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Ask Sam | Sam Smith opens his mailbag | 4.03.2015

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By Sam Smith | 4.03.2015 | 9:47 a.m. CT

Not sure if you've seen Steph Curry put Chris Paul on ice skates. Somewhat reminiscent of MJ going baseline against Oakley/Ewing. I don't like to toss around MJ comparisons, but does the way Curry is dominating games remind you of MJ? Nothing seems forced. Westbrook plays tackle football out there and chases triple doubles. Steph wins games and dominates within the 'flow' of the game -- seems to bend games to fit around him. LeBron did this at Miami's peak. This was something I never felt like D Rose quite got the hang of.
Yoni Solomon

It's March, and everybody is asking about my bracket. I don't have one and I hate college ball, but usually I lie and say "Duke" or something and go about my day. But whenever I hear somebody say that they love college ball because it's "better basketball" and the players play hard and for the love of the game and blablabla... I have a really hard time not playing the role of the Grinch. I watched one tourney game and saw both sides playing zone and barely moving on defense, and yes, three kids dove to the floor for loose balls, but on two of those occasions it was because they messed up the timing of the play so bad they tripped. Any suggestions on how to break this national romantic obsession with watching teenagers playing clumsy basketball for no compensation so that coaches and organizations can earn hundreds of millions of dollars?
Alejandro Yegros

I agree 100 percent about Toni Kukoc. I think it's a shame he's not already in the Hall, and he was very much underrated during his career. My son and I watch old tapes of the Bulls games from that 72-10 season and I'm always impressed at how fundamentally sound and unselfish Kukoc was during that year. He could 've been far more dominant had he followed a more selfish path, but to his credit, he sublimated his ego for the sake of the team. Reminds me a lot of the attitude of the current team, especially, oddly enough, Derrick Rose. Same kind of team first, head down and get to work attitude.
Sean Leary

Toni Kukoc. He was ahead of his time for his position, nobody can defend him 6' 11" that can drive, pass, shoot, & post-up. I remember him scoring 20 points in 5 minutes against the Lakers when the Bulls were down 20. We won the game in OT. Do you think he reached his full potential in the NBA? I felt he was a bit held back because of MJ and Pippen. I hope that wont be the situation for Mirotic.
Rollen Decuzar

I've been noticing a turn in Chicago sports media these last couple of years, especially since Derrick's injuries. I've noticed a more vitriolic spirit, always looking to stir things up. Hearing the media's opinions on Derrick Rose reminds me a lot about the Debbie Downer character on SNL. It seems as though these local writers (and broadcasters) are always looking for the negative angle and speculating just so they can write some juicy gossip for people to gorge on. Is the Chicago media being infiltrated by New Yorkers or something? I thought the Chicago media was better than this.
Gabriel de Jesus

Why do international players only seem to be compared to each other? I don't see a ton of Dirk or Tony Kukoc in Niko's game. Actually, his game reminds me more of Kevin Durant. I'm not saying he's the next KD (who was 19 as a rookie, not 23), but if you look at their games and their per-36 rookie numbers, they're pretty similar. Durant scored a little more, Niko rebounds a little more. Also, if you think about their games, both tall and slender, difficult to match up with at 3 or 4, can see the court well and put the ball on the floor comfortably, draw a lot of fouls ... there are a lot of similarities. If I'm looking for an aspirational model, I'm showing Mirotić lots of Durant film this offseason.
Brad Hergott

Am I the only person who gets irritated when basketball fans and analysts talk about how the league is better when the Celtics and Lakers are good (sometimes they even include the Knicks). Shouldn't we be appreciative of the fact that we have these other teams, small market teams at that, competing at a high level? I love that the story out of LA is the Clippers and that the force in the west is coming from no less than Golden State. Then you have Memphis. In the East you've got Atlanta out of nowhere with the best record because they play great team ball and of course there's Cleveland. Why are we whining about the tired storyline that is Boston and LA when we have so much to appreciate in the league today?
Trevor Hoffler

Preseason, I thought you mentioned the Bulls had no chance without [Derrick] Rose playing at an all star level. 3 surprising things have happened since then.

1. Gasol is playing better than expected.
2. Mirotic has become a major contributor.
3. Butler emerged as an all star.

On the flip side, Atlanta is better than we thought and Cleveland made some nice player additions since preseason. Do you think those 3 things counterbalance Rose and the Bulls championship aspirations if he is playing at the same level he has done during the season?
Cary Lichenstein

I was curious on the background of how the Bulls came about drafting Toni Kukoc? I assume it was a similar scenario of how they have picked up Nikola Mirotic? Amazing that the then 3 time NBA champions then managed to get their hands on Europe’s MVP. Was Jerry Krause the brains behind the move? Was Phil Jackson on board? It seems the players (Jordan and Pippen at least) didn’t seem to be?
Andrew Robson