The running of the Bulls …..
As a youngster growing up in the UK , I caused my Mom a great deal of angst, as she had to raise three kids as a single mother . From my mid-teens, until I made the decision to join the military, I traveled extensively throughout Western Europe, and along the way, becoming fluent in French, albeit that my great grandparents are of Haitian descent , also speaking German and a little Italian . Of all my travels, some of the best experiences I had, were my times spent in France , Spain and Italy . Although, there was a memorable experience on the island of Cyprus, that included a moment of intimacy with a young female in the town of Limassol. Let’s just say, she knew how to “rock the mic’ “ . In the country of Spain, one the of the great experiences to be had , is the “ Running of the Bulls” in the city of Pamplona and if you are brave enough , then it is something that should be experienced , but I can tell you this , it is not for the faint of heart .
In the NBA this season , many may well have written off the Chicago Bulls and their season , after the team’s point guard Derrick Rose went down with a another knee injury, once again incapacitating him for the season . Bad luck or simply karma, call it what you will. Suffice to say, Rose’s career is now sitting on a precipice and the dangers signs are suggesting , that it could very well be over before he has been able to make a real impact on the NBA. Rose is one of the youngest players ever to have won the NBA League MVP , all at the tender age of twenty-two , having entered the NBA as a first round draft pick of the Chicago Bulls in the 2008 NBA Draft .
With the loss of Rose, in many circles , it was thought that the case would, the Bulls would “tank” the season and simply look towards the upcoming draft to supplement the roster and by way of free agency , and also to jettison high salary capped players in order to make the team cap-friendly and a viable destination for any potential marquee free agent, looking for a fresh opportunity, as well as being viewed as being on a championship-caliber team. I felt at the time, that two of the Bulls’ lead front office executives , GM Gar Forman and Head of Basketball Operations John Paxson made a major monumental blunder in trading away Luol Deng , who at this point had been the Bulls’ best player all season long and who had also shown himself to be a great on-court leader. Yet, somehow what should well have spelt disaster for the Bulls and their season, has now turned out to be something of an opportunity as this Tom Thibodeau coached team , now seems revitalized and induced with sheer optimism , as they seek to play themselves into contention for a divisional crown and a high seeding within the Eastern Conference .
Coming off a very convincing victory over the highly touted defending champions the Miami Heat , you kind of get the feeling that this NBA season might not end up being as uninteresting within the Eastern Conference, as some might have thought it would be , as it appeared that the Heat and Indiana Pacers would have the conference to themselves , with the victor having the “spoils of war” . All of a sudden, with the wheels discombobulating off the vehicles of the Heat and Pacers, there very well could be a great deal to play for, before the regular season ends its schedule.
Tom Thibodeau has proven himself to be one of the better coaches in the NBA and given what he has to work with this season, with the loss of Derrick Rose and the departure of Luol Deng, in making the Bulls still competitive, to my mind he is a worthy candidate to be named the NBA Coach of the Year , as I do not believe that there are any other viable candidates based solely on achievement alone for this season ! ! At 35-29 the Bulls’ mark stands as the fourth best within the Eastern Conference behind the surprisingly resilient Toronto Raptors (35-27) the second placed Miami Heat (44-17) and the Indiana Pacers(47-17) who are a slim three games ahead of their closest rivals the Heat.
While I do not expect there to be a complete falloff in terms of the top two contenders within the Eastern Conference ! I do believe the momentum, now being shown by the Chicago Bulls adds a little more intrigue to the conference, rather than elements there, become something of a foregone conclusion . For Miami, that seven-point loss to the Bulls proved to be a wake-up call, as they rebounded to defeat the Washington Wizards on their home-court with 99-90 victory , with LeBron James leading the way for the Heat with twenty-three points , leading all scorers in the contest. James is seeking to prove to the naysayers that he is not yet ready to relinquish his League MVP crown to anyone as of yet , even if the cries are that Kevin Durant while leading the Oklahoma Thunder to the best record in the NBA is now having a better year from a statistical standpoint . From my own perspective , I believe that Durant apart from having a better season , he is proving , that in allowing his teammates to become involved in many of the team’s victories this season , it is simply not just about him alone . A case can be made that for the Heat , without James , their record would be considerably more troubling . The two players have this season , have stood head and shoulders above their rivals and that includes players such as Blake Griffin and Carmelo Anthony , who have each had their own individual moments this season .
