Preps Talk

Frankie O's Blog: 2016 Olympic Dream?

Frankie O's Blog: 2016 Olympic Dream?

Thursday, October 8th
Like most Chicagoans, I was, to say the least, a little surprised by the decision not to have Chicago as the host city for the 2016 Summer Olympics. You would think a jaded, old cynic such as yours truly would know better, but Ill admit, they got me. When the idea of the games in Chicago was first announced, my first impression was, cool, Ill finally get to go to one. Again, this was a purely romantic notion, not a practical one. I was reminded of this in my conversations at the bar about the bid. Most of the people I talked to were split: Half of the people loved the idea of the games as a way to show off our city and participate in a world event. The others thought that all of the political wrangling and corruption that would come with it, not to mention the disruption of their lives here during the games, was too big a price to pay, let someone else have it! For me none of the thoughts of congestion in the city, availability of any tickets, price gouging of everything (Parking? Are you kidding me? Then again I could just do it on the Ryan!) and most important, the politics involved came to mind. The way I look at it, Ive dealt with all of these things my whole life anyway! I was merely thinking of my many indelible memories of the Olympics, which were mostly of athletic feats and endeavors.

It should be viewed as ironic that my first real memory of the Olympics was in 1972. The horror that happened in Munich was a bit much for a 10 year old to fathom. What I could understand though, was the fact that the U.S. basketball team got robbed of a gold medal. Can they really just add time to the clock? I asked. It wasnt until many years later that I realized that controversial decisions on and off the field of play were just part of the whole Olympic package, in fact, they sometimes heightened the experience.

In the next games held four years later, I was mesmerized by Franz Klammers electrifying downhill in Innsbruck. It was really the first time that I understood what it meant for these athletes to represent their country, and the pressure that comes with it. Since then, I could list probably a combination of around 100 individuals and national teams that anyone would know the story of (Olga, Mary Lou, Tanya, Sugar Ray, Greg..etc.). The packaging and the pageantry of the Olympic Games was, and is, something to behold. Will anyone forget Michael Phelps' reach to the finish of the race that he appeared to have lost? It will live forever. What will also live forever are the names of the cities that have hosted the Games. Now some of the Winter Games have been held in slightly remote locations, since they need mountains, thats going to happen, but the host cities of the Summer Games are ones that no one will forget. I can list the ones of my lifetime off the top of my head without thinking. I thought that Chicago would be a worthy name on that list.

So, as the process was going on, I paid only a little attention to it: One, because it would take a while and two, because if anyone knew how to work the system it would be this town. The term, Chicago politics exists for a reason! I would just wait until the announcement, sure of the name I would hear. One thing that gave me confidence was the fact that from every estimate that I saw, the most money, for all, would be made by having Chicago as the host city. Now if theres one thing thats spoken in every language, its the word: profit. The folks at the I.O.C. (International Olympic Committee) dont exactly have a great reputation when it comes to graft and corruption. In fact, from the things that came out in wake of the Salt Lake City bid scandal, theyre brazen and obscene about it. The thing that came from that incident for me, is that they had the feeling that they were above us all, that as the caretakers of such a precious entity, that they should be pampered and given anything they want. Whatever! Of course, since then they have promised that their process of city selection is a pure one. Yeah, right. The funny thing is, I thought this would play into our hands. Chicago knows how to play this game! We were obvious front-runners, the conventional wisdom being: Rio was too dangerous and unpredictable. Tokyo was done in by being too close in time to Beijing. Likewise for Madrid being too close (next up) to London in 2012. My concern was because of the old-boy network involved, that the bid of Madrid was being organized by Juan-Antonio Sammarachs son. Now the elder is a player. He ran the show for 21 years. I knew he would be shown a lot of respect, but still, the I.O.C. has shown an unwillingness to put consecutive Games close together geographically. So, I thought, it would be close, but Chicago had the inside track. (Side note: In a display that was utterly shameless, the elder Sammarach during Madrids presentation asked the committee to consider the fact that he was near the end of his time. We needed a guy like that on our side!)

