Respect Greatness


We are living in an era where we’re witnessing historical records are being broken, mesmorizing moments from deciding games are taking place, and once in a lifetime achievements are current. Clear examples of such greatness includes the Golden State Warriors winning 73 games in a regular season, the newly infamous Julian Edelman’s catch that helped propel the New England Patriots Super Bowl LI comeback, and the Chicago Cubs winning their first World Series since 1908.

We are also living in an era where we’re witnessing some of the best athletes to ever play. When I was a child, I saw Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Ken Griffey, and Jerry Rice. As I got older, I witnessed Kobe Bryant, Mario Lemieux, Derek Jeter, and Randy Moss. Now there’s LeBron James, Patrick Kane, Kris Bryant, and Julio Jones. Over the past 30 years, we’ve have seen athletes come and go, but we have all been witnesses to the greatness that certain professionals have displayed.

In the last 12 months alone, we have seen some of the best championship sporting outcomes in history. We saw March Madness end with a buzzer beater by Villanova to beat North Carolina. Two months later, the Cleveland Cavaliers ended the city’s championship drought by coming back against the Golden State Warriors down 3 games to 1 to capture their first NBA title in franchise history. Fast forward to October, we witnessed another drought end but on a more significant level. The Chicago Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians in the 10th inning of game 7 after being down 3 games to 1 as well. Last month, we saw Clemson get their sweet revenge against Alabama in of the most fantastic finishes in recent memory. Serena Williams won her 23rd Grand Slam title. Less than 2 weeks ago, we’ve witnessed the best Super Bowl ending in NFL history. The UConn women’s basketball team are currently on a 100 game winning streak (that is ridiculous!).

It seems like we’re at a point where we expect great things to happen at every major sporting event. From The Master’s to Wimbledon; the Stanley Cup to the World Series; the NBA Finals to the Super Bowl, we are spoiled by greatness. Appreciate these moments while you can because all things (including exceptional moments) must come to an end.

JGOOD

Ball Is Life: Windy City’s Spaniards


Last week, I mentioned that I was part of a basketball network at Purdue University Northwest. Apparently, some people within this unofficial fraternity has experienced some unbelievable moments and rare opportunities. A prime example of this is my good friend Angel Martin de Soto, who was the personal assistant of Chicago Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic. I’ve known Angel since 2011 when he first came to the United States from Spain.

He’s one of the best all-around basketball players I ever played with (intramural basketball teammates). From his home country of Spain, Angel has been playing basketball since the age of six. He has played with the youth teams of Unicaja Malaga, one of the Top 5 teams in Spain. Angel has also played 4 years semi-pro in the 3rd Division in Spain.

If you don’t know, Nikola Mirotic is from Spain as well. The 6 foot 10 inch forward was drafted by Houston Rockets with the 23rd overall pick in 2011, but his draft rights were ultimately traded to the Chicago Bulls. Mirotic stayed in Spain until 2014, where he and Real Madrid (basketball team in Spain) reached a buyout of his contract.

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I’ve been a Bulls fan ever since I can remember. When Angel first told me about his unusual opportunity back in April of 2015, I was stunned (I actually have that  conversation saved on Facebook).

The reason why I worked for him, it is because Nikola was looking for an assistant that help them with their daily basis in his freshman year. I have a really good relation with his agent and he called me to have a interview.

Even though this job was an experience of a lifetime, just like any job, it came with some hard work and some inconvenient duties.

Everyday was different. It was basically 24/7 on call for whatever they (him and his wife) might need. I usually help them with their personal documents, travel arrangements, game day assistance, like hosting the guests, get their tickets and passes. Also, few times we did some shooting practice in his days off.

On the positive side, just like any job, there are a few benefits that make it worth your time there.

 

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Black Mamba warming up

 

The fact that both Angel and Nikola Mirotic are from Spain was probably the icing on the cake during their time together. To have someone with you from the same country when trying to adjust to another country’s culture makes the transition less hectic. Angel stopped working for Nikola Mirotic this past August to move back to Spain, but he has truly helped Mirotic adjust to the American culture. As long as Nikola Mirotic is a Chicago Bulls player, I will continue to cheer for him, especially knowing one of my friends has assisted him off the court.

