Friday, April 25, 2014

Bulls Down 2-0, But Chicago Faces Bigger Problems

Sometimes sports can be an escape from often grim realities that surround us on a daily basis, but in Chicago the nightmare of gun violence has disturbingly frequent. Over Easter weekend, the Bulls started their playoff series against the Washington Wizards, one which they now trail two games to none. On the same weekend, there were over 40 shootings, mostly on the city's South side. The epidemic of gun violence in America has been particularly harsh in Chicago. In 2012, there were 503 homicides, and although that number dropped to 415 in 2013, the city continues to struggle with gang-related violence.

Chicago has always been a tough town. It was home of some of the most infamous mobsters in American history, including the likes of Al Capone. The current Bulls team represents the city's toughness in many regards. Their star guard, Chicago native Derrick Rose, remains sidelined due to injury. Meanwhile, the consistent hustle of center Joakim Noah continued to inspire the rest of the team to will their way to the fourth seed in the playoffs. Every player on Chicago plays solid defense. Head coach Tom Thibodeau demands nothing less. The challenge for the Bulls all season has been scoring, and it appears that they may be outmatched athletically by a younger, faster Washington team.

Nevertheless, the Bulls should continue to be a presence in the Eastern conference for years to come, and with the possibility of Carmelo Anthony joining the team this summer, there is reason to be optimistic for hoops heads in the Windy City. In the mean time, Chicago address the problem of violence in the city, because whether the Bulls win or not, people are still losing lives.
And that's much more unacceptable than lousy offense.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Washington Wizards at Verizon Center: Recent Photos

Rajon Rondo listening to some tunes
Otto Porter lines up a corner three
Kelly Olynyk tries to convert a layup over Andre Miller
Joakim Noah goes in for a layup
Kemba Walker drives to the bucket
Gary Neal tries to loft a shot over Nene

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Wizards Hit New York Right Where it Counts

It's Friday night in Washington, DC. I'm cruising around the H Street corridor looking for a bar to watch the Knicks play the Wizards. Not a club, not a lounge, a bar. One with plenty of bar space and preferably a couple of other basketball fans that I could watch the game with. The first watering hole I entered was a spot called The H Street Country Club, a place best known for its indoor miniature golf course. No luck. Not only was no one in the building watching the game, the game wasn't even on. Instead, they were showing a random baseball game. I couldn't even tell you who was playing, and Denver versus Memphis. Needless to say, I left the premises. Next, I went into a bar across the street that had plenty of televisions showing the game, but zero bar space. The place was actually a lounge playing incredibly sappy soft r&b tunes. Again, no basketball junkies to be found. I was headed back to my place, and tried one more spot. Again, the game was on a television, but the smooth jazz playing just wasn't the type of vibe that I was looking for on this occasion. This was a big game, especially for the Knicks, and I wanted to feel its magnitude in some way that these places weren't giving me.

The Wizards had already clinched a playoff spot on Wednesday night. Of course, nobody seemed to notice in D.C. Meanwhile, in New York, with all the other sports teams struggling, with the exception of the Brooklyn Nets, the Knicks were fighting to stay alive in the playoff hunt. New York City, a basketball town, was counting on the Knicks to win this game and stay stay alive.

By the time, I returned to my place, tucked away in the shadows behind the RFK stadium parking lot, it was already the third quarter. The Knicks were up by a slim margin. It remained close throughout the contest, and appeared as though it would be J.R. Smith's 32 points that would send the Knicks to victory, but the game came down to a big shot by Bradley Beal with 22.9 seconds left to put the Wizards up 90-89. Carmelo Anthony struggled mightily, only scoring 10 points on 5-14 shooting from the field. On the final possession, Anthony lost the handle on the ball while trying to penetrate. Smith had a decent look at the basket from long-range, but the shot went off the side of the iron. Madison Square Garden, the center of the basketball universe, was stunned once again into a comatose state. The Wizards had rolled into New York and dealt a crushing blow to the Knicks' playoff chances, and an even more crushing blow to the city of New York, a town so desperate for an NBA title. It was a deflating loss for New York, but a gritty win by Washington in a playoff atmosphere. If only people in D.C. actually cared.