I'm also looking for a good game pad. I have the sidewinders and they really suck! It seems like the don't respond quick enough. Anyways, I want to get something like a PS2 controller. Whats a good brand? I would like to keep it wired though.
The Logitech gamepad is great, until it craps out on you 3 months in. I was on an NBA LIVE 2004 forum and there were multiple threads on this subject. It's the left analog stick that seems to go first and there's nothing that Logitech can do about it except tell you to turn it in under warranty. Mine died almost on cue.
A few weeks ago, I went to Radio Shack, bought a USB converter for the Playstation gamepad and bought myself a solid, proven gamepad. Haven't had a blip of trouble since... talk to me in a few months, though.