Well, the girlfriend's in Massachussetts, it's an icy night out, and I've got a six-pack in the fridge and Leaguepass on the TV. Denver/Miami and the just-about-to-start Bulls/Lakers on flipback. Can't imagine the Bulls/Lakers will be all that great a game, but Scottie Pippen's number retirement is worth watching (so they'd better show it).
Meanwhile, Denver/Miami features the matchup of the best centers in the League: I'm talking, of course, of Marcus Camby and Alonzo Mourning, both of whom will almost certainly not be selected to start in the All-Star Game (it'll be Yao and Shaq). Menawhile, Camby is posting 30/20s, and Zo is blocking shots like it was 1993. And actually, forget Marcus starting in the All-Star game—let's just hope he stays healthy long enough to play in it.
OK, the Bulls player introductions (still set to Alan Parsons Project's "Sirius"), still gives me the chills. It's somewhat sacreligious, to be introducing guys like Andres Nocioni and Michael Sweetney with Mike and Scottie's music, but oh well. (I just noticed the ESPN doubleheader is Nets/Cavs and Knicks/Suns. Knicks/Suns on national TV? Really? The Suns are going to win by 20, right? Is anyone outside of those two cities going to watch to the end? I'm not.)
Bulls/Lakers are set to tip off as Miami/Denver goes to halftime, and I just switched back in time to get the jump.
Wow, they've got Pip's number and signature on the floor, which is cool. Although it looks a lot like one of those NASCAR stickers that you usually see in pick-up truck rear windows. Can't see well enough to tell whether someone broke out some old Air Pippens, but I guess it's doubtful. Um, Michael Sweetney just swatted the hell out of Smush Parker, and despite his extra tonnage, I like him a LOT. He's relentless on the glass, scores consistently underneath, is a master at coralling his own offensive boards. I just hope Sweetness (um, maybe he can't be called that in Chicago, actually) has a longer/better career than Oliver Miller.
At 6:47 left in the 4th, it's brought up that Lamar Odom is supposed to be the Lakers Scottie Pippen, only he isn't that good a defender. Yeah, let's leave that one alone for rest of the night, huh?
Seeing Phil Jackson in the United Center coaching another team kind of makes me feel like Kobe should have left the Lakers while he had the chance. No matter where he goes, the goal would be a championship, but he's already won 3 as a Laker. And he won't be winning anymore until they pair him with another superstar, or develop a system with LOTS of complementary parts (not that that's guaranteed to work anyway). I guess what I'm driving at is that I can't imagine him being satisfied by anything less than a championship, and will another Laker title ever feel like the first three? As a Laker, he's always going to have to endure the Shaq questions (and lets face it, Shaq is 100 times more likeable than Kobe), and take the blame every year they don't win. If that's not reason for a fresh start, I don't know what is.
Of course now the Lakers are beating the crap out of the Bulls—up 14 with the first quarter coming to a close—and they'd better hope Pip doesn't just up and leave before halftime. 33-19. Yeesh. Meanwhile we've got a three-point game in Miami—er, two—with the Nuggets up. One point, now. Melo just threw a ridiculous pass to Camby for a layup. Back to three. If Camby stays healthy and Kenyon Martin manages to play well, I don't know if there'll be a spot for Nene when he gets back. Or maybe they deal Kenyon and re-sign Nene for less. Regardless, not the best situation for Nene.
Back in Chi, they just said that Lamar Odom has guard skills, which is impressive for someone that's 6-11—and I agree, except for the 6-11 part—but if that's the case, why isn't he another KG? At some point potential has to translate to numbers, right? It can't ALL be Kobe's fault?
There's definitely a lid on the Bulls basket—three of their last 21. Make that 22. Maybe Scottie and Horace should suit up? Oh yeah, and Chris Duhon has three fouls. Great.
Time-out. And speaking of potential to numbers, it's kind of funny that Tim Thomas isn't even in the building tonight. Because he was probably the best player in the high school class of '96—better than Kobe, better than Jermaine O'Neal—and he really hasn't amounted to much of anything. And an awful lot of people probably thought he'd be a better pro than, say, Scottie Pippen. Amazing the difference a little bit of desire and work ethic makes. Thomas could still be a very good NBA player, but I just don't think that's what he wants.
Eddie Basden is in for the Bulls, and I can't remember quite who he is. Undrafted rookie, I think. And it's back to a single-digit game, thank God. Add Chris Mihm to the short list of guys wearing Pony. Ricky Davis is the only other one I can think of offhand. (It's doubtful, however, that Mihm has "Get Buckets" embroidered on his kicks.) I do like the Bulls defensive scheme of running eight guys at Kobe and letting the other guys shoot. Take that open three, Luke Walton. Please. Five-point game, with the teams going a combined 5-23 in the quarter so far. Sweet.
And now Brian Cook's on a hot streak, and Kobe has 7 assists, and it's back to a 9-point Laker lead. Do it for Scottie, Bulls! Bob Love's in the tunnel, as is Toni Kukoc, getting ready. It's going to be a 10-point Laker lead at the half, which sucks. Maybe not? Maybe so. Now just have to hope they show the number retirement ceremony.