JGOOD

It’s Over! Cubs Win World Series


Witnessing the Chicago Cubs winning the 2016 World Series goes down as one of the most remarkable moments in sports history. The Cubs hasn’t been to the World Series since 1945 and hasn’t won a title since 1908 before this achievement. As a Chicago White Sox fan, I am extremely happy for the Chicago Cubs organization and their entire fan base. There have been generations that haven’t seen the Chicago Cubs on top of Major League Baseball. The Titanic sinking was more recent than the Cubs last championship title before this one (let that SINK in).

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I’ve watched quite a few games this postseason just to see if the hype around this team is true. This team on paper is strong in all the major categories: hitting, pitching, baserunning, fielding, and coaching. However, the one word that has defined this postseason run for the “Northsiders” is resilient. The Cubs hasn’t faced adversity all season until they reached the playoffs, and a lot of people and baseball analyst wasn’t sure how this team will react when their backs were against the wall. This Cubs team has proved multiple times during this postseason run that they will not give up. Game 4 of the NLDS against the San Francisco Giants was a prime example. The Cubs were down 5-2 in the top of the 9th inning. Chicago scored 4 runs that inning to win 6-5 to eliminate the Giants (The Giants emptied their whole bullpen and still couldn’t stop the bleeding).

The fact that the Cubs forced a game 7 after being down 3 games to 1 is resilient within itself. This game 7 will go down as one of the most memorable game 7’s in the history of sports, in my opinion. From the Cubs being up 5-1 in the middle innings to Cleveland hitting the 2-run home run down 3rd baseline to tie the game at 6 in the bottom of the 8th inning to the, now infamous, rain delay, this game had a story book ending. Two teams have suffered for decades, and both teams were deserving of ending their respective titleless droughts. Words can’t fully describe the story and impact of this game, but the atmosphere was like no other. Here’s the highlight to game below.

This Chicago Cubs team that is currently constructed is poised to be contenders for the foreseeable future. There were 1 million people that turn out for the Chicago Blackhawks parade and festivals in 2015. I seriously believe that number will at least triple for the Chicago Cubs. Wrigleyville in Chicago was packed instantly after the win.

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This was by far the best game of 2016. To me, this game tops game 7 of the NBA Finals when Cleveland came back down 3-1 to beat the Golden State Warriors. I know that the city of Cleveland hasn’t won a sports title in over 50 years until that moment. However, this Cubs team is “America’s Cinderella” that had never gotten over the hump for 108 years. This was the LONGEST drought in NORTH AMERICA sports (mind blowing). Cubs fans from all over the world will come to their victory parade. Congratulations again to the Chicago Cubs of ending something that has lasted for far too long. Chicago has truly become a “City Of Champions”. “Fly The W” Northsiders, you truly deserve it!

JGOOD

See Red Into A New Era: Chicago Bulls


A new beginning is upon us in the Windy City. The Bulls organization has made some significant changes over the summer that have transformed the shape of the team. The Bulls officially traded away their franchise (and my favorite) player, Derrick Rose, to the New York Knicks for Robin Lopez, Jose Calderon (thankfully we cut him), and Jerian Grant (Former Chicago Bull Horace Grant’s nephew). In free agency, we elected not to bring back Pau Gasol (signed with San Antonio) or fan favorite Joakim Noah (signed with New York to play with D.Rose).

The Bulls front office, at the time, said they wanted to get “younger and more athletic”. We eventually drafted Denzel Valentine out of Michigan State. However, things got interesting when the Bulls decided to sign free agent point guard Rajon Rondo. The biggest and most unexpected news was the signing of free agent shooting guard, and Chicago native Dywane Wade. The Bulls pursued Wade in the summer of 2010. There were actual signs that Dywane Wade was going to sign with Chicago, but that changed at the 11th hour when Lebron James decided to take his talents to South Beach.