As the season continues to spiral out of control for the Los Angeles Lakers , there have been very few positives for the franchise over the course of the year. Kobe Bryant still remains sidelined with an injury. Meanwhile, head coach Mike D’Antoni still guides this team with reckless abandonment, having not taught any of the younger group of players a thing with regard to playing defense . Doubt my word, then simply look at the team’s stats and where they lie within the conference and league as a whole. Then you can easily understand the reasons why, the Lakers have been in trouble all season long, in spite of the absence of Bryant. Although their surprising defeat of the Oklahoma City Thunder might well have been the team’s biggest victory of the season , beyond that success there have been very few positives to report.
Lakers’ GM Mitch Kupchak and team owner Jim Buss , have made several mistakes in the past eighteen months that have come home to roost , by way of a lack of a real scorer on the roster beyond Bryant. An aging Pau Gasol is unable to carry the burden of the team’s offense and one or two individualistic moments from the likes of Nick Young or Jodie Meeks cannot and will not hide the fact that the lineup is simply devoid of depth and real underlying talent. Now the franchise is simply pinning their hopes on the free agency market of 2015 and the likelihood, that there will be a dearth of highly sought after players, hitting the market all at the same time. If as anticipated, the likes of Carmelo Anthony and others do make it known of their intent , then Kupchak is likely to be given the go-ahead to pursue anyone of a number of those highly sought after players with a view to bolstering the roster. From my own standpoint , with next season likely to be Kobe Bryant’s last in the NBA , it will provide the player and the franchise the last opportunity of their winning an NBA title, before his likely retirement. Having signed a two-year $48.5 million contract this past season , the deal itself might well have been seen as outrageous, it does lead many to believe that at this juncture , there is a great deal of desperation within the front office of the organization with Jim Buss being under a great deal of pressure to succeed , while following in the footsteps of his late father , Dr Jerry Buss, the erstwhile late owner of the franchise.
The Los Angeles Lakers will now face another stern test, as the now have a rematch with the Thunder for the second time in the past four days , when they are the guests of their opponents at the Chesapeake Energy Center , Oklahoma City , Oklahoma on Thursday , 13th March, 2014 .
The Western Conference continues to remain as competitive as ever, far more so, than that of the Eastern Conference. While the feeling remains, that the combatants in the West, are likely to be in for an arduous battle, as the playoffs begin , whereas, the East will be as predictable as ever, with the top two teams in the conference, likely to meet, in the Eastern Conference Finals.
It would be fair to suggest that this season has been a profound disappointment for anyone who happens to be a fan of the New York Knicks. The team has under-achieved, with head coach, Mike Woodson being unable to get any semblance of consistency from his players. With a record of 25-40 the team currently lays 3 ½ games out of eighth place for the final playoff berth within the East. The Atlanta Hawks (27-35) , holding down that final spot, have to be fearful of the Knicks finding any sort of momentum enabling a playoff push and erasing that deficit. . For all of the heroics of Carmelo Anthony this season , it is hard to envisage the Knicks finding that sort of resilience at this stage , when in the earlier part of their schedule they have simply not been able to exhibit any type of consistency whatsoever.
James Dolan, owner of the New York Knicks has been very reticent to answer any questions concerning the franchise’s woes. However, in light of his agreement in principle to hire Phil Jackson , former player with the franchise and the most successful coach in NBA history , to now head up the front office as Head of Basketball Operations . It now begs the question , how much power will now be placed in the hands of the former head coach and what will be the long-term futures of both GM Steve Mills and that the current Knicks’ head coach Mike Woodson ? With neither being hires of Jackson, one could speculate that both will be allowed to remain with the franchise until the end of the season , before he makes a decision as to whether or not both Mills and Woodson will remain with the organization in their current capacities .
I believe that this hire of Phil Jackson was done in large part, to impress upon Carmelo Anthony , that the franchise now means to do whatever it takes to retain his services , while seeking to build a competitive team to complement his skill-set . The player, himself has not been abundantly clear, as to what his intentions will be concerning his long-term future with the franchise . Yet, if the indications are too believed, then he is likely to opt out of the final year of his contract and test the free agency market. The New York Knicks however, remain with the upper-hand, knowing that they will be able to offer Anthony a long-term deal, paying the player a far bigger contract than any likely suitor will be able to offer as mandated by the league. Yet , for Carmelo Anthony , at this stage of his ten-year career in the NBA , I do not believe it comes down to money , but more so the opportunity to play for a legitimate contender for the NBA title , rather than a franchise that in recent seasons , has simply been an afterthought in the minds of the vast majority of fans of the NBA , with the exception of those who just happen to be fans of the New York Knicks’ franchise.
