Thursday, December 28, 2006

Devin Hester

Obviously a bit of old news about the Pro Bowl special teamer but I felt like including him. The guy has an uncanny knack of seeing the field. He creates gaps with side steps and is deceptively strong. You constantly see guys getting a hand on him only to have him spin free. I think this is the reason he does so well because the other team assumes the play is over, then he is gone.

He is fast but there are certainly NFL players who can beat him in a foot race. He ran a 4.41 at the combines, which was just in the top 10 for his draft class. Again, it is how he sees the field and uses that speed that makes him special. It will be great to see him develop that vision as a corner, as well. If he can do that, he will be due a huge paycheck when the current 4 year, 2.86 million dollar deal expires. You have to figure he demands a raise even before then, though.

I love watching this guy and look forward to the many years in a Chicago Bears jersey. This historically weak position has finally been filled with a standout. Maybe now we can have the same luck at quarterback?

Below is a great video of some returns. This includes almost 5 minutes of special teams. Unbelievable amount of footage for a 24 year old rookie. The first Duke play may be the greatest special teams return ever.


http://youtube.com/watch?v=-F887UL7ksI

Monday, December 11, 2006

AI

I had so many problems with AI for years. There was the attitude he brought that he was above the NBA. Who could forget the Practice outbreak. Still one of my all time favorite videos. He seemed like a guy with all the talent in the world destined to never win a championship.

They had the run in 2001. The team was one of the most untalented finals groups in recent memory. However, they had the heart of little AI. This was when he showed me the type of player he really was and ended all prior conceived notions. He is only 6'0", 180 lbs and both seem a stretch. His body gets banged as much as anybody in the league as he drives the lane night in and out. Does anyone realize he averages almost 4 boards a game in his career? That is very impressive for a six footer, especially when someone like Eddy Curry wastes almost 300 pounds to the tune of 5 boards a night.

His drive is practically unmatched in the NBA and pro sports as a whole, for that matter. KG is one of the few guys who seems to want to win as bad as him. That being said, I hope the two of them get to finish their careers together. They have had similar paths, both winning MVP's and getting close to the next level. AI has obviously been closer by reaching the Finals. They would pair up well together as KG excels with a bonafide scorer. Remember what he did with Spree and Cassell? I do not think the Wolves have the best offering but this would be a good gesture from King and the 76ers. I imagine the Sixers will be cautious to avoid a Barkley for Hornacek, Lang, and Perry debacle.

Here are a few other good potential suitors;

Bobcats
They could offer Gerald Wallace, Brevin Knight, and a first round draft pick. This immediately gives the Bobcats and Jordan a fan favorite to fill seats and give the young guys a veteran presence. The 76ers get one expiring contract, another with 2 years, and a solid draft pick.

Kings
Swap Bibby, Corliss Williamson (expiring contract) or Kenny Thomas (best years as a Sixer), and a draft pick. Does not really help either side that much other than sending Iverson to a new division so he doesn't rack up 50 on them as regularly.

Pacers
Jasikevicius, Daniels, and Foster, with a draft pick. AI would work well with O'Neal. AI is no Artest and could bring a swagger the team needs. 76ers get some athleticism, size, and flexibilty.

Celtics
Szczerbiak, Delonte West and either potential phenom Gerald Green or Al Jefferson. It is worth parting with one, if not both, of these potentials for a sure thing. Ratliff is also a possibility except he is much less attractive than Wally. Paul Pierce and AI become serious contenders in the East now, rather than a few years.

Bulls
This has not come up very much. It is not surprising given the no headband problems with Skiles and Paxson. Just imagine the potential pitfalls with AI. However, the team needs a serious scoring threat every night so it is somewhat puzzling how little it has been mentioned. Gordon is great when he is on. Other nights he can't hit Rosie O'Donnell's behind with a sawed off. The swap could be Gordon, PJ Brown, and preferably Malik Allen, maybe Mike Sweetney. Sweets has played very well lately and gives the only low post scoring option. The 76ers get some expiring contracts and a new scoring threat. A draft pick would have to be included, but must be protected to not be the potential spot for Greg Oden. Come on Knicks. You can screw this up even worse.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Comcast

I have been experiencing problems with my Internet access at home for the past month or so. Finally, I called last week and had two technicians come out. They ran through a bunch of tests and said everything looks good. In fact, they told me we had excellent connection and very high speed.

