Bulls

Urlachers legacy should be on the field, not TV

965515.png

Urlachers legacy should be on the field, not TV

The brouhaha over Brian Urlachers comments after the Bears' 21-13 loss to the Packers on Sunday has to be set aside and a bigger picture considered.
The final chapter and epilogue for Urlachers career as a Chicago Bear cannot be a popped hamstring late in the Seattle game and some frustrated mutterings last Sunday after watching his team lose and his teammates vilified by elements of the fan base.

MORE: Should fans continue booing the Bears at home?

Two things here:
One is that Urlacher doesnt need (or particularly want) anyone speaking for him or whatever. But this is Christmas. Cut the guy some Yuletide line. If you need a reason, maybe just because theres enough rancid going around in the world and life already.
The media doesnt like him because hes short with them, increasingly terse as the years have gone on and its difficult to feel fuzzy toward someone you know holds you in the same high regard as lint.
But Urlacher is more than his tackle totals or publicized personal life. Ill share a story with you here, from someone I met last week completely away from football:
The same guy who said he doesnt care what fans think or say not that long ago was in downstate Illinois for family time. He had agreed to be back in Chicago to help with a friends event for kids. No money, just something he said hed do.
A blizzard hit. Urlacher was good to his word. He got in his SUV and drove four hours through the driving snowstorm, made it and was all apologetic for being 20 minutes late. He then stayed to sign things and visit until the last kids were gone.
I dont particularly care what Brian Urlacher thinks of me. He doesnt talk to me, so were even there. But the legacy shouldn't be a fit of pique on some TV show or at some podium.
The proper ending
The second item here is what needs to happen next for Urlacher.
He probably isnt going to be sufficiently over the hamstring by next Sunday in Arizona. But the Bears have not placed him on injured reserve the way defensive tackle Matt Toeaina and running back Michael Bush were.
The game in Detroit could loom as the last grasp at the playoffs, assuming a Bears win over the Cardinals. The Bears desperately need a positive charge ... like the kind that Hall of Fame center Willis Reed once gave the New York Knicks in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals. Reed was out with a severe thigh injury but stunned the Los Angeles Lakers and the basketball world by running out of the tunnel in uniform. He started, hit the first two shots of the game for the Knicks, who rode the emotion to a win over Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, Jerry West and the Lakers.
It wont be in Soldier Field. But Bears fans travel and have turned places like Ford Field into virtual home fields for the team.
Urlacher trotting out with the No. 1 defense, hamstring taped up to ensure he can play a couple snaps -- best guess is that not just the defense would be energized.
Count on it: Urlacher would do that for Lovie Smith if he were sure it wouldnt hurt the team.
If that turns out to be Urlachers final game as a Bear, hes earned the honor of being carried out on his shield, if he can manage it at all. And if that gives the Bears a boost and they win their way into the playoffs or more, not a bad statement for being back another year, possibly with Smith.
That is how Brian Urlachers 2012 should end. Not on a TV set.

Three Things to Watch: Bulls dance with Warriors

11-24_gsw_matchup_nba_chi_blank.jpg

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

chicago-thankful.jpg
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.