Bulls

5 Questions with...Luvabull Ashley Bond

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5 Questions with...Luvabull Ashley Bond

By Jeff Nuich
CSN Chicago Senior Director of CommunicationsCSNChicago.com Contributor

Want to know more about your favorite Chicago media celebrities? CSNChicago.com has your fix as we put the citys most popular personalities on the spot with everyones favorite local celeb feature entitled 5 Questions with...

On Wednesdays, exclusively on CSNChicago.com, its our turn to grill the local media and other local VIPs with five random sports and non-sports related questions that will definitely be of interest to old and new fans alike.

This weeks guesta true Chicago beauty both inside and out who currently stars in Comcast SportsNets acclaimed documentary series, The Making of the Luvabullsshe was crowned Miss Illinois USA 2009, shes also standout dancer, an expert fitness guru, plus she was recently named the 1 Sexiest Dance Team Babe in the NBA by Bleacher Report -- but more importantly -- shes one of the nicest people youll ever meet(hum that famous pageant song intro here) There she isits 5 Questions withASHLEY BOND!

BIO: Ashley Bonds life was changed forever when she was crowned Miss Illinois USA 2009 in early December 08. With many excited friends and family to share in her joy, Ashley became the 58th honoree to win the title of Miss Illinois USA. The reality of the moment had not truly set in, until one of her brothers asked Is this your best day ever? As she thought about it for a millisecond, she smiled and said, Yes!

Ashley is the only daughter to Michael Bond and Kelly & Steve Patten. She is also the proud big sister to twin brothers, Sean & Brad. Currently, the 27-year-old brunette resides in the city of Chicago, a place that has introduced her to great people and wonderful opportunities.

Ashley grew up in Streamwood, IL, and graduated from Streamwood High School in 2002. She always knew she wanted to go to a Big Ten college and couldnt dream of attending one in any state other than the great state of Illinois. Urbana-Champaign then became her home for the next four years. While attending the University of Illinois, Ashley became a member of numerous organizations: the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Alpha Lambda Delta Honors Society, Delta Gamma Sorority and the world-renowned Marching Illini in the section of Illinettes.

The Illinettes, the official dance team of the University of Illinois, named Ashley captain her junior year. That year she also had the honor of being a part of the NCAA final four as the Fighting Illini headed to St. Louis. The amazing accomplishment of the basketball team provided many nationally-televised interviews and appearances for Ashley. In May of 2006, Ashley graduated with high honors as a James Scholar and an eight time Deans list recipient. Receiving her Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from the University of Illinois has and will continue to help her reach many of her lifelong goals.

Ashley has already accomplished many of her dreams since earning her degree. After graduating, Ashley left home and began working for the Fortune 100 Company Walt Disney. As a cast member in the entertainment department at Walt Disney World Resorts, Ashley performed in numerous events including the "Celebrate the Seasons" show at Cinderellas Castle at the Magic Kingdom. After returning from Orlando, Ashley began working as a personal trainer. It was then that Ashley realized the positive impact she could have in society by educating, motivating and teaching others to lead a healthy lifestyle.

To keep herself healthy, Ashley continues her passion and dances. Dancing since the age of two, she is honored to now be a five-year veteran of the Chicago Luvabulls, the official dance team of the Chicago Bulls. As one of ten ladies chosen to represent the NBA and the Luvabulls overseas, Ashley left for Paris and Holland two weeks after winning the title of Miss Illinois USA. Ashley performed and brought awareness to the Miss Illinois USA title in each country. She hopes to have many more opportunities to travel the world and represent, not only her state, but her country. She is grateful for the many opportunities being a Chicago Luvabull, an NBA ambassador and a personal trainer has given her.

Charity work is also an important part of Ashleys life. She has been involved with numerous organizations such as Bright Pink, the H Foundation and Charitabulls. In addition, she has volunteered at numerous dance clinics and physical education events in elementary schools. During college, Ashley took part in a philanthropy event in which she bought Christmas gifts and delivered them to children in an elementary school. Seeing the excitement on the childrens faces created such joy for Ashley. It was during this profound moment that Ashley realized she wanted to focus her energy on helping children.

Ashley has a strong commitment toward ending childhood obesity as well. Her tireless efforts working with school district administrators to bring more attention to this unfortunately rising issue in the United States continues to be major focus in her life.

Ashley can be currently seen on Comcast SportsNets acclaimed four-part documentary series entitled The Making of the Luvabulls, plus - you can read her Body by Bond fitness blog on chicagonow.combody-by-bond and you can check her out on BULLS TV (via http:www.nba.combullsbullstv) and from time-to-time in the RED EYEs Chicago 5 on 5.

