Posts in NBA
Ball Don't Lie - "Phillip Rivers is the white Antonio Cromartie"

The squad's all here. Scott Flows and Pierce lament over the firing of Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg and the lack of faith in the organization before moving on from Sunday's Bears loss and onto this week's marquee matchup with the LA Rams! Plus, more football goodness from week 13, predictions for this Sunday, our thoughts on Kareem Hunt, Urban Meyer, the College Football Playoff and more!

Topics:
Bulls fire Fred Hoiberg
Do you have faith in Garpax and the rebuild?
Chase Daniel brings back Bears fans' PTSD
Bears-Rams predictions
NFC East outlook
Chargers' chances in the AFC
Why no one gives a damn about the Texans
NFC Wild Card chase
Week 14 predictions
Goofy Mog of the Week! (who else would it be?)

Ball Don't Lie - Apology World Tour 2018

Get over your Thanksgiving hangover with Scott and Pierce on Ball Don't Lie! This week, Pierce goes on an apology world tour, plus...

- Bears chances to win the NFC North
- Rams/Chiefs & the lack of defense in the NFL
- How much is Aaron Rodgers to blame for Packers woes this season?
- Baker & the Browns calling out Hue Jackson
- Do you believe in the Texans?
- Wild Card predictions
- Week 13 predictions
- Goofy Mog of the Week

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Ball Don't Lie - "Shanghai Melo"

It's the final Ball Don't Lie before the Thanksgiving holiday! Pierce is back with Joe and Scott to talk the latest news in the Association and the NFL.

Topics:
Bears-Vikings preview
Golden State Warriors drama
Jimmy Butler to the Sixers
Is Melo's NBA career done?
The new look Duke Blue Devils
Aaron Donald's not for the ray tay
Panthers not a top tier NFC team
Steelers byke
The "Is the Pats dynasty over" narrative is back
What's wrong with the Eagles?
A Gruden is not to be trusted
Sound byte of the week
Cooper Kupp tears ACL
Dez tears Achilles
Loudpack Leveon missing the 2018 season
Week 11 predictions
Goofy Mog of the Week

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Ball Don't Lie - "Not my GOAT"
The Third Pick - "Not a great start"
Warriors scarier than ever behind Steph Curry's historic start to season
 Carlos Avila Gonzalez / The Chronicle

Carlos Avila Gonzalez / The Chronicle

We’re only a week and a half in and the league is in mid-season form. The same can be said for the Warriors, who have already taken their place atop the West. But they’re not the team we’ve grown used to seeing the past two years with Kevin Durant in tow. This time, Steph Curry is the in charge of things on offense.

Life is great for the #StephBetter contingent. Curry leads the league in scoring at 33.9 ppg on 50-50-90 shooting. He leads the Warriors in shot attempts, just a hair in front of Durant, and incredibly, over half of Curry’s field goals have been 3-pointers.

A good sign of the offensive shift is the amount of three’s Curry is getting off (about 13 a game.) In the last two seasons, it often felt as though the game plan was to keep Durant comfortable, causing Curry’s game to suffer just slightly. However, the Warriors showed in last season’s Finals that they reach their peak when Curry is the primary option.

Steph knows how to embrace the lead man role. It’s been a career long goal for Curry to perfect the balance of creating for others and taking over by himself. Through seven games, he’s on pace to set an NBA record for offensive plus-minus with 12.77. Curry’s done this by limiting his one-on-one three’s, driving more to the rim to create for his teammates, and though he’s missed some easy layups, he’s mastered the art of relocating to the corner before the defense can catch their breath. Teams realize this, but they still can’t stop it, and it doesn’t help that there’s always one other All-Star on the court at the same time.

KD and Draymond Green have followed their point guard’s lead. The two sit just behind him in Assist Percentage at 26% and 28% respectively (Curry is sitting at 25%.) While Golden State leads the league in team assists, they’re also leading the league in team turnovers, 69% (nice) of which are coming off of bad passes. While this stat certainly sounds bad, the silver lining is that they’ve been a byproduct of their willingness to pass, and their commitment to this system. The Dubs need to tighten up their passing though if they want Curry to keep dominating from deep. He’s shooting 70% on assisted 3-pointers (completely insane). Though some may question the sustainability of this level of shooting, Curry is working harder without the ball than with it, and that’s keeping his stamina up in the long term

Should Curry’s hot shooting hold steady, Golden State won’t just run through the league; they’ll tear it apart. Whether it be behind Steph’s historic start to the 2018-19 season, or just the sheer joy that he brings to the sport, Curry is captaining this squad and picking up where he left off in 2016.

