Posts Tagged ‘Kwame Brown’

Grizzlies GM Envisioned A Future With Marc Gasol As A League Laughed

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – The Memphis Grizzlies’ six-year rise from bottom-of-the-barrel in the West to playing for the conference crown is a story of intuition, perseverance, patience and, some might rightfully say, vindication for general manager Chris Wallace.

“I never looked for vindication. That’s not something that motivates me,” Wallace said. “Winning takes care of all issues in this league. We felt we had to take chances.”

Hired by former Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley to remake a 22-win team that was of no competition, popularity-wise, for John Calipari‘s Memphis Tigers, Wallace put his vision in motion. When the team takes the court Sunday afternoon to begin the Western  Conference finals against the old standby San Antonio Spurs, the Memphis roster will include not one player from the day Wallace took control.

Rudy Gay, the last survivor, was dealt to Toronto in late January.

The first move for Wallace back in 2007 was drafting Mike Conley, now considered one of the most underrated point guards in the league. Conley was the No. 4 overall draft pick after Portland selected Greg Oden and Kevin Durant fell into Seattle’s lap and Atlanta tapped Al Horford.

The next move came on Feb. 1, 2008 and will go down as the franchise’s moment of truth. At that moment, however, it was perceived more like the moment of ultimate doom.

Wallace agreed to a trade that unleashed shockwaves of ridicule from, yes, the media, but also shockingly from within the league. The backlash, Wallace said, was so fierce that it damaged the team’s ability to conduct business in its own city as it set out to sell critical sponsorships and arena suites for the following season.

“People [potential clients] would list off all the big-name people [in the NBA] that had ridiculed us,” Wallace said. “It was like running the 100-meter dash with a 20-pound leg weight.”

Everyone knows the deal: Pau Gasol to the Lakers for his chubby, unheralded younger brother Marc Gasol, bust Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton and a couple first-round draft picks. Stunning criticism crushed Wallace for getting fleeced while being backhandedly credited for handing the post-Shaquille O’Neal Lakers the keys to certain championships.

“I expect the media to shoot from the hip and not study the deal. That’s to be expected,” Wallace said. “I just shook my head. I had never seen that kind of response from inside the league. I don’t deny that was the assist for two Lakers championships, but we had to shake things up. We had never won a playoff game. We had been in the 20s [wins] and there was complete apathy in our market. Calipari and the Tigers were roaring at the time.

“When we went around the league, we weren’t going to get a tit-for-tat deal. We wanted to bring our salary structure down, get assets and draft picks. And no one else had a Marc Gasol.”

Marc Gasol attended high school in Memphis as Pau was becoming the franchise’s all-time leading scorer. At 18, he returned to Spain to begin his professional career in the Spanish ACB league, largely considered the world’s second-most competitive league. In 2007-08 he was tearing it up.

“He was trending up so much at the time. He was on pace to be the ACB MVP,” Wallace said. “I said it at the time, I felt like the little boy crying wolf. There was no question Pau was going to flourish next to Kobe and could win several titles, but this deal couldn’t be judged for several years.”

Wallace said what puzzled him most about the barrage of criticism was the lack of knowledge among media and league insiders regarding the 7-foot-1 Marc Gasol, who went on to become the MVP.

“It’s not like he was playing in Mongolia,” Wallace said. “He was playing in the ACB.”

Gasol, about 20 pounds lighter these days at 260, blossomed into a 2012 All-Star and is the 2013 Defensive Player of the Year. He’s become an offensive force, honing a dangerous post game with an old-school mid-range set shot. He’s averaging 18.3 ppg and 7.9 rpg while averaging 40.3 mpg during the franchise’s most successful postseason run.

Gasol’s low-post partner Zach Randolph came next in a deal in 2009. Wallace was in the right place at the right time, nabbing Randolph for Quentin Richardson. Randolph, who had had his issues at previous stops,had become expendable after just 39 games with the Clippers because L.A. was set to draft Blake Griffin with the No. 1 pick and wanted to clear out the power forward position.

Tony Allen was picked up in the summer of 2010. Darrell Arthur has been a constant presence off the bench since being acquired on draft day in 2008. Greivous Vasquez, the 28th pick in 2010, was flipped for key reserve Quincy Pondexter. Sixth man Jerryd Bayless was signed as a free agent last summer.