With that being said, the initial plan of rebuilding has turned into a retooling phase. Recently, the Bulls traded Tony Snell to the Milwaukee Bucks, for former rookie of the year winner Michael Carter-Williams. With all the changes, Chicago has one of the more interesting teams in the league. They lack 3 point shooting, but have better defense and can attack the basket. We did get somewhat younger but added veteran leaders and championship experience. We’re not quite a championship contender and not good enough to beat Cleveland. However, if we make the playoffs, we won’t be an easy out either.

It’s definitely a different vibe with the team because this is a new era with the Bulls. Last season was the beginning of the transition when they fired Tom Thibodeau and hired Fred Hoiberg. This year, we enter a grey area in which we don’t really know the outcome. We can finish as low as probably the 11th or 12th best in the Eastern Conference, or we have the ability to challenge for a home court advantage in the first round. One thing is for sure, I’m going to be here for the ride. I’ll have my Dywane Wade shirt ready for when we start our season against Boston. Let’s see what happens!

JGOOD

NFL Week 1 Picks and Fantasy Tips


 

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CONFIDENCE PICKS

JGood (Green) 

16 Seattle
15 Arizona
14 Green Bay
13 Buffalo
12 Kansas City
11 Indianapolis
10 Carolina
9 Houston
8 Oakland
7 Pittsburgh
6 Cleveland
5 New York Jets
4 Tampa Bay
3 New York Giants
2 Los Angeles
1 Tennesse

D.Reed (Blue)

16 Seattle
15 Green Bay
14 Kansas City
13 Houston
12 Indianapolis
11 Los Angeles
10 Buffalo
9 New York Giants
8 Atlanta
7 Minnesota
6 Oakland
5 Philadelphia
4 Pittsburgh
3 New York Jets
2 Arizona
1 Denver

HOT OR NOT 🔥❄️ (D.Reed)

What’s Hot

QB

Derek Carr & Drew Brees (Oakland @ New Orleans)
I expect this one to be a shoot out!!! Both offenses are equipped to throw the ball a ton while in rebuilding mode. So I expect to see fireworks in this one!

Andrew Luck (Detroit @ Indianapolis)
Luck is healthy and ready to roll against a defense that is no stranger to allowing a LOT of yards thrown in the air! With the emergence of Donte Moncrief, alongside established T.Y. Hilton and a healthy Dwayne Allen, I expect Luck to throw it early and often!!!!

RB

Spencer Ware (San Diego @ Kansas City)
Last season, in relief of injured Jamaal Charles, Ware averaged 5.6 yards per carry and 6 TDs!! While Charles is nursing an injury and Charcandrick West is fresh off an injury, I expect Ware to be the main man in the backfield against a soft Chargers run D!!! I’m starting Ware with confidence!!!

Doug Martin (Tampa Bay @ Atlanta)
In five career games against Atlanta, Martin has averaged 81 rushing yards and 21.6 carries also adding four TDs!!! Martin is hot of a huge campaign in 2015 and I don’t see Atlanta derailing that productivity!!!

WR

Amari Cooper (Oakland @ New Orleans)
The Saints Defense allowed the fourth most fantasy points to WRs last year so I look for both Cooper and Crabtree to find “pay dirt” in what is sure to be an old fashioned shootout!!!

Brandon Marshall (Cincinatti @ NYJ)
What can I say. .ummm. . he’s a 6 foot 4 wideout with a huge wingspan, and Ryan Fitzpatrick loves to throw to him. . .A LOT!!! Fitzy is back, and I see no problem with him finding his top target even against a pretty good Bengals defense.

TE

Jordan Reed (Pittsburgh @ Washington)

Reed is coming off of a stellar year, and I think he will continue his hot streak in 2016. He’s a core piece of a newly pass happy offense with Kirk Cousins, chucking it to his plethora of pass catchers!!! I think Reed will be a matchup problem for a talented but young Steelers D!!

D/ST

Seattle Seahawks (vs Miami)
The “LOB” (Legion of Boom) is one of a the leagues premier defenses against a team that struggled to move the ball quite often in 2015. . .nuff said. If that won’t rattle you, the 12th man will!!!

