Nightmare On Madison Street

6 04 2008

The Chicago Bulls are one loss or one Atlanta Hawks win away from eliminating themselves from the NBA playoffs.

The Hawks have the Pacers, Knicks, Celtics, Magic and Heat left on the schedule. The Bulls have the Heat, Magic (twice), Cavaliers, Bucks and Raptors up in that same span. So if the Bulls slip or if the Hawks take care of business, Chicago will hope the lottery gods smile upon them.

With all of this in my mind, I’ve been stirring a lot in my sleep. The nightmare I had last night will not help alleviate any of my latent fears.

Elton Brand is back from an injury and playing for his Clippers squad. His revival makes the Clippers front court as follows: Elton Brand, the near All-Star Chris Kaman and the devastatingly skilled Al Thornton.

That is a stacked front-court. I would be psyched if I were a Clips fan. It would be like if a fat kid not only stole a Klondike bar while the attendant wasn’t looking, it’s as if the fat kid hijacked the damn ice cream truck.

With Corey Maggette making plays out on the wing, the Hunchback Franchise of the Staples Center is just screaming for a talented, young mid-level point guard to join their ranks.

The Clippers can’t count on someone on their current roster to fill that need. Shaun Livingston’s status is still cloudy after that horrific injury. Brevin Knight is about ready to collect social security from his baby-boomer children. Dan Dickau is solid but the Clippers probably won’t be able to lean on him to run the offense.

In my nightmare, Chris Duhon spurned any of the Bulls’ advances and peace offerings. Duhon signed with the Clippers. He and fellow Dukie and former Bull Elton Brand help revive Clipper Nation, leading them to their first playoffs since Sam Cassell. What’s worse is that Chris Duhon’s career path followed Chauncey Billups in that both players peaked much later than the normal curve.

In the vein of Brand, Tyson Chandler, Bruce Bowen and Corey Benjamin, Duhon became another former Bull that found success after leaving the Windy City.

I have never been a fan of Chris Duhon but please, Chris, keep partying and hanging out at Duke. Don’t make a name for yourself because I won’t know what I’ll do. Actually, I do. I’ll probably pull a “Doug Heffernan” and spend my 403b savings on an ice cream truck.

T-Time for the Dark Side

9 03 2008


The Force is strong in this one…

When the Chicago Bulls corralled Tyrus Thomas in 2006, the consensus was that he was a project. Tyrus made a name for himself by stepping up big-time in the NCAA tournament. However, it didn’t change the fact that he was a scrawny, 6’8″ tweener with only one collegiate season under his belt. He wasn’t originally offered an athletic scholarship to LSU and now he was a top-5 draft pick.

Tyrus was essentially a filler recruit for an in-state college and now he’s the newest rookie savior in Chicago. Could you imagine that kind of lifestyle change?

Lots of people got on his case for an off-color comment regarding last year’s Slam Dunk competition. Tyrus said he would simply go to Las Vegas and collect the Slam Dunk money. Although that comment sounded a lot worse than it was. Tyrus is a young player and the first Bull since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen to participate.

I’m sure he was getting a lot of pressure and lots of “how are you going to live up to Michael?” kind of questions. Tyrus was making the comment to appear relaxed and indifferent in the face of all the pressure. Most people forget is that Tyrus had stated he was donating the Slam Dunk money months prior to the infamous comment.

I concede the fact that it was stupid. But hey, I’m pretty sure everyone at the age of 20 says something stupid.

Youth, itself, is a commodity nowadays. Young, highly-touted prospects all have to go through the grinder. But as a general rule, court awareness and maturity need to be ahead in the improvement curve.

The development of a go-to offensive move and some semblance of a jumpshot within 18 feet are imperative for him. However, that shouldn’t be developed before Tyrus realizes when to use those tools.

He’s athletic. He can jump out of the roof. No one can deny that. But there are a few things that trouble me about his demeanor.

I have seen Tyrus live several times.  When he is sitting on the bench, his focus visibly ebbs and flows throughout the game.  One second, he’s cheering on his teammates and the next, he’s scoping the crowd for attractive women.  Sometimes he gets in the huddle and listens to the coaching staff, and other times he’s watching Benny the Bull’s antics or the LuvaBulls dance routine.

I certainly would be guilty of these acts but it’s a stark contrast to someone like Chris Duhon.  Duhon is focused, with his eyes on the court for the entire game.

This is what I see.  And not having insider’s access to Tyrus Thomas, what I see worries me.

Don’t go to the Dark side, Tyrus.  You’re our only hope…