Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Streak Stops Here

When the Bulls jumped out to a big first quarter lead, I knew last night's game was actually going to be a battle. I had questioned coming into the game how the Bulls would compete with a Miami Heat team on a 27 game winning streak without Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Rip Hamilton, or even Marco Belinelli. We had seen this Bulls team go through some struggles without those guys, falling into lulls where they couldn't score and the shortened bench became too much for them to overcome. But last night, we saw the Bulls as we remember them so well from the past few years, even without the star players. It was a total team effort, getting contributions from all over the roster, combined with the mentality that Tom Thibodeau has instilled in this team, that led to the incredible, heart-pounding win over Miami to end their streak.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Illini Pride is Back

I set off trying to write about the game against Miami, when I stumbled upon the absolutely perfect piece over at A Lion Eye. It's linked both here and below, and encapsulates everything I was going to say in a truly outstanding way. I do have a few thoughts though. First, it's heartbreaking to watch a loss like that. I feel terrible for the team to watch a game like that slip away, especially with controversial officiating at the end. But at the same time, I couldn't be prouder of how they established themselves in the biggest game of their careers. This team, a team that most had written off prior to the season, had the program on the brink of its first Sweet Sixteen appearance since the magical run of 2005. Last night we saw the culmination of an entire season of working together, effort, and player development. I wanted that win bad, so bad that I'm still reeling today as I write this, but I can rest easy knowing that this group laid everything they had on the line last night. What a proud, program-building moment for the group; this is the memory that they all get to go out on.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Illinois 2013 Tournament Preview

It's been a crazy season for the Illini. They started strong, racing out of the gates to a 12-0 start that no one saw coming, including an epic win at Gonzaga and a championship in the Maui Invitational. Then there were the struggles during Big Ten season, where the team started to fall into the old precipices that were hallmarks of the Bruce Weber era. Finally, there was the nice rebound to the season, where Illinois pulled off some key victories, including a monstrous win against number 1 Indiana on an epic buzzer beater from Tyler Griffey. Now, on the verge of an NCAA Tournament appearance that few predicted before the season, the legacies of a few and the beginning of a new coach's era hangs in the balance.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Move From Wrigley? Not a Chance.

The Chicago Cubs are a team of tradition. A mostly losing tradition, to be sure, but one that has been passed down from generation to generation to the point that it really is something special. Grandfathers can take their grandchildren to games, getting off the CTA or taking some other form of public transit, and land smack dab in the same Chicago neighborhood where they first saw the Cubs play when they were kids. These wise elders can sit in the famed bleachers and spin yarns to their progeny about the days of Tinker to Evers to Chance, or the heel clicking, let's-play-two 1960's era Cubs teams. They can recount years and years of horrendous teams and mounting losses, but the experience, the camaraderie, and atmosphere, and the location has all been the same. It's created a community amidst the Friendly Confines that brings together Cubs fans of all ages and locations. At this point, it's become a point - a practical pilgrimage - for every type of fan, from the diehards to those looking to soak up the Chicago sun and have a good time, to make at least one trip to Wrigley.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Bears Making Right Moves as NFL Offseason Begins

The frenzy surrounding the first week of NFL free agency shows just how powerful and popular that league is. It is clear from the dedication from sports talk radio, the attention on national sports TV, the hysteria of the modern sports twitter mafia to be the first to drop a story ("sources say") as well as the numerous articles surrounding the first real week of the league year prove that the NFL is King. The Bears kick started the league year in exciting fashion for the second year in a row. This time last year it was inking Michael Bush and Jason Campbell to deals (smart moves at the time even if they were barely used or underperformed when they were used, respectively) to go along with the mega trade for Brandon Marshall.

This year, the Bears addressed massive needs at tight end and left tackle by acquiring two of the marquee free agents at both positions. The acquisitions of Martellus Bennett and Jermon Bushrod instantly make the Bears a better football team and shore up major weaknesses from last year. I applaud the apparent secrecy under which Phil Emery made the moves, and certainly appreciate the fresh sense of driven moves from Halas Hall that he's brought in his short time on the job. The reason I waited a week to write about it, however, is because of the skepticism that continues to surround the Brian Urlacher issue. Even after landing two marquee free agents, Emery's success or failure this free agency could very well hinge on how he deals with the Bears legend.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Doubting Rose the Wrong Move at This Point

Is this the point it has gotten to? Really? Now, after all we've been through, we're going to question Derrick Rose's toughness? I find it ridiculous that after it leaked that he was medically cleared to play by doctors, we not only instantly expected him to be able to play, but then started to murmur - after he mentioned that he would play when he was comfortable dunking off his left foot (translation - mentally ready) - that maybe he was milking this whole affair. Derrick had fallen into the trap of playing to his endorsement companies, listening to his handlers, etc, and didn't feel that it was in his best interests to come back. It's all garbage.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Hawks Rolling as Unprecedented Streak Continues

When was the last time sports were this much fun? I mean, I'm obsessed with sports so I think they're fun on a regular basis, but this is getting ridiculous. This Blackhawks team has turned not only the Chicago sports world upside down, but the sports world in general. A hockey team - that's right America, HOCKEY, the sport that shall not be named - is being compared to the Miami Heat during primetime ESPN Sportscenter broadcasts. A league fresh off of a debilitating lockout has a team that is bringing the sport back to prominence in a way that wouldn't have happened even if there was a normal NHL season without a lockout. They're doing it because they're winning, of course, but they're also succeeding because they're just damn fun to watch.