WBEZ | Chicago Bulls http://www.wbez.org/tags/chicago-bulls Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Luol Deng reflects on 10 years with the Bulls and upcoming free agency http://www.wbez.org/news/luol-deng-reflects-10-years-bulls-and-upcoming-free-agency-110016 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP705998648470.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Chicago Bulls traded Luol Deng in the middle of the night: There&rsquo;s been no closure, no time for Deng or fans to reflect on his 10 years in Chicago. The veteran forward&rsquo;s been in Cleveland since early January, learning to play in a different system--and in a different role--with the Cavaliers.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>When WBEZ sports contributor Cheryl Raye Stout saw the Cavs would be playing the Bucks on Friday, she decided to head to Milwaukee to see how Deng is doing. She first asked him if he was surprised by the trade.</p><p>&ldquo;I wasn&rsquo;t surprised,&rdquo; he began. &ldquo;No, no,&rdquo; Deng clarified, &ldquo;I should say I was surprised but I expected it...I was hoping to be wrong but, I think I was expecting it.&rdquo;</p><p>Deng said it was extremely difficult to leave all the familiarities of Chicago for something completely new. He said it was one of the hardest things he&rsquo;s ever had to do because he&rsquo;s never really had to make that type of transition. He played four years of high school ball, played with all the same guys in the same club growing up in London. He stayed in touch with Coach Mike Krzyzewski, even after leaving Duke University after his freshman year. But for the 10 years that followed--for 82 games a year--he lived and breathed Chicago Bulls basketball.</p><p>Now, at almost 29-years-old, he&rsquo;s learning to take on a new and different leadership role in Cleveland.</p><p>&ldquo;In Chicago,&rdquo; Deng said, &ldquo;it got to a point where I was so comfortable with everything. I just did me.&rdquo;</p><p>And, while he doesn&rsquo;t expect everyone to believe him, Deng said he&rsquo;s grateful for the challenge.</p><p>&ldquo;Through my whole life, nothing has ever come easy. I&rsquo;ve always had a hard road before I do something great, and I&rsquo;m thankful for it,&rdquo; Deng explained.</p><p>Raye Stout asked Deng what he missed most about being a Chicago Bull. He said he misses his teammates and the coaching staff more than anything.</p><p>&ldquo;I felt like I knew them as well as I&rsquo;ve known myself. I knew how to get everyone going, I knew how to make things easy, how to stay positive...that comfort zone. I didn&rsquo;t really see those guys as teammates. Those guys were really my friends.&rdquo;</p><p>Deng said he will probably stay friends with most of them for the rest of his life. In fact, he&rsquo;s joked with some of the guys still on the team that he plans to sit courtside in Chicago during the upcoming playoffs. But, he doesn&rsquo;t want the TV or attention coming his way--he doesn&rsquo;t want to mess up the flow. And he doesn&rsquo;t want any fans to yell, &ldquo;You should be here,&rdquo; or something like that. He&rsquo;d just love to be there to support his former teammates because he knows their struggle and the focus and effort required during a playoff push.</p><p>And Deng said he&rsquo;s not surprised the Bulls--or All-Star center Joakim Noah--are having a successful season. He said Noah&rsquo;s newfound leadership position is deserved and necessary.</p><p>&ldquo;When you play hard all the time, it becomes who you are,&rdquo; Deng explained.</p><p>Deng will become a free agent at the end of the season. He said he knows it will be a tough decision, but he knows what he wants and has learned a great deal from this experience.</p><p>&ldquo;When I&rsquo;m not happy with things, I know how hard I work to change that,&rdquo; Deng said with a slight grin. &ldquo;Also, I&rsquo;m a competitor. I always take things, and I want things to be my way.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Katie O&rsquo;Brien is WBEZ producer and reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/katieobez">@katieobez</a> and WBEZ sports contributor <a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout">@crayestout</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 19:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/luol-deng-reflects-10-years-bulls-and-upcoming-free-agency-110016 Mexican father gives Chicago sons big surprise http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/mexican-father-gives-chicago-sons-big-surprise-109539 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/storycorps jose jose.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>For 11 years, Jose Franco Rubio has lived apart from his children. They&rsquo;re here in Greater Chicago, he&rsquo;s in Mexico.</p><p>So Franco Rubio decided to give his three sons a surprise: Bulls tickets. But he didn&rsquo;t tell them he planned to fly in and join them just minutes before the game.