“We were winning 20 games a year just four or five seasons ago,” Conley said. “Management did a great job getting guys in, guys that care. We’ve worked every day, kind of fell down the radar and now we’re here.”

So much has gone right leading to this historic moment for the Grizzlies franchise that it would seem clear-cut that Wallace has a long-term home with Memphis. But with new ownership having taken over at the start of the season, both Wallace and coach Lionel Hollins – a raging success story in his own right as he’s developed an initially young group of players into a hard-working defensive juggernaut emblematic of the city itself — are uncertain of their futures.

Hollins has coached all season on the final year of his deal. Wallace said he has years left, but has no guarantees.

“I hope to be able to stay here,” Wallace said.

Griner Wouldn’t Be Longest Draft Reach

HANG TIME, Texas – Never underestimate Mark Cuban’s knack for attracting attention. And who could blame him if the idea was to draw it away from his underperforming team that is ironically keeping a team of barbers on hold at the same time they’re about to cut off their string of consecutive playoff appearances at 12 years?

Should the Mavericks draft Brittney Griner?

Let cranky Geno Auriemma be outraged and throw bricks. Let former greats of the women’s game Nancy Lieberman and Ann Meyers Drysdale offer their words encouragement to the Baylor star. Let Griner give even the most outrageous hope and dreams to any little girl who has ever dribbled a basketball.

Let’s face it. The Mavs selecting Griner wouldn’t be the first unusual pick in the history of the NBA draft. And before you snicker, remember that somebody took Pervis Ellison, Greg Oden, Kwame Brown and Michael Olowokandi No. 1. Here’s a reminder of a few others off-beat choices down through the years:

JIM BROWN (Syracuse Nationals, 1957 ) – The Nats didn’t have to reach outside the city limits to take a flyer on the guy who would become perhaps the greatest player in NFL history. Brown played four college sports — football, basketball, lacrosse and track — at Syracuse. He even averaged 15 points a game for the basketball team in his sophomore year. But even though there was little doubt that Brown was bound for a career on the gridiron, the Nats made him a ninth-round pick.

Other notables in draft: “Hot Rod” Hundley (No. 1 overall by Cincinnati, traded to Minneapolis); Sam Jones (No. 8 by Boston).

FRANK HOWARD (Philadelphia Warriors, 1958) – It wasn’t just his physical stature at 6-foot-8, 275 pounds that caught the attention of the Warriors in the third round. He could really play and was an All-American in basketball at Ohio State. But baseball was Howard’s first love and he signed with the Dodgers and had a 15-year career in the majors, hitting 382 home runs with 1,119 RBIs.

Other notables in the draft: Elgin Baylor (No. 1 overall by Minneapolis); Hal Greer (No. 13 by Syracuse).

BUBBA SMITH (Baltimore Bullets, 1967) — Long before he became known for playing the role of Moses Hightower in the Police Academy movies and starring in Miller Lite commercials, the 6-foot-7 Smith was an All-American defensive end at Michigan State. His height attracted the attention of the Bullets in the 11th round of the NBA draft, but Smith was the No. 1 overall pick of the NFL Colts and a champion in Super Bowl V.

Other notables in the draft: Earl Monroe (No. 2 overall by Baltimore); Walt Frazier (No. 5 by New York).

BOB BEAMON (Phoenix Suns, 1969) – Who could blame the Suns for taking a flying leap? After all, they were coming off a 16-66 record in their expansion season in the league and Beamon had just shattered the world long jump record by more than a foot at the Mexico City Olympics. Beamon had grown up playing street ball in New York, but was strictly a track and field athlete in college at Texas-El Paso. The Suns picked him in the 15th round of the draft, but he went back to school and graduated with a sociology degree from Adelphi University.

DENISE LONG (San Francisco Warriors, 1969) — The 18 year old out of Union-Whitten High in Iowa was the first woman ever drafted in the NBA, taken in the 13th round. She had averaged 69.6 points and had a single game high of 111 points in her senior year. NBA commissioner Walter Kennedy voided the pick, calling it a publicity stunt by Warriors owner Franklin Mieuli and also noted that high school players weren’t eligible at the time. Mieuli brought Long and other female players in to play before Warriors home games.

