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2007, January 9: ESPN.com Daily Dime – Checking The Disappointment Book

June 24, 2008

January 9, 2008 – Disappointiment comes in many forms. First and
foremost, you can’t truly be a disappointment if you had no
expectations to begin with.

There are exceptions. Let’s start the climb up the disappointment totem
pole with a team that has to be viewed unhappily, even if there wasn’t
much expected. Here’s the five most disappointing teams so far this
season ?

1. Minnesota Timberwolves — When they traded Kevin Garnett, there
should be a reasonable hope that of the five guys who came back, more
than one was going to be significantly productive. Al Jefferson’s a
double-double waiting to happen, and has great days ahead. But the
other ex-Celtics haven’t helped bring wins.

That’s why Tuesday’s game with Miami Heat, pitting the two teams with the worst records in the NBA, was a chance for the Wolves.

The Wolves definitely would circle a game like this as a winnable game.
Even a good team projects how it might do when it looks at the
schedule, depending on factors such as fourth game in five nights,
second of a back-to-back.

For the Wolves, this 101-91 win over Miami improved their record to 5-29.

2. Miami Heat — The parts just don’t fit this season.

To be a full-fledged disappointment, you need expectations that go
unmet. Making the playoffs is in their expectations, and it looks like
they won’t make it.

You think you could put together a decent surrounding cast around two
potential all-NBA performers in Shaquille O’Neal and Dwyane Wade and a
Hall of Fame coach in Pat Riley. Ricky Davis and Udonis Haslem can play
at a high level, but when you look at the other guys on the roster, you
can find the reason this team hasn’t performed up to expectations.

3. New York Knicks — When I play as them on the video game "NBA Live",
they can compete against the Spurs, the Suns, or anyone. I know my
PlayStation3. The Knicks are as good as anyone in that game.

On the court, success has been harder to come by. No one expected them
to be contenders for the championship, but looking at this roster, you
do think they could make the playoffs. If you look at the Eastern
Conference, this is definitely a team that could finish .500.

But as it stands now, even with a 105-100 win in Chicago, the Knicks
are still 9-24. In New York, situations are magnified. When you’re not
getting it done, the pressure is like another city, times 2. The Knicks
are feeling that.

4. Memphis Grizzlies — A team that has one of the top shooters in Mike
Miller, Pau Gasol and drafted highly regarded Mike Conley Jr. They also
brought in the top coaching prospect, Marc Iavaroni, who was going to
bring the Phoenix-style offense to the table.

It hasn’t gone well.

After a 117-101 home loss to the Lakers, the Grizzlies fell to 10-24.
Jerry West had already found a way to disassociate himself from this
current Memphis scenario. Looks like Damon Stoudamire has, too.

5. Chicago Bulls — Before the season began, they were actually
predicted by Las Vegas to be one of the favorites to come out of East.

Then the season began. The Bulls are the only team to fire their coach
so far this season. The highest-paid player Ben Wallace doesn’t know if
he can wear his headband, and the second-highest paid Kirk Hinrich has
already been benched.

Bulls fans are as passionate and loyal as they come, but even they have
found a way to let out the boo-birds. Some fans wear Kobe shirts.
Chicago fans have a different sense of success, with memories of two of
all-time best 50 NBA players (Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen still
fresh. They are looking at this through different lenses than the
Knicks fans, who are passionate, but only have one championship to look
back on.

Chicago still has not found a way to get that consistent inside scoring threat.

Because another big presence inside would make Wallace more effective,
allowing him do the dirty work. But when Big Ben’s the only big man
down there, it’s not good.

Is coming off the bench better for Ben Gordon? I think the fourth
quarter suits Gordon best. During introductions, a player’s ego
commonly likes to hear his college and how tall he isr. But when you
are in there in the end, which is when Ben likes to make those shots,
we see how he still makes plays.

Despite all the talk of disappointment, I wouldn’t be surprised if Chicago turns it around and makes the playoffs.

By Jalen Rose – ESPN.com
ESPN analyst Jalen Rose is a regular Daily Dime contributor. For more about Jalen, visit his Web site: JalenRose.com.