Ball Don't Lie - Let's Get Spicy

This week's Ball Don't Lie gets a lil spicy! Don't trip... there's still plenty of the same bullshit we give you on the regular. So sit back and enjoy this week's show!

Topics:
Scott's night at the Lakers game
Sound-Off
Bears/Patriots fallout
Did Trubisky have a bad game?
What to do about Blake Bortles?
Amari Cooper trade to Cowboys
Patrick Peterson on trade block
Heartbreaking sports losses
Week 8 NFL predictions
CP3-Rondo brawl
Goofy Mog of the Week
Shoutouts
World Series predictions

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Follow Scott: @Scott_CEOofSUH
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Ball Don't Lie - "Jimmy Butler = Buddy Ass"

The three-man crew is back together for a preview of the new NBA season, a recap of week 6 and to chat about the continued back-and-forth between Drake and Pusha T.

Topics:

Sound-off
NBA opening night
Things we’re looking forward to this season
Jimmy Butler/T’Wolves drama
Week 6 NFL review
Brady/Rodgers performance
Heated Saquon Barkley v. QB debate
Do you believe in Mahomes & the Chiefs?
Are the Jags D overrated?
Week 7 predictions
Drake/Pusha T interviews
Goofy Mog of the Week
Shoutouts

Become a patron of The Barber's Chair on Patreon! $5 a month will get you a thank you on Ball Don't Lie and guarantees you access to exclusive premium content from The Barber's Chair when it becomes available!
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Follow Scott: @Scott_CEOofSUH
Follow Pierce: @HennyOmega
Follow Joe: @Flowsandolini

2018-19 NBA Season preview: High stakes in Golden State
 Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images

Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images

Well that summer went by fast… Maybe it felt fast because instead of spending the summer months recruiting free agents to add to their already-Murderers Row of All-Stars, the Dubs let the big fish come to them. I guess that’s how things go when you’re on top.

Now the 2018-19 season feels like a countdown to the NBA Finals and an inevitable 3-peat and fourth title in five years… at least, that’s how fans outside of Laker-land feel.

That sense of inevitability runs in the back of the Warriors minds, no doubt. It’s still unclear whether they were mentally checked before Houston pushed them to the brink of elimination in the Conference Finals, but it never felt like the Dubs were being outplayed.

When looking forward to the looming free agency of Kevin Durant, I often think back to that Rocket series, and the front office must too. While Bob Myers and Joe Lacob are more than prepared to give Durant the deal of his choice, they’d much rather sign him long term. Durant, though, has remained steadfast in keeping his options open, as he should. What’s most interesting about the situation is the divide between the franchise and the fanbase. I can’t see fans being angry at a Durant departure, and KD could see it as an opportunity for a cleaner exit than his move from Oklahoma City.

While the front office will spend most of the season convincing Durant to stay, the Warriors are still in the midst of an opportunity to three-peat. LeBron’s departure from Cleveland increases the Dubs’ chance of winning the Finals, but his arrival in Los Angeles, along with other improvements in the West, makes the field tougher than previous years. The only teams sure to miss the postseason: Dallas, Phoenix and Sacramento. The Warriors can’t afford to sleepwalk into the first round.

 Ezra Shaw // NBA

Ezra Shaw // NBA

Without a clear cut starting center until DeMarcus Cousins returns from his achilles injury last season, this season will serve as year-long tryouts for the playoff rotation. Kevon Looney will likely start opening night at the 5 for his low risk, but he boasts high rewards as well. Jordan Bell, on the other hand, has high risk but still aims to be the Dubs’ center of the future. Even Damion Jones will see substantial minutes, as head coach Steve Kerr continues to shoehorn him into a key role.

Cousins will answer to some of those issues upon his return, but more importantly, he’ll keep spirits high. His presence is already being felt, as he’s been in the ears of young big’s during training camp and pre-season. So long as he does and says the right things, the rest of the team is going to battle for him. He can be the fulcrum that keeps the team focused on the mission, and in turn, he can make the other All-Stars lives a lot easier.

If nothing else, the season will be one to appreciate the present and embrace the past. This is a team with the greatest collection of talent in NBA history, and it happened in a place like Oakland.

The city has some credit to take for this too. Here in Oakland you put on for those who put on for you, and the team has always embraced that culture, with the city returning the love right back. Sure, moving to San Francisco is an upgrade in almost every fashion, but there will always be a special feeling in Oakland, and this season will be a proper send off to the town.

It’s hard to really know what to expect this season. Sure the fans expect the Warriors to win another title, but there’s more at stake than in years past. This isn’t just another title; it’s a means of truly becoming a dynasty.

But for this team, it’s just another day at the gym.

Ball Don't Lie - I Ain't Scared of You Mothafuckas

Pierce & Scott are back while Joe is already a third of the way to meeting our over/under of shows he'll miss this first half of the season. Alas.... we got a soundboard! So just know this show was shenanigans.

Topics:

Sound-Off
Smug media members
Derrick Rose getting his jersey retired in Chicago
Favorite games/stadiums to go to
KD potentially leaving Golden State after 2018-19
Conor McGregor-Khabib UFC madness
Jordan Howard trade rumors
Bears upcoming schedule
NFL week 5 recap
Blake Bortles still trash
Laughing at the NFC East
More Julio Jones slander!
Drew Brees touchdown record
Patrick Mahomes performance vs. Jaguars
Yankees-Red Sox watch party
Pierce rants on the disappointing Cubs season
Top 5 QBs of all-time
LCS preview
Week 6 NFL predictions
Goofy Mog of the Week
Shoutouts

Become a patron of The Barber's Chair on Patreon! $5 a month will get you a thank you on Ball Don't Lie and guarantees you access to exclusive premium content from The Barber's Chair when it becomes available!
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Follow Scott: @Scott_CEOofSUH
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Ball Don't Lie EP 24.5 - Uncovering MJ Retirement Conspiracy (ft. Jack M Silverstein)
Ball Don't Lie - "WTF is going on?"

Joe misses his first of an expected six episodes this season, but don't fret. Scott & Pierce hold it down for you on this TWO-HOUR edition of Ball Don't Lie.

Topics:
Sound Off
Jimmy Butler/KAT/Wiggins/Timberwolves Drama
NBA Media Day
Why ‘Kyrie to the Knicks’ makes no sense
Ending the ‘Everyone wants to be a Laker’ narrative
Expectations for the NBA season
NFL Week 3 recap
Jimmy G torn ACL
Rams injuries
Saints-Falcons
Carson Wentz return in Philly
Lions-Patriots
Patrick Mahomes & the Chiefs are 3-0
Can the Jags win the Super Bowl with Blake Bortles playing like mid?
NFL Week 4 predictions
First impressions of 'The Joker'
Can the DCEU, X-Men right the ship?
Mini-35th and Addison
The Cubs folding down the stretch
Grading the 2018 Chicago White Sox
The return of 'Red Shirt Tiger' sundays
Shoutouts
Goofy Mog of the Week

Follow Pierce: @HennyOmega
Follow Scott: @Scott_CEOofSUH

The Third Pick - Season Preview
Undoing the dynasty: Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and how the Bulls blew a shot to become the Lakers

I can’t think of a more sobering highlight of the intertwining history of the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers than Gar Forman’s 20th anniversary of Bulls employment occurring while Lakers fans prep for LeBron James.

Yes, Gar Forman’s first day on the job with the Bulls was August 1, 1998, less than two months after the last day of the dynasty. He was hired as a scout by Tim Floyd, of all people, making Forman the longest standing link to the darkest days in the franchise.

I mention LeBron James in relation to Gar because the Lakers’ answer to their own dark days is always to acquire arguably the game’s best player. You want to talk dynasties? In 70 seasons, the Lakers have won the championship more times (16) than they’ve missed the playoffs (10). When they do miss the postseason, they typically come back with a vengeance by acquiring one of the league’s best players.

The first time they missed the playoffs was 1958. They went 19-53, got the first pick in the draft, and took Elgin Baylor. Their next missed playoffs was 1975. They went 30-52 and traded for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. They missed the playoffs in 1976 and then didn’t miss again until 1994, three years after Magic Johnson retired due to HIV. Two years later they signed Shaq to the richest contract in sports history. They essentially re-launched the franchise after 2004 by choosing Kobe over Shaquille, lost Phil Jackson, missed the playoffs in 2005, convinced Phil Jackson to return, and rode Kobe and Phil to two more rings.

