Bulls

CSN to air brand new documentary special chronicling Cubs manager Joe Maddon's return to his hometown of Hazelton, PA

CSN to air brand new documentary special chronicling Cubs manager Joe Maddon's return to his hometown of Hazelton, PA

“Going Home: Joe Maddon presented by Binny’s Beverage Depot” premieres Thursday, January 14 at 9:30 PM CT -- Exclusively on Comcast SportsNet

Chicago, IL (January 11, 2016) – Coming off one of the most remarkable first-year managerial efforts in Chicago Cubs history, Comcast SportsNet will provide viewers with a brand new documentary entitled Going Home: Joe Maddon presented by Binny’s Beverage Depot, a half-hour Comcast SportsNet Original Production chronicling the reigning “National League Manager of the Year’s” recent return to his beloved hometown of Hazleton, PA.  Going Home: Joe Maddon premieres Thursday, January 14 at 9:30 PM CT exclusively on Comcast SportsNet, immediately following “Blackhawks Postgame Live.”  CSN will also re-air this documentary special on Friday, January 15 at 9:30 PM, which coincides with the opening night of the 2016 Cubs Convention, and again on Monday, January 18 at 9:00 PM.  NOTE: This will be the first of two Going Home documentary specials CSN will be providing viewers in January with the second focusing on Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu’s first trip back to his home country of Cuba since he defected back in August of 2013.  Details on this special will be coming soon.

Produced and edited by Comcast SportsNet’s multiple Emmy award-winning Executive Producer of Original Content Sarah Lauch, Going Home: Joe Maddon takes an in-depth look at Maddon’s return to his hometown of Hazleton, PA, as he takes viewers on a car tour around town, showcasing his home and neighborhood where he grew up, his favorite hangouts, the ball field which now bears his name, to even the luncheonette where his mother “Beanie” still works to this day.  The centerpiece of Going Home: Joe Maddon is his visit to the Hazleton One Community Center (hazletonintegrationproject.com/), where he is the honorary chairman of the center’s foundation, The Hazleton Integration Project (HIP).  The mission of HIP is to provide a physical environment within the city of Hazleton, conducive to creating opportunities for economically-challenged children to participate in a variety of no-cost or low-cost education, cultural, and athletic activities for the purpose of engaging children in wholesome activities, while fostering trust and respect among all ethnic cultures.  CSN’s exclusive coverage of Maddon at the Hazleton One Community Center truly showcases the commitment of a man who will continue to do anything for the growth and prosperity of the hometown that he holds so dearly to his heart.

“Joe Maddon has quickly solidified himself as an icon in the city of Chicago,” said Kevin Cross, Senior Director of News & Original Content for Comcast SportsNet Chicago.  “Sarah and our crew have put together something very special for our viewers as we get to learn about Joe’s past and why his love of his hometown of Hazleton is most assuredly equal to his love of baseball.”

In addition to the exclusive, up close and personal interviews with Maddon, Going Home also includes interviews with numerous individuals close to Maddon’s life including his wife Jaye Maddon,his mother Albina Beanie” Maddon, his sister Carmine Parlatore, his cousins Tina and David Mishinski, President of the Hazleton Integration Project Bob Curry,who also happens to be married to Joe’s cousin, and longtime friend/MLB pitching great Rick Sutcliffe among others.      

CSNChicago.com Cubs “Insider” Patrick Mooney also accompanied the Comcast SportsNet crew for Maddon’s visit back to Hazleton and viewers can look forward to his upcoming feature stories and additional insight about Maddon’s personal life, along with his thoughts on the upcoming 2016 MLB season, beginning Tuesday, January 14 exclusively on CSNChicago.com/Cubs. Plus, CSNChicago.com will also provide additional “web-exclusive” content from Going Home immediately following its on-air debut airing.

Please note the following quotes from the Comcast SportsNet Original Production of Going Home: Joe Maddon presented by Binny’s Beverage Depot,debuting Thursday, January 14 at 9:30 PM CT:

JOE MADDON on Hazleton, PA: “This is my hometown and when I was a kid growing up here, without question, was the best place for any kid to grow up…whether you are talking about family, friends, activities, just pure joy.  I came back in 2010 for Christmas and there was all this proliferation, there were more Hispanics in town, lots of tension, and the people that had been here before, no one got each other.  It was a really bad moment.  The town was dark and the kids had nothing to do and they were getting in trouble. The goal now is to get the pendulum to swing back to where it had been.  Jaye (Maddon) said how about HIP “Hazleton Integration Project” and I said ‘Boom…that is perfect!’  We wanted to get a center.  We created a board and now we have this facility, we have after school programs, we have athletic programs, and we have cultural programs. Whatever the community needs, we want to be here.”