Other notables in the draft: Lew Alcindor (No. 1 overall by Milwaukee); JoJo White (No. 9 by Boston); Mack Calvin (187th by L.A. Lakers).

DAVE WINFIELD (Atlanta Hawks, 1973) – It wasn’t just the Hawks who were trying to get their talons on one of the greatest all-around college athletes ever with their fifth-round pick. He was also drafted by the Utah Stars of the ABA and the Minnesota Vikings of the NFL, but went to baseball when the San Diego Padres chose him as a pitcher. In college at Minnesota, Bill Musselman once called him the best rebounder he ever coached. But Winfield did quite well in baseball, a 12-time All-Star with 465 career homers.

Other notables in the draft: Doug Collins (No. 1 overall by Philadelphia); Kermit Washington (No. 5 by L.A. Lakers).

BRUCE JENNER (Kansas City Kings, 1977) — Before face lifts and the Kardashians, there was a time when Jenner was known as the “world’s greatest athlete” after taking the gold medal in the decathlon at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal and the Kings made him a seventh-round draft pick. He never played in college and the closest Jenner ever got to basketball stardom was when he sank a shot during the singing of YMCA in the 1980 movie Can’t Stop the Music, which starred the Village People.

LUSIA HARRIS (New Orleans Jazz, 1977) – Here’s the real forerunner to Griner. A 6-foot-3 pioneer of the women’s game who led Delta State to three consecutive national titles, Harris was the second female ever drafted by an NBA team when the Jazz made her a seventh-round pick. Just imagine the show if she had been given a chance to team up with Pete Maravich in the backcourt. Harris showed little interest in her selection and declined a tryout invitation from the Jazz. It was later revealed that she was pregnant at the time.

Other notables in the draft: Bernard King (No. 7 overall by New York Nets); Jack Sikma (No. 8 by Seattle).

TONY GWYNN (San Diego Clippers, 1981) — After he set the San Diego State assist records for a game, season and career, he was hardly a reach for the Clippers in the 10th round of the draft. Gwynn said that dribbling strengthened his wrists and helped with bat speed and his on-court quickness made him a better base-runner. It all added up to a Hall of Fame baseball career with 3,141 hits and eight N.L. batting titles.

YASUTAKA OKAYAMA (Golden State Warriors, 1981) — Tallest player ever drafted by an NBA team? Not Yao Ming or Gheorge Muresan or Manute Bol. Try Okayama, who was 7-foot-8. He earned a second degree black belt in judo in his native Japan and began playing basketball at age 18 at Osaka University of Commerce. Okayama attended the University of Portland (Ore.), but did not play there. He was a member of the Japanese national team from 1979 to 1986. He never signed with the Warriors or attended a camp.

Other notables in the draft: Mark Aguirre (No. 1 overall by Dallas); Isiah Thomas (No. 2 by Detroit).

CARL LEWIS (Chicago Bulls, 1984) — It might have been the year when Michael Jordan earned his first gold medal, but Lewis was definitely the biggest star of the L.A. Olympics, tying Jesse Owens’ record of four track and field gold medals. Though he never played basketball in high school or college, a West Coast scout recommended drafting Lewis in the 10th round because he was “the best athlete available.” That same year the Dallas Cowboys drafted him in the 12th round as a wide receiver. Lewis stayed with sprinting and the long jump to become arguably the greatest track and field athlete ever.

Other notables in the draft: Hakeem Olajuwon (No. 1 overall by Houston); Michael Jordan (No. 3 by Chicago); Charles Barkley (No. 5 by Philadelphia); John Stockton (No. 16 by Utah).

Sixers Lack Continuity, But Still Deep





PHILADELPHIA – In getting off to a hot start last season, the Philadelphia 76ers had two big advantages over other teams. The first was continuity. They had made minimal changes to their roster and brought back guys who played an incredible 99 percent of their minutes from the previous season.

The second advantage was depth. The Sixers didn’t go 10 or 11-deep, but they had three or four guys coming off their bench – namely Evan Turner, Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young – who could keep the scoreboard going in the right direction. That trio was especially strong offensively, and the Sixers outscored their opponents by almost eight points per 100 possessions when the three were on the floor together.

