Bulls

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Who are Charles Oakley's favorite current players?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Who are Charles Oakley's favorite current players?

Former Chicago Bull and long-time NBA star Charles Oakley joins Laurence Holmes, K.C. Johnson and Sean Highkin on the show. Oak is brutally honest as he talks about the state of today's NBA and who his favorite current players are.

Plus, he talks about his charitable efforts and shares some great stories about playing for the Bulls and playing with Michael Jordan.

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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Game-worn Michael Jordan 1992 'Dream Team' jersey up for auction

Game-worn Michael Jordan 1992 'Dream Team' jersey up for auction

Early Tuesday morning, Robert Edward Auctions announced it is auctioning off a United States men's basketball jersey worn by Michael Jordan during the Dream Team's Gold Medal run at the 1992 Summer Olympics.

The front of the jersey is inscribed by Jordan in black Sharpie that reads: "Best Wishes/Michael Jordan." 

Photo courtesy of Robert Edward Auctions

The jersey was first purchased at a 1992 charity event (hosted by the Michael Jordan Foundation) for a whopping $17,500, according to a release. The last it appeared at a public auction was in 2013, when it realized $53,325, also per the release. The starting bid this time around was $25,000, which, as of this writing, has swelled to $33,000.

Bidding for the jersey ends April 19 — incidentally, the same day as the new early release date for ESPN's "The Last Dance" documentary on Michael Jordan and the 1998 Bulls.

What better way to prepare than selling the farm for this slice of history?

Every other night through April 15, NBC Sports Chicago is airing the entirety of the Bulls' 1996 NBA championship run. Find the full schedule here.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.

Bill Wennington breaks down what caused Lauri Markkanen's third year struggles

Bill Wennington breaks down what caused Lauri Markkanen's third year struggles

It's one of the most pressing questions facing the Bulls' rebuild at present: What in the world happened to Lauri Markkanen?

After a second season that showed such promise, the 22-year-old Finnish forward has taken a step back in year three, averaging career lows in points (14.7), rebounds (6.3) and field goal attempts (11.8) while shooting just 42.5% from the field and 34.4% from 3-point range. In 50 games — he missed nearly six weeks from Jan. 24 to March 4 with an early stress reaction in his pelvis — before the NBA suspended its season, he averaged just 0.1 more minutes than his rookie campaign.

Still, Markkanen's talent, tools and the potential he flashed in his first two seasons are too tantalizing to simply give up on — especially for a Bulls team that has invested so heavily in him. That makes finding the root of his struggles all the more important.

Over the course of a disappointing Bulls season, fans and media alike have flooded out of the woodwork to posit their own theories for the cause of Markkanen's regression. Former Bulls center and current Bulls radio color commentator for 670 The Score Bill Wennington added his opinion in a guest spot on a recent episode of Sports Talk Live:

I think we’ve (the Bulls) kind of limited Lauri a little bit in his skillset, what he can do, because we’re having him stand out just at the 3-point line, and that kinda takes away from his game just a little bit. And, hey, does he have to be more aggressive? Yes he does. Does he have to make a better effort rebounding, I’d like to see the rebounding come up. Yes he does. 

But we also have to put him in positions to be successful as a player. Again, up until this season, everybody was loving Lauri. What’s changed? What’s different with his game now over the last two years where we thought, ‘Oh boy, we’ve got something good going on here.’

That critique points to the complexity of Markkanen's struggles. His spotty usage (he can't control his minutes) and meandering role in the team's offense can be in part attributed to the Bulls' schemes at times neglecting his strengths as a ballhandler and creator. But, as Wennington notes, Markkanen can do more to take his destiny into his own hands — the chasm between his second and third year rebounding numbers are an indicator of that, as is his deflated volume of shots.

"What Lauri is not right now is a strong, aggressive leader where he’s going to enforce his will upon other people. That’s not going to happen right now," Wennington said.

But that's not intended as to belittle Markkanen completely. Wennington, like many in the Bulls' organization and fanbase, believes things can turn back around.

"Can it get better? Yes it can. Do I want it to get better for Lauri? Yes I do," Wennington continued. "Lauri is a multi-faceted player that, as a 7-footer, can shoot 3s, and can put the ball on the floor and handle the basketball well for a 7-footer and can get to the rim."

So, how should the Bulls go about extracting Markkanen's maximum potential? Wennington drew on his experience with the Phil Jackson-era Bulls — an experience in which he earned three rings during the Bulls' second three-peat — to offer something of a solution.

"I like to use the analogy of me because I know me the best and I like talking about me more than anyone else," Wennington joked. "When I came to the Bulls, the triangle offense was run out of the center spot with Bill Cartwright as a center, or as a low-post passer. Phil Jackson integrated me into the triangle offense by using my jump-shooting ability. He tweaked the offense a little bit and made me run some screen-and-rolls from the outside and fade and pop a little bit, where he could take advantage of me hitting jump shots and spreading the floor a little bit."

Is Wennington suggesting the 2020-21 Bulls implement the triangle to assuage their offensive woes? Of course not. But with a bit of intentional gameplanning suited towards Markkanen's strengths, a dash better injury luck and a healthy dose of contract-year assertiveness, Markkanen could just be on his way to a bounceback in year four.

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