JOE MADDON on comparing Hazleton to Chicago: “A microcosm of Hazleton vs. Chicago, the ethnic backgrounds of the people, hardworking, family-oriented.  There are all these similarities and, when I talk to the people of Chicago, I feel like I have known them a long time, so there is no break in period.”

JOE MADDON on how his early years in life shaped how he is a manager today: “I had every job there was in the minor leagues, except pitching coach.  That is how you become who you are.  You think I do crazy things, you think I think outside the box?  Because I could try different things in Midland or in Salem or in Idaho Falls or in the back fields at Gene Autry Park in Mesa, AZ.  I mean five-man infields whatever you want to do…done it, back then. So, all these things I do now are rooted because I had free reign to make mistakes back then when no one can see them and that is how you get to this point.”

JAYE MADDON on her first meeting with Cubs President, Baseball Operations Theo Epstein & Executive VP/GM Jed Hoyer:  “They brought a Pinot Noir and, at the time, if I drank red wine at all, I would drink Pinot Noir.  So they bring this bottle of wine in a brown paper bag and it was all very casual.  We just sat at the beach and talked and it wasn’t necessarily all about baseball.  I think they knew before that their visions aligned and that their philosophies aligned a lot, but I think this was just ‘let’s just verify this.”

CARMINE PARLATORE (Joe’s sister) on Joe Maddon: “He (my dad) always felt like Joe was going to make it big, somehow, some way, in MLB.  I know getting to where he is now was not easy, it was tough, a lot of work, a lot of sacrifice on his kids and his grandkids.  They don’t get to see him a lot.  We don’t get to see him a lot anymore.  When he comes home he is Joey, not Joe, he is Joey and we have a blast.”

It's Bobby's World in Bulls' lottery-improving loss to 76ers

It's Bobby's World in Bulls' lottery-improving loss to 76ers

The final 25 games was supposed to be all about the development of the Bulls’ recent acquisitions and securing a record worthy of one of the last three envelopes at the NBA Draft Lottery.

Only Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn seemed to matter, with Cameron Payne and Cristiano Felicio being the perfect window dressing for development as opposed to just saying a team is tanking.

But Bobby Portis is making a case that he isn’t to be forgotten in the big picture, that his worth is more than just being a punchline to the jokes that followed his incident with Nikola Mirotic.

The only thing Portis didn’t do right in the Bulls’ 116-115 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers was missing a point blank shot that would’ve given the Bulls an improbable and unwanted win, and it would’ve given him 40 points.

Instead he had to settle for a career-high 38 as Joel Embiid was bearing down on Portis when he caught a diagonal pass from Dunn with 1.1 seconds left, having the shorter T.J. McConnell on him and taking a power dribble to gather himself.

“If I could go back I would’ve just went up the first time off the glass like I always do,” Portis said. “We just have to try to close out games better.”

Embiid showed he’s worth all the trouble with his health problems, scoring 30 with 13 rebounds and five rebounds while Ben Simmons put up 32 with 11 assists and seven rebounds as the 76ers improved to 31-25, good enough for seventh place in the East.

In a game that featured remarkable resolve from a purposely undermanned Bulls team as they sat Robin Lopez and Justin Holiday, they put themselves in position to win after trailing by 18 early. After leading by five courtesy of a LaVine walk-down triple with 1:02 left, they made a couple critical errors that allowed the 76ers to steal a game the Bulls won’t mind them taking at the end of 82.

Denzel Valentine’s inbounds pass with 5.9 seconds left was intended for LaVine, but Embiid stepped in front for a steal as they were in position to make it a free-throw game the rest of the way.

Similar to the Bulls’ unlikely win over the Orlando Magic before the All-Star break, they returned the favor as 76ers rookie Ben Simmons made free throws after the steal to give the visitors a one-point lead, setting the stage for the final play.

If learning lessons is what the last 100 quarters of basketball is supposed to be about, the Bulls got a big-time lesson in a game that ultimately means nothing.

