In the post: Johnson's play draws attention

In the post: Johnson's play draws attention

Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2010
11:00 PM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

TORONTO -- Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeaus familiarity with Brian Scalabrine certainly doesnt hurt the veterans cause, but with Joakim Noah sidelined with flu-like symptoms and foul trouble ailing starters Taj Gibson and Omer Asik, the veteran stepped up and proved his worth.

Hes a solid veteran. He gives you veteran leadership. Hes been in a lot of situations like that and tonight, were short-handed and thats why I like him, said Thibodeau. He stays ready to play, you put him out there and he can guard people and his team defense is very good and offensively, hes smart. He keeps the ball moving, he knows where the matchups are, he knows whos hot, he knows how the plays being defended, so you can count on him.

Derrick Rose is already a big believer in his new teammates influence. Scal, hes the other coach on the floor. When Thibs doesnt know what to run, Scal is always in his ear. If we dont know what to run, Scal is helping me and the other point guards, telling people where to go and thats what we need, just everybody talking on the floor, said Rose. It makes my job a lot easier, where when I come down and Scal knows something, hes coming to me. Weve got great veterans on this team, like Kurt Thomas K.T. when he sees something, hes telling everybody, so were all communicating out there and thats the reason why we came back tonight.

--Rose also had high praise for James Johnsons performance, explaining how the second-year forward has taken strides and improved.

Hes not thinking too much basic move, get to the basket, pull-up shot and thats all he needs. He doesnt need to dribble that much, he just needs to create space a little bit; hes playing with a lot of confidence right now, said Rose.

Added Thibodeau: Johnson was very good. I thought defensively, he was moving his feet, he was down in a defensive stance and offensively, I thought he made great decisions. As for Johnson himself, he attributes his successful evening to his teammates and the teams new system. I like how spread out our offense isWere moving the ball, which just makes my game a lot easier I do anything I have to do. I come off screens when I have to, cut, my man finds me and Im just happy they did today, said Johnson. My team provided offense for me. They spread it out and it was just easy for me to go to work when I got the ball. Once my guy had to help or stunt, then I got the ball and it was easy for me to drive the lane.

--Thibodeau believes swingman Ronnie Brewer is progressing well in his return from a pulled hamstring. Brewer played just under 25 minutes Wednesday his high this preseason and although he didnt put up gaudy statistics (five points, two assists), his coach feels hes starting to get back to his old self.

I really liked the way Ronnie moved tonight. I thought he looked comfortable. He made a lot of great cuts, where he didnt necessarily get the pass for the layup, but his cuts loosened up the defense and created open shots for us, so I thought he was very efficient and it looked like he was moving with a lot of confidence tonight, said Thibodeau. Each game, were trying to give him more and more, and just see how he handles it. In practice, hes doing everything now. Well keep increasing it to see how it goes. Its more precautionary. We could have finished it out, but we wanted to keep his minutes around 25 and then well go from there.

--At the Raptors Wednesday morning shootaround, Toronto point guard Jarrett Jack opined on the NBAs controversial new technical-foul policy.

Ive tried the best I can. I think Ive gotten two technicals so far. But the NBA has the right to upgrade their product, as far as our image is concerned, but in the same sense, we dont want to take away the emotions of the game. Were still human at the end of the day, said Jack. If something happens in a split-second and we have a reaction to it that may not be demonstrative to where were not showing the ref, but allow us to react.

"Nobodys going to sit there expressionless, emotionless. Thats a robot and none of us are that. I think if they just give us some leeway, Im sure that as the season goes along, there will kind of be some leniency with the technical fouls, but as of right now, they kind of have to crack the whip and let everybody fall in line.

Dont forget to follow Aggrey Sam on Twitter at @CSNBullsInsider

Kendall Gill, Ice Cube give their predictions for Mayweather-McGregor

Kendall Gill, Ice Cube give their predictions for Mayweather-McGregor

This story originally appeared on Big3.com. Hear from Kendall and Ice Cube as they give their opinions on the Aug. 26 fight in the video above.

Timing really is everything.

When I went to Las Vegas for the BIG3 combine and draft back in April, I liked my chances. Sure, I was one of the oldest guys there, but my training as a boxer (I fought professionally after my NBA days) keeps me in great shape.

So I was pretty shocked when I didn’t get drafted.

I tried to be positive about it. I figured maybe the man upstairs was saying, “Just sit tight. I gotta put you on the right team.”

So there I was, sparring in the gym the other day. I get out of the ring and there’s a text waiting for me from Corey Maggette, asking me if I want to play for Power.

He didn’t have to ask twice!

Next thing I know, I’m getting a call from Power’s coach, Hall of Famer Clyde Drexler. I looked up to Clyde my whole career, looked at him as a big brother. To play for him in the BIG3 is the perfect scenario.