Boy was I wrong. Seems the biggest obstacle for Chicago was a little thing called the U.S.O.C. (United States Olympic Committee) While I was worried about the big egos at the I.O.C., and for good reason, I failed to recognize that the organization running the show in this country is an out of touch mess. The thing that I keep reading about is personal relationships and how we dont obviously have a lot of them with I.O.C. members. This appears be true since there is a lot of in-fighting now apparent between the U.S.O.C. and its member organizations about how the bid was presented and handled. One thing being, and even I cant understand this, that the two people at the head of the U.S.O.C. werent even present for the 1st presentation of the formal bid over the summer. How can this happen? Didnt anyone tell them how this would look? Did they care? Or was something else going on? The root of most conflict is about money and it seems that our organization is as greedy as any other. Around the same time as the presentation, it seems that the idea of an Olympic TV Network was being hatched up by the new hierarchy at the U.S.O.C. You know what that meant: more dollars for the U.S. and less for everyone else. How do you think that went over? The idea was scrapped, but the message was sent and received. Now how would you expect the I.O.C. to react, when their biggest partner was starting to look out for only their own self interests? Show them whos the boss, thats how!

So as we gathered in the bar on Friday morning, none of us realized that we didnt have a chance. The deal was sealed long before the Leader of the Free World hopped on Air Force One and went to Copenhagen to help with the final pitch. Still as the TV blared and the bar continued to fill, I was convinced that Chicago was the right city for the Games and now was the right time and, once it became official, most of the dissenters here would hop on-board.

I can still see the stunned faces in front of me as the first round results were being read. People were still listening, not realizing that the first words out of Jacques Rogges mouth were, youre done! What? Did this really just happen? All of that work, down the drain? So much for the decorations, is it too late to cancel the band?

Like I said, I was stunned. But I did it to myself. I should have known better. You cant convince me that Chicago didnt have the best city and bid. Unfortunately, that wasnt all that mattered. What mattered was an organization that relies on secret ballots and no accountability can decide to do whatever it wants, whenever it wants. If you dont want to play by their rules, theyll kick you out of the game. The U.S.O.C. needs to get its act together. The abominable bid they put together for New York four years ago for 2012 is one thing, to follow it up with this is not acceptable. The shame of it is the I.O.C. can say they gave Rio de Janeiro the bid to open a part of the world up that they have never been to before and they can make a good point about that. But lets not kid ourselves this wasnt about Rios win, it was about the U.S.O.C.s humbling (I hope) loss. The shame was it had to happen at our great citys expense and means I probably wont see a Summer Games in this country during my lifetime. I still love the Olympics and the notions that, at their core, they stand for, that for those two weeks in time they can elevate us above the pettiness that exists in our lives and we can celebrate through athletic competition and brotherhood. I guess I really am nave. I should have realized that the entire Olympic experience is really just a mirror of who we truly are.

NBC Sports Chicago to air live coverage of the IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show on October 21

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NBC Sports Chicago to air live coverage of the IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show on October 21

NBC Sports Chicago to carry LIVE announcement for every first round match-up on Saturday, October 21 beginning at 8:00 PM CT; to also be streamed live on NBCSportsChicago.com & via the NBC Sports app

Bloomington, IL/Chicago, IL (October 17, 2017) -- The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Football Playoff Pairing Show returns to NBC Sports Chicago for its seventh season in 2017. NBC Sports Chicago, the multi-platform home for the most games and the most comprehensive coverage of the Chicago Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs and White Sox, will air the show live on NBC Sports Chicago+ on Saturday, October 21 from 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM CT. Viewers are urged to visit NBC Sports Chicago’s “Channel Finder” page (NBCSportsChicago.com/channel-finder) for exact NBC Sports Chicago+ channel locations in their area.
The IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show, which will reveal the brackets and first round match-ups of all 256 playoff qualifiers across eight classes, can also be viewed via live interactive stream beginning at 8:00 PM on Saturday at NBCSportsChicago.com/IHSAPairingShow and via the NBC Sports app.

"The IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show' continues to be one of the most highly-anticipated events in the state of Illinois and we couldn't be prouder to once again showcase two-straight hours of live, interactive coverage across all platforms on Saturday night," said Kevin Cross, Vice President of Content for NBC Sports Chicago. 

NBC Sports Chicago anchor Leila Rahimi hosts the show and will be joined by a panel of experts on-set, including long-time IHSA TV announcer Dave Bernhard and Illinois high school football bracketologist Steve Soucie. IHSA TV veteran Camron Smith will breakdown each class with media members from around the state, including NBC Sports Chicago prep football expert “Edgy” Tim O’Halloran. Viewers are encouraged to interact with the show and ask questions to be answered during the program by utilizing the Twitter hashtag #IHSAbrackets.