</p><p>He and his oldest son, Jose Franco (who&rsquo;s nicknamed Chema), came into the Chicago StoryCorps&rsquo; booth to talk about the big surprise.</p><p><strong>JOSE FRANCO </strong>(SON): We haven&rsquo;t seen each other for 4 years.<br /><strong>JOSE FRANCO RUBIO</strong> (FATHER): It&rsquo;s been so many Christmases, so many Father&rsquo;s Days &hellip; I haven&rsquo;t been with them&hellip;</p><p>Franco Rubio said he and his children have stayed in touch by phone and Skype, but it&rsquo;s not the same. His children had visited him in Mexico, but his financial picture hadn&rsquo;t allow him to visit here until recently.</p><p>Last month, Franco Rubio boarded a plane to Chicago.</p><p><strong>FRANCO RUBIO</strong>: I was so excited, I was just like a 2-years-kid, jumping around and telling everybody.</p><p>To find out how Franco Rubio managed to surprise his sons at the United Center, check out the audio above.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Fplaylists%2F6250422" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Sat, 18 Jan 2014 10:14:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/mexican-father-gives-chicago-sons-big-surprise-109539 Chicago Bulls get no respect http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-05/chicago-bulls-get-no-respect-107147 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP93894188013.jpg" style="float: right; height: 200px; width: 300px;" title="Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson, left, and Miami Heat guard Norris Cole battle for a loose ball as guard Nate Robinson, far right, watches during the first half of Game 2 of their NBA basketball playoff series. (AP/File)" />When it comes to the Chicago Bulls, I&rsquo;m mad as hell and I&rsquo;m not going to take it anymore. I&rsquo;m not talking about Derrick Rose on the sidelines. Or whether or not Nazr Mohammed should have shoved LeBron James (he shouldn&rsquo;t have; but nor should James have pulled&nbsp; that Al Pacino-worthy bit of overacting on his way down to the boards). I&rsquo;m not even referring to what the Bulls need to do to stay alive in their series with the Heat.</div><p>I&rsquo;m talking about the absolute lack of respect that the Bulls get from the national media covering the NBA playoffs.</p><p>At first it was amusing, watching <a href="http://offthedribble.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/08/on-stubborn-bulls-robinson-is-a-standout/" target="_blank">The New York Times</a> scramble to give props to the team and to players like Nate Robinson, as the Bulls won their first playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets. Or, to hear some commentators, even as the Bulls trounced the Nets, refer to them as having &quot;<a href="http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1629141-chicago-bulls-vs-brooklyn-nets-game-7-score-highlights-and-analysis" target="_blank">outlasted</a>&quot; their Brooklyn rivals.</p><p>Then, the Bulls&rsquo; started their second series against the Heat. And I really started to really get my rage on.</p><p>Late in the fourth quarter, the Bulls trailed Miami by seven. The announcers stopped paying attention, and started a discussion of the Golden State Warriors. Bit by bit though, the Bulls pulled even with the Heat. Then Robinson sank his 20-footer, which put the Bulls ahead by three. But the announcer, thinking nothing had changed since he checked out of the game, updated the old rather than the new score. He quickly corrected himself but it was too late: the game had indeed changed, and the Bulls went on to <a href="http://scores.espn.go.com/nba/recap?gameId=400464356" target="_blank">beat the Heat</a>.</p><p>Of course the game has changed quite a bit since then. The Bull&rsquo;s second match with the Heat was disastrous and the third disappointing. Push has come to shove.</p><p>Some commentators get that the Bulls win <a href="http://espn.go.com/nba/playoffs/2013/story/_/id/9249754/nba-playoffs-2013-miami-heat-need-find-footing-chicago-bulls-game-1-win" target="_blank">wasn&rsquo;t a fluke</a> but a result of their hard work learning how to beat a player like LeBron James and a team like the Heat. But by and large, indifference to their play has been replaced by an insistence, at least on the part of some commentators, to talk about the Bulls in terms of the team&rsquo;s &quot;<a href="http://www.wunc.org/post/can-chicagos-bulls-beat-defending-champion-miami-heat" target="_blank">passion</a>&quot; and &quot;<a href="http://www.nba.com/bulls/news/noah-named-2012-13-nba-all-defensive-first-team.html" target="_blank">grit</a>&quot;.</p><p>And that has me seeing red.</p><p>Don&rsquo;t get me wrong. The Bulls do play with a lot of passion. And sure, with all their injuries, it must be painful duty in the paint right now.</p><p>But these are professional players and this is playoff ball.