What’s Not

QB

Cam Newton and Trevor Siemian
Not starting the MVP of the league last year?? Are you kidding me??!! Not quite. If you have him start him, just don’t expect much from either Siemian or Super Cam!! I see a low scoring game with both QBs turning it over!! The Broncos D is still as stout as can be (ask Von Miller), and even with the loss of Norman, Carolina D is no slouch either!

RB

Arian Foster and Jay Ajayi (Miami @ Seattle)
Arian Foster was named the starting back in Miami, but there will still be some type of time share in the backfield. Both backs combined still won’t be enough against a hard-nosed Seattle defense!

WR

Kelvin Benjamin
Many WRs have tried their best to expose Denver’s “No Fly Zone”, and more times than none, they’ve failed!!! As talented a receiver as Benjamin is, he’s no exception to the rule!!!

TE

Antonio Gates (San Diego @ Kansas City)
In two games last year, Kansas City’s defense held Gates to 7 catches and 82 yards no touchdowns! Without LaDarius Green breathing down his back, I still expect him to have an “okay” year, but not stellar because Gates has been battling both injuries and Father Time!!!!

D/ST

Miami D (@ Seattle)
Ohhhhh don’t do it!!! Please don’t do it!! (In my best Drake impersonation)
D.Reed @freshprynce23 (Instagram)
JGood @jgoodwithsports (Twitter and Instagram)

A Rose With Thorns


When Michael Jordan retired, Tracy McGrady became my favorite player in the NBA. He was unguardable. When you’re 6’8 with a long wingspan, that can shoot, attack, post-up, rebound, and create for others, you can’t be stopped. The only that did stop him was injuries. Besides the fact he was never the same player, he never played for my favorite team.

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When Derrick Rose was drafted to the Chicago Bulls in 2008, I instantly became a fan. Once I saw his energy and heart, him and McGrady shared being my favorites in the NBA. 

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Rose became the engine of the organization. He gave hope to a franchise that has been in the cellar since the Jordan era. I mean, yes we had the “Baby Bulls” but we weren’t a title contender then. D.Rose elevated the expectations in the city. We, as Chicago fans, “Bullieved” that we can return to the glory days. Nobody was more important and had a bigger impact for a team than Rose was during his MVP season in 2011.

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Rose has had his number of injuries including a torn ACL and a torn meniscus. Even then, Rose showed his efforts of fighting through rigorous rehabilitation to try to get back to MVP form. This past season, he looked like his explosiveness was back to elite status more times than not.

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It’s sad that he has carried the weight of his city on his back for so many years (he didn’t have any help for multiple seasons) that when he finally has help, his career is derailed by injuries. Also, a lot of fans have turned on him because he’s not the Derrick Rose that they are used to seeing (even though he’s been in the top 5 in jersey sales since his MVP season).

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The fact that my favorite player, who happens to play on my favorite team (also born and raised in Chicago), is traded away, it takes something out of you. My Bulls didn’t play well last year and that probably won’t change this year (pending something drastic). With Rose gone, that extra nudge… that determination, dedication, motivation… that initial spark that generated hope for the city just died.

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And what a lot of people don’t know is that not only he was humble on the court, he was humble off the court as well. Rose was active in the community. He paid for a funeral for a kid that was murdered. He spoke up for the teachers of the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) who went on strike. D.Rose also donated money to help bring up the community.

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Now that he belongs to the New York Knicks, I’m torn. I will always be a Bulls fan, but I will buy a Derrick Rose Knicks jersey and/or shirt. He will continue to be my favorite player. Also, I hope he has career nights against the Bulls just to show management that they made a mistake. He has too much heart to give up and too much motivation to fail.

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JGOOD

Chicago Baseball On Fire


The Chicago Cubs went into this season as the favorites to win the World Series and they are playing like it. What’s surprising to most is that the Chicago White Sox are playing at an elite level as well. Both teams’ pitching and batting has been stellar.

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Personally, I would love to see both teams make a strong playoff run. I know we have a long ways to go but nevertheless this start is awesome for the city of Chicago!!

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JGOOD