Bulls look to extend home winning streak vs. Philly

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Bulls look to extend home winning streak vs. Philly

Monday, March 28, 2011
Posted: 3:48 p.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

Joakim Noah hit the nail on the head

"We feel like were never out of it," said the charismatic center, who recorded his first double-double (12 points, 11 rebounds) since March 9 in Saturday's win at Milwaukee. "Were fighters. Were a team of fighters and I think weve showed that since the beginning of the year. Even when we were going through adversitywed go down a lot, come backwe were always fighting.

"Were a team with a lot of character and were playing with a lot of swag right now."

From early in the season, the Bulls--their double-overtime win at Phoenix in November, for example--have played with a fierce determination that should have enlightened observers that this team would be a factor, if not a serious contender, this time of the year. Even in most of the team's disappointing losses, such as their last defeat, an overtime setback at Indiana, it wasn't a question of effort. And with a groundswell of support on the road--Saturday's game had so many Bulls faithful in attendance, you could substitute "United" for "Bradley" in the Bucks' home arena--that inner confidence the players have continues to grow.

"You get it from the crowd," explained Ronnie Brewer. "The crowd builds the energy. you go on the roadwe have a large following in any arena we got toyou get a defensive stop here, defensive stop there and you get an 'and-one' play from 'D-Rose' or him distributing the ball, you cant help but want to play hard and get back into the game."

Added Noah: "Its unbelievable. The love weve been getting on the road latelyI dont know what it isbut it really makes you feel like the peoples champ team.

A lot of that sentiment among fans, as well as the Bulls' fortitude, comes from their on-court leader, Derrick Rose. Unintentionally vying to be the youngest MVP in NBA history--his "I haven't done anything yet" remark postgame in Milwaukee, while showing the proper perspective, could very well be inaccurate in a month's time--the All-Star point guard's inspired play goes well beyond the nightly highlights upon which fans outside of Chicago base his popularity.

"Hes playing his best basketball since hes been here, hes playing with a lot of swag and we feed off that. When your star player is playing at that level, it just makes you want to go to bed early, eat right and do all the right things to get right for this final stretch. Its all about affecting winning and he does it in so many different ways," said Noah. "The way hes contesting shots now, with his passing ability. He understands the plays and knows exactly what he wants out of them. Hes an unbelievable scorer and its unbelievable at the end of the game, how composed he is out there."

Chimed in Brewer: "Sometimes you get bad habits because youre watching him instead of playing the game. So if he misses a shot, sometimes leak out and get back, and Thibs is on your back, but its amazing to watch some of the moves he makes, some of the shots that he makes. Even some of the passes that he makes to guys; hes not even looking them in the eye and finds them crosscourt right on a dime. Hes a blessing to play with and Im just glad hes on my team."

"A lot of people say hes a scoring guard, but you dont find many guys in the league who can have 17 assists and drop 30 points. Hes able to mix it up and take over a game whenever he wants to," he continued. "Theres not a point in the league who has the same athleticismand if there is, you can say a Russell Westbrook, but he doesnt do the things Derrick Rose doesand thats why I think hes one of the best point guards in this league."

Rose takes joy in creating opportunities for his teammates, perhaps more than scoring a boatload of points. His "just win" mentality has allowed him to embrace shouldering more of the scoring load as his career has progressed, but his background as a team-first player and pass-first point guard--his reputation as an elite high school prospect was forged as a result of his playmaking, not scoring--makes the times when he can pile up assist totals more gratifying.

"It makes me feel good. If anything, Im happy for my teammates. They were knocking down shots, making the right cuts and I was just trying to get them the ball," he told CSNChicago.com. "When youve got that going, everybodys playing hard and weve got confidence right now."

Coupled with his fierce competitiveness, that spells trouble for Bulls opponents, especially point guards, as the Chicago native prepares for a potentially deep postseason run.

"Theres no off time right now," Rose told CSNChicago.com. "If Im playing against you, Im definitely going to come at you."

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Ex-Bear Brandon Marshall an early favorite at NFL owners meetings

Ex-Bear Brandon Marshall an early favorite at NFL owners meetings

PHOENIX – Brandon Marshall never needed a whole lot of encouragement to step before a microphone but the NFL, which sometimes wished he'd put a sock in it, has now invited the former Bears wide receiver to speak up.
 
The NFL extended an invitation for Marshall, whose time in Chicago ended in some measure because of his insistence on pursuing the media portion of his career, to address the league higher-up's ostensibly as part of a communications bridge-building. Marshall jumped at the chance.
 
"They thought it was important for a player to come up and give a player's perspective and talk about the relationship between owners and players," Marshall said on Monday at the outset of the NFL owners meetings. "I think it's evident that our relationship could be so much better."
 
Marshall has been part of Showtime's "Inside the NFL" in recent years, flying to New York to participate in taping the show, and ultimately accepting a trade from the Bears to the Jets in 2015, which obviously cut down on his commute. The Jets released Marshall earlier this month, after which Marshall signed on with the Giants.
 
He told owners this week, "If we want our game to continue to be on that [positive] track, that it's on being super successful and being a pillar in our community and being a thread in our community, we have to make sure our relationship as players and owners is good."

[VIVID SEATS: Get your Bears tickets right here!]
 
The immediate response was more than a little positive: Per San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York:

https://twitter.com/JedYork/status/846400103472480256
 
Marshall predictably welcomed the forum and wants to see it expanded.

"I'd like to see more players be more involved in our owners meetings," Marshall said. "And not only at the owners meetings, but any time we're talking football, we should have players at the table. Commissioner Goodell is always open-minded. He always has that open-door policy. So I think he'll continue to listen and continue to evolve this part of our business."

Raiders-to-Vegas the latest in long line of NFL relocation drama, some of which included the Bears

Raiders-to-Vegas the latest in long line of NFL relocation drama, some of which included the Bears

PHOENIX — The Bears next play a team named "Raiders" in 2019, having just played them in 2015 at Soldier Field. Whether the Bears' schedule of opponents will say Oakland Raiders or Las Vegas Raiders is still fluid, but the Raiders are leaving Oakland sometime in the next several years after the expected vote Monday at the NFL owners' meetings.

Leaving a press conference at which NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Raiders owner Mark Davis and a couple other league figures formally announced the foregone conclusion of the Raiders moving from Oakland to Las Vegas, a Cleveland media counterpart fell in beside me and remarked, "Well, at least that's one story you won't have to worry about covering in Chicago."

Maybe yes, maybe no.

The NFL game presents endless spurts of the byzantine and bizarre, so my colleague — who saw his Browns bolt from their lakefront to Baltimore one dark upon-a-time — might be premature with his effort at comfort. Besides, nobody to my knowledge ever took the temperature of Decaturites when their town lost the Staleys to Chicago (at least the Bears kept a Staley as a mascot). And a deal had been worked out, later abandoned, to move the Bears to Hoffman Estates in the mid 1990s, something that had been preceded by then-chairman Michael McCaskey shopping the franchise to various suburbs, low-lighted by a flirtation with Gary, Ind., to something that concept drawings labeled "Planet Park."

Hizzone Da Mare once told George Halas that if Papa Bear took his team out of the city, the "Chicago" part of its name wasn't going with it. And son Richie blustered regarding Gary, "Let them move to Alaska."

Well, I mean, then again, hey, if Juneau or Fairbanks can come up with the requisite relocation fees.

And you can only wonder how many members of Raider Nation are feeling that way about the Raiduhs, that they can go to Alaska (or Gary) for all they care.

The vote approving the Raiders' move to Las Vegas (presumably the league toned down any anti-gambling rhetoric for the day) was believed to be 31-1, with only the Miami Dolphins saying nay. But the side issues were everywhere and somewhat more entertaining, given that the deal was a fait accompli ever since the city of Oakland failed to deliver enough of a stadium package to keep its Raiders where they'd begun under Al Davis when the AFL was formed in 1960.

It was difficult not to chuckle as Mark Davis opined that he thought his late father "would be proud" of moving the team to the self-appointed entertainment capital of the world. True that; Al moved the Raiders to Los Angeles in 1982, to a second location in that market subsequently, and then back to Oakland in 1995. Definitely a legacy to be proud of.

And one for Goodell, too, who summarized, "You know that our goal is to have 32 stable franchises for each of those teams and the league," meaning stable financially, not necessarily geographically. "We're all disappointed for Oakland and their fans," Goodell managed to say.

The Raiders do have one-year options on their lease in Oakland for the 2017 and 2018 seasons, and Davis said that if their Las Vegas facility isn't completed for the Bears' 2019 visit (OK, he didn't say "Bears," that was me), an extension might be in order.

Some observers are waiting for a reaction statement from jilted Oakland mayor Libby Shaaf, who got a thanks-but-no-thanks public letter from Goodell this weekend and sent a last-minute one for the league to delay its vote on the Las Vegas move, which the league didn't do. Somehow the thought of the Raiders asking Oakland to do something for them in their time of need is something worth buying a ticket to.

In the meantime, the move proceeds as expected, adding another mystery to the NFL firmament: moving a team to a significantly smaller sports market from the one it already occupied; moving not one but two teams into the Los Angeles market that had been abandoned by the Rams, Raiders and even Chargers (one of the teams now returning there); those sort of things.

How viable the Las Vegas market is for NFL football is something that'll play out over the next number of years. For now, good seats still available ... in Oakland.