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5 Questions with...Sun-Times' Elliott Harris

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5 Questions with...Sun-Times' Elliott Harris

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

October 7, 2009

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 a new weekly feature entitled 5 Questions with...

Every Wednesday 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 weekveteran Chicago sports journalist whose wildly-popular Quick Hits column appears every Monday through Thursday in the Chicago Sun-Timesa man who continues to have that mysterious relationship with former tennis star Anna Kournikovahere are 5 Questions withELLIOTT HARRIS!

BIO: Elliott Harris, who began his Sun-Times career in 1979, has been running gratuitous photos as Quick Hits columnist since the feature began in 1998. Before that, he was a sports copy editor, high school sports editor and sports writer for the paper.

A St. Louis native (which must explain why he pokes fun at the Cubs whenever possible), he actually has undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Missouri (OK, so the standards to get in and out of school were way easier back in the day).

Before he came to the Sun-Times, he worked at the Miami (Fla.) News as a sports writer and at the Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune and Fort Worth Star-Telegram as sports editor.

Some of the favorite Chicago sports moments he covered include Michael Jordan's title-winning shot for the Bulls against the Utah Jazz in the 1998 NBA finals, the White Sox in the 2005 World Series and the Cubs almost reaching the 2003 World Series (no mocking of the Cubs intended).

1) CSNChicago.com: Elliott, let's just get this one out of the way. There is no doubt a photo featuring former tennis star Anna Kournikova has appeared in "Quick Hits" at least a couple hundred times over the years, including one with the two of you together (see photo). Come cleanis this a relationship or an obsession?

Harris: I would like to think of Anna and myself as being in a perfectly healthy relationship at least that's what I try to convince The Wife that it is. And I believe if you ask Anna, she will respond similarly. Hey, I'm not going to be the person to tell Enrique Iglesias that she's obsessed with me!

2) CSNChicago.com: Thanks for setting the record straight on that Elliott. Naturally, as readers of "Quick Hits" are well aware, there are many gratuitous photos in your column everyday, but people should also realize that your column provides a tremendous amount of space devoted to some great local sports tidbits, not to mention loads of information regarding local charitable functions. What's your stance on what your column truly brings to the Chicago community?

Harris: To serve and protect. No? OK, maybe not. To entertain andor inform. If I can evoke a smile from a reader from something that I write, then I have accomplished my goal. If I can provide information that a reader can use, then I have accomplished my goal. If I can provide an insight or provoke a thought that a reader can use, then I have accomplished my goal. OK, I'll settle for two out of three any day. Actually, Mondays through Thursdays.

3) CSNChicago.com: As a native of St. Louis and a big Cardinals fan (congrats on the division title by the way, just wait 'til next year), do you believe the Cards have a shot to win it all again this year with American League powerhouses New York, Boston and Los Angeles also vying for a World Series title?

Harris: The postseason is a whole new ballgame. The American League does look to have the superior teams. However, St. Louis does have a 1-2 pitching tandem of Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright that is as good as any around. Ask Bob Brenly how far a dynamic duo can take you. He won a World Series with Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling in Arizona. No offense to Bob, but Tony La Russa is a better manager.

Does that mean the Cardinals will win the World Series or even reach it? Not necessarily. The Cardinals have revamped their lineup from early in the season with the additions of Matt Holliday, Mark DeRosa, Julio Lugo and John Smoltz. St. Louis won in 2006 with a team that barely made the postseason. But no team in the playoffs should be judged by what it accomplished during the regular season. Just ask any Cubs fan who recalls how they won 97 games in 2008 and exited in three games for the second year in a row. Or ask any White Sox fan who enjoyed an incredible 2005 postseason run that ended with a World Series crown.

4) CSNChicago.com: As Ed Sherman of Crain's Chicago Business noted in last week's edition of "5 Questions with," the future of print newspapers is in serious jeopardy. What advice do you have for college print journalism majors hoping to have a career in the media now that just about anyone "without" a journalism degree can now thrive in your industry with the growing presence of new media technology?