&nbsp; That the Bulls have gotten this far is because they&rsquo;ve trained to get here, and not just because they care or have passion. That&rsquo;s like saying a nurse is great at his job because he&rsquo;s just a genuinely caring person. That might well be the case, or it might not. Either way, it&rsquo;s entirely beside the point.</p><p>Similarly, the Bulls are a good team because in addition to whatever passion lies beneath their red jerseys, they&rsquo;re also incredibly talented. They have discipline. They work hard. They didn&rsquo;t get to the playoffs because they&rsquo;re gritty. They&rsquo;re got there because they have a phenomenal coach and because they&rsquo;ve learned how to play as a team.</p><p>I don&rsquo;t know what will happen tonight at the United Center.&nbsp; I know the Bulls have the skills to win. And if anyone still doubts that, today <a href="http://www.nba.com/bulls/news/noah-named-2012-13-nba-all-defensive-first-team.html" target="_blank">Joakim Noah was named to the 2012-2013 NBA All Defensive First Team</a>, the first bull to make it since the 1997-98 season, during the so-called Jordan years. Chicago has waited a long time for another basketball dynasty, for what some of us think, even if he&rsquo;s been sidelined all season, are the beginning of the &ldquo;Rose years&rdquo;.</p><p>I just wonder when &ndash; if ever &ndash; the rest of basketball nation is going to catch up.</p><p><em>Alison Cuddy is WBEZ&rsquo;s Arts and Culture reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/wbezacuddy" target="_blank">@wbezacuddy</a>, on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/cuddyalison?ref=tn_tnmn" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and on <a href="http://instagram.com/cuddyreport#" target="_blank">Instagram</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 13 May 2013 16:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-05/chicago-bulls-get-no-respect-107147 Afternoon Shift: Eve Ensler, Great Gatsby and the Bulls brand http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift/2013-05-10/afternoon-shift-eve-ensler-great-gatsby-and-bulls-brand-107130 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/crop_AfternoonShift_CMS_tile_1200x900_0_23.png" alt="" /><p><p>On today&#39;s show Niala talks with author Eve Ensler about her new book and journey as a women&#39;s political activist. Then, Robert Frank discusses the lifestyles of the rich and famous and Kevin Adler and Charley Wickman cover the brand of the Bulls and how they are marketing the Derrick Rose return.</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/afternoon-shift-eve-ensler-the-great-gatsby-and-th.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/afternoon-shift-eve-ensler-the-great-gatsby-and-th" target="_blank">View the story "Afternoon Shift: Eve Ensler, the Great Gatsby and the Bulls brand" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Fri, 10 May 2013 13:47:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift/2013-05-10/afternoon-shift-eve-ensler-great-gatsby-and-bulls-brand-107130 Bulls odds improving after Game 1 upset http://www.wbez.org/news/bulls-odds-improving-after-game-1-upset-107090 <p><p>After a surprising Game-1 win against the Miami Heat Monday night, the Bulls&rsquo; odds seemed to be improving. But before what some have called the playoff upset of the decade, the battered Bulls were hardly a safe bet.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bulls2.jpg" style="float: left;" title="Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer dunks the ball against Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Bulls lead the series 1-0. (AP/File)" />The Heat are the reigning champions and overwhelming favored to repeat.<br /><br />In a ceremony before Monday night&rsquo;s game, LeBron James was named the league&rsquo;s most valuable player for the fourth time in five years.</p><p>The only player to interrupt his reign was Derrick Rose.</p><p>But Rose didn&rsquo;t play in Game 1...or any other matchup this season.</p><p>And yet the Bulls managed to knock King James &ndash;&nbsp;and oddsmakers &ndash;&nbsp;off their game Monday night.</p><p>In fact, Miami was so favored to win the series that in order to win a single dollar off a bet in their favor, you&rsquo;d have to put up $30. Again, to win a dollar...you&rsquo;d have to bet 30.</p><p>But then the Bulls won--and the odds began to change.</p><p>&ldquo;A lot of people are betting on the Bulls tonight with the points...it&rsquo;s a lot of points, with 12 points. One book said it&rsquo;s like 80 percent of the bets so far were on the Bulls,&rdquo; David Purdum explained.</p><p>Purdum covers the sports-betting industry for<a href="http://www.OddsShark.com"> OddsShark.com</a>. He said the Bulls odds may still improve if they can get healthy. But, that some players&rsquo; return is more impactful than others.</p><p>&ldquo;Luol Deng coming back would even surpass the impact on the line that Derrick Rose, if he was to decide to play. You just don&rsquo;t know what you&rsquo;re going to get out of Rose,&rdquo; said Purdum.