K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune has some Bulls news from the NBA predraft camp, but this part jabbed me in the funny bone: “[Arizona's Chase Budinger] said the Bulls administered a ‘very interesting’ psychological test and that, at one point, they made him build things with blocks. Another time they had him stare at a picture for a long time, then covered it up and asked him to draw an exact replica. ‘And I’m thinking, ‘What does this have to do with the NBA?’ Budinger said, light-heartedly. ‘But I really enjoyed getting to know that organization. They were thorough.’”
Personally, I think Mr. Telander needs to get off his high horse.
I’m not saying that cheating is okay. Far from it. I want this investigation to run its course until all the facts are known. Furthermore, I want the guilty parties to be punished in accordance with whatever rules and laws are used to govern these activities, and to have steps taken to reduce the likelihood that something like this can happen again.
Notice how I said “reduce the likelihood” rather than “eliminate forever”? Because cheating in its many, many forms will go on forever in amateur sports…and professional sports for that matter. It happens in small ways (such as, say, flopping) and it happens on far grander scales (as with this cheating scandal). It happens everywhere, all the time. Telander regards this incident as a case of “hypocrisy revealed.” But to me, the true hypocrisy comes from the fact that our society — Telanader included — only jumps to action and outrage when somebody is caught. Derrick Rose, Simeon High, the University of Memphis…they are not the disease, they are symptoms.
I mentioned yesterday that I roomed with a varsity basketball player in college. This guy was a redshirt freshman, a non-player, and you would not believe the number of violations I was witness to during that one semester. Alumni and boosters gave him money and gifts. He was caught stealing (cash, CDs, a security code used for long distance calls, etc.) from other students but got a slap on the wrist. He had a small cadre of people doing his homework for him. By midterm, he had attended maybe handful of classes, so most of his professors failed him due to lack of attendance and kicked him out of their classes. A few calls from an assistant coach later and he was back in every class with a “C” so long as he attended “most” of the rest of his classes and turned in his assignments on time.
I could provide more examples, but you get the idea. Mind you, these allowances were made for a non-player, so you can only imagine what kind of treatment the stars get. I would guess that if someone like Telander devoted himself to some serious and stubborn investigative journalism, he could uncover countless cases of violations both great and small throughout the NCAA. It would literally be like shooting fish in a barrel. Maybe then the American public would be able to truly appreciate the scope of the problem. Maybe then we’d be moved to make real changes to the system, which is corrupt and broken.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen, though. It’s much easier to express moral outrage when someone like Derrick Rose gets caught for having cheated on a college entry exam or Barry Bonds gets outed for steroid use. That’s when Joe Public gets to prove how fine and upstanding he is while decrying others for abusing honesty and righteousness.
But guess what? We’re all guilty. We turn a blind eye to the constant inequities of life every day while simultaneously fighting our way to the top of the dogpile covering the few who actually get caught for their wrongdoing. Giving the change in your pocket to a derelict or bringing in a few cans of soup for your company food drive does not mean you’re fighting the homelessness problem. And trying to decimate Derrick Rose for cheating his way into college doesn’t mean you’re waging a war against corruption in the NCAA.
Be upset. Be disappointed. Hope that this mess can be cleaned up and corrected as quickly as possible. But the next time you drive your car in excess of the speed limit or get undercharged at the grocery store without going back to pay the remainder of what you owe, try to remember that even the best of us break the rules. And if you’re not really and truly part of the solution, chances are you’re part of the problem.
The passivity of the general public is what allows the NCAA to sit back and allow these things to happen. The NCAA always seems to be a step behind in sniffing these things out, and even then they still end up missing an awful lot. It’s terrible that Rose and some of his buddies cheated, but it’s just as terrible if not moreso that a faulty system exists that encourages and passively allows such things to occur over and over.
There is a larger system at work here, and it needs to be changed.
Fresh off the press from ESPN news: “The Memphis men’s basketball program has been charged by the NCAA with major violations during the 2007-08 season. The allegations include ‘knowing fraudulence or misconduct’ on an SAT exam by a player on the 2007-08 team.” And it appears as though the player in question might be a current member of the Chicago Bulls.
From Michael O’Brien of the Chicago Sun-Times: “According to a document obtained by the Memphis Commercial-Appeal, the University of Memphis is responding to NCAA allegations that charge the men’s basketball program with major violations, both of which seem to involve current Bull and Simeon grad Derrick Rose. The player’s name is blacked out in the report (a letter from the NCAA to Memphis dated Jan. 16, 2009), but the wording indicates that he only played in the 2007-08 season. Rose is the only Memphis player who meets that criteria.”