OK, maybe I am just imagining things. They fiddled with a few connections and said any prior problems should be gone. This was on Monday and come Thursday the Internet was completely out. I noticed this after hours so I called first thing Friday morning. The automated system says I am caller number 34. I am beginning to get agitated but still put them on speaker and continue getting ready for work. I shower and finish all my morning routine to hear I am now caller 12. I decide to play with the dog until they are ready for me. About 10 minutes later the voice finally says, "you are the next caller in line and our next representative will speak with you".

The anticipation was now at a peak and I am ready to get this taken care of. I hear a voice on the line and assume it is the next representative. Much to my surprise, it is a new automated voice saying, " we are sorry none of our representatives were able to take your call. Thank you. Goodbye".

What!? Are you kidding me that I just wasted the better part of an hour and my cell minutes to boot? I will call back and see if anything has changed. Not so lucky, except that I am only caller 24. Forget it. I decide to call later. I tried numerous times throughout the day and never was able to get through.

Finally, Saturday morning I get a rep on the line. Luckily, this person was friendly enough to take care of the problem and extend a major apology for the previous problems. He decides to send a technician out on Sunday and thinks it is a bad modem (which I am renting from them to avoid hassles like this).

Sunday evening the tech comes out and after a few tests discovers it is actually a bad connection. The connector was put on my an amateur and has metal touching metal along with loose wiring. Thank you Comcast for sending out the cheapest help you could find and making sure work is done properly for a long, loyal customer.

I know this has been long winded and complaining. I sincerely hope another legitimate option will come in the Chicago area. I am tired of the monopoly Comcast has, which leaves little room for healthy competition. Hopefully, Comcast will get their act together (which I highly doubt), or RCN can step up their game and become accessible in all areas.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Ben Wallace

I have been a bit frustrated from all the media exposing this minor issue surrounding the Bulls recently. Sure, Ben was having problems as the team struggled. This is understandable as he has never been a part of the centerpiece of an organization. With the Pistons, the blame fell on Rip for missing shots, Chauncey for turning the ball over, Larry Brown, Flip, or even Turtle in the stands for throwing a cup on the Palace floor. The fact is a game was never put on his shoulders. Now he has the big contract and the expectations to be a leader for this team.

Somebody should have first told him of the headband rule before he signed. Even now, they should reverse it. This is something that actually helps his game mentally and physically keeps sweat out of his eyes. This city is used to reckless rebounding forwards/centers. This does not even touch the surface of Rodman. His end certainly justified the means, didn't they? Why not give Ben a little breathing room?

They should have also told him (and the media) to expect a slow start this season. The team compiles 8 new players on a team that has started slow since the Dynasty era. Couple that with a Western road trip. Let me pause here, as maybe I am one of the 5% of people who have actually followed the Bulls since the era. The Bulls have gone 4-41 on the Western trip in the last seven seasons. Does anyone remember that they were once on a 37 game losing streak for the annual trip? Also, they were playing quality West teams in the Spurs, Dallas, Houston, Lakers, and Nuggets. This was one of the toughest road trips any team will face this season.

Certainly, the play did have cause for concern. The usually reliable contributors were playing sloppy, missing plays, and horrid defense. Now, they have returned home and currently ride a 5 game winning streak. The team is starting to gel on both sides of the ball. This team is coming together much faster than in the past. I know Ben's numbers have not been great. For instance, look at his stat line from the Celtics game last night. He had seven points, 4 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 1 steal in 18 minutes. Not very impressive for a $60 million man. However, the best part of Big Ben's (and by the way, he is the real Big Ben, not this sophomore slump from the MAC in Pittsburgh) game is what does not show up in the lines. His energy, hustle for loose balls, tips that lead to another rebound or steal for a teammate, defensive intimidation, boxing out, picks, and other unheralded efforts are what makes this veteran so valuable.

Also, say what you want about his value in the locker room. It has been questioned lately, but there are a lot of smiles that come with this winning streak. The team is playing as a whole much better this early in the year as I can remember since the Dynasty. Could Wallace be a major contributor to that unity? I think so and am excited for the rest of this season.