Monday, November 19, 2007

Orlando and Chicago: A Tale Of Two Cities

The way the Magic are eating through opponents, you know Stan Van Gundy is going to let out an enormous stinky belch of contentment any moment now.

That aforementioned belch stink? If that belch stink had sex with Britney Spears it would smell vaguely like the way the Chicago Bulls have been playing this season.

While the Magic beat both The Squad Bill Simmons Would Blow With A Smile On His Face and the surprising (and surprisingly fun to watch) Hornets on back to back nights, the Bulls have found a way to lose to the 76ers, Bucks and a slew of other teams this year. Not only that, the Bulls have been getting completely blown out in many of their games. Last night they lost to the Lakers 106-78, losing by the largest margin in the history of Lakers-Bulls matchups (the previous record Bulls loss was 27 points).

Coming into this season these two teams could not have been more different. The Bulls were viewed as the solid, coldly efficient, well-run organization whose players everyone wanted. The Magic were the unstable, wildly inconsistent, absolutely horrifically-run organization, whose players people wouldn't even take for free (Pat Garrity's contract was probably thrown out there in exchange for a good back rub).

So what happened? How did the fates of these two teams swap like the spit between yo momma and me?

Most sportswriters favor the notion that the Bulls were horribly affected by the Kobe trade talk. These same guys have pointed to the acquisition of Rashard Lewis as the turnaround for the Magic.

Foolish sportswriters. I will crush them like bugs.

The truth of the matter is that Chicago has lost confidence in Scott Skiles (or as I like to call him, the Transporter) and are resting their hopes on some really inconsistent guys. Skiles' "I'm an asshole and that's the way I coach" attitude is alienating everyone around him. Everyone knows about his shitfit over Ben Wallace's headband, but most don't know about just how intense he acts all the time. Here is a fun snippet about his recruitment of potential rookies:

LaMarcus Aldridge got a taste of what it's like to be coached by Scott Skiles on Tuesday night when Skiles and Bulls general manager John Paxson took him to dinner downtown. "Scott Skiles came across as a very focused and determined man," Aldridge said after a solo workout for the Bulls on Wednesday. "At the table, he stared at me for five or 10 minutes and didn't say anything. I was kind of wondering, 'Did I do something wrong?' "After a while, he started to open up and we had a great time. I had thought he was going to be quiet the whole time."

Wow. Sign me up to play for that guy.

Also, despite the fact that every person in America was in unison that Luol Deng and Tyrus Thomas were the future of Chicago basketball, this year you have crappy and overrated Ben Gordon shooting anything that touches his hands and Tyrus Thomas getting about 8 minutes of playing time off of the bench. To be fair, Thomas has had growing pains this season but part of bringing a young key player up is not punishing him in such a merciless way as he learns.

As for the Magic, the key for them isn't Rashard Lewis (although he definitely has helped). They are doing this well because of the tutlage of Dwight Howard under Patrick Ewing and the coaching of Stan Van Gundy.

Last year, Howard was regarded by the Waltons of the world as a "superstar who is simply unstoppable!" Anyone who watched him longer than 5 minutes realized the guy really had no idea how to do anything but dunk, rebound, and smile. He had no jumpshot, he couldn't pass, he would freak out if he was double teamed, and had yet to learn his free throw percentage was not supposed to mimic a good golf score. Under Patrick Ewing, an extremely unlikely hero as he was widely regarded as a moron who couldn't teach Yao anything in Houston, Howard has blossomed. Ewing got him shooting jump hooks, passing like a pro, cutting through people with a mean streak, and (thanks in part to the free throw coach) actually making free throws. The free throws are worth about 10 extra points a game right there. -Yes, they do matter Shaq.

On top of this, you have Stan Van Gundy and his amazing Ron Jeremy moustache giving the team a whole new slew of report card grades entering the year:

JJ Redick? F. You SUCK at defense, whiteboy. Get on the bench and shut the fuck up.
Keith Bogans? B+ Damn, you actually can shoot threes! And your defense is nice too!
Trevor Ariza? C. You are freakishly athletic, but can't hit the side of the barn with your shot.
Pat Garrity? B- You may suck at life, but you hustle and still can hit the trey.

Before Stan's arrival, the team was planning on starting either Redick or Ariza and was almost too eager to part ways with Garrity and Bogans. Now the roles are almost reversed, and you have to pat Stan on his hairy back for having the testicular fortitude to buck convention and go with guys he liked. The team believes in him, and it's not only because they saw a lookalike of him produce a money shot on Chasey Lain's face.

The Bulls and Magic will almost certainly even their records out a bit, but the bottom line remains that Scott Skiles is looking like a "douche of the year" award winner while Stan is proving himself to be the best available coach of this past offseason.

This year they play each other on New Years Eve.

-Fitting as these two teams are having completely new years from last season.


Anonymous said...

The schedual makers must have loved the magic this year: they get Boston at home, the next night a hot NO team, and then two nights later the Spurs... wow. If they win out those 3 games, they've got the bobcats, heat, and sonics. We could be looking at a 14-2 team

Anonymous said...

my bad they could be 15-2. They've got Portland during that stretch too.