The actual text of the letter reads as follows: “‘It is alleged that [blacked out] prospective men’s basketball student-athlete failed to deport himself in accordance with the generally recognized high standards of honesty and sportsmanship normally associated with the conduct and administration of intercollegiate athletics for his knowing fraudulence or misconduct and administration of intercollegiate examination. Specifically, on [blacked out] an unknown individual completed [blacked out] SAT, with [blacked out] knowledge, which was used to obtain his admission into the institution and to certify his NCAA eligibility. [Blacked out] subsequently competed for the men’s basketball team through the 2007-08 season, which included his participation in the 2008 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship.”
Mind you, currently these are allegations only. Memphis athletic director R.C. Johnson said: “We still have to determine if the test score was fraudulent.” However, it sure seems likely that we’ll eventually find out that the test score was in fact fraudulent…otherwise things probably wouldn’t have gotten this far.
This stuff happens. I spent one semester rooming with a member of the varsity team at a major Big Ten university, and it came out during that semester that he had cheated on the SAT. Essentially, he was left in a library with several other prep students and given an unlimited amount of time to complete the test. Oh, and there were people in the library who could, you know, give “advice” upon request. He was immediately ruled ineligible under Proposition 48 and therefore had to retake the test (and score at least 700) to regain his eligibility (which he did).
In terms of impact on the Bulls and Derrick’s pro career, I really don’t think there will be any. Sure, it could temporarily tarnish his image and maybe cost him an endorsement or two (though I doubt it). But in the end, I believe that his performance as a member of the Bulls and his behavior in the community will make everybody forget about whether he cheated on the test that got him into one year of college. Don’t take that as a casual dismissal of cheating. I’m really bummed and disappointed to find out about this. But it’s not all that surprising, and since there’s nothing that can be done about it now, I’d rather just move past it.
Brett LaGree of Hoopinion recently revealed that Josh Smith made a lower percentage of his two-point jump shots than any other player in the NBA (with at least 100 attempts) during the 2008-09 season. This assertion is based on numbers provided by 82games.com…and if you look at the list, you’ll notice that our good buddy Tyrus Thomas was the fourth-worst two-point jump shooter in the league last season. His percentage (34.5) put him behind only Smith (32.2), Baron Davis (33.3) and Ron Artest (34.3). That’s some seriously bad company.
To make that number even more damning (as if I need to), 53 percent of T-Time’s shots were two-point jumpers…compared to 36 percent for Smith, 35 percent for Davis and 37 percent for Artest. Which basically means he spent more than half of his time doing something he’s terrible at. Percentage-wise, anyway. (I understand he lights it up at practice.) Feel free to join me in shuddering and saying “gak.”
According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, the Bulls secretly worked out Jonny Flynn over the weekend. In case you didn’t know, most mock drafts have Flynn pegged as a lottery pick. According to ESPN’s Chad Ford: “Over the past few weeks, a number of GMs seem to have been warming to Flynn and he looks like a potential lottery pick at the moment. A number of teams in the lottery including the Kings (No. 4), the Wizards (No. 5), the Timberwolves (No. 6), the Warriors (No. 7), the Knicks (No. 8), the Bucks (No. 10), the Pacers (No. 13) and the Suns (No. 14) all need point guards. And after speaking with at least one source from every team, I learned Flynn is in the mix for all of them.”
The Bulls currently own the 16th and 26th picks…so why are they working out somebody who should be long gone before they get the chance to make a selection? Are they hoping that all those other teams will balk at Flynn’s size? (According to Ford: “Syracuse has listed him, generously, at 6 feet for the past two seasons. Standing next to him, it’s easy to see that Flynn will be lucky if he can crack 5-foot-11 in shoes. A measurement of 5-foot-10 is a better bet.”) Or are they planning to trade up for a better pick? And even if they do get Flynn, don’t we already have an All-Star point guard in the making in Derrick Rose? It seems a little early to start grooming his replacement. I suppose it’s possible that the Bulls would draft him and then immediately package him in another trade…but who knows?
Still, considering that the team is set at the point and we hardly need to worry about splitting up minutes between two lottery picks, I don’t see Flynn becoming a Bull. Still, here’s his profile at NBADraft.net. Oh, and here’s some video of him making a poster…
From ESPNChicago.com: “[Gordon] was prepared to sign last year at the end, but after he turned down our offer, we thought about it and thought about it and decided it was in our best interest just to go one year with Ben,” Reinsdorf said. “We informed him of that, at which time his agent came back and said, ‘We’ll take your prior offer.’ We said it was too late. It’s off the table. We’ll have decisions to make at the draft. It depends on who we take, whether we trade our picks or we trade other players. Where we’re going with Ben can’t be decided until after July 1.”
