Quickly on the Chicago Bulls, over the last 10 years can you name me a big-time star or coach that they’ve signed? Besides overpaying the artist formerly known as Big Ben, Reinsdorf has been used more than a mail-order bride as players & coaches have used the Bulls to up their price-tag. Even funnier is Reinsdorf’s claim that he’d rather not talk with agents when hiring a coach…you’re a frickin’ lawyer Jerry, who in their right mind wouldn’t want their astute professionals handling their multi-million dollar business decisions.
Was 2 million more a year all that kept Mike from Chi-town?
As for D’antoni as a coach, let’s just say I expect the Knicks to be a playoff team next year and for the Suns to miss out in the West. D'antoni's fresh approach would've thrived within a Bulls squad suddenly-full of malcontents, but I honestly believe he was more uneasy about Paxson medaling than Reinsdorf’s “My word is stronger than Oak”-negotiations. In Gotham, new president Donnie Walsh has no loyalty to Thomas’s bag-o-shiznit and is known league-wide as a hands-off basketball-suit. While listening to the Chicago media debate who to blame is more annoying than Stuart Scott’s wondering eye or a short-armed reach-around, I did laugh hearing D’antoni basically respond at the Knicks press-conference with a “Yeah, I kind of f*cked them ova”-nonchalant attitude on the Bulls. And trust me, for all the solid things Paxson has done to help re-shape the Bulls, as constructed their only taking the next step w/ a dynamic coach at the helm…and I don’t think Johnny Pax has any idea who that is.
UTAH JAZZ (+9) @ LOS ANGELES LAKERS
Unless Kobe is pulling a little wounded-star drama ala His Airness, the MVP’s back injury looks bad and I can’t see how he’s close to 100% for tonight’s game. The only think that scares me about the 3rd greatest Kobe of all time (2nd – Kobe Beef, 1st – Kobe Tai) is the potential for his whinny act to be magnified and the refs to put him on the charity-stripe with every wince. With that said, the Jazz are brimming with confidence, especially Deron Williams, which means Jerry Sloan will make sure his wily ballers attack the rim early-on and try to control the tempo so the Lakers can’t find easy jumpers in transition. In addition, Utah should be more adjusted to the LakeShow Playoff atmosphere, and considering they’ve just tied-up the series, you have to think all the pressure is on LA.
Utah won't be distracted by the LakeShow Girls tonight!
Early in the series, the Jazz didn’t exploit the defensive deficiencies of the Laker sharpshooters Vujacic & Farmer, but now, D-Williams (Games 3-4: 24 ppg, 13 apg) is abusing them like a non-English speaking newbie to the adult-film world. Sloan has also slowed the Lakers fastbreak, which was freeing Vujacic & Farmer for open looks and gave Kobe fewer bodies to sort through, by having his guards drop-back into the LA’s outlet areas and taking better shots at the offensive end. On the Laker side...
On the Laker side, you kind of a have a feeling everybody is waiting to see how Kobe’s gonna look, and I expect to see a lot of standing around from his teammates early-on. The biggest reason you have to believe Bryant is more than slightly-injured was his 1-10 performance from behind the arc in the Game 4. Usually, when he’s struggling from the perimeter he puts his head down and attacks the rim, but we definitely didn’t see that as much Sunday…especially as the game progressed. And finally, for all the talk that Lakers bench was one of the top in the league, this series has shown that without Trevor Ariza, Big Chief Triangle doesn’t have much athleticism sitting on the sideline with him to combat the caged-animal mantra Jerry Sloan has created with his 2nd group. Jazz keep this close all night and Okur knocks down a deep jumper late for an upset
NEW YORK YANKEES @ TAMPA BAY RAYS (-130)
The best team in the AL, the Tampa MFin Rays, seem to be playing with a playoff type of intensity, and I don’t think that will change with their emotional extra inning home-win against the-hated Yankees last night. The Rays have been embarrassed by the Bronx Bombers since they entered MLB, so expect the youngsters to be salivating tonight halfway through a series sweep and with their ace on the mound. 6-4 righty James Shields (4-2, 3.14) has been ridiculous at home of late pitching complete game shutouts in his last two (only 3 frickin’ hits allowed), and keeping his pitch-count under 100 in both contests.
Just a reminder, tall & lanky people are great for bikinis & pitching
As for the Yankees, while young Steinbrenner is busy complaining about his team’s effort to the media, without A-Rod & Posada on Girardi’s score-card the Yankees line-up is extremely pedestrian and nobody is getting anything good to hit. Tonight, the NY sends the aging Mike Mussina to the mound, and while the 39 year-old has looked better early-on than last year (5-3, 4.36), Tampa Bay has seen him enough over the years to know what’s coming…and it’s coming slower and slower…Rays win again