“We had three guys coming off our bench who were capable of being starters,” Sixers coach Doug Collins said at training camp on Friday.

Turner eventually did become a starter. And that should be a permanent thing this year. The Sixers don’t have nearly the same continuity as they had last year (only 45 percent of last year’s minutes were played by guys on this year’s roster), but they should once again have little drop-off, especially offensively, when they go to their bench.
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After Playoff Run, Sixers Shake It Up





HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – The Boston Celtics have reloaded with Jason Terry, Courtney Lee and Jeff Green. The Brooklyn Nets have spent over $300 million on their new starting lineup. The New York Knicks lost Jeremy Lin, but added depth. And the Toronto Raptors have upgraded their rotation with the additions of Kyle Lowry, Landry Fields and Jonas Valanciunas.

Overall, the Atlantic Division is on an upswing. But what of the Philadelphia 76ers, who were, at one point, one of the last five teams still alive in the 2012 Playoffs?

With seven players in their rotation under the age of 25, the Sixers could have stood pat and kept improving. Instead, they let go of two of their biggest contributors, allowing free agent Lou Williams to sign with the Atlanta Hawks and using the amnesty clause to waive Elton Brand.

In their place are Nick Young (signed to a one-year deal), Dorell Wright (acquired from Golden State) and Kwame Brown (two years).

With young guards/wings Maurice Harkless, Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner on board, it’s understandable why the Sixers didn’t want to commit long-term to Williams. But Brand was on the final year of his contract, and the Sixers clearly downgraded in their frontcourt. (more…)

No. 1 question: Will Davis stay?

So the question is: Where do you think Anthony Davis will finish up his NBA career?

Didn’t mean to make anyone in New Orleans spit out their Sazerac. Not suggesting that there are problems buzzing around the hive of the Hornets.

It’s just that when the word came out over the weekend that Kwame Brown was signed by the Sixers, it got us to thinking about overall No. 1 picks in the NBA draft and how many of them went on to be certified stars and played their entire career with the team that picked them.

Not many, as it turns out.

If we discount the past five top choices — Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin, John Wall, Kyrie Irving and Davis — as being too early in their careers to measure, the fact is that only a dozen of the first 61 No. 1 picks in league history played for just one team. That is including Dwight Howard, who has one foot out the door in Orlando and Greg Oden, who has not yet been signed by another team since leaving Portland.

What’s more, only four of those No. 1 picks went on to become Hall of Famers — Elgin Baylor, Magic Johnson, James Worthy and David Robinson. Tim Duncan will surely become the next to join the elite list.

The point is that even at the very top of the draft batting order, it’s quite rare to plug in a name and expect that player will never wear another jersey. Oscar Robertson went to Milwaukee to get his championship ring. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar jumped from Milwaukee to L.A. Hakeem Olajuwon finished his career in Toronto, Patrick Ewing with stops in Seattle and Orlando.

Which brings us back to Brown, who’ll be taking career averages of 6.8 points and 5.6 rebounds to Philly.

Sixers president Rod Thorn has heard and read all of the wise cracks about his team’s pick-up and thinks it is time that fans got past the line on Brown’s resume that says where Michael Jordan picked him in 2001, according to Spike Eskin of CBSPhilly.

“You’re looking at Kwame Brown from the standpoint of being the first pick in the NBA Draft once upon a time,” Thorn told 94WIP’s Angelo Cataldi and the WIP Morning Show. “We don’t need him to do that. What we need him to do is be a defensive player, rebounder, stalwart on our back line to help us from that angle, that’s something we didn’t have and what Kwame has done over the latter part of his career. He wasn’t a great player as the first pick the draft. If he was the 25th pick in the draft I think the fans would look at him a little bit differently.”

While Philly is the seventh stop on Brown’s career, he is hardly the most peripatetic No. 1 pick. That is just over halfway to Joe Smith’s record of 13 different teams since he was the No. 1 pick in the 1995 draft.

But Brown has plenty of traveling company. After being picked No. 1 in 1959 (Wilt Chamberlain was a territorial pick of the Warriors then), Bob Boozer played for six different teams. Walt Bellamy was the top pick in 1961, played for six different teams and never won a championship, but still was enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Jim Barnes was the No. 1 pick in 1964 and also played for a half dozen teams.

And, of course, there was The Big Ring Chaser, Shaquille O’Neal, who hopscotched from Orlando to L.A. to Miami to Phoenix to Cleveland to Boston.

So in the wake of Kwame Brown’s latest move, we’ll ask the question again: Where do you think Anthony Davis will finish his up his NBA career?

It’s good to be big: 76ers sign Kwame

To get to the other side. A newspaper. Kwame Brown.

And there you have them, three of the all-time biggest punchlines.

You can laugh some more about Brown if you want to, about his consensus “bust” status in 2001 as Michael Jordan‘s No. 1 overall pick in Jordan’s first go-around as an NBA executive and about the fact that he just hooked up with his seventh NBA team in 13 years.

Then again, Brown has lasted 13 years, longer than other notorious draft busts such as LaRue Martin, Pervis Ellison, Michael Olowokandi, Joe Barry Carroll and, alas, Greg Oden. He has amassed more than $58 million in NBA earnings in that time, not merely off some outrageous pre-rookie scale deal but in salaries of $4 million, $7 million, $9 million as team after team tried to tap his full potential.

Laugh, too, at this: Brown just got himself another $6 million over the next two seasons, agreeing to a two-year contract with the Philadelphia 76ers. The second year is a player option, a further reminder of how marketable it is to stand 6-foot-11, weigh 270 pounds and not trip over one’s own feet.

How much coin did you secure for yourself today? So who’s laughing last? (more…)

Jordan needs to make this shot





For Michael Jordan, this is like being called for pushing off on Bryon Russell, or getting stripped by Craig Ehlo, or throwing the ball to Steve Kerr and John Paxson, only to watch them miss.

In so many other instances in his playing career, Jordan has been both good and lucky. As an executive, not so much. And the crummy luck came back to haunt him once again with the NBA draft lottery, where the seven-win Bobcats suffered a bigger defeat the other 59 combined.

They’re choosing second in what’s probably a one-superstar draft. Such is life for Jordan since he traded his sneakers for a seat in the boardroom. He can’t seem to win.

When he had the first overall pick, while the GM in Washington, the prize was Kwame Brown. When he had the third pick, the 2006 college player of the year was available, and Adam Morrison was taken because he was a scorer, which the Bobcats desperately needed. (In a cruel twist of fate, Jordan later traded for the fourth pick in that 2006 draft, Tyrus Thomas, giving the Bobcats the biggest busts that year.)

Then he held lower lottery picks in franchise player drafts and missed out on Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose and Kyrie Irving.

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Let The Trade Deadline Madness Begin





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The Golden State Warriors and Milwaukee Bucks kicked off this trade deadline season with a bang, agreeing tonight on a five-player deal that will send guard Monta Ellis, forward Ekpe Udoh and center Kwame Brown to Milwaukee for center Andrew Bogut and guard Stephen Jackson. The deal, first reported by Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, was also confirmed by TNT’s David Aldridge

If the magnitude of this first move is any indication — Bogut was the No. 1 pick in the 2005 Draft, Ellis is one of the league’s top scorers and Jackson, despite his issues with Bucks coach Scott Skiles, remains one of the league’s most dynamic backcourt performers when he’s playing in an environment he likes — we could be in for a wild ride the next 24 hours.

Ellis has been the subject of trade rumors in Golden State for the past three seasons, with the reasoning being as nuanced as his game. Bottom line, just like Bogut and Jackson (who had expressed their own desires to be shipped out of Milwaukee from whatever restrictions they felt Skiles’ system placed upon their respective games), Ellis is being moved at his own behest.

The only problem? You can bet Ellis didn’t have the Bucks at the top of his list, not with the chatter about him joining Dwight Howard in Orlando heating up in recent days. The addition of Ellis also raises questions about Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings, whose name has also surfaced in trade rumors in the past few weeks. Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports reported yesterday that the Bucks don’t have any plans on moving Jennings, which should make some chemistry issues down the stretch this season for Skiles with an Ellis-Jennings backcourt.

Jackson presented a unique set of challenges, same as he always has for whoever is coaching him. A backcourt with two offensive-minded guys like Ellis and Jennings should be as exciting as any combo in the league, but will they defend the way Skiles demands?