Harris: Newspapers are in trouble? I've been wandering the internet so aimlessly for so long looking for photos, gratuitous and otherwise, that I didn't know. But seriously yes, that previous sentence was an attempt at humor I would encourage journalism majors to understand there always will be a demand for information. As in credible information. Which is where newspapers and their web sites come in. One of these days or maybe it will be months or years newspapers will figure out a way so that the internet makes money for them the way print versions have for centuries. One advantage newspapers have is the people who write and edit for them are credible journalists. Not just some person with an opinion. Just about anybody can post something on the internet and say, ''So-and-so is a bleep.'

Newspapers do more than that. They report the news. And reporting the news is more than transcribing the words of some person at a podium or in a locker room. Rare is the columnist who has not been a reporter first. Learn the business, learn the craft. Find your voice. Find your place. My advice to aspiring print journalists is to look for a job with a credible outlet. That might not be a newspaper. It might be a Web site. Not that jobs at ESPN.com, Yahoo! and the like are easy to come by for newly minted journalists. Or check out a CSNChicago.com and tell them Jeff Nuich sent you.

5) CSNChicago.com: You've rubbed elbows with many sports and non-sports celebrities over the years. Share some memorable big names with us whom you've met over the yearsand, a follow-up question, who to this day is still that one celeb that left you awestruck upon the mere sight of their appearance?

Harris: You mean other than (CSN Chicago President) Jim Corno? Well, there's the aforementioned Anna Kournikova, Mike Ditka, Michael Jordan, Phil Jackson, Scott Pippen, Dennis Rodman and the rest of the Bulls of the second three-peat fame. Ernie Banks, Gale Sayers, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial, Yogi Berra, Bob Gibson, David Axelrod of President Barack Obama fame, Pat Ryan of Chicago's Olympic bid fame, John Belushi, Lou Rawls, Pete Wentz, Peter Max, Billie Jean King, Willye White, Annika Sorenstam, along with some Playboy Playmates, a few of whom I didn't recognize without staples attached to their bare skin that's a magazine reference for those who only view online nowadays. Rod Blagojevich, George Will, David Halberstam, Bob Costas, Ernie Harwell, Mike Royko, Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper; oh, wait, those are Sun-Times colleagues past and present and celebrities as well. There are numerous others whose names I'll recall only after I finish with this answer. Tight deadlines can do that to a person.

As I've grown older, I've learned celebrities are a lot like you and me. OK, more like you than me. At the core, they are human beings with many of the same concerns and problems we all face. So I tend not to be too awestruck when I meet them, especially because much of the time I am in pursuit of material to run in my column. Probably the athlete that left me the most awestruck was Arnold Palmer. It was many years ago when he was a force on the golf course. He was sitting around the 19th hole with a couple of friends and drinking what appeared to be a gin and tonic. Or maybe it was an Arnold Palmer. Anyway, I was a young reporter, and here was ''The King. I was a few yards away from his group and strained to hear the conversation. Palmer noticed the notepad, remained seated, turned to me and said, ''Don't be eavesdropping. Well, so much for being awestruck. It was fun while it lasted.

BONUS QUESTIONCSNChicago.com: Anything you want to promote Elliott? Please tell us

Harris: Wait till next season? It's never too late or too early to purchase a copy of ''Hoodoo: Unraveling the 100-Year Mystery of the Chicago Cubs.'' That's a book that I co-authored with Grant DePorter of Harry Caray's Restaurant fame and Mark Vancil of ''Rare Air'' fame.

Harris LINKS:

Chicago Sun-TimesQuick Hits page

Elliott Harris on Facebook

Elliott Harris on Twitter

Three Things to Watch: Bulls dance with Warriors

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Three Things to Watch: Bulls dance with Warriors

Is there any better way to break in your new Black Friday television than Bulls-Warriors tonight? We think not. Coverage starts at 9 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live, and the game is also available to stream via the NBC Sports app

Here are three things to keep your eye on: 

1. Not the score. Let's be honest: the Bulls probably won't sneak out a win at the Oracle. In fact, ESPN's matchup predictor only gives Fred Hoiberg's young squad a 2.9 percent chance to come up victorious. UIC has three times better odds against juggernaut Kentucky at Rupp Arena on Sunday, in case you needed some context.  

With the talent gap in mind, though, it will be important for the Bulls to come out with high energy. The Warriors will likely take the contest lightly in the first half, so starting off strong reflects well on the coaching staff and starters. Stay within 10 points by the half, and that's considered a massive triumph. 

2. Lauri Markkanen vs. Draymond Green? Assuming the Dubs start out with Green on Markkanen, this will be rookie's biggest test of the season. Green is an elite defender, capable of wrecking gameplans from the tip. He's physical, quick and athletic. 

Markkanen is coming off two duds on the West Coast trip, but his aggressiveness hasn't wavered. It'll be important for him to continue to attack even with the reigning Defensive Player of the Year hounding him. 

3. Steph, KD and Klay doin' work. The Bulls offense hasn't exactly been a thing of beauty through the first 16 games. Their offensive rating is a brutal 94.4, ranked last in the NBA. Golden State, on the other hand, sits at the top with a rating of 113.1. 

Take some time to admire the skills of Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson because when it comes to working cohesively on offense, they've set the gold standard. 

What Chicago sports fans should be thankful for

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USA TODAY

What Chicago sports fans should be thankful for

Families gather and people talk about things they are thankful for on Thanksgiving, but what are Chicago sports fans happy for now?

Raised expectations on the North Side

Got to be thankful that a “disappointing” season is winning the division and losing in the NLCS. The expectations have skyrocketed, and that’s thanks to a ridiculous nucleus of bats and a steady front office. Not many clubs can say that. Also, though, it’s important to be appreciative of the Wrigley bar stretch. They may charge $8 for a Miller Lite, but it’s always a damn good party.

Javy tags, too. Don't forget Javy tags.

Rebuild sparking hope in White Sox fans

Where to begin? Obviously, be thankful for the plethora of young talent that will soon take over the South Side. Be thankful for Avi Time (while you still can). Be thankful that taking your friends or family to a game won’t cause you to take out a second mortgage. Be thankful for the 2020 World Series and, of course, 2020 MVP Eloy Jimenez. But most importantly, be thankful that Rick Hahn’s phone stays buzzing.

Eddie O back in the booth for the Blackhawks

The Blackhawks are having a rough start to the season, but at least Eddie Olczyk is back in the booth. The longtime Blackhawks broadcaster returned to the booth on Oct. 18 after missing time while undergoing chemotherapy treatments for colon cancer.

With some of the key names from the Blackhawks’ title runs either leaving or being unable to play this season (in the case of Marian Hossa), Blackhawks fans are probably thankful to see a familiar face and hear a familiar voice during games.

Lauri Markkanen leading the Bulls rebuild

OK, there’s not much to be thankful for about the current Bulls team. At 3-13, the Bulls are tied for the fewest wins in the NBA (maybe in the long-term that’s something to be thankful for as well). However, Zach LaVine’s pending debut after his eventual return from injury should help create some excitement.

The thing Bulls fans really should be thankful for this year is the play of rookie Lauri Markkanen. The 20-year-old leads the team in scoring (14.6 points per game) and rebounds (8.3 per game) while shooting at a high percentage (34.2 percent on threes and 50.6 percent on twos). It’s only the beginning of the Bulls’ rebuild, but Markkanen is a good start.

Mitchapalooza

If a few things broke the Bears’ way, Chicagoans could have been grateful that the team was finally out of the cellar. Instead, we’ll settle for the fact that there seems to be some building blocks already in place. Mitchell Trubisky, Tarik Cohen, Leonard Floyd and Akiem Hicks seem to fit that category. Also, some may be thankful that this is likely John Fox’s last season at the helm.

Fire ending a playoff drought

After finishing dead last in MLS in 2015 and 2016, the Fire were one of the most improved teams in the league in 2017. After posting the third best record in the league, the Fire made a first playoff appearance since 2012.

The playoff run didn’t last long with the Fire losing a play-in game at home, but the arrival of Bastian Schweinsteiger and the league’s leading goal-scorer, Nemanja Nikolic, helped fill the stadium with six sellouts and gave Fire fans something to cheer for.