1) CSNChicago.com: Ashley, as youre well aware, Comcast SportsNet is currently airing the popular four-part documentary series, The Making of the Luvabulls (Part II debuts tonight at 7:00 PM!). As a five-year Luvabulls veteran and one of the primary stars of this series, what was it like for you personally to have our behind-the-scenes producers (Sarah Lauch & Ryan McGuffey) and crew covering the entire process from start to finish (that had to be a little more nerve-wracking for those women vying to make the team the first time out as well, right)?

Bond: I thought it was a unique opportunity to be filmed throughout the entire audition process. On the one hand, it pushed me even a little harder because I knew there were cameras there. On the other hand, it made it a little more nerve wracking than normal while performing. I kept telling myself, don't fall or trip, because that'll be the spot that gets shown on TV! Obviously, at any audition, you want to do your best, but usually if you mess up, you move on and try to forget about it. But when it's on film, you're going to see it again. No one wants to look back and say "Oh, goodness! Yep, that was me. Doing something crazy during that dance. I just told myself to relax, do my best and if I fall, oh well. At least then maybe I could give somebody else a laugh watching, too. You'll have to watch to find out if I did any face planting.

I think for any woman trying out for the team, whether new or returning, the cameras made it a little more nerve wracking, just in different ways. Luvabulls are required to audition every year. No one is safe. I had been on the team for four years at that point, but I couldnt help but wonder, what if I dont make it this year? This year, the year that it is all being caught on camera! This thought definitely went through my mind during auditions as well.

Despite the fact that these thoughts went through my head, I forgot about the cameras most of the time. I was there to accomplish a goal and all my energy went to achieving that. I can't control whos going to be at auditions or whos going to be watching, just like I can't control any of the 20,000 people attending a game. I just focus on what I can do, and to be the best performer I can be. I'm excited to see what the cameras have captured. Being a Luvabull has been a huge part of my life. It's pretty neat to have something to look back on that captures a huge piece of it.

2) CSNChicago.com: Youve been a crusader in helping fight child obesity through your valiant efforts in reaching out to schools, parents and kids to increase childhood physical activity and athletic involvement. With cost-cutting moves continuing to occur within school systems across the country, do you think this battle can actually be won anytime soon?

Bond: I do believe the battle can be won in increasing childhood physical activity in schools despite cost cuts. I think budget cuts are extremely unfortunate and I don't have the answer to fixing that. I do believe that by restructuring the normal P.E. class schedule and curriculum, we can help improve physical activity in children. Instead of focusing on just athletic skills, I think we need to focus on teaching kids how to be healthy. I also think its important to help children find an activity that they enjoy and feel good participating in. Thereby, improving the child's confidence and hopefully building a foundation for them to want to continue to be active.

When I was growing up in school, all we did was play sports. I never truly loved gym class until my senior year when I was able to take a strength and conditioning class. It was because I had a genuine interest in it. I believe sports and team building are important parts of P.E., but I also think other options and activities need to be implemented in the curriculum. The goal should be to have fun while educating and encouraging children about the benefits of being healthy and active.

3) CSNChicago.com: Naturally, being crowned Miss Illinois USA 2009 was a life-changing moment for you. What was more demanding for you personally during that whole process: the physical aspect of looking your very best at all timesor the mental aspect of avoiding the non-stop demandsdistractions and keeping a sharp focus on your goal from start to finish?

Bond: I think the mental aspect was probably more challenging than the physical aspect. I enjoy working out so, from the fitness standpoint, it was fun for me to go to the gym and get myself in the best shape I could possibly be in. During competition preparation, I was eating extremely well. I cut out sweets and fried foods and was pretty much cooking all of my meals at home. It was hard to go out for birthdays and events because I wasn't eating out. Being out and about made it very tempting to eat poorly. Between my job and Luvabulls, the rest of my time had to be spent wisely. I said no to joining my friends at a lot of social activities, so I could work on the things I needed to prepare for the pageant. I had to continuously stay focused on the goal. I had amazing support from my family, especially my mom, and my friends. They all encouraged my efforts toward reaching my goal. Im happy to look back and know that my hard work paid off.

4) CSNChicago.com: Outside of being a Luvabull, youre also a HUGE Bulls fan. Tell us the one game that immediately stands out in your mind that made you say, I cant believe Im actually sitting on the United Center court watching this unbelievable game!

Bond: There are so many games in which I think, "I can't believe I'm sitting on the Bulls court right now," but the one game that sticks out in my head more than any other is the triple overtime game in the 2009 playoffs against the Celtics.

