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5 Questions with...The Score's Matt Spiegel

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5 Questions with...The Score's Matt Spiegel

Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2010

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

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 everyones favorite weekly local celeb feature entitled 5 Questions with...

On Wednesdays, 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 weeks guestone of the top on-air talents in Chicago sports radio today whose love of sports and music is second to nonehe can be heard weekdays from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM on 670 The Score who more often than not, lets say, has some spirited disagreements with his on-air partner Dan McNeil on The Danny Mac Showyou can also catch this guy on stage throughout Chicagoland as the front man for everyones favorite tribute band Tributosaurushere are 5 Questions withMATT SPIEGEL!

BIO: Matt Spiegel is the co-host of The Danny Mac Show featuring Chicago sports radio veteran Dan McNeil on 670 The Score (weekdays from 9:00 AM -1:00 PM on WSCR AM 670). For the last decade, Spiegel has been a nationally syndicated talk show host on Sporting News Radio Network, hosting The Matt Spiegel Show. The show, a platform for his immense knowledge of sports history, as well as his uniquely entertaining perspective, was heard on more than 100 affiliates and on XM satellite radio.

For seven years before joining Sporting News Radio, Matt was a host, producer, and reporter for WSCR. While there, he had a chance to cover Mike Ditkas final days with the Bears, and the entire second three-peat for Michael Jordans great Chicago Bulls teams.

Matts first job in sports media was as an intern for Major League Baseball Productions, where he worked on This Week in Baseball for Mel Allens final 2 years with the show. Matt fetched Mel coffee and lunch every Thursday for 2 summers. While matriculating at Emerson College in Boston, Matt won several sportscasting awards, and went to Fenway 30 times a season.

Through the years, Matt has interviewed the biggest names in the business, including Joe Torre, Manny Ramirez, David Stern, Charles Barkley, Bob Costas, Wayne Gretzky, and countless more. NFL stars and coaches Matt has interviewed live include Joe Montana, Deion Sanders, Mike Ditka, Marshall Faulk, Warren Sapp, Andy Reid, Donovan McNabb, Jeff Fisher, Michael Irvin, Emmit Smith, Dick Vermeil, Eric Dickerson, Warren Moon, and Tony Dungy.

Matt was the founding producer of Sound Opinions, the worlds only Rock and Roll talk show, hosted by Jim DeRogatis of the Sun Times and Greg Kot of the Tribune. He produced their 2 years of television on WTTW-11 as well. Matt also was a DJ at WXRT-FM.

Matt is the founder and lead singer of Tributosaurus, one of Chicagos hottest musical acts, becoming a different band every month at Martyrs on the north side since 2002. His singing talents have been heard on numerous commercial jingles through the years, including Feldco, several car dealerships & casinos.

1) CSNChicago.com: Matt, since you came back to Chicago to team with Danny Mac on The Score, the two of you have an interesting chemistry that is definitely paying off for both the station and your listeners. The two of you also have no problem ripping into each other if one thinks the other is absolutely out of their mind. Some entertaining stuff for sure. Why do you think the McNeilSpiegel combo works so well and are there ever times off the air that your on-air disagreements continue?
Spiegel: Our disagreements, and agreements, do indeed continue off the air, but so does our ability to laugh at ourselves and each other. We're really good about just tossing something aside and moving on...though also never afraid to talk about things later if we need to. I'm a very lucky man...I think I got Dan McNeil as a radio partner at exactly the right time, for both of us. He chose me, in part I think, because he knows he needs to be challenged, to be poked at. I love to poke the bear, because it's real, and because he invariably rises to the challenge of having to defend a viewpoint, or admit something about himself. Mac is real...that's him you hear. This is me, too...one of our main mantras is "be who you are." People are going to dislike you for something all the time anyway...it might as well be for what you actually think. It's cleaner that way.

I had told Mac before we started that I was going to come on strong as hell. I'd never been a sidekick, and didn't want to be Ed McMahon anyway. Fortunately, that's not what he wanted. By the way, I got some amazing advice from my old friend Buzz Kilman, which I won't share with you...it's for 2nd chair radio guys only...we have secret meetings.

One of the reasons our show works so well is that we balance each others interests. He's Big Chief MacHawk after all, and I love hoops and the Bulls. He's a football man to the core, and to me, Baseball Is Life. He loves his Stones and ACDC (which I dig too), but he has not flinched (much) when we fire bands at him like Wilco, Spoon, The Secret Machines, Replacements, Phish, Yo La Tengo, Dawes, and others. Here's the big key: we both love learning things. We like asking for answers, then chasing them down. That means we can talk about anything.

I love our give and take, and he makes me better at radio, every day. For instance, he loves to work without a net, just letting it fly without much structure sometimes. That used to make me crazy (WHAT ARE WE DOING NEXT!), but I'm getting a lot more comfortable, knowing that eventually over 4 hours, we're gonna get everywhere. I admire his calm within chaos.

2) CSNChicago.com: With a new Bears season is upon us and even with a surprising 2-0 start, a good majority of fans and critics are still pretty much unsure of exactly what kind of team theyll wind up like this season. In your opinion, name three key elements to this season that need to occur in order for the Bears to make the playoffs.

Spiegel:

1) Cutler must keep the picks at around 15, total. I thought he was about 90 brilliant in Week 1, and a lot further along in the offense than I'd expected. Then, Week 2 makes you think he might actually be finally maturing right before our eyes. There will be interceptions simply as a result of what Mike Martz does, but Jay can not compound it with careless throws. If he mixes in some efficiency with the expected explosiveness, watch out.

2) Health and productivity down the middle of the D. Tommie Harris has to be active and smart every week, Urlacher's presence is obviously enormous, and somebody needs to step up at safety. I'm more scared about safety than I am any position on the field, including tackle. Urlacher, by the way, has circled back around to being underrated now...he's a beast.

3) Far and away the biggest key is that Mike Tice and Martz must figure out some way to keep the QB upright. If you can't block teams straight up, then chip block. I loved the quick hitting pass plays they ran against Dallas when the rush got out of control. Make the defense pay for blitzing...that's always been the Martz way.

3) CSNChicago.com: Was there a specific moment in your life that triggered your interest in getting into the radio biz and, a follow-up questionwho do you consider to be The Scores most underrated on-air superstar?

Spiegel: Ah, the specific moment. Yes, yes there was. Growing up in central New Jersey, I used to listen to WABC 710 AM out of New York sometimes, and at night, they had a great sports talk show hosted by Art Rust, Jr. It was free form, caller-driven sports talk, way before WFAN and The Score. By the way, I was always excited to hear his great NFL guest on Monday nights, the knowledgeable Hub Arkush.

So one night I called in, towards the end of the 1984 baseball season. Everyone was talking up Willie Hernandez, the Tigers closer, as an MVP candidate, and I made a case for one of my favorite players, the Red Sox' Dwight Evans. Dewey after all had a .295 average, higher than anybody in the league with as many as his 32 home runs. Afterwards, the next caller said "that was a nice kid." Thus began a life of wanting people to say, publicly, "that was a nice kid." A window perhaps to my wiring, as a performer. On a related psychological note, I was the youngest of 5, craving attention at the dinner table.

Most underrated on air talent, eh? Hmmmm. Well, if I can't say me (punch me, please), then a few other people come to mind. What Hanley does in the morning is kind of remarkable, in a similar role to me. Laurence Holmes can do absolutely anything on the station, and excels at all of it. My guy Barry Rozner was a revelation to me doing Hit and Run...deep knowledge, a properly fun disposition, and he's good talking other sports too. I'll end up on Jason Goff though, with his fearlessness and edge. When we do 4 hours together, it feels like it lasts 10 minutes. Partnered correctly, he'll be great at this.

4) CSNChicago.com: On to musicyour standout tribute band, Tributosaurus, has been entertaining audiences for quite a while now. Who would you say is your favorite band that you and your bandmates transformed into so far?and what band in your repertoire are you currently practicing that you hope to share with your fans in the near future?

Spiegel: We've become more than 80 bands since August of 2002...kind of staggering, even to us. Steely Dan was the first incredibly difficulty one we attempted, and it was gratifying to do it well. Michael Jackson utilized 30 musicians, with the flat out best singers in town. The soul ones, like Stevie Wonder, James Brown, or Otis Redding, always feel like a memorable party. I loved when we became The Band...some of my personal favorite music.

The one dominating our consciousness these days is The Beatles, which we finally started tackling last December. We started with their first singles, and we're going to perform every song they ever recorded, chronologically. Every 6 months we move forward from where we left off, so this December we get to do Help! and Rubber Soul. That was the elephant in the musical room, and I like how we're dealing with it.

5) CSNChicago.com: Name the five most embarrassing songs on your iPod that you hate to admit that you absolutely love. Its OKwe promise we wont tell anyone.

Spiegel: See here's the thing. I have a very particular, strong, annoying sense of what is good music, and what is not. If it's good, it's good. Other people's opinions will not derail me. So, I won't think the following songs are "embarrassing," per se, but maybe you will. You're so judgmental.

Hall & Oates, She's Gone
George Michael, Freedom 90
Madonna, Express Yourself
America, Ventura Highway
Tears For Fears, Head Over Heels

BONUS QUESTIONCSNChicago.com: Anything you would like to promote Matt? Tell us, we want to hear about it

Spiegel: Barry Rozner and I come back for two more Hit and Run shows, wrapping up the baseball season on the next two Sunday mornings from 9 to noon on The Score. We will rage against the dying of the light that is the baseball season, with football stepping to the forefront too quickly for my taste.

