Friday, May 25, 2012

Focus on Bears as Rest of Chicago Sports Suffer

You could make the argument that Chicago is, always has been, and always will be a Bears town. Sure, the Bulls are supremely popular, just as they were in the Michael Jordan era. But I personally know plenty of people who don't care for the NBA, so I'm assuming that this is a normal trend. You could also make a case for the Blackhawks, who have an enormous following. Yet, how many of those fans watched the team before they got popular again? I'm talking the days of not having home games broadcast on TV, or getting student discount tickets for practically nothing. I think that alone puts them slightly behind the Bears. Baseball can't come close, because Chicago has two teams that divide the city. The Cubs have a large fanbase, but the team stinks every year and a ton of fans show up to Wrigley for the experience, not the baseball. Thus, this year, as the Bulls and Hawks both made an early exit from the playoffs, the Cubs are woeful and the Sox are just ok, the Bears are going to bear the brunt of the attention from a rabid sports city.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Wood Ends Career On His Own Terms

It's hard to believe that it's been 14 years. It seems like only yesterday that Kerry Wood burst into the lives of Cubs fans on an early May day, a day that seemed to be the start of a long and prosperous career. Wood struck out 20 Astros that day and was instantly crowned the savior of Chicago baseball. It's hard to imagine more pressure being placed upon the right arm of a young player, an arm that we all now know couldn't hold up to it. Over the course of his career, we saw the dominating talent that made Wood such a prodigy when he arrived in the league, but we also saw the downside of the abuse of that arm, resulting in Wood taking up a second home on the disabled list for most of his career. Even through all of that, and the subsequent failure of another phenom, Mark Prior, and his career due to injury, Woody was a figure that endeared himself to Cubs fans. He was a Texas transplant, but over the past 14 or so years, he's become a Chicago man through and through. That's why, even though he was only a portion of what he could be, it was so hard to see him go yesterday.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Bulls' Strong Effort Comes Up Short as Season Comes to an End

Noooooo. In the matter of less than 10 seconds, the Bulls went from forcing a Game 7 to ending their season. After a season that started with so much promise, with the desire to build off last year's success, the number 1 seed for the second consecutive year, and another year filled with great teamwork, leadership, defense, and consistency, a couple serious injuries and their impact on the rest of the team led to a first round ouster. The Bulls got great games from Luol Deng, Rip Hamilton, Taj Gibson, and especially Omer Asik, but their lack of offensive execution, and really the loss of Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, meant an end to the possibility of a special season, whether it was last night in Game 6, a potential Game 7, or in any subsequent round of the playoffs.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Collective Effort Keeps Bulls' Season Alive

Maybe this is the time it all comes together. The Bulls have struggled to put together a cohesive effort since the end of Game 1 when Derrick Rose went down. They thought they were starting to come around in Game 3, building up a double digit lead, and then Joakim Noah goes down. It wasn't until tonight, in Game 5, where we saw a collective effort from a Bulls team that had banded together all year, through each injury to each player. I want to think that it was just a Bulls team that had become so dependent on Derrick Rose that it took a while to find their stride in his absence. But in reality, this was the first game all series where everyone (or really, those who were healthy) stepped up at once.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Bulls' Season on the Ropes

Rewind back just over a week ago. The Bulls' season, on the eve of the playoffs, was full of promise. They were not only the number 1 seed; they were a fundamentally sound, disciplined, dangerous team finally read to make some noise in the Eastern Conference. The team had their sights set on the Eastern Conference finals with Miami, with all the confidence in the world that a year after their loss, it was now their turn to advance to the finals. They had the best coach in the NBA, regardless of who the award went to. The front court of Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer was clicking, Rip Hamilton was finally playing as the team had hoped when they signed him, and most importantly, Derrick Rose was back and ready to attack the playoffs. And for most of Game 1, the Bulls were right on schedule. D Rose & Company were dominating Philadelphia for most of the game, until the Bulls' season and future was thrown into doubt when Derrick went down.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Tale of Two Halves as Bulls Get Blown Out in Game 2

What a difference a half makes. The Bulls, coming into their first game without Derrick Rose, knew they had to play as a team. They had to bank that the sum of their parts was going to carry them through the playoffs, at least against Philadelphia. And from the onset of Game 2, it looked like that was going to be the case. The Bulls came out firing in the first half after an emotional appearance at center court by Derrick Rose in the pregame. Joakim Noah led the way, providing scores of intensity, rebounds, and even scoring. The Bulls entered halftime confident that all the questions were answered about whether they could win without Rose, whether the Bulls could get a basket when it counted without their best player, or any of the other questions that come after losing your MVP. And that was it. Once the second half started, the Bulls were finished, with perhaps their worst half of the season.