VIDEO: John Oliver parodies Chicago Bulls pregame intros

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John Oliver struck gold again last night. Before we get to him, we need to remind the reader of the origination of this segment. The Chicago Bulls were THE FIRST NBA team to dim their lights and play loud pump-up music during the introduction of the starting lineup at home games.

Other teams around the league soon followed suit. Then it spilled over into other sports. During the Bulls’ dynasty, the player introductions became world famous. Thousands of weddings during the early and mid ’90s ripped off the Bulls intro when trotting out the bridal party.

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Chicago Bulls All Decade Team

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By Paul M. Banks

The 1990s were a refreshing change for Chicago sports fans. For the better part of the decade, the city abandoned it’s dysfunctional obsession with its two lovable losers (Bears and Cubs) in order to fully embrace the only true consistent winner that the second city has ever known: Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls dynasty. As great as the 90s were, the 2000s were kind of lean. Especially in the beginning when they ended the ’99-’00 with 65 losses, followed that up with 67 losses the next year, and two more 50+ seasons after that.

However, they did make the playoffs four out of the last five years this decade, and they did it without a true franchise player or star. In fact the Bulls haven’t had an all-star since Michael Jordan retired in 1998 (I don’t acknowledge that whole Washington Wizards thing, and no true NBA fan really should-EVER). This reality makes picking the all-decade team all the more murky and debatable. Not to mention the arguments you could have about who belongs on the first team versus the second team. Here’s what I choose:

All-Decade First Team

Elton Brand

The 1999-00 NBA Rookie of the Year was also the last in team history to average over 20 points a game in consecutive seasons, and he averaged a double-double in those years as well.

Jalen Rose

On teams that struggled to score, he grabbed the Bulls by the horns and put up a 22.7 ppg average during his time in Chicago; second only to MJ.

Kirk Hinrich

Yes, his career essentially peaked in ’07, but the class and leadership he displayed in handling the shift in his role on the team is worth emulating and commending. Earlier this season, Hinrich spoke about what he’s trying to improve upon, “Trying to stay aggressive offensively, keep my defensive intensity and just trying to help the guys along, I realize I’m in a position to be somewhat of a leader, and try to do that.” And he’s arguably the franchise’s best defender this decade, and 4th in Bulls history in assists, 3rd in 3-pointers made and top ten in scoring.

Tyson Chandler

Maybe he never lived up to the hype, but he still finished his time here 5th in blocks, 9th in offensive rebounds and 8th in defensive boards.

Ben Gordon

Yes his defense is like a Fergie song with intelligent lyrics: non-existent. But he was the team’s most consistent scorer for the latter half of the decade, and he tied a NBA record for most 3-pointers made in a game without a miss, going 9-9 in April of ’06 versus Washington. I was there that night- it was electric.Fergie

A Category all his own

Ron Artest

Hard to decide what to do with Ron Artest when you make this list. Consider the achievements of his NBA career, consider how “colorful” he is both on and off the court, consider what a great soundbite he is, especially in a world of “we’re just taking it one game at a time” and “I’m working hard and I’m just happy to be here” and finally consider he wasn’t Bull very long at all.

For an exclusive interview with Ron Artest, where he discusses his pro Tiger Woods blog click here

All Decade Second Team

Jamal Crawford

What can I say? It was a slow decade for the Bulls. Even though they had a few winning seasons, they TRULY lacked legitimate stars.

Eddy Curry

Again, it was a REALLY slow decade for the Bulls.

Derrick Rose

Last season’s Rookie of the Year should become the franchise’s first All-Star since Michael Jordan. “It would mean a lot. It’s one of my goals, I’m going to fight for it,” Rose told me earlier this year at a practice. In ’09, Rose tied Lew Alcindor for most points scored by a rookie in his postseason debut.  And Chris Paul is the only other player ever to score 35+ points and 10+ assists while losing his playoff virginity.

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Luol Deng

Ok, so he’s come nowhere CLOSE to being worth the $71 million they shelled out to keep him here, but the team has only one playoff series win this decade, and he averaged 22.2 points and 8.7 rebounds during that postseason.

Scottie Pippen

Was technically a member of the team this decade, as Pip played sparingly on the ’03-‘04 team. But he’s obviously here for old-time’s sake. As the record book will tell you “Pippen Ain’t Easy,” as Scottie is second all-time in franchise history to Michael Jordan in pretty much every stat you could possibly care about.

Honorable Mention

Joakim Noah (Hey, he’s leading the NBA in rebounds right now- name the last Bull to do that), Ron Mercer

NBA Power Rankings Eastern Conference

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By Paul M. Banks

1.  Boston Celtics (7-1)
Historians will call this era the “Golden Age of Point Guards,” and Rajon Rondo is telling everyone with his play: “don’t forget about me.” Fast start for Beantown, conjuring up memories of 2007-08.

2.  Orlando Magic (5-2)
We know EA Sports cover boy Dwight Howard is pretty much as good as it gets at his position in this league. The bigger question mark is Vinsanity. If Carter is on his A game this season, they could easily be back in the Finals.

3.  Miami Heat (5-1)
Off to a hot start, and looking good in what is no doubt one of the league’s toughest divisions. But next year could be the year they really make some noise, as they could make a major splash in free agency. You might have heard a thing or two about some decent FAs becoming available next summer.

