The first week of training camp is about setting a foundation and getting to know -- and hopefully, like -- your teammates. There are a host of teams bonding overseas. Some, like the Mavericks, are doing it in enclosed resorts, while others prefer the normalcy of their own practice facilities.
|Defensive-minded Ben Wallace gives the Bulls a new attitude. (AP)|
All 30 coaching staffs are stressing the importance of defense. This year, the majority also seem to be implementing the strategy of playing faster. Speed is the NBA's newest craze.
Oh, and in near unanimous fashion, everyone hates the new ball. There hasn't been this much agreement over anything in the NBA since it was decided that all baskets should have nets. That was a long time ago.
That's the broad stroke version of the NBA's first week back at work. Here are some of the finer points.
Big Ben tolls
In what was a fairly light summer of movement, Ben Wallace was the one player that was the story in two different camps. Wallace says the current Bulls remind him a lot of the 2004 Pistons, while the 2006 Pistons claim life will go on and are relishing the role of underdog now that everyone thinks they'll stumble. Nobody takes doubt and spins it into motivation like Detroit does.
Same ol' us against the world Pistons. "If it ain't rough, it ain't right" lives.
In Chicago, though, there is a different attitude. The kids got themselves a new bodyguard.
"We need bad people, angry people," Andres Nocioni jokingly told the Chicago Daily Southtown.
The moment Wallace signed on the dotted line, the Bulls felt the balance of power in the Central Division changed. It doesn't matter if they have actually surpassed Detroit. The fact they believe they have means everything.
As long as Wallace feels like Scott Skiles is making an effort to keep him involved on the offensive end, he'll be happy with his new surroundings, and the Bulls will have their enforcer.
He's angry, too. He has heard the criticism that he wasn't worth the big, lengthy contract that drew him to Chicago. That he's old and on the decline. It's the same noise that has fueled him his entire career.