July 09, 2006


A good deal?

Ben Wallace is reportedly leaving the Pistons to go to Chicago to try to lead the young Bulls team to a championship (the Bulls finished seventh in the Eastern Conference last year). And the reaction in Chicago seems to be positive - most experts are now predicting the Bulls to finish second or third in the conference next year, behind the Head and possibly the Cavs. But if I were in Chicago, my reaction would be much more subdued.

Sure, Ben Wallace is arguably the best defender in the league, and he's definitely in the top three. And it has been proven that you can win a championship with Wallace - the Pistons did so just two years ago. But this is not the same Ben Wallace. His points, rebounds, and blocks have been on the decline since then, and $60 million over four years is a very high price to pay for a 32-year-old center.

Not only have Wallace's skills been declining, but the league has been changing dramatically as well. The NBA is not a halfcourt game anymore; the league now favors running teams with penetrating guards and athletic big men. Do you think that teams like Phoenix, Dallas, and Miami would have all made the conference finals five or ten years ago? And for those of you who might point out that Miami won with Shaq, you're wrong - Miami won despite having Shaq, not because of him. And I don't see Dwyane Wade anywhere on the Bulls' roster.

Offensively, Ben Wallace is anemic - 6.6 PPG over the course of his career without anyone ever guarding him tightly. The Bulls will be essentially playing four on five offensively - and they won't be able to push the tempo - and all they're getting in return is a couple more blocks and rebounds per game? And they're paying $60 million to do so? It doesn't make sense to me. Plus, you have to take Wallace out near the end of a close game - he was 10% worse than Shaq from the charity line during the playoffs (27%)!

Ultimately, I think this is not a wise decision for the Bulls. We'll see what happens to the Pistons next year - their half-court style was not going to work in the future, so it's likely now that they will move Rasheed Wallace to center and try to push the tempo some more. I don't know if they have the horses for this; they haven't really done it much in the past, so it's hard to tell if they can play a fast-break game.


Italy won the Cup earlier today, 1-1 on penalties. Penalty kicks are a dumb way to end a game - would you want to end a NBA game that went into OT with a free-throw shooting contest? (not if Ben Wallace is on your team). Plus, scoring on penalties is mostly luck - it relies more on fooling the keeper with where you plant your foot or where your body is turned, which is a completely different skill from what is used in actual soccer. Also, the head-butt from Zidane was utterly classless - definitely not the way he wants to end his career. Ultimately, Italy played the best over the course of the tournament and deserved to win.

(By the way, you should have seen Andrew Catalon in the WNYT studio today.* He's Italian, and he came into the studio with his Italy soccer jersey on and everything. After Italy won, he did a victory lap around the newsroom - I'm not kidding. He even wore the jersey during the 6:00 news. If another Italy fan had been there, I bet they would have started chest-bumping each other on camera. And yes, I'm disappointed that didn't happen)

Local News: After a one-hour lights malfunction delay, the Conquest lost to the Macon Knights 51-48 yesterday. Albany QB Ryan Vena rushed for his league-leading 20th TD of the season, and also passed for 273 yards. Vena is currently on pace to break the AFL2 single-season passing record of 4,489 yards (set by Louisville's Matt Sauk last year); Vena is currently on pace for 4,687 yards with three games to play. Quad City's Tim Hicks is challenging Vena; Hicks is on pace to throw for 4,641 yards.

*How do I know this? Either I have an internship with the WNYT sports department, or I snuck in there to try to steal a few video cameras. You can decide in your mind which one you'd rather believe. Either way is fine with me.

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