By Dan Bernstein
CBSChicago.com Senior Columnist
(CBS) — Four NBA teams remain in the running for the title, and the never-say-die Bulls are not one of them because, well, they died.
Throughout their entire lost season of water-treading, we have heard Tom Thibodeau’s Bulls lauded for every available description of effort, too often eschewing real analysis of the technical savvy of their defensive system for lazy odes to just how hard this plucky band of misfits continued to play.
You know who else plays really, really hard?
The Pacers, the Grizzlies, the Spurs and the Heat. All of them. Just as hard.
Indiana also lost last year’s leading scorer to injury, too, so they don’t want to hear any excuses from anywhere else. Excuses like vague implications of a belief in some officiating conspiracy – the one that has resulted in three of the NBA’s seven smallest markets in the conference finals, with Miami the largest remaining at #14 on the list.
Carimi Another Waste
Leave it to the Bears to find another sad, confusing ending for a top draft pick. Gabe Carimi surprised some teammates with his decision to skip OTA’s, choosing to work out independently. With the handwriting seemingly on the wall, it’s mind-boggling how much needless expenditure of time, resources and energy has been poured into the tackle position.
Chris Williams was taken 14th overall in 2008 despite concerns over a bad back. He was soon having a herniated disc repaired, then was bad and was cut. On the other side of the line, meanwhile, free-agent signee Orlando Pace was turnstyling into retirement. Then the parade of Frank Omiyale, Kevin Shaffer and John St. Clair, up to J’Marcus Webb. Sorry you had to read that.
So they were chasing when they selected Carimi 29th overall in 2011, no matter the red flags about a knee problem. He was subsequently hurt, subsequently bad, demoted to guard, and now out of the plans. That meant big money for Jermon Bushrod, and yet another top pick on a tackle prospect, that could have been otherwise used.
This is not how it’s done.
Q Now Gets To Coach
The only thing nice about the Blackhawks’ face-plant against the Red Wings is that an NHL coach-of-the-year finalist may have his voice heard for more important things than Viktor Stalberg’s playing time. His stars got pushed around by a decidedly toughened-up Detroit team now emboldened headed back home for game three, and he needs his stars to be stars to keep an overmatched opponent from extending the series longer than it should go.
It was the perfect game to point out the silliness of the “hits” statistic, too, as the clearly more physical team was outhit by the losers 36-26. That’s what happens when a puck-possession team doesn’t have the puck. If the ‘Hawks are playing their game, they are passing, skating and scoring instead of running into people.
The Wings were probably going to get one, though I thought it more likely that it would be at Joe Louis, where the rules would allow Mike Babcock better control over line matchups.
White Sox Still Maddening
First they began the season by kicking the ball around the field like Real Madrid, then added to their problems by celebrating the anniversary of the 1983 team by running the bases like Jerry Dybzinski.
After a four game winning streak, their pitchers issue ten walks in a 12-9 loss and the offense leaves twelve runners stranded, including six against fleshy punching-bag Joe Blanton who was just asking to be lit up again. This is not a tight baseball operation at the moment, allowing teams avoidable advantages of extra outs and free baserunners that will keep them on the wrong side of .500 as they continue.
Last night’s Campfire Ball at Venue One raised needed funds for the One Step Programs for kids with cancer, run by Children’s Oncology Services. Not only did Boers and Bernstein listeners raise $10,000 in ten days to get an equal matching donation, the anonymous donor was so impressed that he/she tacked on a bonus $10,000, resulting in $30,000 total.
I talked to numerous listeners who bought tickets and attended the spectacular gala, which we expect to have reached $100,000 when all the counting is done. On behalf of all of us on the board of directors, a warm, sincere thank you is in order for all who contributed to this great cause: making kids with cancer as happy as possible, ensuring that their diagnosis does not keep them from experiencing the simple joys of childhood.
Dan Bernstein joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995, and has been the co-host of Boers and Bernstein since 1999. Read more of Bernstein’s columns, or follow him on Twitter: @dan_bernstein.