And now, after missing the playoffs for five straight seasons (as many as they’d missed previously, all together), they’ve signed LeBron James.

The key difference between the Bulls as a franchise and the Lakers as a franchise is that the Bulls were a dynasty, but the Lakers are a Dynasty — big D. They’ve done this in three related ways:

  1. An unending pursuit of superstars

  2. An unwavering pursuit of championships

  3. Using the former to gain the latter and the latter to gain the former

Look at this list of the Lake Show’s owner, GM and coach year by year, and then add to that an imaginary fourth column of its star players. What the Lakers have done consistently as well as if not better than any professional American sports franchise ever is use the goodwill and victory-driven capital of one era to build the next.

When GM Max Winter resigned in 1954, owner Ben Berger lured recently retired star George Mikan into the front office. Mikan ran the team for three years and had a horrific coaching stint in the 1958 season, going 9-30, but that down year brought Baylor. Two years later the franchise moved to Los Angeles, but not before landing the #2 pick in the draft and taking West Virginia star Jerry West.

When Baylor and West got tired of losing in the Finals — they were 0-5 together in their first eight seasons — they signed off on a trade to bring three-time reigning MVP Wilt Chamberlain on board. Three seasons later, Wilt and West led the Lakers to the franchise’s first championship in Los Angeles. West retired in 1974, and in 1976 — the year after trading for Kareem — the team moved coach Bill Sharman to GM and hired West as coach.

In 1979, West retired as coach, yet the franchise drafted Magic Johnson first overall. West replaced Sharman as GM in 1982, the year after team owner Jerry Buss signed Magic to a 25-year contract for $25 million. We’ll come back to Magic shortly, but keep in mind that as a high-ranking executive from 1982 to 2000, West oversaw the drafting of James Worthy, the signing of Shaquille O’Neal, the draft-day trade for Kobe Bryant and the hiring of Phil Jackson, meaning he had a hand in eight Lakers titles from 1985 to 2010.

Despite flirtations with other franchises, Kobe ended up remaining with the Lakers his entire career, from his draft trade in 1996 to his 60-point finale in 2016. Less than a year after Kobe’s retirement, the Lakers hired Magic Johnson as president of basketball operations.

For those scoring at home, since the 1948-49 season, the only seasons the Lakers have not employed in some capacity George Mikan, Jerry West, Magic Johnson or Kobe Bryant are 1959 and 1960 (Elgin’s first two years) and 1975 and 1976 (Kareem’s first two years).

That's what I mean by Dynasty vs. dynasty. The subtext to all of the 20-year retrospectives that I and others have written about the Bulls since 2011 is the grim reality that six championships in eight years were a basketball dead end.

***

 (Bettman / Corbis )

(Bettman / Corbis )

To see the starting point, let’s jump back to 1981 and Magic Johnson’s historic 25 years, $25 million contract. When team owner Jerry Buss announced the deal, he said that he was already grooming Magic, then 21 years old, for a post-playing position with the club.

“He may even be my coach, or general manager,” Buss said. “Or maybe he’ll run the team and I’ll just sit back and watch. Magic is a bright kid and I plan to make him my protege, teach him the business aspect of sports. I realize this is a very unusual contract because we’re talking about a kid whose college class just graduated. But what it comes down to is that Magic is part of the family.”

Buss said that about Magic after two seasons — the first was a championship, the second was a three-game first-round sweep to a team with a sub-.500 record.

Now look at what Jerry Reinsdorf said about Jordan to Jordan in July 1996 — one month after MJ brought the Bulls back to the promised land with their fourth championship in six years — as Reinsdorf signed Jordan to a one-year, $30 million deal, the richest one-year deal in sports history:

“I might live to regret this.”

That quote was Reinsdorf’s clarification to author Roland Lazenby, to which Jordan replied: “Actually, he said, ‘Somewhere down the road, I know I’m gonna regret this.’ It demeaned what was happening. It took away from the meaning of things. The gratitude seemed less because of that statement.”

Again, Jerry Buss, about a 21-year-old Magic Johnson with one championship: “Magic is part of the family.”

Jerry Reinsdorf to a 34-year-old Michael Jordan with four championships: “I might live to regret this.”

 AP Photo/Mark Elias

AP Photo/Mark Elias

But the Bulls didn’t just miss out on becoming a Dynasty because of a feuding Jordan and Reinsdorf. For the final season of the greatest run in the modern era of professional American sports, Jackson, Jordan and Scottie Pippen were each locked in public, separate yet interconnected blood feuds with the Jerrys, all rooted in contract negotiations. Krause drew the visceral hatred — even Phil publicly called Krause “the only dark spot” on the 1997-98 season — but Reinsdorf’s leave-your-emotions-at-the-door approach actually cut deeper on a personal level, because Jordan and Jackson held an affinity and respect for Reinsdorf that did not extend to his general manager.

To put it plainly, those guys liked Reinsdorf, which made his approach to negotiations all the more injurious.

“He’s loyal, he’s honest, he’s truthful,” Jackson told Lazenby about Reinsdorf. “But there’s something about going in and trying to get the best every time. Winning the deal. When it comes to money, to win the deal. … He has actually said those things, according to people I’ve been close to, and those things really hurt, because most everybody likes Jerry Reinsdorf.”

***

The second three-peat Bulls splintered along several internal fault lines, so I think it’s tricky to blame any one person for the breakup. And considering that Phil Jackson originally planned to end his Bulls coaching tenure after seven years, which would have been 1996, Reinsdorf, Krause, Jackson, Jordan and Pippen could have all gotten along famously and Phil still could have decided to retire for at least a year after the sixth title.

But based strictly on the inherent power dynamic of a professional sports team, it’s difficult to look at the past 20 years of ring-less Chicago Bulls basketball as anything other than a result of the decisions made by ownership and management in 1998.

It’s easy to imagine a world where the goodwill and excellence of the 1990s Bulls led to a subsequent run of titles. Instead, in July of 1998, just one month after MJ dragged the Bulls to ring #6, Phil was retired and Jerry Krause’s two-year pursuit of his friend Tim Floyd of Iowa State was chugging toward fruition. That month, a reporter asked Jordan if hiring Floyd would be akin to pushing Jordan out of basketball.

“I think that’s exactly what it is,” Jordan said. “It’s very obvious that my feelings haven’t really been considered when they’ve made coaching decisions. Jerry (Reinsdorf has) always been a man of his own. He’s never really been influenced by too many people, and I wouldn’t expect him to be influenced by me. If that was the case, Phil wouldn’t ever have gone.”

And later:

“I don’t want to play for a college coach, and no, I don’t want to play for any other coach. I’ve always said that I want to play for Phil Jackson. That hasn’t changed. (Krause) made the stance on Phil Jackson, and that pretty much made the stance on me.”

 Getty Images

Getty Images

The next week, the Bulls hired Floyd as something called “director of basketball operations,” with Reinsdorf stipulating that, “Should Phil not return by the end of the lockout, Tim will succeed him as head coach.” Jackson and his agent found this comical, since Krause at the start of the 1997-98 season had told Phil, “I don’t care if (the Bulls go) 82-0 this year, you’re fucking gone.”

As for Floyd, his take on MJ was as simple as it was naive, considering Jordan’s public comments one week earlier that he would not play for Floyd, any college coach, or any coach other than Jackson.

“I know this much: I was not about to take this job if I felt it would affect, in any way, Michael Jordan’s return to the game,” Floyd explained.

Sure enough, Jackson did not return, and on January 13, 1999, with the NBA lockout ongoing, Michael Jordan announced his retirement. The dominoes fell from there in the most stunning roster changeover in NBA history:

  • January 15: Bulls name Floyd head coach

  • January 21: Bulls renounce the rights to six players including Jordan and Rodman and trade Steve Kerr to the Spurs

  • January 22: Bulls trade Pippen to the Rockets

  • January 23: Bulls trade Longley to the Suns

Incredibly and tragically, these 10 days ended up defining the franchise rather than the 10 years that came before them. The Lakers have always reloaded by either trading for or signing arguably the best player in the league (Wilt, Cap, Shaq, Bron) while also drafting franchise-changing Hall of Famer (Elgin, West, Magic, Kobe).

Yet in 20 years since ruling the sports world, the biggest veteran acquisitions the Bulls have pulled off are Ron Mercer, Jalen Rose, Ben Wallace, Carlos Boozer and Pau Gasol. There are many reasons for this failure, but perhaps the most damning is the ongoing, league-wide perception that the organization did the dynasty years dirty.

