Random News of the Day: Blood in the Water

Random News of the Day: Blood in the Water

Tuesday, July 13, 2010
12:50 PM

By Joe Collins

I caught up with a group of friends a few days ago at the World's Largest Block Party in Chicago's West Loop. It's a Windy City midsummer tradition: spend 40, drink a few beverages, inhale a funnel cake or two, listen to a few bands and go home. And according to legend (or really savvy word-of-mouth marketing), singles are supposed to meet their soulmate at this street festival and then go on to get married at St. Patrick's Church -- the same church that happens to sponsor the fest. Isn't that nice? Most of the fest-hoppers in our group are in committed relationships anyway. I'm one of them. The "soulmate search" is a moot point. So the entertainment portion of the night usually revolves around people-watching. And let me tell you ... it is pure comedy. Cringing, trainwreck, pure comedy.

The World's Largest Block Party is eHarmony on steroids: too many people trying way too hard to make a positive impression on others (hey, I was also one of those people way back when). What's interesting is that you can spot the single people a mile away. They all stand together in groups, with their heads on a swivel like Charles Tillman dropping into a Cover-2 defense, planning to swarm Mr. or Ms. Right. By the time we saw the 1,000th girl with embalming-style makeup, choked on somebody's Axe Body Spray and heard the 1,000th "So, you come to this fest every year?" pickup line, we pretty much agreed that the people at the World's Largest Block Party -- and maybe the fest itself -- had jumped the shark.

(Note: I'm sure that most of you know what the term "Jump The Shark" means. It can be defined as, "the exact point when a person, place, thing or activity becomes uncool and loses all credibility and popularity and turns into a running joke." The term "Jump The Shark" came about from the TV sitcom "Happy Days", when Fonzie literally jumped over a shark in an episode. The show, arguably, had lost all credibility and was doomed from that point forward.)

LeBron James jumped the shark on Thursday. He tried too hard to make an impression and ended up looking ridiculous in the process. Miraculously, he jumped again over the weekend with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in that dry heave of a welcoming party. It was badly choreographed, mockable, tacky and reeked of Limburger. Seriously, the three of them walkingdancing on that catwalk looked like a bad Falco video.

But it's not the first time that an athlete has completely jumped the shark. When did your favorite athlete or hero jump the shark? Was it something they said? Something they did? Personobject that they dated? I came up with a short list of athletes that, at one point or another, have done something so completely ridiculous that they lost every shred of credibility. They went from being liked to hated ... or from liked to pitied. Or even tolerated to hatedpitied.

Such as:

Terrell Owens (doing situps in his driveway)
Roger Clemens (leaving the Red Soxthrowing a bat at Mike Piazza)
Barry Bonds (any press conference from 2003-2008)
Roberto Alomar (the spit)
Ryan Leaf (Day 1)
Shani Davis (any interview from the 2006 Olympics)
Tonya Harding (the planned attack on Nancy Kerrigan)
Dennis Rodman (anything from the first hair change to today)
Milton Bradley ("What else you got?")
Adam Morrison (crying on the court)
Ricky Williams ("finding himself")
Joe Namath (either the 1974 pantyhose ad or the "I wanna kiss you!" comment does it)
Fuzzy Zoeller (comments about Tiger Woods)
Chris Pronger (to me, it was any postgame interview during the 2010 Stanley Cup Final)
Brett Favre (every summer for the past several years)
Bobby Knight (I know ... not an athlete per se, but once you throw a chair, you qualify)
John Rocker (the New York comments)
Allen Iverson ("talking 'bout ... practice")
Ron Artest (applying for a job at Circuit City trumps the Palace Brawl incident for me)
Shaquille O'Neal (the movie "Kazaam")
Mike Tyson (pick a moment, any moment)
Carlos Zambrano (see: Mike Tyson)
Sammy Sosa (the corked bat)
Any athlete that has admitted using a performance-enhancing drug
Any athlete that has run afoul with the law more than once (hey ... we all make mistakes, right?)

And that's an extremely short list. I could have put down a Fortune 500 list of crazy if I had the time.

Unfortunately, because of the TMZ'ified world we live in, all a player has to do is breathe improperly and they get branded as "shark jumpers." It's the price that they pay for living in the spotlight. We love building people up and love tearing 'em down.

