Sharp, Bowman weigh in on Lidstrom's outstanding career

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Sharp, Bowman weigh in on Lidstrom's outstanding career

NEWARK, N.J. As a kid growing up in Michigan, Los Angeles Kings defenseman Matt Greene didnt have to look far for his hockey role model: Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom. Even if emulating him was a tough, if not impossible, task.

I realized early on I cant play anything like him, the Grand Ledge, Mich., native said. But as a young kid, thats who you wanted to model your game after. You talk about pure class. Hes definitely a role model in how the game should be played and respected.

When the four-time Stanley Cup and seven-time Norris Trophy winner announced his retirement on Thursday, the Detroit Red Wings lost a tremendous player. And the NHL lost a tremendous ambassador and gentleman of the game. Lidstrom epitomized class and talent throughout his 20-year career. And everyone from Central Division opponents to the defensemen who wanted to grow up and play just like him, chimed in on his legacy.

Hes probably one of the greatest defensemen to play the game, if not the greatest. That alone says something, Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said. Hes a special player. I think the game of hockey is lucky to have had him as many years as it has. Hes ending the greatest career of a defenseman Ive ever seen live.

Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp joked, hopefully the Wings leave that spot open and they get a little worse. Hes arguably the best defenseman who ever played the game. I have good memories playing against him. I talked to him personally a few times; hes a nice person and well respected. I dont think youll see anyone say a bad thing about him.

Indeed, youd be hard pressed to find that. Coaches included, too.

It didnt matter how you forechecked or how you set up. Hes one of the few guys who could control a game from the defensive standpoint, Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter said. You think about how many guys there are in recent history are who are like that. Not many. We were kids, thought Bobby Orr could do that. Pretty awesome player.

Drew Doughty echoed that sentiment.

Im having to take hard strides. If you watch him, I dont think he ever took a hard stride. It always looked like he was gliding, the Kings defenseman said. Yet at the same time he was always in the exact position he needed to be. To this day I dont know how he did it. I want to try to model myself after him one day.

The 42-year-old Swede had a career some could only dream off, one filled with tremendous stats and impressive hardware. He also had an enviable curtain call: he went out on his terms, still a strong talent.

Its not that the tank is completely empty. I just dont have enough to carry me through every day at a high level that I want to play at, Lidstrom told reporters at his emotionally charged press conference. My family and I are completely comfortable with this decision. Retiring today allows me to walk away from the game with pride, rather than having the game walk away from me.

Lidstrom played the game they way it was supposed to be played, going through all the changes to it. Off the ice he carried himself the way a professional should: no histrionics, no hijinks, no headaches.

The Red Wings bid goodbye to a tremendous defenseman. The league bid goodbye to a class act.

Its sad to see him retire but its amazing to look back and see his stats, Greene said. You cant fault him for (choosing retirement). Playing as long as he has, everything hes accomplished, its unbelievable.

Dwyane Wade, Bulls take first blood with LeBron James, Cavs

Dwyane Wade, Bulls take first blood with LeBron James, Cavs

Dwyane Wade gathered the ball after losing the dribble and bearing down on him was the man who refused to switch off him, LeBron James.

James prepared to block Wade’s layup but a little craftiness beat James’ athleticism on the way to the basket, rolling in for Wade’s 21st and 22nd points with 2:30 left in the fourth.

Wade was the one who made sure to let everyone know this game wasn’t just any old game, and for 37 minutes (season-high) he played like it. Moments later he forced James into a turnover, then another as he sandwiched an offensive rebound and layup between the two possessions.

The layup gave the Bulls an eight-point lead with 2:30 left as the Bulls took first blood in their season series with the NBA champions with a 111-105 win at the United Center Friday — a game that was more anticipated for pregame activities than what was to be expected on the floor.

The Bulls expected to take the Cavaliers’ best shot after two poor performances, and one wouldn’t have been surprised to see a blowout from the champs looking to refocus.

What occurred was an aroused Bulls team, taking advantage of the national stage, a reeling opponent and a frisky leader in Wade, who finished with 24 points, five rebounds and four assists in 37 minutes.

Jimmy Butler shook off a unusual shooting night, partially due to the energy exerted from guarding James most of the night, scoring 26 points with eight boards and six assists.

It was pretty early and grimy late, which is the way playoff basketball is to be played. Speaking of grimy, Taj Gibson was a leader early and throughout, scoring 23 points with 11 rebounds and five assists, making his first nine field goals.

They dominated the Cavs inside, exposing their lack of interior defense as the Cavs have sacrificed rim protection in place of more perimeter shooting, scoring 78 points in the paint and outrebounding them 49-33.

Gibson started off going 5-for-5 in the first quarter, taking it straight to Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson. Even his imperfections were forgiven early, as a missed dunk was wiped out by a foul called on Love when it appeared Love barely blew on him.

At times, Wade guarded James and vice-versa, leading to some competitive theatre and playful banter. It was no less competitive, though, as James’ pinpoint passing and drives to the basket were often a beauty to behold, scoring 27 points with 13 assists and five rebounds in 45 minutes after his walk of shame through the bowels of the United Center wearing Chicago Cubs regalia after losing a World Series bet to Wade.

Rajon Rondo, a man who is no stranger to bouts with James’ teams, put together his most impactful game as a Bull with 15 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds in 36 minutes.

Kyrie Irving scored 20 for the Cavaliers but took 21 shots and Love scored 15 with nine boards but was a liability defensively.

James was frustrated with his teammates, often rolling his eyes or forgetting to get back on defense. But the Bulls failed to shut the door when the Cavs were reeling, and a James layup made it 92-89.

The Bulls didn’t fold, though, with Rondo and Wade making the necessary plays along with Butler doing his best to corral James defensively, leading to a bounceback victory and a message that perhaps they can compete on call.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Bulls welcome Cavaliers to town

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Bulls welcome Cavaliers to town

In the latest installment of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, the panel previews the Bulls' matchup against the Cavaliers. 

Luke Stuckmeyer is joined by Mark Carman (WGN Radio), David Schuster (670 The Score) and Kendall Gill to break down the keys to a Bulls win. Later, Vincent Goodwill (CSNChicago.com) joins Luke to discuss the team's progress. 

Finally, LeBron James pays off his World Series bet and the entire media world is there to see it. 

Check out the SportsTalk Live Podcast below: