Former rivals Hamilton, Hinrich show great chemistry

919227.png

Former rivals Hamilton, Hinrich show great chemistry

Through the Bulls first four preseason games, theres been a mix of good, bad and ugly. One of the bright spots has been the consistently solid play of the veteran backcourt pairing of Kirk Hinrich and Rip Hamilton.

Once former rivals in his previous Bulls stint, Hinrich frequently guarded the then-Piston Hamilton the two have shown remarkable chemistry thus far. After being plagued by injuries in recent years and questions about whether theyve lost a step, the experienced guard duo seemingly has something to prove.

For Hinrich, who was traded from Chicago to Washington and subsequently, to Atlanta in the Bulls effort to clear cap space prior to the free-agent frenzy of 2010, hes showing that hes still a starting-caliber point guard. His teammates have certainly noticed.

Just being back with him is cool because weve got such history. Hes a veteran. To have him back in Chicago is so good. The way he plays, he knows the game. Hes a real unselfish player. He gets everybody better. He has that good veteran leadership, Taj Gibson told CSNChicago.com. He seems real rejuvenated. In practice, he just goes really hard. Look at most of the preseason games; hes been a spark for us. The skys the limit for him, as long as hes healthy.

In Hamiltons case, after an injury-riddled debut campaign in the Windy City, remaining healthy is also the goal. After the early returns, albeit in exhibition games, the results of a therapist-aided offseason regimen have been obvious.

Playing against him, it was frustrating because it was like, Man, how hes getting open every time on the curl? He just never stops running and I think he wears down defenders when he runs because he can do it. A lot of people cant do it. Him and Ray Allen are real gifted at that, said Nate Robinson after Hamilton scored 23 points in last weeks home win over Milwaukee. I told Rip he can go a whole game without even dribbling the ball.

Its pretty fun to be on the other side. The grass is greener.

Added Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau: Well see how that unfolds. The big thing is his health.

I think when he was on the floor, he played well, but when you miss 40 games, thats a lot, he continued. Hes put a lot of work into improving his body. Hes feeling a lot better this year, so thats a good sign and then, he has to maintain it throughout the course of the season.

Thibodeau has been cautious with his starting guards, resting Hamilton in Minnesota last Saturday and sitting Hinrich against Milwaukee because of a minor right-thumb injury. But the duo is cut from the same cloth both are efficient offensive players and if not elite defenders, pesky with a lot of big-game experience and their hard-nosed similarities appeal to the coach.

At this point, it can be gleaned that although Hamilton privately yearns for more minutes, Thibodeau is gun-shy, due to his various ailments a season ago. The opposite could be true for Hinrich, whose workload could be heavier than its been in years with Derrick Rose out to begin the season.

Regardless, with Hamiltons preseason-leading 15.3 points per game in 25 minutes a night and Hinrichs 11.3 point and six-assist averages in 27.7 minutes per contest, for the time being, the veterans are getting the job done.

Joe Maddon ‘Anchorman’ vision for Cubs road trip: ‘We got the Sex Panther in today’

Joe Maddon ‘Anchorman’ vision for Cubs road trip: ‘We got the Sex Panther in today’

A homestand that has already featured Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price grumbling “Hail to the Cubs” after a game ended on an overturned replay review – and Milwaukee Brewers officials complaining about a premature rainout – will end with Joe Maddon’s team walking out of Wrigley Field dressed as “Anchorman” characters. 

The Cubs are hovering around .500 as a baseball product, but the defending World Series champs are already back in terms of getting under people’s skin and going viral on social media. That will happen again on Thursday, when the Cubs start posting photos of their 1970s outfits to Twitter and Instagram before boarding their flight to Southern California.

“We got the Sex Panther in today,” Maddon said during Wednesday’s pregame media session, sounding nothing like San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy.

Q: You got the what?

“Sex Panther,” Maddon said, “60 percent of the time, it works every time, you’re not aware of that?”

Q: Does it growl when you open it?

“It does,” Maddon said. “It growls.”

The official theme for the road trip through Los Angeles and (Stay Classy) San Diego would be…

“It’s the Ron Burgundy/Brick Tamland – and I also wanted to include Tommy La Stella – Tribute Road Trip, where 60 percent of the time, it works every time, sponsored by Sex Panther cologne,” Maddon said.

La Stella is the enigmatic pinch-hitter/backup infielder now playing at Triple-A Iowa. Steve Carell played Tamland – the weatherman for the Channel 4 news team – in the movie. 

“I just see him like Brick Tamland,” Maddon said. “I just see him kind of like Brick. It’s almost like two interchangeable guys. I see Brick, I see Tommy, I see Tommy, I see Brick. Put some glasses on Tommy like that, dress him up, some sideburns and have him scream a little bit, I got Brick.”     

And when the Cubs return home next week, it will be interesting to see if the St. Louis Cardinals notice the celebration shots on the big video board and find any amusement in the dancing relievers.

“Oh my God, absolutely, I love it,” Maddon said. “I think it’s very entertaining. I would have to believe two things: I believe the fans will really appreciate it, and I don’t think it’s disrespectful to the other side. 

“I just think it’s funny. I really believe if we’re on the road and the other bullpen did that, I would laugh. So whoever’s thought it was in the beginning, I commend them. I think it’s pretty funny.

“It really makes you look forward to the next home run, to see what these guys are going to do, so I’m all for it.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Jason Benetti stops by to talk the future of the White Sox

yoan-moncada-0524.jpg
USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Jason Benetti stops by to talk the future of the White Sox

There's a lot of buzz around the future of the White Sox.

White Sox announcer Jason Benetti joined SportsTalk Live on Wednesday to discuss the team's exciting young prospects and how soon they'll be making their way to the South Side.

Also joining Pat Boyle on this episode of the SportsTalk Live Podcast are the Tribune's David Haugh, Pro Football Weekly's Hub Arkush and WGN Radio's Sam Panayotovich.

The guys also react to Mike Glennon's recent comments and Kevin White’s uncertain status at OTAs.

Plus, they wonder if Kyle Schwarber has finally found his spot in the Cubs' lineup.

Take a listen to the latest episode below: