A Premature Farewell to Omer Asik

Full Disclosure: I do not usually feel the need to qualify any unusual statements or apologize for overly shitty writing. But I would be remiss to point out my current mood is overwhelmingly negative and my mind nearly gone. The honest-to-God truth is I began writing this at 12:06 in the morning, by hand, in front of three lit candles. Even Nathaniel Hawthorne would be impressed with the lonely scene I occupy. This isolation, however, is not of my own doing. That nasty little storm that whipped through the Chicago-land area Sunday afternoon has left me without power. It's been just over 36 hours now. I'm wearing nothing but a pair of boxer shorts because the heat is unbearable. See, I've already said too much. Enough about all that, though. I just thought you should know.

I woke up yesterday morning without power after spending the better part of Sunday in the same predicament. I knew instinctively that if I wanted any semblance of a normal routine, I would have to drag myself to the library. The library, ANY library, as those of you who watch the news know, is littered with perverts gobbling up the free Internet. One wrong move in this place and the direction of your life can be severely altered. Luckily for me, plenty of other folks were without power and we seemed to outnumber the perverts, even flushing many of them out to a new hideout until things are back to normal.

I found a cozy spot in the back corner where I felt no one could sneak up on me, fired up the laptop, and began to read the day's news. It didn't take long.

"Oh my God! Are you OK?" a concerned woman asked as she towered over me. I had stupidly mistaken her for a pervert upon initial inspection.

"Huh?"

"You passed out and smacked your head across the table. I think it was in reaction to something you read."

Sure enough, still open on the web browser was Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reporting the Rockets had offered Omer Asik 3-years 25 million and he was expected to sign the offer sheet.

Christ, on a day like today? No power, surrounded by the flakiest of individuals, and existing on a diet of crackers and water. This news would have been the death of me if not for this kind woman.

I came to and she left me to my clicking of links. In no time, I was sprawled across the floor once again, this time nearly taking the Young Adult Fiction shelf with me.

"Oh dear me! Should I call an ambulance?" the young librarian questioned, clearly inexperienced in dealing with a patron prone to fainting spells.

"He's fine. Everything's fine." The same woman came to my rescue yet again.

"It's the heat," I exclaimed. "It's finally enveloped my body. A heat stroke is imminent. Miss, please, if you would, read me the headline on the screen."

"Cubs First Baseman Bryan LaHair Selected as All-Star Reserve."

"Now I've seen it all. Armageddon is fast approaching. Bury me under the Adult Services sign."

"Oh, stop being so dramatic," the librarian said. "Who's left at first base in the NL after Joey Votto? They've all left for the land of milk and honey and designated hitters."

"Hey," I started. "That's a pretty astute observation. How would you like to write an 800-word commentary on how Bryan LaHair's All-Star selection reminds you of the time you played an impromptu game of Guess Who with a stranger inside the Arby's bathroom?"

"I think I'll leave that nonsense to you," she smiled.

"Very well then. And thanks for your concern."

I tried the Bryan LaHair angle and the words wouldn't say anything. They began to melt on the screen, I'm pretty sure. My decaying mind couldn't focus on anything besides Omer Asik. That pasty ogre always did have a way of occupying my thoughts. I knew the day would come when he priced himself out of the the Bulls market. I just hoped it would have been a year from now.

So how to properly eulogize Asik's time in Chicago? He seems to be too goofy of a player to give a grand send off. Despite his many flaws, I really liked him and wanted him to succeed. So what if he dropped one of every two passes thrown his way? So did Roy Williams and catch passes was all Roy Williams was expected to do. So what if he couldn't hit a free throw? Neither could Wilt Chamberlain. Asik is about to get paid because of his defensive prowess. Those all-world team defense ratings the Bulls have put up over the last two years were inflated by the "Bench Mob's" ability to shut down the other team's bench. No other team could boast a crew of reserves so suffocating, and that unit was anchored by Omer Asik. He altered shots by virtue of standing up straight and blocked everything else that he didn't alter. He teamed up with Taj Gibson to form an impenetrable rebounding duo and bit on anything even remotely resembling a pump fake. Asik didn't always make it look pretty, but he almost always got the job done.

There's a few questions Asik still has left to answer. Can he hold up playing starter's minutes? He often looked like a marathoner approaching the 20th mile after playing extended minutes this season. Will he improve his conditioning and learn how to play more effective when tired? Also, can he stay out of foul trouble playing more minutes? Foul trouble was somewhat of an issue with Asik even playing limited minutes. These are all questions that will be answered - in a different uniform.

Perhaps more than anything, news of Asik's possible departure is the first domino to fall. Like all good teams composed of unheralded players outperforming their contracts, there comes a time when the roster needs to be retooled. Moderate players leave for more money elsewhere and core players get a pay raise to stay. We're in the midst of this transition and it's especially hard to stomach because we never won that championship that is so often the precursor to big changes.

I'll choose to remember Asik fondly as the most undervalued piece to the Bulls' vaunted defenses. I'll remember that time his chin was pouring blood all over his jersey and he just kind of shrugged it off, unaware of the rule saying he'd have to come out of the game. I'll remember the way he closed out games with Gibson against the Heat in last year's Eastern Conference Finals, and I'll remember how people pronounced his name 32 different ways.

Farewell, my Turkish friend. Enjoy the song Bun B is sure to record in your honor. I'll watch your games next year if my power ever comes back. I'll cry about the "Omer's Coming" jokes and photoshops I missed out on. I'll end this here before I reveal (again) what I am or am not wearing.

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