“I think the biggest question (about the Bulls) that you think about has to be loyalty," said Illinois-native Dwyane Wade in May of 2010, as he and his future teammates LeBron James and Chris Bosh were in the process of choosing their next team, heavily weighing both the Heat and the Bulls. “I see Michael Jordan is not there, Scottie Pippen is not there. … You know, these guys are not a part (of the franchise). That is probably one of the biggest things for me, because I am a very loyal person."

***

The irony is that in many ways, Jerry Reinsdorf is one of the most loyal owners in sports. He paid Jordan the two richest single-season contracts in NBA history. He hooked up Pippen ($67.2 million over 5 years), Longley ($30 million over 5) and Kerr ($11 million over 5) with lucrative sign-and-trades in January of 1999 that vastly increased their salaries despite getting barely anything of value for them. In the post-dynasty world, he spent heavily on extensions or long-term deals on Derrick Rose ($94.8 million over 5), Luol Deng ($71m/6), Joakim Noah ($60m/5), and Kirk Hinrich ($47.5/5).

The Bulls under Reinsdorf have also been spectacularly loyal to many retired players, most notably John Paxson, who has worked with the organization in various capacities since his retirement in 1994, meaning he has been with the Bulls since 1985 when he arrived as a free agent from the Spurs. Among the other ex-Bulls who played during Reinsdorf’s ownership years and went on to work for the team: B.J. Armstrong, Randy Brown, Bill Cartwright, Horace Grant, Stacey King, Toni Kukoc, Pete Myers, Scottie Pippen, Bill Wennington, and of course Fred Hoiberg, who played for Floyd both at Iowa State and with the Bulls.

Lastly, there is the loyalty Reinsdorf showed Krause, and the loyalty he has since shown both Gar and Pax, for whom 2018-19 will make a combined 55 consecutive seasons of Bulls employment.

Yet when it came to the three most critical pieces of the most dominant NBA run since Russell’s Celtics, loyalty took a backseat to business. After 1996, Reinsdorf and Krause feared that the Bulls would slowly decline the way the 1980s Celtics did in the early 1990s, and thought that being proactive about turning the page would keep the team relevant.

Instead, the franchise has been doomed by 20 years that have vacillated between supreme irrelevance and mostly mid-tier playoff performances. Oh, the dynasty has had its impact, both that has been largely financial, where the United Center keeps cranking out sellouts, the team keeps churning out merchandise, and new global sponsorships come aboard led by CEOs who want to bask in the glory years.

“The Bulls are an American legend, a pop-culture icon,” said Vice President Piotr Kicinski in November 2015 when his Cinkciarz, a Polish currency exchange company, began a partnership with the Bulls that is now locked in as a seven-year deal. “It means many positive things in Poland. My generation was brought up on the Chicago Bulls playing in the ‘90s.”

  John J. Kim / Chicago Tribune

John J. Kim / Chicago Tribune

So yes, the dynasty still resonates. Yet incredibly, the Bulls have managed to remain deeply loyal to the dynasty years without actually benefiting from them. We haven't been able to sign a single top tier free agent on the strength of those six rings. The team’s best player since Michael and Scottie was Derrick Rose, who was only secured in the draft when the ping pong balls came our way despite only a 1.3% chance at the #1 pick. And like Jordan, Pippen and Jackson, Rose’s Bulls tenure ended in animus.

Gar Forman justified the Rose trade by saying it helped the team get “younger and more athletic,” the most infamous assertion by a Bulls executive since Krause’s “players and coaches alone don’t win championships — organizations do.” The link between these two comments is more than just thematic. Krause’s insistence that “organizations win championships” was driven by a hubris that turned that mantra into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

That attitude led to him pushing Phil Jackson out the door. He replaced him with Tim Floyd. Floyd’s hiring pushed out Jordan. Floyd also hired his former Iowa State assistant coach Gar Forman on Aug. 1, 1998, and Gar has been winding his way up the team’s food chain ever since, getting his wings in 2009 as general manager, Krause’s former title.

Which brings us back to the Lakers. The day Floyd hired Forman, the Bulls had six championships. If you remove the Lakers’ Minneapolis titles, all of which came before the shot clock, on Aug. 1, 1998, the Lakers had six championships too.

