The above headline encapsulates three of the most important facets of this writer’s life. Mention of roses and bulls alludes to the outdoors and farming, though in this case it’s the Chicago Bulls that are being referred to. Just to give the ensemble a sporting element and thus ensure that all the bases are covered!
Mention of roses in proximity to yours truly usually prompts much merriment in certain quarters owing to an unfortunate incident quite a few years ago involving yours truly, a very old rose bush from the ancestral family home and a decent quantity of black porter. The bush lost the argument on the night in question but thankfully has bounced back and continues to thrive.
Which leads us to the sports related subject matter of this offering. Simply as the return of Derrick Rose after a few injury blighted seasons has visibly re-invigorated the Chicago Bulls and allowed them to rank among the genuine contenders for the NBA Championship. Making predictions pertaining to the outcome of what is an elongated and highly complex competition for large parts of the season amounts to futility.
The influence of one individual can often be incalculable and Rose has certainly given the Bulls the scent of encouragement and of better days ahead. They may not be at the peaks of yesteryear when the likes of Michael Jordan and Scott Pippen were at their zenith, but, even leaving aside the Rose tinted view of matters, the additional input of top performers such as Pau Gasol and Jimmy Walker and Joakim Noah and Mike Dunleavy sees them, in my view, in their best position to challenge since the halcyon days of the three in a row outfit.
Holders San Antonio remain there to be toppled, while the LA Clippers, Golden State, Atlanta, Washington, Portland and Dallas have all given off realistic overtures of doing just that. Yet, for all the undoubted entertainment which envelopes what is surely the most epic of campaign trails in any sport, the shadow of some of the less palatable happenings always seems to loom.
For, one wouldn’t need to possess an innate grasp of American sport – and specifically basketball – to know that some of what has gone on within supposedly top clubs paints matters thence in a very bad light. Think again of LeBron James jettisoning the Miami Heat. Notions that he returned to Cleveland in some romanticised act of local patriotism cannot be mustered.
Yes, he has improved them. He’d have that impact on any team. True also the Heat at times have not looked the force of old. However, even at this juncture, as a punter, a wager would readily be engaged in that Eric Spoelstra’s still star laden side will get closer to capturing outright honours than the Cavaliers.
It’ll be intriguing to see how it all pans out. That adjective could also be deployed, mind you, whilst elaborated on some of the less positive storylines which have – in their own way – dominated as much of the season as anything which has transpired on the hard courts.
Chief among them the notion that the two flagship figures in the game – James and his apparently not-too-friendly rival Kobe Bryant are in some way transmitting negative influence upon those around them. Blame for the shocking malaise engulfing the LA Lakers has more or less been dumped at the latter’s door while the former is seemingly none too pleased with his new boss. Despite the individual in question holding a decorated CV which details success around various parts of the globe.
The episode of The Simpsons where Lisa takes over the coaching of Bart’s baseball team is recalled. Whilst struggling to impose ideals upon her charges, Lisa pronounces that “Managers manage and players play”. It didn’t work out for her then and it may not be working all that well for David Blatt either. Hardly an ideal scenario in any set up.
As bad as all that has been to observe, what has transpired within the New York Knicks has been nothing short of a scandal and has tarnished all that is good about sport. What it amounts to is dire management within the upper echelons of the organisation which has itself led to suspicions of unprofessionalism on behalf of at least some of the Knicks players.
Now, there’s been a lot of talk in certain circles regarding role models for youngsters. Much of the conjecture has related to a topic there is no desire to or intention of going near. However, some of the less palatable matters outlined above won’t exactly inspire many to take up basketball.
Thankfully, though, as with most sporting action, the good tends to outweigh the bad. And even though it remains a personal gripe that there’s not enough domestic fare shown on television – particular at this time of year, the showpiece of the season – it’s heartening to see that interest levels may in fact be rising.
As best evidenced not too far away by St Peter’s College, Dunboyne emerged as All Ireland Champions following the recent Basketball Ireland Colleges Finals, having defeated Colaiste Pobail Setanta 39-33. You’d like to think that the opportunity would arise for exponents of that craft to go to the highest level therein.
Unfortunately, from a viewer perspective however, for now, there’ll probably be a better chance to see Rose tinted Bulls stomping to success.