The program will once again feature highlights, coaches interviews and media analysis from all over the state. In addition, NBC Sports Chicago will be gathering teams & fan reaction moments throughout the “Land of Lincoln” on Saturday from numerous school playoff pairing parties taking place that evening.

“This is one of the most anticipated nights of the year on the IHSA calendar,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “Student-athletes, coaches and communities around the state have put their hearts into the last nine weeks, and for 256 teams, it’s an amazing chance to celebrate their accomplishments, while looking ahead to the path to the IHSA Football State Finals. We appreciate the time and effort that our partners at NBC Sports Chicago put into making this night so special.”

The IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show kicks off NBC Sports Chicago’s playoff coverage of IHSA Football, which culminates with all eight state title games being televised and streamed by NBC Sports Chicago on Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 24-25), live from Huskie Stadium on the Northern Illinois University campus in DeKalb.

No surprise as Bulls, Zach LaVine decide to wait on contract extension

No surprise as Bulls, Zach LaVine decide to wait on contract extension

Only a couple names went off the board of 2014 draftees who reached agreements on extensions with their teams, with Zach LaVine sitting on the sidelines as the midnight deadline came and went.

His debut in a Bulls uniform and contract will have to wait.

Although LaVine’s representatives and the Bulls front office remained in communication, there was never any serious talk of a deal being reached and he’ll hit restricted free agency this summer.

The Bulls will have a better picture of what type of player LaVine is post-surgery on his left knee, and LaVine will have a chance to reconstruct his market value the way he’s done to his knee—as evidenced by his casual stroll down the lane, two dribbles and two-handed dunk while running a dummy offense with the assistant coaches over the weekend at the Advocate Center.

His return isn’t imminent, as he’s still weeks away from being cleared to practice, following the track of his rehab from surgery.

Perhaps in a bit of curious timing, Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg was talking about LaVine, saying his future shooting guard wasn’t going through much in the way of 5-on-0 drills.

“The big focus right now is on his rehab,” Hoiberg said.

But considering how few options Hoiberg has on a team that isn’t expected to win more than 20 games, the thought of how he’ll use LaVine on the floor in this offense isn’t unrealistic.

“He's doing a lot of unpredictable movements, but a lot of that is 1-on-0 workouts. Yeah, absolutely there's things we look at and see actions that other teams might be running for their skilled players or shooters.”

Justin Holiday will be keeping the seat warm for LaVine until LaVine is completely healed from his surgery, and while the Bulls are adhering to the nine-month recovery prognosis after his February surgery, his return will be highly anticipated.

“Some of the things we're running for Justin right now I think will be very good for Zach as well,” Hoiberg said. “Then we're going to get both of those guys on the floor, it's going to give you two really good options as far as shooting and spacing and two athletic wing players.”

With the Bulls in the infancy stages of a rebuild, LaVine’s success is one they’ll be invested in above any other player on the roster considering the financial stakes.

LaVine can command a deal well over $100 million this summer and will join the likes of draftmates Jabari Parker, Julius Randle and Aaron Gordon into the always-tricky world of restricted free agency.

The Bulls have done this dance before, most recently with Jimmy Butler before Butler blossomed into an All-Star. There was a small gulf between Butler’s contract wishes and the Bulls offer before the 2014-15 season began, one that resulted in Butler receiving a max contract when Butler took the biggest single-season leap in his career.

Preserving precious salary cap space has been paramount for the Bulls, who originally signed Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo to short-term deals with an eye on the summer of 2018, believing many teams will have overspent with the salary cap boom.

In that instance, they’re correct and are in position to have among the most cap space in the NBA next summer when Wade’s contract buyout runs off the books being close to $40 million under the cap. As of now, only Robin Lopez is guaranteed over $10 million for next season and Nikola Mirotic’s deal is a team option.

For LaVine, he began to blossom playing as a third wheel behind Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins in Minnesota before tearing his ACL. If he’s a reasonable facsimile physically, he will produce at a higher clip than scoring 18.9 points as a No. 1 option in Chicago.

As the centerpiece in the Butler trade, the Bulls have no intentions on letting him walk and LaVine is even more incentivized to perform for a potential max contract.

“I'm very excited about Zach. You can tell how much he wants to be out there with our guys. Every day he comes in and says, 'Coach, I'm ready to go out there',” Hoiberg said. “It's a process. We have to make sure he 100 percent healthy, even though he feels no symptoms right now at all. He's got no soreness in that leg. But he can't wait, his teammates can't wait and the staff obviously is very excited to get him back out there.”