</p><p>Rose and Deng have both been ruled out for Wednesday&rsquo;s game.</p><p>But here&rsquo;s to Bull-ieving...</p><p><em>Katie O&rsquo;Brien is a WBEZ reporter and producer. Follow her <a href="http://www.twitter.com/katieobez">@katieobez</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 08 May 2013 18:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/bulls-odds-improving-after-game-1-upset-107090 Bears go Long, Bulls hang on, Baseball W's and Blackhawks finishing up http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-04/bears-go-long-bulls-hang-baseball-ws-and-blackhawks-finishing-106851 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/rsz_kyle_long_ross_franklin.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Bears go Long</strong></p><p>And the 20th pick in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft the Bears selected...</p><p>Kyle Long, an offensive guard from Oregon.&nbsp;</p><p>Bears Phil Emery was unable to trade down and told the media that Long was the player the team had targeted. Many draft experts had Long going later in the draft as late as the third round.</p><p>He is 6&rsquo;7,&rdquo; 313lbs and the Bears believe he has the capability to also play at tackle. If the last name rings a bell. it should. He is the brother of Rams defensive end Chris Long and the son of Hall of Famer Howie Long.</p><p>There is some baggage for the new Bears player. He had some off the field issues at Florida State where he played baseball, went to a community college to play football and wound up at Oregon.</p><p>Long played in 11 games last year and started in five, so he has a limited resume on the Division I level.</p><p>You can look at it two ways:</p><ol><li>He doesn&rsquo;t have the wear and tear players have coming into the league.</li><li>But, he is a player with limited experience and will have to digest the game fast.</li></ol><p>Emery expects Kyle Long to make an impact sooner than later. And if the football thing doesn&rsquo;t work out, he probably could try baseball. No joke.</p><p>Long was drafted by the White Sox out of high school in the 23<sup>rd</sup> round.</p><p>The NFL draft continues today with the second and third round. The final rounds 4-7 are tomorrow.</p><p><strong>Bulls hang on to win at the UC</strong></p><p>It sure wasn&#39;t pretty last night, but the Bulls will take the 79-76 win over the Brooklyn Nets.</p><p>It started really ugly for the Bulls when they allowed Deron Williams to get his team going and built a 17-5 lead, and that was all Tom Thibodeau needed to get mad.</p><p>He regrouped his team and they came back with a sense of purpose and used their defense like a vice around the throat of the Nets. Forcing turnovers and getting easy baskets is the staple of this Bulls team. The Nets missed 25 of 26 shots during a stretch from the second through the third quarter.</p><p>It was a similar blueprint as the second game on Monday. Carlos Boozer had 22 points and 16 rebounds and Luol Deng had 21 points and ten boards. The Nets did make a run at the end of the game and had a chance to tie it but CJ Watson missed a three pointer. Brook Lopez was the Nets high point man with 22 points and Williams contributed 18 in the losing effort.</p><p>Although it was a huge win and the Bulls are up 2 games to 1, they realize the task at hand is to win two more and they expect Brooklyn will not roll over. &nbsp;There is little time to rest since the game four will be tomorrow at 1 p.m. at the United Center.</p><p><strong>Yes, baseball is in full swing</strong></p><p>Guess it was a triple header of Chicago wins last night. Besides the Bulls, the White Sox beat Tampa 5-2 and the Cubs were able to a &ldquo;W&rdquo; in Miami 4-3 &mdash; in case you were interested.</p><p><strong>The Blackhawks nearing the finish line</strong></p><p>The last unimportant home game for the Blackhawks is tonight when they host the Calgary Flames and it will be the first chance for the fans to applaud the winners of the President&#39;s Trophy. The honor goes to the hockey team with the most points for the regular season.</p><p>The Hawks have proven they have been the best team in the league with their torrid opening streak.</p><p>The team now has the luxury the final two games to back off some minutes on players. It looks like they will have to wait until the final game to figure out who they will be hosting in the first round beginning early next week.</p><p>Of course, the Blackhawks want a little bit more than the President&#39;s Trophy. It&#39;s the Stanley Cup that they have been striving for the year. Odds are that they have a terrific chance to be dancing with that Cup sometime on June.</p><p>Okay, maybe that is too cocky &ndash; but this team is very impressive.</p><p><em>&mdash;Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout">@CRayeStout</a>&nbsp;and<a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame"> Facebook Cheryl Raye Stout</a> #AtTheGame&nbsp;</em></p></p> Fri, 26 Apr 2013 00:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-04/bears-go-long-bulls-hang-baseball-ws-and-blackhawks-finishing-106851 A missive to Derrick Rose about his team http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-01/missive-derrick-rose-about-his-team-105068 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_derrick_pre-bulls-atlanta_1.jpg" style="float: right; height: 209px; width: 300px;" title="Derrick's workouts before the games has captured attention. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)" />Dear Derrick,</div><p>Tonight is game 41 of the Bulls schedule, exactly half way through the season. You are missed and everyone can&#39;t wait for your return (soon, right?). Despite many skeptics, you will be coming back to a team that has fared pretty well so far.</p><p>Here is why they are 24-16 and in a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference:</p><p>- The front court has three players that are playing at All-Star capability. Last year&#39;s All-Star, Luol Deng, has been playing a ton of minutes (not surprising) and does all the little things: defending the top scorers, forcing turnovers and averaging 17 points a game. Deng injured his hamstring and has been out for two games. Joakim Noah has been the engine of this team, he should get a spot on the All-Star team (some bloggers are even promoting it). Noah is playing big time minutes. He has added offense to a game that has been good on defense. His passes and free throw shooting have improved. Both Noah and Carlos Boozer are the only two teammates in the NBA that are averaging double-digits in points and rebounds for the season. Boozer, in fact, leads the Eastern Conference with 23 double-double games. The surge for the former All-Star Boozer has been what the front office has been waiting for since he signed. He even took Eastern Conference &quot;Player of the Week&quot; honors just the other day.</p><p>-Your position at point guard has been a bit of a yo-yo, no one can replace you, and it is a matter of just filling the spot until your much anticipated return. The effort of Kirk Hinrich is there; unfortunately his body has been racked with injuries.When he does play, Hinrich contributes in defense and running the offense. He has been limited in scoring and that is where first year Bull Nate Robinson picks up some of the slack. Robinson is a loose cannon and can be a spark or an overloaded circuit. If the Bulls are down, Nate can help with some instant offense. But there are times when he plays out of control or doesn&#39;t get into the offense fast enough. Rookie Marquis Teague, 19, has a long way to go. There were some moments where he played well with his minutes. Lately, he has been lost on defense and teams have taken advantage of that weakness.</p><p>-Your running partner in the starting backcourt, Richard Hamilton, has had difficulty with injuries again. This time it&#39;s his foot, he has missed time with fasciitis. Hamilton remains an effective player with the &quot;pick and roll&quot; during the precious minutes on the court.</p><p>-Of course when you return Derrick, the bench has been revamped, except for Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler. Gibson inked a new contract and it seemed to affect his play. Now he seems to be back on track. Last season Taj and Omer Asik were such a great front court tandem off the bench. Asik is playing well as a starting center for Houston. New Bulls center Nazr Mohammed has not had an impact and has been used sparingly off the bench. Butler has developed more this season, last year he was hampered because of the NBA lock-out. This summer he was able to work out with the team, played in the summer league and had the benefit of a full training camp. Coach Thibodeau now trusts Butler with solid minutes off the bench, especially on defense. While Luol Deng nurses a sore hamstring, Butler has been the starting small forward and has been productive. He did an outstanding job on Kobe Bryant. His teammates called him the &quot;Kobe Stopper&quot; in the locker room.&nbsp;Marco Belinelli found it hard at first to fit the &ldquo;Thibs&rdquo; system (defense will get you on the court). He has improved. Daequan Cook recently joined the team after being released by&nbsp;Houston&nbsp;and no one seems to know exactly why Vladimir Radmanovic is even wearing a Bulls jersey.</p><p>-There are a few puzzling problems for this Bulls team. There have been some bad losses: Charlotte, Phoenix and twice to Milwaukee at home. Yet on the road it has been a different story: beating Miami, New York and Boston.</p><p>-Tom Thibodeau is coaching his butt off and was rewarded with a four year contract extension. His philosophy of hard work and a tenacious defense is still his trademark. Some of the new players are slowly but surely buying into this system.</p><p>-There is no doubt that your coach and your teammates can&rsquo;t wait to see you back on the floor. Thibodeau has indicated that you have started practicing with some contact. That could mean only one thing, Derrick: you are nearing a time to play for real. Your work outs before games on the court have been dialed up. The intensity is starting to appear on your face. The fans are stacked up near the court as you and the Bulls coaching staff work on your shooting. When you do comeback, your minutes will be limited. There will be an adjustment period to get used to the front court that has been carrying the load. Everyone has been patient, but now they can&rsquo;t wait for the Rose to bloom.</p><p>Sincerely,</p><p>A more than a casual observer</p><p>P.S. It was nice seeing you greet your teammates at the locker room door after the win against the Lakers on Monday. The way you ran down the hallway to celebrate was pretty impressive.</p><p>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout" target="_blank">@CRayeStout</a> and Facebook <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame" target="_blank">Cheryl Raye Stout #AtTheGame</a></p></p> Wed, 23 Jan 2013 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-01/missive-derrick-rose-about-his-team-105068 Dear Santa: Please help Chicago sports teams this Christmas http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-12/dear-santa-please-help-chicago-sports-teams-christmas-104492 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_bears_-santa.jpg" style="width: 620px; height: 438px" title="Santa has a long list from the Bears this year.(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)" /></div><p>Children are not the only ones hoping Santa Claus can bring them all the items on their wish-list. Sports teams have compiled a list that they hope the jolly old man may put under their Christmas tree. OK, maybe they don&#39;t have a list, but here is what I think they want &mdash; it&rsquo;s not sugar plums and candy canes.</p><p>The Bears, and specifically Head Coach Lovie Smith, have a long list of wishes. A playoff berth is top on the list in big bold letters. Smith&rsquo;s future here as the Bears head coach may be tied into a postseason appearance. Winning the last two games and loses by other teams may get them in the playoffs (lots of work for Santa). General Manager Phil Emery must have plenty of wishes, too. High on his list are numerous offensive linemen, a wide receiver and a sure-handed tight end. Basically he&#39;s dealing with the personal that former GM Jerry Angelo left for him.</p><p>It&#39;s not hard to figure out what the Cubs would love to get: wins &mdash;&nbsp;lots and lots of wins. It is probably on top of every Cubs fan&#39;s list, too. Team President Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer have been filling out the roster with some free agents: Scott Baker, Scott Feldman and Japanese closer Kyuji Fujikawa. Face it: The Cubs are going to be a struggle this year maybe the next, so wins may be on the team&rsquo;s wish list for a few holiday seasons. Cubs owner Tom Ricketts may have something bigger on his mind: a plan for renovations for Wrigley Field. Is it time for Mayor Rahm Emmanuel to stop being a Grinch and start getting down to business at Clark and Addison?</p><p>On the South side, the White Sox wish is for fans over two million strong to move the turnstile this year. It would be nice since attendance has been on a decline for the past few years. Last season the Sox were in first place in the AL Central most of the year, but were one of the worst teams in baseball in fan attendance. With reduced ticket pricing and other fan-friendly deals ($10 parking on Sundays) maybe the numbers will improve; they also have to be competitive again on the field. Winning the American League Central would be a real present.</p><p>It is not hard to figure out what the Bulls want to see under their Christmas tree: a full-strength and fully recovered Derrick Rose. That may be a tall order for Santa to handle. No one knows for sure when that will happen. So, maybe a trip to the All-Star game for Joakim Noah would be a nice gift. Fans can help Jolly St. Nick by stuffing the All-Star ballot box &mdash;&nbsp;put votes in for Luol Deng, too. Another wish would be acquiring another major star player to complement Rose&rsquo;s return. Now that&rsquo;s a big wish.</p><p>The Blackhawks and their fans have one wish: a season.</p><p>Santa&rsquo;s magic has to extend at least another week to make a special News Year&rsquo;s Day for the Northern Illinois Huskies. They want to upset the Florida State Seminoles in the Orange Bowl in Miami. On that same day, Northwestern University head coach Pat Fitzgerald would love to snap the Wildcats bowl losing streak at the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville Florida (NU is facing Mississippi State).</p><p>Keeping the win column filled with victories is the hope of the Illini basketball team; they got a nice present when they hired John Groce to coach the team.</p><p>DePaul, Loyola, Northwestern and UIC (men&rsquo;s and women&rsquo;s teams) are all hoping they get wins on the hard court floor to fill their stockings (and maybe some front-line recruits).</p><p>It would be great if Santa gave Northwestern&rsquo;s women&rsquo;s lacrosse team another NCAA Championship and let the Chicago Sky finally compete in the WNBA playoffs.</p><p>Of course, there will be coal put in at least a couple of stockings&hellip;the NHL&#39;s and Lance Armstrong&#39;s.</p><p>Whatever you celebrate, may I wish each and every one of you a Happy holiday season! Hope those going through tough times will find comfort and may your hopes and dreams come true. I still believe!</p><p><em>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="http://&lt;https://twitter.com/Crayestout&gt;">@CRayeStout</a>&nbsp;and Facebook <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame">Cheryl Raye-Stout #AtTheGame</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Fri, 21 Dec 2012 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-12/dear-santa-please-help-chicago-sports-teams-christmas-104492 Sports never take a holiday http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-11/sports-never-take-holiday-103920 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_turkey_hats.jpg" style="width: 620px; height: 413px;" title="Spost fans enjoy the NFL on Thanksgiving.(AP Photo/Mel Evans)" /></div><p>Sports never take a holiday: People race in turkey trots, watch the NFL, and some even go bowling on Thanksgiving. When I worked at an all-sports radio station, I was sent to Detroit to cover the Bears on Thanksgiving Day. Fortunately, Detroit isn&#39;t a long flight; you fly in early, cover the game and return home after you finish up locker room interviews. The Lions provided us with a full Thanksgiving dinner in the press room that year. Glamorous, the life a traveling sports reporter.</p><p>Thankfully, by my choice, those days are behind me now. Call me a softie, but family time matters to me. Thanksgiving and other holidays also matter to athletes, even though many leagues schedule practice, travel or games that day.</p><p>I talked to some of Chicago&#39;s athletes about the upcoming holiday earlier this week.&nbsp;The Bulls, nearing the end of their five-game road trip, are in Houston Wednesday night and will fly back home for Thanksgiving Thursday. Players are probably hoping coach Tom Thibodeau will give them a day off before they finish the trip in Milwaukee on Saturday. Bears head coach Lovie Smith usually completes practice by 2 p.m., allowing players some time to celebrate.</p><p>Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich gets one extra advantage this Thanksgiving:&nbsp;he never sold his home here. Returning as he did, now he gets to enjoy the comforts of home with his family, including his wife and two daughters.&nbsp;Meanwhile, 19-year-old Bulls rookie&nbsp;Marquis Teague said he hopes Mom, Dad, his sisters and his oldest brother will be here for Thanksgiving. Can you imagine being that age and not having your family around? And&nbsp;Bears safety Anthony Walters told me that when he was a rookie last season, Major Wright invited him to spend the holiday with Wright&rsquo;s family. That is generally what teammates do for the younger players.&nbsp;</p><p>Another Bear, long snapper Patrick Mannelly, remembers frequent practices on this holiday during his 15-year career. He&#39;s played three games on Thanksgiving Day, twice in Detroit and once in Dallas.&nbsp;When I asked him about Thanksgiving Day, a broad smile came across his face. &ldquo;I enjoy my family coming into town and my wife (Tamara) cooks a big meal,&quot; he said. &quot;Unfortunately, in our business, we have to work that day.&rdquo; And, Patrick looks forward to the day after Thanksgiving, when he makes &quot;a huge turkey sandwich with gravy, mayonnaise on a roll.&quot; (By the way he said it, he seemed to have the picture clearly in his mind.)</p><p>Bears linebacker Nick Roach and his family &ldquo;cram&rdquo; into his grandmother&rsquo;s house for a huge feast. While his uncles and brother enjoys watching football, oddly enough, that isn&rsquo;t a must for him.&nbsp;Roach put the holiday, and its real relationship to football, into perspective: &ldquo;You are thankful for the God-given abilities and talents, to be able to play the game that you love and be able to do it for a living, to have platform to a be a good example for those that follow you.&quot;</p><p>&quot;And I am thankful for my family,&rdquo; Roach added.</p><p>My gratitude extends to my family, friends and co-workers &mdash; everyday matters having them. While I enjoy covering sporting events, tomorrow is my personal sporting event: cooking a turkey and all the trimmings.&nbsp;I really love the left-overs, too.</p><p>Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!</p><p><em>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/Crayestout">@CRayeStout&nbsp;</a>and Facebook <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame?fref=ts">Cheryl Raye Stout #AtTheGame</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 21 Nov 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-11/sports-never-take-holiday-103920 Bulls vacate the United Center to make way for circus http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-11/bulls-vacate-united-center-make-way-circus-103800 <p><p>Every November Chicago plays host to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum &amp; Bailey Circus, and every November the circus takes over the United Center for a few weeks.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_bulls-deng.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 383px; float: left;" title="Bulls travel for days with the circus in town. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)" />What does that have to do with sports? While the circus is here, the Bulls and the Blackhawks pack up their bags and play on the road while the elephants and clowns take over. The media has coined this long road trip the &ldquo;circus trip&rdquo; &mdash; not very creative, but it does conjure up some images of this stretch on the road. The Bulls begin their five-game trip in two weeks Wednesday night in Phoenix but the Blackhawks aren&#39;t concerned: The players and owners are still clowning around with their labor dispute. (Sorry, couldn&rsquo;t help it!)</p><p>Three years ago at the Bulls practice facility, reporters asked players for their thoughts on the circus trip. The response we got from Joakim Noah was priceless: &ldquo;Why do they always call it the circus trip?&rdquo; Noah asked, clearly irked. &quot;What&#39;s so circus about it anyway?&quot; He thought it was a &ldquo;dig&rdquo; at the team. When I explained where the term came from he just said, &ldquo;Oh.&rdquo; You know, the media and the players are not always on the same page. We see and do things day in, day out, year after year &mdash; but the players change.</p><p>This year, I couldn&rsquo;t resist asking some players for their thoughts on this year&#39;s circus trip. Jimmy Butler (he missed the trip last year because of the lock-out), Nate Robinson and Marquis Teague all gave me a look like I was crazy (similar to Noah&rsquo;s) &mdash; they had no idea what I was talking about. When Butler was told what it was he said, &ldquo;Oh, snap. I don&rsquo;t even know that.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_clown.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 524px; float: right;" title="The clowns and the circus take over the United Center the next few weeks.(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)" />But veteran Bulls staffers have lived this trip for years. John &ldquo;Ligs&rdquo;&nbsp;Ligmanowski has been the Bulls&#39; equipment manager for over 30 years. This year&rsquo;s trip isn&rsquo;t so bad, he said, but it is still a lot of work. &ldquo;You pack extra socks and shoes,&rdquo; Ligs told me. His status garners him help with all the laundering he has to do, particularly when the team plays back-to-back games on the road.</p><p>Back at the United Center, the Bulls and Blackhawks offices have a mini-respite. Another long-time Bulls employee, ticket manager Joe O&rsquo;Neil, said despite the circus it&#39;s really quiet at the United Center. He relishes the opportunity to celebrate a quite Thanksgiving &mdash; they will have action on other holidays. Since November has limited home games, December is packed. &ldquo;We play a lot of games over the holidays, this year we are playing on Christmas,&rdquo; O&#39;Neil said.</p><p>Depending on the coaches and the players, the &ldquo;circus trip&rdquo; can be a time for bonding:&nbsp;This year the Bulls will be able to feast at home for Thanksgiving before finishing the trip in Milwaukee two days later, but when the club is on the road it relies on the spread at the team hotel and all the players dine together.&nbsp;Back in the Phil Jackson era, the legendary coach made it an interesting road trip: At the beginning, Jackson would give players books to read&mdash; even Michael Jordan. Some read them, but others (MJ) did not. Rookie Marquis Teague said if Coach Tom Thibodeau gave him a book, he would likely put down his video game and read it.</p><p>But the trip can also be a time of bad outcomes (the first years after the championship run) or a full blown disaster. No one will forget 1985, Michael Jordan&rsquo;s second year in the league, when he suffered a broken foot against the Golden State Warriors. He missed most of the season until the final weeks.&nbsp;</p><p>Of course, the Bulls have been dealing with the injury of another big star &mdash; Derrick Rose. His absence has impacted this team, as Thibodeau continues to find the right combinations on the court. Maybe this circus trip will help the Bulls gel more. Maybe Rose with bring his thrilling act back and we can see a three ring circus next spring &mdash; maybe. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 14 Nov 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-11/bulls-vacate-united-center-make-way-circus-103800