Less than a year later, Jerry West hired Phil Jackson as the Lakers’s new head coach, setting the stage for the next five Lakers championships. In the Minneapolis days, the Lakers were led by George Mikan, DePaul University alumnus and former star of the Chicago American Gears of the National Basketball League. The Lakers beat the Bulls in the playoffs four times between 1968 and 1973. In 1979, the Lakers beat the Bulls in a coin toss for the right to draft Magic Johnson. And in both 2004 and 2007, Kobe Bryant took serious steps to joining the Bulls before being lured back to L.A.

 Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press

Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press

But the history-altering event that stings most is the Lakers hiring Phil in 1999, an underrated seismic shift in the NBA landscape of the past two decades. Phil is a huge part of the reason that Kobe Bryant spent his entire career in the Purple and Gold, and Phil was only available because while the Lakers build generational success, the Bulls act like Orson Welles’s talented, tortured hero of “Citizen Kane.” One era of success built their mansion, and now they’re going to die in it.

The city of Chicago is a basketball pillar, with an NBA franchise whose glory should regenerate every 10 years. Instead, all we have are the memories. Every few years they give us a new coach and a new young talent. They sign the available free agents and pack the UC nightly.

And the marketing team rolls out a new slogan. And young fans buy young jerseys. And management tells us of “The great tradition of Chicago Bulls basketball.”

And they smile. And nod. And count the gate receipts.

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Jack M Silverstein is a sports historian covering the Bears for Windy City Gridiron. He is the author of How The GOAT was Built: 6 Life Lessons From the 1996 Chicago Bulls” and proprietor of Chicago sports IG account @AShotOnEhlo. Say hey at @readjack.

Random Acts of Podcast EP 192

On this week's episode of RAOP, Amp & Devin bring back @__QNSx & @KingWilcox912 and chop it up about insecurities in relationships, tell stories of us getting whooped as kids, Kawhi being traded to the Raptors and a ton more other topics.

Also we answer voicemails from the listeners. Remember to send in your listener questions, #TheyNeedTheirAssBeat or #RealNiggaOfTheWeek submissions, email us at MAIL@RAOPodcast.com or call 424-260-RAOP to leave a voicemail.

Follow Amp: @Ampaveli
Follow Devin: @DevinDavinci

The Third Pick EP 12 - Blame Mariano
Ball Don't Lie Free Agency Special (ft. Al_Patron & @TreyBizzy)

Ball Don't Lie returns for an NBA free agency special! Joe Scott & Pierce welcome Al Patron & Alec on the pod to talk about LeBron's jump to LA, Boogie signing with the Warriors, the Bulls matching Zach Lavine's offer, the Kawhi Leonard saga and their thoughts on Drake's Scorpion!

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The Third Pick EP 11: Bane broke MPJ's back

Scott & Mariano recap the NBA Draft, the Bulls' selections of Wendell Carter Jr. at No. 7 and Chandler Hutchison at No. 22, and what it means for Chicago going forward. Plus, Deandre Ayton to the Suns, Michael Porter Jr. slips, and more!

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Is a third Warriors title in four years and back-to-back championships the turning point for Steph, KD's on-court relationship?
 NBA.COM

NBA.COM

When we look back at the 2017-18 Golden State Warriors team in 20 years time, this team could be overlooked in many ways. Future basketball enthusiasts might ponder of how good the Kevin Durant-era Warriors really were. They would see that it took four all-stars to sweep an all-time great in LeBron, and say that their title was an inevitability.

Instead, their championship odds were more in doubt than expected. A regular season full of injuries can do that. There wasn’t as many meaningful games in the regular season either. The season-long crawl to the playoffs didn’t inspire great basketball. Most often, the Dubs would flip the switch for a quarter or a half. It’s hard to look dominant when you coast most games. The rest of the league making a leap is/was cause for concern too. Repeating is a historically-daunting task though. Only a few teams have done it. It’s an accolade that's truly definitive of a dynasty, which they can now claim after a third title win in four years.

The 73-win Warriors team that failed to win the title showed how hard it is to win a title. That’s why last season's playoff run looked so much less sloppy for the Dubs. There was a sense of urgency to reclaim the throne, but also to integrate Finals MVP Kevin Durant into the team. They put egos aside for the good of the championship. It seemed clear that those emotions had finally boiled over this season.

