Tag Archives: Michael Jordan

Triple Zeros: Jadeveon Clowney a Cleveland Brownie

Triple Zeros

Jadeveon Clowney a Cleveland Brownie

In this episode of Triple Zeros, Josh gets into why Michael Jordan (and not Vanessa Bryant) will present Kobe Bryant at the NBA Hall of Fame induction ceremony, struggles to place blame in the condensed schedule-injury debate. Then, things switch over to NFL talk as he tells you why he loves Jadeveon Clowney signing in Cleveland and talks about players saying they won’t attend OTAs and so much more!

Anchor | Apple

The Chicago Bulls are a rudderless ship right now

2021 NFL Draft: Chuba Hubbard Player Profile

2021 NFL Draft: Nico Collins Player Profile

The Chicago Bulls Have No Answers When Shots Aren’t Falling

Matt Nagy’s Presence at Pro Day Means Everything (or Nothing!)

Triple Zeros. This is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. his is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. his is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. Triple Zeros

With Friends Like James Harden, Who Needs Enemies?

Polarizing is a word that fittingly describes the kind of player James Harden is. Some view his style of play as innovative and unique; a skill set he has honed through practicing tough shots and understanding the rule book. Others would call it a detriment to the game. An abuse of poorly written and unevenly called rules. The amount of discussion coming from either side, though, shows just how high of a profile Harden has.

News broke on Wednesday that the Houston Rockets and Washington Wizards had agreed to swap star point guards. Russell Westbrook to Washington and John Wall to Houston. It’s been reported that Harden and Wall have worked out and played in open runs together for some time now. The move has received all sorts of reactions, just like anything else Harden does.

Harden Running Out of Friends to Help Him

Okay, But Why?

Some say this is a move designed to keep Harden interested in staying in Houston. Recent attempts to get over the hump in the postseason have all fallen short. We can go back to the Dwight Howard experiment but let’s instead focus on Chris Paul’s time in H-Town. There was much consternation about how they would coexist being as ball-dominant as they are. They worked well enough for folks to hypothesize that if Paul doesn’t get hurt the Rockets might make some noise.

Well, Paul got shipped out after two seasons. One of which they lost to the eventual champion Golden State Warriors in seven games. Injuries had always been a part of Paul’s history so an injury possibly derailing a playoff run is plausible. When Harden told reporters after they got bounced in 2018 that he knew what had to be done, the writing was on the wall.

Houston shocked the world again. They made another trade for what most considered an unmovable contract when they swapped CP3 for Russell Westbrook. After failing to click with the Point God, Harden now had his childhood friend for a running-mate. Unfortunately, Westbrook’s style caused the Rockets to change up their roster. They went with a small-ball approach. The tallest person on the floor for them often standing no taller than 6-foot-7. That ended with a five-game series loss in the second round. Again to the eventual champion, this time in the Los Angeles Lakers.

Now, even with Daryl Morey no longer in the fold, the Rockets have swapped unmovable contracts. The move is receiving mixed reviews. Some argue the Rockets won. On top of keeping Harden happy, they get rid of Westbrook whose style isn’t conducive to winning. Others will argue the Wizards won because of the off-the-court issues Wall has had as well as the complicated relationship with (and reaction to the team building around) Bradley Beal. Oh, and Wall, who hasn’t played since the 2018-19 season, is returning from serious injuries including a torn Achilles.

Same Difference

The tale of the tape is quite interesting. Wall is the bigger of the two and has the higher assist average. This is more than a little surprising given Westbrook’s three-year run of averaging a triple-double. But Wall had a three-year stretch where he averaged better than 10 dimes per game. The difference is Wall has never been the kind of shot-seeking scorer that Westbrook is.

Brodie has eight seasons (out of 12) averaging greater than 18 shots per contest. Wall, aptly nicknamed ‘Optimus Dime’, has but one. Westbrook is the more voluminous scorer too, but Wall takes the efficiency advantage everywhere but at the free throw line.

