because he was the ONLY President to ever cheat in office but because he was one of the few to get ‘caught’ cheating while in office! Nixon got greedy, paranoid, arrogant and…well, you get the picture!

The only thing worse that cheating when you don’t have to is getting CAUGHT cheating when you don’t have to. Think back to your school days, if you truly practiced and studied for a test and knew you knew the answers why would you cheat? That makes no sense right? In essence, that’s what Brady (and the other aforementioned players and Nixon did…cheat on a test they already knew the answers to). More often than not, we get caught doing wrong when we get greedy and the cheating is unnecessary (ever wonder why ‘greed’ is one of the seven sins?).

So the next time you hear someone say while defending Brady or the Patriots, “well they all cheat” just tell em’…”yeah, but they don’t all get caught”!

Daryl Wren

Are The Chicago Bulls Soft ?

When did things start to change?

Chicago Sun-times columnist Rick Telander suggested that he resembles a big rusty anchor. The person of note is one Zaza Pachulia, starting center for the Milwaukee Bucks. Blog co-conspirator A.J. suggested that up to game two of the NBA playoff series between the Chicago Bulls and the Milwaukee Bucks the Bulls were more or less having their way.

Only after an incident during game two when Zaza hit Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic’ in the back of the head only to follow later with another elbow to the head during a scrum did this series actually become a series.

Of course this could be a bit of a stretch to suggest that this incident was the catalyst for a Milwaukee resurgence but after it happened the Bucks took the Bulls to triple overtime and then defeated them twice prior to game six scheduled for Thursday night in Milwaukee.

During the Buck victories Zaza Pachulia could be clearly seen literally taking the ball right out of the hands of Bulls players after rebounds.

The Bulls have tough players I mean Derrick Rose is from Chicago’s Englewood community and others like Kirk Hinrich, Joakim Noah and Jimmy Butler back down from no one.

But it wasn’t until game three where 161 pound back up point guard Aaron Brooks landed a punch in the chest of Bucks guard Jarryd Bayless that I was reminded that he may have been the first Bulls player since former center Bill Cartwright to fire off a retaliatory foul for his team.

Now a team does not have to be well versed in the art of hand to hand combat to win a championship but it was interesting to see Nikola Mirotic’ approach Aaron after the punch to offer comfort, support and probably thanks.

Intimidation is and has always been a part of sport and teams normally address it by maintaining focus and execution however the Bulls now have a hungry, well coached and motivated team in their way.

The Answer ?

The answer is no, the Bulls are not a soft team . They have historically been a defensive oriented team even during the halcyon years of Micheal and Scottie.
These Bulls are known for a physical brand of defense which includes fighting aggressively through screens and chucking cutters coming through the lane.

What may be lacking is the need for time spent together during this injury ravaged season. That is one of the reasons Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau kept stressing the need for increased practice time.
Injuries to key players have played a part in inhibiting the progress needed to improve defensively.

The team, as it currently stands is engaged in a bit of a dog fight with a young, long, athletic and suddenly awake Milwaukee Bucks team and the Bulls may have to take advantage of their experience by controlling game tempo and by exploiting their size advantage.

In the meantime:

Bucks guard Middleton is a deadly shooter, stay home on defense !

Forward Giannis Antetokounmpo must be kept out of the lane as he and point guard Micheal Carter Williams are poor outside shooters. Play off of them and step up high to cut off dribble penetration when they drive.

Center Zaza ( the aforementioned anchor) Pachulia is not a shot blocker and should be challenged off the drive…If you dare.

And finally the Bulls might want to send in a big man to follow Rose or Brooks as they attack the lane. Drive and dish opportunities along with lob passes should result.

The Bucks collapse their entire defense at the first inkling of dribble penetration. The Bulls guards should pass out to shooters where the resulting second or third pass rotations should lead to wide open shots.

Next up? The Cavaliers and Vader.