So it was great to be in Philadelphia last Sunday and help Power defeat the Ghost Ballers in my BIG3 debut. I thoroughly enjoyed playing with Cuttino Mobley, DeShawn Stevenson, Jerome “Junkyard Dog” Williams and Paul McPherson.

I was a bit rusty on the offensive side, but my defense -- which has been a staple for me throughout my career -- my rebounding, passing, that was all on point. I found Cuttino and DeShawn for a couple of shots when we forced them to double-team down on me. I had Mike Bibby on me in the post, and they knew that he probably couldn’t guard me down there.

So it was a pretty good first day. Now that I’ve got that under my belt, here comes the fun part. Everybody was excited when I was finally added to a team, and when they found out we were playing in Chicago they got twice as excited. When I got off the plane from Philadelphia on Monday, I had about 50 messages waiting for me – friends and family asking for tickets to the UIC Pavilion for Sunday’s games.

And since I work Chicago Bulls games for CSN Chicago, the network is excited, too. They want to mic me up and follow me around for the day, go behind the scenes. Radio stations have been calling me for interviews about the BIG3 coming to Chicago. It’s exciting. But when it comes time to play, I’ve got to forget about all that and go out there and play.

A lot of people think I’m biased because I was born and raised here, and still live in Chicago, but if you look at the number of pro players that we’ve produced, there’s really nowhere else that can compare to Chicago as a basketball town. You look at all the number one picks in the draft. Look at the top five picks in the NBA Draft throughout history. I think you’d have to say Chicago is probably the number one producer of NBA players – and college basketball players for that matter.

Only a few fortunate kids make it up the ranks to college and the pros. For most kids growing up in Chicago, at least basketball can be an important recreational activity that helps keep them off the streets and out of trouble. But there’s so much more we can do. When I was preparing for the BIG3 draft, I was practicing with Arne Duncan, President Obama’s Secretary of Education. Duncan, who has played competitive 3-on-3 with USA Basketball, is doing some great work with underprivileged kids in Chicago.

For my part, I donated a home in Champaign-Urbana (home of my alma mater, the University of Illinois). It’s the Cunningham Children’s Home and it helps disadvantaged kids in the region. We just had our annual golf tournament last week. We’ve been doing it for 28 years and have raised more than $1 million for the home.

While Arne Duncan is doing great work with Chicago youth, I’m grateful for the work he put in with me on the basketball court. He showed me a lot about how to cut, do a lot of pick and rolls away from the ball. In 3-on-3, those aspects of the game are very undervalued. Some guys have a tendency to play too much one-on-one, which I saw in some of the other games I was watching Sunday. The 3-on-3 game is very easy if you do it right, like we did. I think that’s why we won that game. We did a lot of cuts, and it worked well for us.

So after the disappointment of not being drafted, I’m thrilled to be where I am now – playing for a Power squad that is 3-1 and looking good for the playoffs. Which got me to thinking…

I really love boxing – not just training and sparring myself, but watching it. Boxing is the sweet science.

If we are fortunate enough to make it to Las Vegas for the BIG3 championship game on August 26, there just happens to be a pretty big boxing match taking place that night, right down the road. You may have heard:  Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor.

Personally, I don’t think McGregor has a chance. I’ve seen Floyd train in person and I’ve seen all his fights at least 10 times. He’s one of the greatest fighters to ever live. Now a guy who has no boxing experience whatsoever is going to get into the ring with him? Not happening.

But it’s gonna be an event. Believe me, I’m planning to buy the Pay-Per-View.

Unless I’m in Vegas that day and get to see it in person. You know, right after we win the BIG3 title.

Wake-up Call: Rose returning to Chicago?; Willson Contreras takes over; State of Cubs-Cards

Wake-up Call: Rose returning to Chicago?; Willson Contreras takes over; State of Cubs-Cards

Here are the top Chicago sports stories from Thursday: 

Is #TheReturn getting a reboot? Report says there's a possibility Derrick Rose comes back to Bulls

This is becoming Willson Contreras' team, whether or not Cubs add Alex Avila or another veteran catcher

Bears training camp preview: 3 burning questions for tight ends

Why Blackhawks fans might want to tap the brakes on Alex DeBrincat

That escalated quickly: Cubs just a game back of Brewers, could be in first place as soon as this weekend

Ping-pong balls everywhere: Where do the Bulls rank among projected lottery teams?

Joe Maddon's prime-time message: 'Help or die'

Report: Derrick Rose is considering teaming up with LeBron James, Cavs

Cubs Talk Podcast: State of Cubs-Cardinals rivalry and what lies ahead

Why Adam Engel came up with his unique batting stance, and how he's tweaked it since