Perhaps ideally, in the mind of Harden and Rockets brass, is that Wall can be a happy medium between Westbrook’s explosiveness (a nice compliment to Harden’s lull-you-to-sleep style) and Paul’s pass-first mentality. That is if he is happy and focused. Going to a competitive situation in Houston after being in the tumultuous one in Washington will help. As will the singing of Demarcus Cousins; a friend of Wall’s going back to their day at the University of Kentucky.

We’re all missing the forest for the trees, though. It doesn’t matter if this will work for the Rockets (it won’t). Nor does it matter who won the trade (the blogosphere). No, what matters here is that Harden has cycled through a fair amount of friends for teammates and hasn’t figured out the right fit yet. At some point the question needs to be asked if building around him is worth it.

The Real Culprit

This isn’t an attack on his playing style, either, outside of his willingness to be complimentary. There aren’t many, if any, situations where Harden would be a second option but he could still benefit from being a better compliment on the floor to his team. Instead of standing in the corner watching the action when off the ball, become a better, more active cutter. Instead of dribbling out the shot clock on every possession, allow yourself to be more of a part of a system that get more guys involved.

Yes, star players are supposed to touch and shoot the ball more. Harden’s 36.3 usage rate in 2019-20 is second only to Michael Jordan’s ‘86-’87 season (38.3) in NBA history. With nowhere close to the hardware as ‘His Airness’, and a history of fading in the postseason, that number could stand to drop even if only a little bit. The last player to win a championship with a usage rate in the 30s was LeBron James in 2012-13 with the Miami Heat. Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, two of the most efficient scorers in NBA history, haven’t even done it.

It’s a big deal that the Rockets and Wizards pulled this trade off. We just need to recognize what the real story is here: Harden is the problem, not his teammates. At some point, it is no longer everybody else, it’s you. We are seeing this response to Paul George who is implicated in reports of dysfunction in the Los Angeles Clippers organization and now taking thinly-veiled shots at former coach Doc Rivers.

Harden’s passing of the buck isn’t as blatant as George’s was. But, even with the statements before the CP3 trade, the constant cycling of supporting cast speaks volumes. Talking heads have just overlooked it because the Rockets keep putting together intriguing groups. This time though, with a move that might be best described as lateral, we might be reaching the end of this case study. It’s been theorized that the Wall and Cousins moves are independent of a decision to move Harden, though that seems unlikely.

Rough Being Friends with James Harden

We saw Harden slapping Paul’s hand away on the sidelines and read the reports that Harden and Westbrook had bumped heads on occasion. These incidents get viewed through the lens of isolated incidents or as the fault of the other guy. Maybe rightfully so, none of the aforementioned teammates were choirboys. But the common denominator, and dominator of the situation, is James Harden. As a player who has been vocal about his scoring accolades, he needs to be a leader and own up to and adjust his ways.

Unless, of course, he truly doesn’t care about winning

Triple Zeros: An A-Blazing Offseason

Triple Zeros

An A-Blazing Offseason

In this episode of Triple Zeros, Josh talks about the Bengals desperate need to get more blocking for Joe Burrow, if there is a “blueprint” for beating the Chiefs, who in the NFL can pull it off? Things switch over to the NBA and how DeMarcus Cousins and James Harden are an intriguing duo. Plus, Michael Jordan is still overpaying for mediocre talent. All that and so much more!
 

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Triple Zeros. This is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. his is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. his is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. Triple Zeros

The Decision 2: LeBron’s Rejection of NBA’s Attempt at Social Activism

It won’t get nearly the same attention as the tv special, but LeBron James’ rejection of the NBA’s attempt to raise social awareness is the 2020 version of ‘The Decision’. From the moment it was announced the NBA would allow players to replace the names on their jersey’s with messages about social justice we have waited with bated breath to see what they would be.

LeBron Rejects NBA’s Social Activism

 

Speculation met reality when we got the list of approved messages last week. They were about what one would expect, “Black Lives Matter”, “I Can’t Breathe”, “Vote”, etc.