We had just come from the previous game going into double overtime. I never imagined that the game would go into triple overtime! The excitement from the crowd literally sent chills down my arms. The entire squad was dancing at the playoff games, which was a unique feeling as well. During the regular season, there are only ten girls performing at each game (except for a few special games). So, when the entire squad performs together, I feel an even greater energy dancing during the games. By the end of any game, you can be pretty tired, but when it goes into overtime, that's when you really have to give it your all. I always try to remember that this could be someone's only chance to see a Bulls game. I will do everything I can to make sure I do my part in them having a great experience at the game. Every time the Bulls went into overtime, it brought a new excitement and anticipation. The Bulls won that night and every time I think about that game, it makes me smile.

5) CSNChicago.com: Outside of your constant work schedule, Im assuming you do take some time to hang out with friends and enjoy Chicagos amazing nightlife. Tell us your Top 3 favorite downtown hangouts that Bulls fans should definitely hit up soon.

Bond: My top four (I have to give 4 for this one) favorite downtown hangout spots are Gibsons, Underground, Market and Paris Club. Gibsons has great food, fast service and is open late. It's my favorite spot to head to when I'm hungry after a game. Market is a great place to head to when you want to watch a game and grab food. In the summertime, the rooftop also provides a great view of the city. Underground is a fun spot to go to when I'm looking to dance. Paris Club is also another great night club. It has a glass roof which makes it a very unique place to be at. If you have time to hit up any of these spots, I think you'll enjoy yourself.

BONUS QUESTIONCSNChicago.com: Anything else youd like to promote Ashley? Tell us, CSNChicago.com readers want to hear about it

Bond: Charity work is an important part of my life. We do a great deal of charity work as Luvabulls, and I have a few charities that I support and work with outside of that as well. I am an honorary board member for the H Foundation, which benefits the Robert H. Lurie Cancer Center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. They have one event a year called the Goombay Bash and it is my favorite charity event. It's fun, inspiring and extremely memorable. Bright Pink is another organization I support and love to be involved in. The founder, Lindsay Avner, is an inspiring woman and I encourage everyone to attend a Bright Pink event. Another philanthropic company I support is Seer Outfitters. They sell awesome shirts and the profits go to underprivileged children and those in need. They make great gifts. One of my future goals is to raise enough money to be a part of the Ride for the Roses LIVESTRONG ride in Austin, Texas.

Bond LINKS:

CSNChicago.coms official Making of the Luvabulls page

Bulls.coms official Luvabulls page

Body by Bond blog on ChicagoNow.com

Official Body by Bond website (coming soon)

Ashley Bond on Facebook

Ashley Bond on Twitter

Could star-crossed Derrick Rose be ready to call it quits?

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AP

Could star-crossed Derrick Rose be ready to call it quits?

I'll never forget watching the reaction of Derrick Rose after he found out his hometown Bulls had won the rights to draft first overall in the 2008 lottery. Rose was smiling from ear to ear as he imagined the possibilities of leading the team he rooted for growing up back to greatness. And, the fact the Bulls faced such long odds to win the top pick made the news even sweeter for the soft-spoken teenager from Simeon high school.

Rose took the NBA by storm, turning in the kind of highlight reel plays Bulls fans hadn't seen since the Jordan era. He was named Rookie of the Year and matched a record set by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar by scoring 36 points in his very first playoff game against the Celtics. The future couldn't look brighter for Chicago's hometown hero.

Rose really took off in his first season playing for Tom Thibodeau, averaging 25 points a game while leading the Bulls to a league-best 62-20 record, in the process becoming the youngest MVP in NBA history. The Bulls lost to Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals, but it appeared only a matter of time before Rose brought NBA championship to the city of Chicago.

But then came that fateful Saturday afternoon in April of 2012 when Rose ruptured his left ACL playing the meaningless final minutes of the Bulls' playoff opening win over Philadelphia. The Bulls would go on to lose that series while Rose headed off to a long and frightening rehab. The wunderkind suddenly robbed of his amazing gifts with one fateful misstep.

Rose sat out the entire 2012-13 season, drawing criticism from many fans and some media members who expected Rose to return after the mid-season All-Star break. Eleven games into the 2013-14 season, Rose was hurt again, this time with a season-ending right meniscus tear. Forget the flashy Adidas marketing campaign about Rose coming back better than ever, we would never see the explosive league MVP again.

Only Rose, his family and his trusted friends know the extent of the frustration that Derrick went through as he tried to prove to all the doubters he could still be one of the league's best players. Rose grew more combative with the media when questioned about trying to reshape his game given the new physical limitations. He would have one more knee surgery while a member of the Bulls, missing about six weeks in the 2014-15 season following another right meniscus tear.