Much of it stems from the dynamic between Durant and Steph Curry. Off the court, the two have competing signature sneakers, but on the court, they can be accommodating to a fault. Durant has the mindset of fitting in, and Curry has the mindset to make sure Durant feels included. This manifests often in close games, down the stretch, when one of the two need to make a play.

It came close to hurting them in the Western Conference Finals against the Rockets. Trailing by two in Game 2, Durant passed out of a mid-range shot on the break, and Klay put up a shot with no chance. It was clear they were tight. They lost a huge lead in Game 4 with an opportunity to take a 3-1 series lead, and as the Rockets crawled back into the game, the Dubs lost their focus.

The difference of play can be directly correlated to which MVP was managing the game. In the 3rd quarter, Steph went bonkers, scoring 17 points in the third. Then in the 4th, Durant soaked up most of the minutes, and took over for most of the possessions. As Houston forced them to play isolation basketball, the downside of the style was evident when the Warriors couldn’t respond to the success Houston had playing that way.

“I wouldn’t say we’ve figured it out. I would say there is stylistic tension, but not personal tension.”
— -Steve Kerr on the relationship of Curry and Durant.

The adjustment to play Curry-centric ball was clear after Game 5 of the Rockets series. “I think we’ll win our next six games,” Kerr predicted after going down 3-2 to Houston. Steph scored 29, and 27 points respectively in the next two games, but freed up room for Klay to score 35 in game 6, and KD to score 34 in game 7. In both games combined, Steph was +46, and KD was +23.

As the Finals took hold, and the relief of beating the best team left in the playoffs set in, something finally clicked. Whether or not Curry is the leading scorer, they’re playing at their best when he’s running around causing defensive breakdowns. One of the plays that came out of the Houston series was a sequence where Curry tries to create, drops off a pass, and relocates to the corner for an open 3.  

That change of play is what lead the Warriors to a sweep in the NBA Finals. Game 1 was certainly in the balance before overtime. Durant struggled shooting the ball, and had one of his worst games since joining GSW. Despite this, KD still lead the team with +17, scoring 26 points to match Steph's 29.

In Game 2, the two superstars were easily in their bag. Durant scored 26 on 10-of-14 shooting, and Steph scored 33, breaking the Finals record for three's in a game with 9. The blowout showed the level that this team can reach when they’re really clicking, and though LeBron almost took Game 1 on his own, Golden State got efficient games from both Durant and Curry.

The Cavs adjusted in Game 3, shutting down Curry defensively, holding him to 11 points on 3-of-16 shooting. They repeatedly trapped him when he came off pick and rolls, forcing him to pass the ball. This is a strategy the Cavs have gone to in their last three Finals matchups, but now that Durant is the second option, he can feast on the 4-on-3 situations that the PNR trap produces.

That’s what lead to Durant’s offensive explosion in Game 3, but KD got his shot in isolation play too. Steph spaced the floor, jacking up 10 threes, and despite hitting just 1 of them, his gravity created space that Durant and others could capitalize on. This is why Bob Myers signed KD, to be keep Golden State afloat when Curry can’t get it going (or gets shut down by design, as the Cavs often resort to).

It’s also why Durant agreed to join the team. Not to lead, or be led, but to be 1-B to Steph's 1-A. It cultivated with the cherry on top in Game 4. Durant had a 20-point triple-double, and led the team with +30. Despite Finals MVP still hanging in the balance, Durant was happy to keep feeding an already-hot Curry, who ended with a game-high 37 points.

Though Durant took home the award again, the dynamic seemed to have been solved in their last six games of the season. There’s a better sense between the two, and true adversity for the duo to build upon. The ups and downs of this championship season was far different than their inaugural season, and in the long run, this year should prove more valuable to their chemistry. So as the Warriors dynasty continues, it’ll be fascinating to look back and see if this Finals will be seen as the turning point for the franchise.

Ball Don't Lie ep. 20 - The Season Finale ft. @Al_Patron

It's the season finale of Ball Don't Lie! Author & creator Al Patron (@Al_Patron) joins the crew to wrap up the NBA season. Are the Warriors a dynasty, and how long will their window be open for? We also talk about the ridiculous of LeBron James stans and has the GOAT debate finally been laid to rest? Also what's our overall grade on the NBA, did Drake catch the biggest L in Hip-Hop history, and our final Goofy Mogs of the season.

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