Some players have begun announcing what they have chosen. Milwaukee Bucks forwards Giannis Antetokuonmpo and his brother Thanasis have chosen “EQUALITY” for their message. Others have been a lot less enthusiastic about the whole thing.

Boston Celtics swingman Jaylen Brown was vocal in his displeasure with the league. He said the pre-approved list was an example of the “limitations” the NBA is putting on players.

“I think we should be able to express our struggle a little bit more… I was very disappointed in the list as well… Hopefully, maybe, we can get some more names on that list or some more things to add.” – Jaylen Brown per Masslive.com

The ‘Not’ Heard Around the World

Over the weekend, Shams Charania of the Athletic tweeted out that James had decided against putting one of the messages on his jersey; choosing to stick with his name, ‘James’, instead. Even with all the dissatisfaction from others out there, the backlash was almost instant.

“I actually didn’t go with a name on the back of my jersey,” James said on a video conference call with reporters. “It was no disrespect to the list that was handed out to all the players. I commend anyone that decides to put something on the back of their jersey. It’s just something that didn’t really seriously resonate with my mission, with my goal.” – LeBron per Dave McMenamin/ESPN

LeBron’s critics were seemingly waiting for a moment like this. Not too long ago, they ran with his response to Daryl Morey’s tweet supporting Hong Kong. At the time James said Morey spoke on a subject he didn’t know enough about. The detractors were swift to point out James, who is very outspoken on social justice issues, was choosing to side with China. How can he claim to want justice for all while citizens in Hong Kong were being teargassed?

Supporters had a couple of choices of rebuttal. First, James is vocal on issues that affect the Black community, of which he is a member. Second, he is vocal about domestic issues of which he is educated. No matter how sound the counterpoint, though, the vocal naysayers had all the ammo they need.

Gotcha!

It’s not like their charges are without merit. After all, LeBron was leading the charge to restart the NBA; saying players could still fight social injustices on the court. He also has started the “More Than a Vote” initiative and has long had “More Than An Athlete”. The latter is a direct response to those that would prefer athletes to stick to sports; an argument that people only use when they disagree with the athlete.

He even tweeted ‘#FREEWOJ’ in support of ESPN basketball insider Adrian Wojnarowski; who was suspended for replying to a US senator using profanity via e-mail. All that did was invite the ‘#FREEHONGKONG’ replies.

“I would have loved to have a say-so on what would have went on the back of my jersey. I had a couple things in mind, but I wasn’t part of that process, which is OK. I’m absolutely OK with that. … I don’t need to have something on the back of my jersey for people to understand my mission or know what I’m about and what I’m here to do.” – James per McMenamin/ESPN

Marcus Smart shared similar sentiments, stating “A lot of guys are upset…” with the lack of input players had in the making of the list. But LeBron’s decision still looms as the largest.

Stand For Something…

As current and former teammates, black and white, take the opportunity and use the messages, social justice’s most-vocal advocate in the NBA seemed to punt. It is a relatively new “trend” for LeBron, but some will say his voice shrinks when the money is on the line.

This is a ridiculous argument given all that he has done with the I Promise School and all of his other initiatives, including his production company to give people of color opportunities they otherwise have trouble securing. He has put his own money, face, and words behind these projects.

His actions off the court will forever outweigh anything he has and will do on the court. The optics here aren’t great, nonetheless. Perhaps he has some pre-game attire or a message will be written on his shoes. For many, though, the damage is done. They will call LeBron a hypocrite among other, less-flattering things and say this is akin to Michael Jordan‘s  “Republicans buy sneakers too” comments.

Meanwhile, the rest of us will be holding our breath that they can actually finish the season. Because, again, there is nothing LeBron can do on the court that will outweigh what he has and will do off of it. That includes placing a league-approved message on the back of his jersey.