With their recent lopsided victory over a dour Philadelphia 76rs’ team, the Knicks’ next contest will pit them against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night at the TD Banknorth Gardens in Boston , Massachusetts , against Brad Stevens’ young and inexperienced roster . If New York Knicks are seeking to make a serious run at a playoff berth at this juncture , then this will be a game that they simply cannot afford to lose. As to what the rest of the season now holds for the franchise, remains to be seen , and that of the intent of Phil Jackson , also .
Picture gallery .
As the NBA season winds down , what are you expecting to see from the teams vying for a playoff berth ? Also, do you believe the hiring of Phil Jackson to head up franchise’s basketball operations will be in their best interests or do you believe that it will add a great deal of uncertainty around the organization?
Picture and slideshow gallery details below .
(1) The Running of the Bulls in Pamplona , Spain honoring St Fermin. A seven-day event, that takes place during the month of July . It has become a worldwide event , which has also its detractors , especially amongst animal rights’ group around the globe. REUTERS/UPI …
(2) Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls is seen here centering the arena at the United Center , in Chicago , Illinois, prior to the game before the Chicago Bulls played the San Antonio Spurs at their home venue . Chicago would end up losing the game 104-96 . AP Photo / Keith Kirkpatrick ……….
(3) Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs looks to make the pass during an offensive play during the game against the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night , 11th March , during the contest played at the United Center . Also in picture are Jimmy Butler of the Bulls , Kawhi Leonard (21) of the Spurs and defending Duncan , Joakim Noah . AP Photo Keith Kirkpatrick …
(4) Tom Thibodeau converses with Derrick Rose (1) of the Chicago Bulls during Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks at Phillips Arena on May 6, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. This season Rose has been lost to Bulls for their entire schedule but amazingly enough the team now seems likely to make the postseason without their All Star point guard . Getty Images North America / Kevin C. Cox …..
(5) Chicago Bulls GM Gar Forman , seen here in the foreground, alongside the franchise’s Head of Basketball Operations , former Bulls’ player John Paxson . Forman and Paxson have worked studiously over the past four years in acquiring the talent and then with the hiring of Tom Thibodeau to make franchise a championship contender . Team owner , Jerry Reinsdorf has continued to heap praises upon the franchise’s two lead front office executives . Chicago Sun Times / Eric Moffitt ………
(6) A lost and forlorn season for Los Angeles Lakers’ guard Kobe Bryant , who , having been declared done for the year , will now watch from the sidelines as the team embattled the rest of the season , seeking something positive out of it all . In recent months Bryant has been critical of the front office questioning the ambition of Jim Buss and GM Mitch Kupchak and their wanting to make the roster competitive . With no chance of making the playoffs , this could end up being one of the franchise’s worst seasons in recent years in terms their year-end record. Another vocal critic of the Los Angeles Lakers’ has been former player and Hall of Fame great Magic Johnson , currently a senior managing partner of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ ownership group. UPI/ Anthony Hughes …..
(7) NEW YORK, NY – April 5: Phil Jackson , a member of the 1973 Championship New York Knicks team during a press conference before a game between the Milwaukee Bucks and the New York Knicks on April 5, 2013 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Jackson has agreed in principle to head up the Knicks’ front office operations and will be an EVP & Head of Basketball Operations . GM Steve Mills will have Jackson as his immediate superior , with new executive reporting directly to owner James Dolan , concerning all matters with regard to the player personnel . It is unclear what sort of impression this will make on the pending status of Knicks’ star Carmelo Anthony , who can opt out of his existing contract at the end of this season. Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images ………
(8) New York Knicks’ center . Tyson Chandler (6) is seen here alongside teammate Carmelo Anthony (7) during a game . Both are said to be tired of the team’s losing and the apparent lack of direction coming from the front office and that of the coaching of Mike Woodson. With their season floundering both players are now said to be discussing their futures with the Knicks and it is likely , one , if not both players may well seek to leave the organization . Getty Images/ Martin Stewart ……. …….
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