Also, this just became official: Tributosaurus is going to become The Rolling Stones on New Years Eve (and December 30th) at Martyrs on Lincoln Avenue! Can't wait...we'll be joined by Bobby Keyes, the Stones' saxophone player for years and years. Bobby once told me a story about him, Keith Richards, Greg Gumbel, and former Bear Keith Van Horne riding around Lower Wacker Drive in someone's RV late at night. There were more details, but I'm not telling.

Spiegel LINKS:

670 The ScoreThe Danny Mac Show home page

Tributosaurus official website

Matt Spiegel on Facebook

Matt Spiegel on Twitter

NBA Buzz: Jabari Parker experiment could be coming to an end

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USA TODAY

NBA Buzz: Jabari Parker experiment could be coming to an end

FAILED JABARI PARKER EXPERIMENT COULD BE COMING TO AN END

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It was supposed to be a celebratory occasion. A Chicago prep sensation coming home to start a new chapter of his NBA career with the team he cheered for growing up on the city’s south side.

Jabari Parker’s family and some close friends were in attendance at a news conference at the United Center last summer to formally announce the signing of the Simeon H.S. star to a two-year, $40 million dollar free agent contract. After 4 injury-marred seasons in Milwaukee, the 23-year old Parker was ready to blossom as a high scoring forward for his hometown team.

Except something didn’t feel right. Maybe it was the past experience of facing so many questions about his injuries and the pressure of being the No. 2 overall pick in the 2014 draft, but Parker seemed uncomfortable with many of the innocent and obvious queries tossed his way by the Chicago media. His responses were mostly short and guarded, hardly reflecting what most assumed was a day of celebration for the Parker family.

Making the news conference even more awkward was the difficulty Bulls’ front office executives John Paxson and Gar Forman had in explaining how Parker would fit with the glut of players at his preferred power forward position. We were told it was worth taking a chance on a talented 23-year old free agent who fit age-wise with the rebuilding effort. Parker would be brought in as the starting small forward and the coaching staff would decide on the best way to construct the rotation. And, if things didn’t work out, the 2nd year of the contract was a team option.

6 months later Parker has gone from starting small forward to reserve, from reserve to starting power forward after injuries to Lauri Markkanen and Bobby Portis, from starter to reserve after Markkanen returned and then completely out of the rotation in mid-December when new head coach Jim Boylen wanted more effort from Parker on the defensive end and in practice, and less individual play on offense.

At that point, the Bulls’ front office began working with Parker’s agent to start exploring trade scenarios, and that’s where things stand today two games after Parker was returned to the rotation, reportedly because he met the criteria set by Boylen when he was benched in December.

Parker probably improved his prospects for finding a new home by scoring 29 points while playing reserve minutes in the Bulls’ last two games against the Jazz and Lakers. Jabari told reporters in Salt Lake City he’s thought about playing for the Jazz in the past since he owns a home there and is a member of the Mormon church.

Utah is trying to make a playoff push after a slow start, and they could have an interest in acquiring Parker. A trade for Derrick Favors’ expiring contract would work under salary cap rules, but would the Jazz be willing to give up Favors’ interior defense and rebounding for a small bump in scoring?

Similarly, the Dallas Mavericks have let teams know they’re willing to trade starters Dennis Smith Jr. and Wesley Matthews. Dallas is looking for a 1st round pick in any deal for Smith Jr., but would they be willing to trade Matthews for Parker straight up? The Mavs are still hoping to make the playoffs this season, and acquiring Parker would allow them to move Harrison Barnes back to his more comfortable small forward spot with proven scorers at 4 of the 5 starting positions alongside rebounding machine DeAndre Jordan. And, Matthews could provide the Bulls some much-needed 3 point shooting as well as a respected veteran presence.

We’ve also seen reports of Parker potentially being included in a trade involving Knicks’ center Enes Kanter, with Kanter going to Sacramento, Parker to New York and the expiring contracts of Zach Randolph and Kosta Koufos and maybe a 2nd round pick coming back to Chicago. Obviously, this type of deal would do nothing for the Bulls in the short term, but if they can pick up a draft asset, acquiring expiring deals is probably the best they can do in any trade for Parker.

Reflecting back to that summer afternoon when Jabari was introduced to the Chicago media, the basketball fit didn’t seem right at the time, especially after the Bulls had just matched the four-year, $78 million dollar offer sheet for Zach LaVine.

In a recent interview after the Justin Holiday trade, Paxson told reporters he had no regrets about the Parker signing, saying with the cap space the Bulls had available it was worth the risk to take a flyer on a 23-year old player with proven offensive talent. He also indicated Parker would probably get another chance to re-join the rotation for the Bulls, and we’ve seen that happen in the last week.

Still, with Boylen given the mandate to change the Bulls’ “culture” into a defense-first, hard-working, tough-minded team, it’s pretty clear Parker isn’t a long-term fit. Sports fans and many of us in the media love the story of a hometown hero starring for his city’s pro team. But the Jabari Parker homecoming story appears to be coming to an end soon, almost certainly by the February 7th trade deadline.

AROUND THE ASSOCIATION

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The amazing James Harden is putting together an incredible run of high-scoring games that just might earn him a 2nd straight MVP award. Harden poured in 57 points Monday night in the Rockets’ win over Memphis, topping the 30-point mark for the 17th straight game, the longest streak the NBA has seen since the days of Wilt Chamberlain.

Since All-Star point guard Chris Paul went out with a hamstring injury last month, Harden is averaging 41.2 points, almost single-handedly lifting the Rockets into position to earn home court advantage in the opening round of the playoffs. Houston is playing without Paul, starting center Clint Capela and high-scoring 6th man Eric Gordon because of injuries, but thanks to Harden’s brilliance, they haven’t skipped a beat.

Gordon could be back by the weekend, and Rockets’ coach Mike D’Antoni is hopeful Paul will be ready to play sometime next week, but Capela is out 4 to 6 weeks after suffering a thumb injury, ending his hopes of making the Western Conference All-Star team. Still, with Harden playing at a Jordan-like level, the Rockets should be right in the mix for a top 4 seed until Capela returns.

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Those reports of the Golden State Warriors’ demise may have been a bit premature. The 2-time defending champs marched into Denver Tuesday night and destroyed the team that had owned the best record in the West, 142-111.

The Warriors scored an NBA record 51 points in the first quarter, hitting 19 of 25 shots from the field, including 10 three pointers! Steph Curry is playing at an MVP level, Klay Thompson has regained his long range shooting stroke, and Golden State should be even stronger when 4-time All-Star DeMarcus Cousins makes his debut Friday night against the Clippers.

Sure, you can debate whether a ball-dominant player like Cousins will fit with Golden State’s free-flowing offense, but Cousins was averaging 25 points and 13 rebounds for New Orleans when he ruptured his Achilles last January, and his ability to score inside and out gives the Warriors yet another option on offense come playoff time.

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Out East, the Boston Celtics continue to search for consistency. Boston was supposed to run away with the conference championship with the return of veteran All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward from injury to join the talented young players who led the Celtics to Game 7 of the conference finals last season.

But Boston continues to sputter, losing 8 of its last 15 games. The Celtics are stuck in 5th place in the East with a 25-18 record. And, Irving created headlines when he called out some of his teammates in the locker room following an embarrassing loss in Orlando over the weekend.

He tried to explain his motivation to reporters the following day after the team returned to Boston, saying “It came from a place where I asked for a trade and I’m coming here and I believe in this organization and I want these young guys to be successful. In order to do that, we all got to be on the same page and have that mindset that, a championship or nothing. And sometimes that can get the best of me at times.”

Irving announced to Celtics’ fans during an open training camp scrimmage at T.D. Garden that he planning to re-sign with Boston when he hits free agency this summer. But if the Celtics can’t figure things out by the time the playoffs roll around, you can expect the Knicks and Nets to come calling with max offers for the New York native.

So, don’t be surprised if always-aggressive Celtics’ GM Danny Ainge offers a trade package including Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier and any number of the four 1st round draft picks Boston holds in the 2019 draft for an established star for the stretch run.

If we’ve learned anything in this era of NBA free agency, it’s that star players have been known to change their minds after disappointing playoff runs, and those decisions can impact franchises for years to come.

 

Pippen: Zion Williamson should sit out rest of the season

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USA TODAY

Pippen: Zion Williamson should sit out rest of the season

Pro Basketball Hall of Famer and 6-time NBA champion Scottie Pippen knows a few things about success and talent, and the former Bull thinks consensus top pick Zion Williamson should sit out the rest of Duke’s season and prepare for the NBA draft.

Speaking on ESPN’s ‘The Jump’ on Tuesday, Pippen was asked about the Duke freshman, “I would shut it down… I would stop playing because I feel that he could risk a major injury that could really hurt his career.”

Williamson is averaging 21.2 points per game and 9.4 rebounds per game for the top-ranked Blue Devils. Most NBA experts, including our own Mark Schanowski, have the 6-foot-7 forward as the NBA Draft’s top pick this June.

Fellow Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady added “Football players are doing it, why not? College football players are skipping bowl games and they’re getting ready for the combine.”

The Chicago Bulls currently hold the second worst record in the league at 10-34. New NBA lottery rules go into effect this season that give the three worst teams in the league the exact same odds of landing the top pick — 14 percent.

 

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