Sports fans often obliterate the boundaries of good taste when supporting their teams. The free, fun-loving nature of the games which we all grew up playing sure seems to have a regressive impact on adults, doesn’t it?
It’s a fine line to walk, but whomever created the billboard below nailed this tightrope act with expert precision.
Complex Magazine posted photos of an electronic billboard in Chicago featuring a rotation of creative images supporting the city’s pro sports teams. Joakim Noah -the Bulls’ most eccentric and interesting player since Dennis Rodman- is shown blasting a grimacing LeBron James with a fire extinguisher.
I’m actually laughing just typing this up right now….The look on LeBron’s face is priceless.
Sure, it was only ONE playoff game in which Noah and the rest of the depleted-yet-not defeated Bulls shocked the defending champs, but the fans and city should savor every single moment they can.
Kudos to whomever created these ads. Aside from a burst of carbon dioxide to the face, the “Noah extinguishes LeBron” image (as well as the pro-Blackhawks billboard) is hilarious without hurting anyone’s feelings.
If anything, the billboard will add fuel to the Heat’s fire heading into Game 2.
Without Luol Deng and Derrick Rose, that billboard might be the last we see of the Bulls putting the Heat on blast.
After last season’s transformation under then-rookie head coach Tom Thibodeau, 2011-2012 was supposed to be “the” season in which Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls would fully bloom into a team that could legitimately challenge the Heat for a spot in the NBA Finals.
But something was wrong from the start.
First and foremost was the NBA lockout which kept many players away from their typical off-season workout and conditioning programs in efforts to adjust to an unknown timetable of when the season might start up again. This affected every player.
Then, Rose was the passenger in a car when his buddy, the driver, was pulled over and arrested for DUI. While Rose wasn’t in any trouble personally, surely the incident shook the quiet 23-year-old who goes out of his way to keep his personal life private.
But things seemed to turn around in late December as Rose agreed to a five-year contract extension worth a whopping $94.8 million just days before the start of a shortened NBA season.
The much-deserved reward from his Chicago bosses would prove be the high point of Rose’s season which turned ugly quite quickly as the All-Star guard suffered a myriad of injuries.
Toe, back, groin foot and ankle injuries forced Rose to miss 27 of the Bulls’ 66 regular season games. Rose had only missed six games in his first three NBA seasons combined.
The Bulls logged a respectable 18-9 record without Rose and held on for the No. 1 seed in the East, despite the frequent absence of their superstar.
It was only fitting, in sports’ version of a cruel shakespearean tragedy, that Rose would wilt for good late in his team’s first playoff game against the Philadelphia 76ers, sidelined for up to eight months with a torn ACL in his left knee.
Kyle Korver said after the game, “It’s the saddest win,” as Rose’s teammates were clearly shell-shocked by the severity of his injury and the impact it would have on what was, just minutes earlier, a postseason full of promise and potential.
Leading the series against the 76ers 1-0, the Bulls have enough talent to dispose of Philadelphia, even without Rose. As fate would have it, Rose’s teammates are fairly used to playing without him, having figured out a system that worked well enough in the regular season. Chicago’s stellar defense, combined with adrenaline and the competitive spirit will propel the Bulls for the rest of this series against an inconsistent 76ers team.
It’s the long-term prognosis that is worrisome for the Rose-less Bulls.
While the Bulls beat Miami once and Boston twice without Rose during the regular season, a seven-game playoff series is a completely different animal.
Rose is so important to the Bulls not just because of the points he puts up, but because of the opponent’s perception of him as a scoring threat, forcing double teams which allows open looks for his Bulls teammates.
Who will opponents double team now? It won’t be Carlos Boozer or Joakim Noah. They SHOULD be the guys drawing a double team but they won’t be because neither is consistent offensively warranting the additional attention. Rip Hamilton and Kyle Korver certainly won’t draw the double team, thus the big guys shouldn’t get many easy scoring opportunities down low.
Ideally, opponents tried to force Rose to shoot outside instead of driving the lane, the place where he often put on a spectacular show while having his way with the defense. With veteran guard C.J. Watson set to start in Rose’s place, the defense will strive for the opposite in forcing Watson closer to the rim rather than allowing him to shoot from his comfort zone outside of the key.
This will be Luol Deng’s time to shine, even brighter than he has already this season. He has to make good choices and consistently execute offensively. Boozer, whose biggest knock as a pro has been that he doesn’t play up to his potential, finally has the chance to prove the haters wrong by stepping up and leading my example.
The biggest challenge for Chicago, in this series at least, will likely be mental, not physical. Losing your MVP can shatter one’s psyche. The Bulls have to find a way to quickly shake off the stench of losing Rose and focus on the immediate task, which is the 76ers.
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Breaking up after 10 years together would be tough, regardless of the circumstances, and Theo Epstein’s split with the Red Sox was just the icing on a cake which had already melted into a big, ugly mess in previous weeks. Despite a disastrous situation by sports standards, the former Red Sox general manager and executive vice president left Boston with a classy, parting gift as he heads to Chicago. Take a look at this full-page ad the native son took out in Sunday’s Boston Globe, thanking the fans, players, coaches and front office staff of the team he dreamed of working for as a kid.
After assembling two World Series Championship teams and ending an 86-year drought, any competitive, driven, perfectionist would jump at the chance to take on the Cubs’ North American sports team-record 103-year drought; especially given the way things unraveled with the Red Sox.
But Epstein isn’t just any competitive, driven, perfectionist. He is a graduate of Brookline High School, just a few miles away from Fenway Park. Epstein’s family roots run deep in the Boston community and his son was born in the city that haled him a hero and miracle worker for what he helped accomplish within the confines of the Green Monster and famous red clay.
I can only imagine that for him to leave his hometown and life as he knows it, Epstein must have thought there was no way he could repair his Red Sox, and that perhaps, they weren’t even his anymore.
There will be no more five minute cab rides to FuGaKyu Restaurant on Beacon Street. No more sitting in the seats of an empty Fenway Park, the same seats in which he sat as a child rooting for his home team, soaking up the summer sun while watching the guys practice in the afternoons before night games.
Chicago is a wonderful city, and the Cubbies have their own fantastic traditions and folklore. But as friendly and iconic as the ivy may be at Wrigley, it will never be like home.
(For a less-fuzzy look at the ad, click here: http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/extras/extra_bases/assets_c/2011/10/609Theo_thank_you-thumb-609x1100-53948.jpg )