Triple Zeros: Nuk the Competition

NBA: Return Date Uncertain | Dinwiddie: KD Greatest Scorer
NFL: Clowney Declines Browns | Nuk: “I know I’m the best.”
+More!

It’s Time for ‘The Last Dance’

We’re only 3 days away from the start of what will be the GOAT of all sports documentaries, (the ESPN 30 for 30 ’85 Chicago Bears’ currently holds that title).  The highly anticipated 10 part  “The Last Dance,” which documents the extraordinary career of Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls; specifically his final season, ‘97-98.

The program will air on ESPN starting Sunday, April 19th and will run every Sunday, through May 17th.   If there are any bright sides to this pandemic this is definitely one for the sports world.  This documentary was not slated to be released until early June but ESPN heard our wish and it was granted.

Time for the Last Dance

Nostalgia…

Oh, the 90s. Hard to believe that decade started over 30 years ago and basketball during that time was some of the best you would ever see, especially if you were from Chicago.  It was the decade where Jordan cemented himself as the greatest basketball player of all time, or the GOAT if you will.  The decade whereby the turn of it the run of the Los Angeles LakersBoston Celtics and Detroit Pistons comes to an end.  Thus, the Chicago Bulls dynasty was born.

Just like the 90s was the golden era of rap, (now the genre is classified as hip hop), it was also the golden age of basketball with the Chicago leading the way.  The Bulls six championships  (via two three-peats) and the sheer dominance of MJ, his Airness, gave the sport a meteoric rise in popularity worldwide.

This was also the time a teammate, Scottie Pippen, developed into a bonafide superstar.  If you need a reference, see his player card and the 1993-94 season…you’re welcome.  In the 1996 campaign, we saw them break the single-season wins record going 72-10, a record that stood pat for 20 years until 2016 when the 73-9 Golden State Warriors broke it.  Some, especially Chicagoans, may say the Warriors really didn’t surpass that Bulls team because the deal wasn’t sealed, no championship!

Who can ever forget one of the greatest shots in not only NBA Finals history but NBA history period!  Michael Jordan’s final career shot over Bryon Russell to defeat the Utah Jazz in the 1997 Finals giving Chicago their sixth NBA championship.  Well, we thought it was his last shot but you’ll have to tune into ‘The Last Dance’ to see.

Reminisce Over You!

Let’s flashback to that 90’s time, think about what you were doing then, (at least those of us that can).  For myself, it was the start of those crucial teenage years we all go through.  My formidable high school and college years as well.  To my fellow Gen X’ers and millennials, who were definitely raised on it, think about the music you were listening to.  My goodness, the music! Personally, it was R&B (it’s final hoorah) and rap (it’s golden era as mentioned before).

The artist that laid their foundations during this time, Jodeci, Mary J Blige, NWA, 2PAC, Jay-Z, Diddy and a host of others.  Just blow the dust off that CD collection and look through it and watch how those memories flow through your mind.  Yes, I said CDs, before the luxury of modern technology that was our Spotify and Pandora.  Who else put their phones to the stereo speaker to record your answering machine greeting?  We can’t reminisce about the 90s without mentioning the fashion, just google the styles for that decade.  You’ll probably see the most popular footwear were Jordans,  which is still true to this day. They debuted 35 years ago; yes 35!

What To Know Before the Big Dance

For those that need to brush up on some history of Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, here are a few points you want to know:

  • Michael Jordan was drafted 3rd overall in the 1984 NBA draft.
  •  Phil Jackson and Tex Winter were the head coach and assistant coach, respectively.  Winter was the architect of the iconic triangle offense that Jackson implemented to perfection.
  • Jerry Reinsdorf is the owner and the late Jerry Krause was the GM.
  • Jordan retired after ‘93 season to play baseball for the Chicago White Sox and returned in the middle of ‘95 season.

Now that we have some info to reference it’s time to dance, I’m sure we’re all in for a great one.  Those who know the history and those who may be just novice, this will give even more insight into Michael Jordan the man and it will be breathtaking.