4.Chicago Bulls (4-2)
Record is pretty good considering they’ve shot above 42% in a game just once this season. Derrick Rose is obviously their headliner, but the guy making the leap this so far is Joakim Noah. His version of making the leap isn’t scoring, it’s more defense and rebounding. His numbers on the glass don’t lie; and did you see the way he forced LeBron to his left on the final possession in the big win at Cleveland? That’s getting a stop when it’s absolutely necessary.

5. Atlanta Hawks (5-2)
Of all the teams in the NBA that warrant national publicity, but fail to garner it, this team is likely the most talented. I could have said the “Hawks fly under the radar,” but I thought that it would have been a bit tacky and shopworn.

6.  Cleveland Cavaliers (4-3)
Even with Shaq in the house, they still look way too overly dependent on LeBron. And what’s up with them not getting out and running? They will have more success this season if they quicken the tempo at Quicken Loans Arena, and utilize the King’s athleticism more.

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7. Toronto Raptors (3-4)
They’re a good team, better than the lackluster start they’ve gotten off to. But they should win be in “win now” mode more than any other team, just in case they can’t keep Chris Bosh after this season.

8.  Charlotte Bobcats (3-3)
The off-season was uninspiring, and having Gerald Wallace as your top gun doesn’t sound very exciting or intimidating on paper, but their depth and balance will surprise you. And they’ll win more games than you think they will.

9.  Philadelphia 76ers (3-4)
The Phillies and Eagles have had a lot of success in 2009, but don’t expect the Sixers to join in. They have backcourt issues, and the frontcourt isn’t good enough to compensate for those issues.

10.  Detroit Pistons (3-4)
Could this be the year? Well, yes if you’re defining “the year” as the season in which Detroit misses the postseason for the first time in quite a while. They were under .500 yet a #8 seed last year, and all the moves they’ve made since then did nothing to address their problems.

11.  Washington Wizards (2-5)

They still need a beast down low. More athleticism and higher skill sets from their bigs is crucial. It would help if the forwards could stay healthy more often too.

12. Milwaukee Bucks (3-2)

The annual Michael Redd injury came early this year. How will they fill the scoring void? Possibly Brandon Jennings, the early favorite to win Rookie of the Year. Jennings and last year’s ROY, Derrick Rose are on their way to developing a phenomenal Central Division rivalry.

13.  Indiana Pacers (2-3)
The last time the NBA had a team this white, it was the 1950s. Funny that this lily team is located in the “Hoosier” state too. Maybe Larry Bird should hire Gene Hackman and Dennis Hopper to coach them?

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14.  New York Knicks (1-7)
If team marketing slogans were actually honest, (and in this case brutally honest) you’d have “Knicks basketball: just one more season till our contracts expire!” Seriously, most of that wasted money comes off the books after this year, so hold tight: change you could possibly believe is on its way.

15.  New Jersey Nets (0-7)
I’d use one of 2008’s biggest buzz words, “a hot mess” to describe New Jersey’s roster, but that is truly an insult to hot messes everywhere.

Is Derrick Rose Ready to Lead the Bulls?

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By Paul M. Banks

The Chicago Bulls announced Monday that the team picked up the 2010-11 season options for both Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. By exercising the respective player options, both will be under contract for 2010-11. This transaction occurred on the same day Rose practiced for the first time in….a long while. Aside from the opener, Rose missed every game this preseason, and concerns in Chicago arose. There were concerns about Rose being ready for the opener vs San Antonio Thursday night. Perhaps those fears have subsided a bit now that he’s working out again, but there are some new questions lingering as the season commences.

How effective will Rose be in the early weeks and how much of his development was stunted by the time he missed? This is a franchise that hasn’t had an All-Star since what seems like forever, and they’ve also gone without a true star/franchise player since Michael Jordan. In the words of Bulls team Captain Kirk Hinrich, “We don’t have an All-Star or anything like that, we have to do it as a group and it takes a specific type of effort to do that.” However, Rose is the only player on the roster with the potential to be that missing All-Star/franchise player- and possibly soon.

Rose, appeared in 81 games (80 starts) last year en route to being selected last year’s NBA Rookie of the Year.  On the season, he averaged 16.8 ppg, a team-high 6.3 apg and 3.9 rpg in 37.0 mpg. The Chicago native shot .475 from the field and .788 from the free throw line.deron_williams

I spoke with Rose at the Berto Center about what he’s working on to bring his game, and his team, to the next level. “My mental part of the game, my approach to it, my offensive game, and approach to it. Defensively- watching players more, their strengths and weaknesses,” he responded. Rose finished the 2008-09 campaign in the top three in several categories all-time among Bulls rookies, including total points (third with 1,361), scoring average (third) and assists (third with 512).  Rose was the first overall selection in the 08 NBA Draft.

This being the golden age of NBA point guards, Rose doesn’t have to look very far to find inspirational role models for achieving that eliteness. I asked him who he looks at specifically.

“Deron Williams a lot, he’s a bigger guard, so I watch him, and watched him all through Illinois, so we have that kind of a connection,” the Chicago native said about one of the biggest stars in University of Illinois history. D. Will has become a huge star for the Utah Jazz, and (due to his Fighting Illini heroics in 2004-05) is extremely popular in Chicago. D. Rose has rightfully set his sites high. And realistically high.