Cubs

Locker Room Prep Talk never stops talking

900675.png

Locker Room Prep Talk never stops talking

First of all, I'm not computer-friendly. All I want to know about a computer is how to turn it on, how to print a story, how to obtain a printout of the story and how to shut off the computer. If anything conflicts with that process, I'm in trouble.

Secondly, I never cease to be amazed and awed by the Internet. So much information at your fingertips, sometimes inaccurate and saturated with unsubstantiated rumors, but easier to access than thumbing through an encyclopedia or thesaurus or even a dictionary.

Take my old blog, for example. I didn't know what a blog was until a few years ago. Then, in 2007, my old employers at the Chicago Sun-Times asked me to start a blog. "Locker Room Prep Talk" was born in November 2007. Until December 2010, I posted as many as 10 to 20 stories per month about high school sports in Illinois.

That's the thing: my last story on the archive is dated Dec. 29, 2010. Since then, Locker Room Prep Talk has taken on a life of its own.

Actually, there was one more story. The following week I posted a story on Simeon basketball star Jabari Parker. It was deleted by an editor after one day online because he claimed some readers protested some of the content included in the story.

I wrote about Parker's relationship with a Jewish basketball player from Glenbrook North. They are the best of friends and play on the same AAU team. Parker attended the youngster's Bar Mitzvah. It took up all of two sentences in a 1,200-word story.

When I was informed by the prep editor that the editor had ordered that the story be deleted--he never talked to me about the issue--I quit on the spot. I have never had any relationship with the Sun-Times since. After 33 years, I felt the paper at least owed me an explanation.

But "Locker Room Prep Talk" goes on and on and on. Google it up and there is it--every story I ever wrote, from 2007 to 2010. And nearly every day, a reader taps into the website, reads a story and emails a comment. Some days, there are as many as four or five comments.

Incredibly, that's how I finally found Homer Thurman. After searching for the former multi-sport star from Bloom Township in Chicago Heights for more than 30 years, a reader in Hawaii emailed on the "Locker Room Prep Talk" website that Homer had died in Honolulu on June 27.

Ken Nelson, an old friend of Thurman's dating to the late 1970s, had begun an online search for Thurman's background and discovered a story in "Locker Room Prep Talk" and my recent story for CSNChicago.com on Thurman's induction into the Illinois Basketball Hall of Fame and Museum in Pinckneyville.

People from here, there and everywhere, including Hawaii, somehow find Locker Room Prep Talk on the Internet and check out the archive, then comment about a story that was posted sometime in the last 10 years.

Most recently, someone recalled my story on the late basketball star Billy Harris of Dunbar, noting that he had played many days at Dunbar's gym with Crane star Arthur Sivels. He said he rated Sivels, a playground legend, "just slightly above" Isiah Thomas, Tim Hardaway, Kevin Porter, Ronnie Lester, Mo Cheeks, Derrick Rose, Rickey Green and Michael Poole.

And a former Evanston player, having read an archival story on legendary Evanston coach Murney Lazier that was written so long ago that it had to be dusted off, praised the teachings of his former coach, pointing out that when he went to college he realized that Lazier had taught him fundamentals that weren't being taught at the next level.

It is unfortunate that the Sun-Times made a decision that forced the termination of "Locker Room Prep Talk." Readers can keep up with the same subject matter in the Prep section of CSNChicago.com every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

In the meantime, "Locker Room Prep Talk" continues to take on a life of its own. In recent posts, another former city basketball player recalled Sivels, Larry Cross, Lloyd Walton and Jerome Freeman, a football fan recalled Deerfield's 1973 football team and coach Paul Adams, a former teammate of Hales Franciscan star Sam Puckett said "there never will be another Sam Puckett," and Mike Matthews, a starter on Hirsch's 1973 state championship basketball team, recalled the late Billy Harris.

A St. Laurence football fan claimed the Vikings' 1979 football team, with Ron Prusa, Mike McQuinn, Mike Berggren and Rick Gregus, was more talented than the more celebrated 1974 squad of Pete Allard, Jeff Pearson, Tim Grunhard and Paul Glonek.

Several city basketball fans chimed in with comments about former King star Jamie Brandon, one of only five players ever to score more than 3,000 points in state history and perhaps the best player never to compete in the NBA. And one fan argued that many Fab Five teams could be assembled but he would start with Cazzie Russell, Isiah Thomas, Derrick Rose, Mark Aguirre and Dale Kelley.

Talk about one way to start an argument or a debate. Sounds like more grist for Locker Room Prep Talk to me.

Cubs Talk Podcast: 2017 season obituary and previewing an interesting winter for Cubs

1020_albert_almora.jpg
USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: 2017 season obituary and previewing an interesting winter for Cubs

In the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, Kelly Crull, Patrick Mooney and Tony Andracki close the book on the 2017 season following Theo Epstein’s press conference, looking back at what will go down as the craziest calendar year in Cubs history from last November through the team’s loss in the NLCS this October.

Moving forward, where do guys like Kyle Schwarber, Albert Almora Jr., Justin Wilson and Mike Montgomery fit? Will the Cubs re-sign Wade Davis or go after another proven closer? And how worried should fans be about the offense that completely disappeared in the postseason?

Take a listen below:

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks visit Niklas Hjalmarsson, Coyotes

1020_hawks_yotes.jpg

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks visit Niklas Hjalmarsson, Coyotes

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Arizona Coyotes Saturday night on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Niklas Hjalmarsson's new home.

Brace yourselves, Chicago. It's going to be a weird site seeing Hjalmarsson in a different sweater other than the Blackhawks, where he spent his first 10 NHL seasons and won three Stanley Cups.

Now he serves as an alternate captain and blue-line anchor for the Coyotes, who are the only team still seeking its first win of the season. You know they'll be hungry to snap that skid, especially when there's extra motivation for a player on their team facing a bunch of old friends.

2. Connor Murphy returns to Arizona, too.

The man Hjalmarsson was traded for will also be returning to a place he called home for four years. Murphy's role with the Coyotes increased every year before he was dealt to the Blackhawks as part of a shake-up for both teams, so you know he's going to play with something to prove.

Murphy is a physical defenseman, and has laid several notable big hits this season. His former teammates surely know it, and may want to keep their heads up.

3. Patrick Kane 2.0?

Ever since he was drafted with the No. 7 overall pick in 2016, Clayton Keller has drawn comparisons to Kane. They're both undersized, offensive playmakers, possess supreme stick-handling abilities and are American-born players.

Keller got a brief taste of NHL action last year, but he's secured a full-time spot with the Coyotes this season and has been arguably their best player so far.

The 19-year-old forward paces all rookies with five goals and ranks second with seven points, and leads the Coyotes in both categories. Expect to see his name as a finalist for the Calder Trophy for the league's top rookie at the end of the season.