Rose had one more heroic moment in a Bulls' uniform, banking in a three-point heave to give the Bulls a 2-1 series lead over LeBron James and the Cavs in the 2015 playoffs, but Cleveland would go on to sweep the next three games of the series, ending Rose's last chance to lead his hometown team to a championship.

Rose was traded to the Knicks in June of 2016 after the Bulls failed to make the playoffs, but after having a productive 2016-17 campaign in New York, Rose would suffer yet another knee injury, leading to another summer of rehab and doubt.

After talking openly with reporters about getting a shot at signing another max contract in September of 2015, two years before he would hit free agency, Rose could only land a veteran's minimum deal to hop on board with LeBron and the Cavs this season. He played fairly well in seven games, averaging 14.3 points on 47 percent shooting from the field, but then an injury sidelined him again, this time an ankle sprain.

Which brings us to Friday's bombshell that Rose was leaving the team to "re-evaluate his future in the NBA." Would the self-described "hooper" actually pull the plug on his NBA career at the age of 29? It seems like all the years of injuries, rehab and reduced effectiveness have taken a substantial physical and emotional toll.

In Rose's mind, he's still one of the league's elite players and should be held in the same regard as LeBron, KD, Steph, Russ and James Harden. Problem is, his body has already betrayed him, and the stat sheets that continually show more turnovers than assists are becoming too difficult to ignore.

Maybe some time away from the daily grind will convince Derrick he still loves the game and wants to get back with the Cavs to play whatever role is needed for a team with an excellent chance to get back to the Finals next June. Or maybe being with his son and family members during the holiday season will convince him that the cycle of injury and rehab is something he just doesn't want to endure anymore, even at the price of giving up the $80 million remaining on his shoe contract with Adidas.

Cavs coach Ty Lue says he's confident Rose will return to the team after some time away, and LeBron has been vocal in his support of Rose trying to re-establish his identity with a championship contender. My best guess is Rose will play again for the Cavs this season, but whether he wants to continue down the road of many injured stars, moving from city to city on minimum contracts, just might not be worth it anymore.

Can Cairo Santos be the kicker the Bears need?

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USA Today

Can Cairo Santos be the kicker the Bears need?

Since the Bears inserted Mitchell Trubisky as their starting quarterback, they've had 12 drives end with a field goal — an average of two per game. Connor Barth hit nine of those dozen kicks, which had an average distance of 38.4 yards, but all three of Barth’s misses came from 45 yards or longer. 

Barth’s missed game-tying 46-yarder in the final seconds Sunday against the Detroit Lions was the last straw for someone who hadn’t been consistent in his one and a half years in Chicago. So enter Cairo Santos, who made 89 of 105 field goals (85 percent) from 2014-2017 with the Kansas City Chiefs. More importantly: Santos has made 73 percent of his career field goals from 40 or more yards; Barth made 52 percent of his kicks from the same distance with the Bears. 

(73 percent from long range isn’t bad, but it’s not great, either: Philadelphia Eagles kicker and Lyons Township High School alum Jake Elliott has made 88 percent of his 40-plus-yard kicks; Harrison Butker, who replaced Santos in Kansas City, has made 90 percent of his kicks from that distance. Both players are rookies who were drafted and cut prior to the season.)

Santos was released by the Chiefs in late September after a groin injury landed him on injured reserve (he played in three games prior to being released). The injury wasn’t expected to be season-ending, and Santos said he’s felt 100 percent for about two weeks before joining the Bears on Monday. 

“It was a long and difficult battle, but I was confident that it wasn’t going to be a serious injury, I just needed time,” Santos said. “I dealt with it in training camp, I was kicking really well, I was the only kicker in KC, and I didn’t have the appropriate time to heal. I tried to play the first three games and it got worse, so my main goal was to get 100 percent. I’ve been kicking for about a month now and finally the last week been able to come here and visit with the Bears. The muscle is in good shape to come and take a full load of a week’s practice and games, so thankful the opportunity worked out.”

For Santos, these next six weeks can be an audition for him to stick in Chicago next year. If the Bears can look optimistically at the improvements made by the Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angeles Rams with second-year top-drafted quarterbacks, they’ll need to figure out their kicking situation sooner rather than later. Bringing in Santos provides a good opportunity for that down the stretch. 

“He’s kicked in Kansas City, which is a similar climate,” special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers said. “Their field is similar to Soldier Field. He’s played in some big games, played in some important situations and he’s, by and large, been successful in those situations.”