A lot of people say that Michael Jordan jumped the shark ... repeatedly. He switched from basketball to baseball ... and back, he joined the Wizards and surlied his way through a Hall of Fame speech. But the vast majority of sports fans still love Michael Jordan. And that's the beauty of sports. Unlike TV shows, athletes can jump the shark multiple times. We're all suckers. We pay big bucks to see them in person. We put up with their attempts at music. We buy their jerseys. They dump us a few times. Or many times. But we come back. We always do. Being a fan of a sports team usually outlasts anything. It's for life. And watching what happens post shark-jump is just as entertaining as what happened beforehand.

Makes me wonder if the waters around South Beach are shark infested.

Or something like that.

Joe Collins is an assignment desk editor for Comcast SportsNet and contributor to CSNChicago.com.

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Bulls physicality a new wrinkle from last season

Bulls physicality a new wrinkle from last season

College teammates Jimmy Butler and Jae Crowder made plans to go to dinner after Thursday’s game in Chicago but for a few short moments they weren’t just competitors but unexpected combatants, getting tangled up in the second quarter.

There looked to be some harsh words exchanged after Butler took a charge on an unsuspecting Crowder near three-quarter court, with Crowder putting the basketball in Butler’s chest while Butler was still on the floor, causing players on both teams to convene for some tense moments.

Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas got involved and then before Butler could blink, Bulls guard Rajon Rondo joined the proceedings, as pushing and shoving ensued before technical fouls were assessed to both teams after an officials’ review.

If one wondered whether these Bulls—a team that touts itself as young with so many players having three years or less professional experience—could play with some bark and bite, perhaps the season opener provided a bit of a positive preview for the next 81 games.

Nearby, an unbothered Dwyane Wade took a practice 3-point shot, much to the delight of the United Center crowd, as observers witnessed the first sign of tangible proof the Bulls have intentions on regaining a bit of an edge on the floor.

Wade joked and took it as a sign of respect between the two teams.

“It looked like it, right? Yeah. It was a little something out there,” said Wade when asked if there was some chippy play. “Every time we play them it’s gonna be like that. Two teams finding their way in the Eastern Conference. We know we gotta see each other a lot. They never give up. They can be down 30 with 15 seconds left and they’re still gonna fight.”

The Bulls have externally preached toughness from the start of camp. Although Wade didn’t participate in that meeting of the minds, he isn’t exactly running away from such matters.
And Rajon Rondo is competitively ornery enough to have his voice hard no matter the setting.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

“It’s been a big theme of practice,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “We want to play with physicality and toughness. I think it was evident on the glass tonight.”

Yes, the Bulls outrebounded the Celtics by 19, but that could’ve been a by-product of the Bulls’ crashing the offensive glass on a porous shooting night. And yes, the slightly tense moment between Butler and Crowder probably won’t be an expected occurrence.

But when’s the last time one had multiple examples to dissect to discern this team’s level of toughness—or lack thereof.

“That’s something to show that the guys are out there fighting for each other,” Hoiberg said. “That they were playing with an edge. It happens with this game. You have to be competitive.”

Competition boiled over slightly, but considering the NBA isn’t exactly UFC, one doesn’t have to do much to display a little physical resolve.

“The fact that nothing escalated was good,” Hoiberg said. “The fact that those guys are out there and playing for each other and have each other’s back, that’s a huge thing right now.”

Too many times last season, it seemed the Bulls would submit in situations like those. Not that they were particularly soft, but it didn’t appear they had the collective will to fight for one another if an altercation arose.

Half the time, they looked like they could barely stand to be in the room with each other.

“It’s people’s will to win. Not saying a bad thing about anybody from last year,” Butler said. “To tell you the truth, I study the game and put in a lot of work but Rondo studies the game a lot. Every time I’m in the gym, he’s in the gym. That lets me know, these (dudes) are going to war with you. Every day. When I hit that deck, Rondo was right there. I wanna play with guys that’s gonna play hard, that’s gonna fight.”

And it didn’t take long for Butler to realize he has at least a couple teammates willing to jump in the foxhole with him.