Here we go! Pip's got the goatee back, Jordan is still with the single hoop earring. And Rodman, Randy Brown, Craig Hodges. Hell, this was worth it for the highlight reel alone. Murderous. Scottie could finish just as well as Jordan could—and that dunk on Ewing was simply fucking EPIC. The song kind of sucked, but that was expected. And wow, this song is awful, too. Bill Wennington is back there, Tex Winter, Will Perdue. The "Scottie" chant was pretty good, too. Johnny Back and Frank Hamblen. Scottie's high school and college coaches. Craig Hodges has a HUGE "33" pin on his suit jacket which looks really silly. Good God, Stacey King and Charles Oakley! Dennis Rodman is wearing a bandana under his fedora? And David Stern delivers a taped message—weak sauce. What could possibly have been more important? Scottie does NOT look impressed—and the fans actually booed. Ha ha. The next speaker couldn't be there, either. Sheesh. And John Paxson couldn't be at his own team's game? I'm sorry, I just don't get that. Third in a row not here! Doug "Eminem" Collins. In front of a TNT banner, which is rather tacky. No wonder he got fired. I'm assuming they're gonna get to Phil Jackson and Jordan soon. But first Charles Barkley from the TNT set—and of course he dogs Jordan. Who has to smile. Jackson's now, and he gets a hell of a response, considering his current team's up a dozen. "He was the best, he worked hard at this game and he had an aptitude for this game." Wow, and he brings up the migraines. Nice, Phil. "Michael was giving 'em hell, and Scottie was patting 'em on the back." Yep, that's what we heard. Now, what will Jordan say? He didn't even wear a suit, which is pretty ridiculous. "This is like a brother in arms." "He started fights that I had to finish, most of the time." Ha ha, sheesh.
Is Pip gonna talk? I kind of hope he does. And the fact that Reinsdorf doesn't speak is pretty wrong. What, is he still celebrating the White Sox victory? Jerry Krause, well, I didn't expect him (although I'm kind of surprised he isn't there to gloat about fleecing Seattle for him). And Scottie gets gifts! A collage, which is pretty tacky. And miniature championship trophies, which are rad. As is the framed jersey and banner. Dammit, I miss Pip. And here he comes. His kids are pretty damn cute, too. Come on Scottie, tear up!
Glad he's speaking, glad he's drowned out by cheers. His voice is still unmistakeable. He's quite under control, very thoughtful. Very sincere-sounding. Jesus, I'm about to tear up here if he isn't. I can't believe they actually have to play a second half. That was pretty damn great.
And now back to the terrible game already in progress. Kobe's the only guy on the floor whose number will definitely be retired no matter what. I presume the Lakers will retire Shaq's as well. The Bulls are probably done for now, unless they consider guys like Grant, Paxson, Cartwright, Rodman, etc. Um, not that there's much point in retiring 91, I guess.
Oh. The Nuggets are up seven with 2.9 seconds left. So much for that game. Speaking of Shaq, the Heat could use him back.
Jesus, it's not like Chris Duhon can guard Kobe. That's the problem with the Hinrich/Duhon backcourt. Although if Kobe shoots 450 times maybe they'll lose. Then again, at least he CAN shoot, unlike Tyson Chandler. Yikes. And the Bulls announcer just called them the Bears, which is pretty funny.
And wow, the Nets are going to beat the Cavs in Cleveland. It would be doubly nice for the Bulls to win tonight then, but they're going to need to step it up. Bill Walton on the mic is something I don't need any more of—thankfully I didn't watch this game.
The Bulls only have three turnovers and they're still down 5. That doesn't compute. Three now, thanks to a Chris Duhon drive. The Bulls are trying their damndest to make me not hate Duke (and they would have been farther along had they never traded Elton Brand), but I refuse to relent. Kirk Hinrich can definitely make me like Kansas, though.
Is Kobe wearing tights? What the hell is going on here?
Two-point game, and we've got Darius Songaila and Jannero Pargo up in here. Considering there are only two Darius's in the L, is it safe to say that they're as opposite as possible? One's from East St. Louis, the other's from Eastern Europe. And—you know what, let's leave that alone, because Michael Sweetney just hit a sick shot, caused Chris Mihm to commit his 5th foul, and seriously made me consider getting a No. 50 jersey.
The Knicks are up on the Suns by two late in the 1st, and hey, anything can happen.
Lovie Smith! How does a grown man go by "Lovie"? Seriously. And the Lakers are back up 8, which is depressing. You HAVE to win on Pip's night. And you especially can't lose to LaRon Profit. Can you? Dammit.
Meanwhile, back in Phoenix, the Knicks are up 7 in the 2nd. Seriously. With Penny Hardaway clocking minutes. And Malik Rose checking in. Good to see that Larry Brown's substitution patterns still make absolutely no sense whatsoever.
OK, so the Bulls are having a really tough time here. I guess there's pressure with Jordan, Pippen, et al in the building, but still. The Lakers are a lottery team, and the Bulls aren't. This is pretty embarassing. I need to regroup. Be back.