For 13 seasons, Kevin Garnett has proved that even the glitziest NBA stars can play all out every day, in practice as well as games. Chicago should know this by now. Didn’t we all watch Michael Jordan do the same for 13 years? The Bulls’ best hope is regaining that work ethic.
The Bulls were never that good. Former coach Scott Skiles blinded everyone to Chicago’s many faults by getting the Bulls to make their deficiencies by playing harder than their opponents for two years. That’s the intriguing theory, anyway, by WSCR radio hosts Dan Bernstein and Terry Boers. Sounds plausible. What’s weak is the companion theory now being floated by many: that no team could continue to play that way indefinitely. For 13 seasons, Kevin Garnett has proved that even the glitziest NBA stars can play all out every day, in practice as well as games. Chicago should know this by now. Didn’t we all watch Michael Jordan do the same for 13 years? The Bulls’ best hope is regaining that work ethic. KG Great Now and Great Then NBA players get judged too much by their teammates. Scottie Pippen plays next to Michael Jordan and gets voted one of the 50 greatest players of all time. The Bucks’ Sidney Moncrief, better at his peak than Pippen in every way, had little help and is now forgotten. Shaq wins four titles with Kobe Bryant and Dwayne Wade, and many critics cry he’s more dominant than Jordan. Kevin Garnett proves you can’t judge a player by his teammate. The Timberwolves traded Garnett for his near-statistical equal (Al Jefferson averages 21.2 points, 12.2 rebounds and 49.6 percent shooting) and got twice as bad, falling from a .390 win percentage last year to an NBA-worst .200. Boston added Ray Lewis and swapped Garnett for Jefferson and has gone from the second-worst team in the NBA to the best. Garnett is shooting a career-high 55 percent this year, but he was better all-around when he was younger. He just has more help now. Can Santana Keep It Up? Count me in with Mike Nadel: I also thought the Cubs should have traded for Johan Santana. But then, I’m a Twins fan and wanted Rich Hill, Sean Marshall and last year’s No. 1 pick, Josh Vitters, in return. This may be like saving $10 million by passing on Ivan Rodriguez in 2003; the Marlins, of all people, spent that extra $10 million, beat the Cubs in the playoffs and won their second World Series. The only pitchers in 50 years to match Santana’s 4 1/2-year stretch of dominance are Sandy Koufax, Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson. And maybe that’s why the Cubs weren’t interested. Koufax retired after his fourth great year. Randy Johnson is 60-44 with an ERA better than 3.79 only once in five years after his fourth straight Cy Young. Greg Maddux had seven straight years with an ERA 2.72 or less, but he went below 3.00 only once in the next 11 years. Pedro Martinez was great for seven years, but is 27-17 in three years with the Mets. The National League should help Santana (he’s even a .258 career hitter), but history says his best days are nearing an end. Bears Should Try to Sign Samuel The Bears have terrific cornerbacks in Charles Tillman and Nathan Vasher. They should still consider New England’s All-Pro free-agent Asante Samuel. Chicago could move Tillman to safety and have the NFL’s best secondary. Matt Trowbridge’s Quick Shots on Sports appear Sundays. He can be reached at 815-987-1383 or firstname.lastname@example.org.