Now, the luxury tax level for the 2008-09 season was $71.15 million. However, due to the fact that the NBA is really hurting from a financial perspective, it’s likely that the salary cap will be reduced, and therefore the luxury tax threshold will drop significantly (perhaps to around $65 million-ish). And if that happens, the Bulls won’t be able to re-sign Gordon without paying the tax…unless they manage to dump some salary.
So does Gar’s announcement mean that Kirk Hinrich is officially on the chopping block? Of course, even if they managed to trade Kirk, they’d still have to take on a comparable salary that would push them over the limit anyway. We also don’t yet know what kind of demand there will be for BG on the open market, which obviously will affect what the team offers him. As always, stay tuned…
A three-way collaboration between Adidas, FreeDarko and Chali 2na from Jurassic 5 spawned the following commercial, which mimics the style FD’s book The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac. It features Chicago’s own Derrick Rose, and it’s a fun little video. Just keep in mind that it’s less a bonus chapter to the MPBA and more of a commercial for Adidas products. (I had no idea that Adidas was such a key component of Derrick’s magic sauce…)
According to Bulls.com, the Bulls have scheduled a press conference for Thursday at 11 a.m. CT to name Gar Forman General Manager. John Paxson will remain with the Bulls as EVP of Basketball Operations.
John Jackson of the Chicago Sun-Times: “In a move that had been expected since the All-Star break, the Bulls on Wednesday announced the promotion of Gar Forman to general manager. … John Paxson will remain with the organization and retain his title of executive vice president of basketball operations, a position he has held since April 2003. Paxson still will be involved in all basketball decisions and will have the final say on all major personnel matters. … Previously the team’s director of player personnel, Forman has been a major player behind the scenes in the organization for the last few years. He handled much of the day-to-day negotiations last summer when the Bulls attempted to re-sign Luol Deng and Ben Gordon. Forman also took on a larger role around the Bulls this season and went on more road trips.”
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: “Originally hired as a scout by Jerry Krause in 1998, Forman came to the Bulls with Tim Floyd from Iowa State and also recruited or coached at outposts such as New Mexico State, Cal Poly Pomona and College of the Desert in California. This path contrasts sharply with the very public and prominent role John Paxson always has held within the Bulls’ organization — first as a beloved player, then as a lauded broadcaster and finally as the executive vice president of basketball operations. But truth be told, the two have shared a close working relationship since Paxson succeeded Krause in April 2003. And even with Forman’s promotion, Paxson will keep his title. Indeed, little will change in the Bulls’ decision-making hierarchy other than Forman’s title. Forman will continue to report to Paxson, who still will oversee all basketball operational decisions while working in concert with Forman and behind-the-scenes executives like Jim Paxson, Jay Hillock, Ivica Dukan and Matt Lloyd.”
ESPN’s Chuck Swirsky: “What does this mean? Simply put, Forman will do the nuts and bolts, which he’s being doing in large part with increased responsibilities in player negotiations, evaluation of players, etc. Paxson and Forman will be in the loop on all major decisions. They will work together on major decisions. Being around Forman the past year I can tell you he is a 24-7 basketball man. He eats, lives and breathes Bulls basketball. He loves to scout, loves to deal with agents and loves to find ways to improve the Bulls. He has an excellent reputation in the NBA and is constantly working his Blackberry. If you think I’m a 24-7 fanatic, I don’t think I can measure to Forman’s passion and thirst for the game. He is so well connected that the Bulls will now enjoy the best of both men’s abilities.”
However, shipping Kirk to the West Coast almost guarantees that the Bulls will have to resign Ben Gordon for big bucks, which is sort of like trading one high-priced, multi-year contract for another. And I’ve already explained why Hinrich has more utility to the team than Gordon. Who would back up Derrick Rose? How would the Bulls hide Gordon on defense? Who would rock the everlasting five o’clock shadow?
As for Camby, he’s just a 34-year-old Tyrus Thomas with somewhat better shot selection. He’s not an inside scorer. He missed 20 games last season with various minor injuries. And it’s also possible he’s permenantly tainted with the Clippers Curse. (For further reading, see “Brand, Elton.”) Oh, and the dude wears sweater vests. In the summer. In Los Angeles. (See above.) That’s just creepy, right?
Bottom line: The trade would make the team worse in the short term but give us more cash in the long run. Personally, I’d rather keep an eye out for trades that will make us better first and use salary dumps as a last resort.