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

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

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

Draft Town


I went to draft town on Friday in Chicago and it was WAY better than I could ever imagine. They had a combine area for the fans that wanted to do the 40 yard dash, the high jump, field goal kicking, and much more. Former players were there to sign autographs, they had the NFL shop and museum, food from, vendors, and much more!!

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And even Adam Schefter was there!

Chicago Bulls: Sink Or Swim


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My beloved Chicago Bulls has had an interesting season thus far. Many would say it’s disappointing so far. I’ll admit their record and positioning within the Eastern Conference is lower than I expected, but what did you really expect when Harvey Dent (Fred Hoiberg) is implementing a new system (he looks like Harvey Dent from “The Dark Knight” to me).

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I expected the new changes to take time and I’m fine with that. What I didn’t expect was for my Bulls to have a lack of effort for long stretches, especially on the defensive end. The gritty, pressuring, “tough-as-nails” defensive identity is gone. It may come back but not anytime soon. The injuries during the year doesn’t help, especially when one of your all-star players is out for over a month.

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On the flip side, the most positive thing that I have noticed is the REAL return of Derrick Rose. He struggled out the gate and people were seriously questioning if he would ever be a shell of himself. Now, his numbers are almost identical to his prime years and his incomparable explosiveness, agility, and speed looks back to his younger days.

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The 7 games that Rose has played in since the All-star break, he’s averaged 21.4 ppg while shooting over 50% from the field. The chemistry him and Jimmy Butler has hit a new plateau. The role players like E’Twuan Moore, Doug McDermott, Mike Dunleavey, and Taj Gibson has played a lot since the beginning of the year. Things are finally start to click.

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The Bulls are sitting at the 8th seed with 20 games to go. Jimmy Buckets will back soon, Derrick Rose has looked great, and the team itself is playing better. The future is unknown after this season with players like Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah hitting the free agency. It’s sink or swim for my Bulls. Hopefully they have life jackets at the very least.

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