We’ve got it covered for you from every angle …

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A Fresh Start For Oden In … Miami?

– For the latest updates check out: NBA.com’s Free Agent Tracker

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – When we spoke in June about wanting to see Greg Oden get a fresh start to this next phase of his career, we were absolutely sincere. We viewed it as a cathartic move for Oden that meant the same for the Portland Trail Blazers and their fans.

Too much has happened to Oden during his time with the Trail Blazers. The injuries and time missed because of them has left a scab that we’d just as soon everyone try to ignore and move on from, if at all possible.

But move on to what?

For Oden, could that next move include relocating to Miami?

Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com’s Heat Index reports that the Heat have interest in the restricted free agent big man, who is expected to be examined later this week to determine when he can return to contact action since his latest knee surgery. Sure, it sounds like a reality TV-dream waiting to happen, Oden teaming up with Miami’s Big 3 of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in their second season.

The Heat would certainly provide the fresh start we believe Oden needs. And he couldn’t pick a place more opposite than Portland in so many different ways. How realistic a move this could be will be determined by that examination later this week and by how serious Heat boss Pat Riley is about pursuing a big man with Oden’s injury history, as Windhorst explains:

Oden has a one-year qualifying offer from the Portland Trail Blazers for $8.9 million on his plate at the moment. The most the Heat could offer is the bulk of the $5 million mid-level exception.

For these reasons, it would seem like an easy choice for Oden if he can return to the floor, which could come as early as January. By making the hefty qualifying offer, the Blazers indicated they have not given up hope even though Oden has only played 82 games since being taken with the No. 1 overall pick in 2007.

But Heat president Pat Riley is known for his powers of persuasion and last year convinced free agent after free agent to take less money to sign in Miami. Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller all took less money than they were offered elsewhere.

It happened right up until March, when Mike Bibby gave up $6 million guaranteed for this season so he could sign with the Heat for a few months at a portion of the league minimum.

The Blazers maintain matching rights for Oden but sources say Riley still is interested in making the pitch.

It is apparently one of a number of options the team is considering. According to sources, they also have been in contact with free-agent centers NeneSamuel Dalembert and Kwame Brown.

The financial risk seems minimal compared to the potential rewards, provided Oden can resuscitate his career in a fashion that allows him to stay on the floor and use his sheer size to become a factor. And if we learned anything about the Heat during their run to The Finals last season, it’s that they need more of an inside presence than what we saw in the playoffs (no particular offense to Juwan Howard, Eric Dampier and HT fave Joel Anthony.)

At the same time, it seems a bit twisted to take Oden and thrust him into the fish bowl that will be the Heat locker room this year. If he wanted to find his game again, doing it somewhere without as much glare might make more sense.

Still, the voyeur in us can’t help but be intrigued by the idea of the Big 3 adding Oden to their mix …

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Rose Ready To Lead Windy City Revival

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Not that we needed any co-signers for the Derrick Rose-4-MVP campaign this season, but when Michael Jordan endorses a candidate … do you need anything else?

The Bobcats owner witnessed the movement first hand last night, with Rose and the Bulls pounding Jordan’s bunch in a 101-84 win in Charlotte.

Jordan declared Rose the “MVP of the season.” And then added, “He deserves it. He’s playing that well. And if he doesn’t get it, you’ll see how I felt a lot of years.”

This came hours after Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf made a declaration of his own, telling the Chicago Sun-Times, “We have an outstanding coach, an outstanding bunch of players, the team is deep, and if we stay healthy, we have an awfully good chance of winning at least four championships.”

When you already have six fingers covered, courtesy of Jordan, Scottie Pippen and the Bulls of the 1990s, you know of what you speak. But Rose isn’t shrinking from the hype. The hometown kid is the unquestioned leader of the Windy City Revival. The fact that he’s embraced the role is what’s most impressive and also most remarkable for a player that before this season seemed interested in anything but trying to fill the gigantic void left by Jordan.

“I wish, man,” Rose told the Sun-Times when informed of Jordan’s endorsement. “‘It’s a great that he said that. It’s an honor. We’re just trying to keep winning. The award will come if we keep winning. We’re trying to play hard and play together. We just have to keep playing aggressive, and play with an edge.”

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