“These are learning opportunities for our team,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “I couldn’t be happier, the way we went out and competed. We dug ourselves an 18-point hold and (fought) our way back—have complete control of the game.”

Control was wrestled from the 76ers by Portis’ able and quick hands. Taking more of a scoring posture since Mirotic’s departure, Portis has never been shy about being aggressive.

But now he’s being encouraged in that department, playing a big part in the Bulls’ tying their franchise record of 18 triples with six of his own, scoring 21 in the first half and not backing down one step from the massive Embiid.

“I kind of struggled from (three) in the last six, seven games,” said Portis, who didn’t take much time off during the All-Star break. “I think I’ve shown this entire year, trying to stay consistent and be a spark off the bench.”

Counting the last two games before the break, Portis has been on the best scoring binge of his career—cementing his place in the league when just a few months ago, many were questioning if the Bulls should’ve actually picked up his player option following the Mirotic incident.

His 25.0 points in the last three, along with scoring in double figures for seven straight games are career-bests. With every flex, every energetic plea to the crowd and resourceful score underneath the rim, Portis is becoming a player the Bulls can’t afford to plan without.

The stage was set for a Portis breakout shortly after the incident, when he was serving his suspension to start the season. When the Bulls traveled to Miami and Orlando, he flew on his own to Orlando for dinner with his mentor, former NBA veteran and Magic assistant coach Corliss Williamson.

Williamson, a player who was not to be trifled with during his career, told Portis essentially, “this too shall pass”.

“Just play your game,” Williamson told NBCSportsChicago.com recently. “Don’t put any pressure on yourself about what’s gonna happen after this year. What’s got him here is hard work, how hard he plays in the game. He continues to do that, he’ll be successful.”

Portis recalled the dinner where he was finally able to confide and unleash after weeks of frustration. Calling Williamson a father figure dating back to their Arkansas roots, where Portis played on Williamson’s AAU teams in middle school, Portis put his trust in him and came back reinvigorated.

“We talked for hours about the whole situation,” Portis told NBCSportsChicago.com “He told me when I come back to come 10 times harder. When people play this game and play the right way, they forget about the other stuff. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

Scoring 38 tends to remake a narrative.

“Bobby just continues to improve,” Hoiberg said. “He’s a confident kid that goes out and plays with a ton of swagger and toughness. You need that, to go out and play with that type of effort. He’s tenacious on the glass. He’s getting the crowd into the game.”

When speaking of Portis, Hoiberg’s face went from flush to beaming, knowing how far Portis has come in his three years—being a player who wouldn’t take 3-pointers with confidence to now unleashing them whenever a defender’s feet shows the slightest hint of leaning back.

No hesitation.

“Regardless if I’m making shots, I try to leave it all out on the floor,” Portis said. “It felt good making shots, being able to help the team. I wanted the win tonight.”

Portis helped make up for the Bulls not getting their usual production from Dunn, who struggled guarding the bigger Simmons and Lauri Markkanen, who missed all five of his 3-pointers and made just one field goal in 32 minutes.

“You can put he and Lauri together,” Hoiberg said. “It gives you two guys that can stretch the floor and space it, two guys that can rebound, two that can put it on the floor. It’s exciting to think about when Kris gets his rhythm back.”

And now, Williamson’s words have proven to be prophetic for his pupil, because if the Bulls aren’t seeing Portis as a key part of their future, there’s about 25 other teams who’ll be lining up for his services this summer.

“I told him don’t even worry about it,” Williamson said. “Let your game speak for itself. People who really know you, know what type of person you are. You start producing people will forget about it and love you for what you do on the court.”

His game is talking, even if the Bulls’ loss was one they’d rather have taken in silence.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Projecting the Bulls’ future

dunnlavinelauri.png
USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Projecting the Bulls’ future

In the latest edition of the Bulls Talk Podcast, Mark Schanowski, Will Perdue and Kendall Gill recap the Bulls’ 116-115 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, look at the continued growth of Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn, and discuss if Bobby Portis is part of the Bulls’ long term future.

They also check in on LeBron James and the new-look Cleveland Cavaliers, discuss whether or not the Golden State Warriors can make another title run and the latest on the status of San Antonio Spurs guard Kawhi Leonard. The guys also discuss how Oklahoma guard Trae Young could look in a Bulls uniform if he’s available for them in the draft.

Listen to the full episode at this link (iOS users can go here) or in the embedded player below. Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts.