Bulls

The unique relationship between Bulls' gentle giant Pau Gasol and the opera

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The unique relationship between Bulls' gentle giant Pau Gasol and the opera

Imagine going to the opera: getting all dressed to the nines, shelling out hard-earned money for great tickets only to get stuck sitting behind a 7-foot tall guy and unable to see a large majority of the show.

There's nothing that illustrates the unique relationship between Pau Gasol and the opera quite like envisioning the Bulls' gentle giant trying to cram his 7-foot frame into a regular seat and doing his best to stay out of the way of fellow audience members.

"I am empathetic about the people behind me," Gasol told the Chicago Tribune in a fascinating story on the link between the Bulls forward and opera.

"I find myself kind of sliding down to make it better or I say to the person behind me, 'I'm going to lean to the right, you just lean to the right, and if you have any issues, let me know.'"

[NBC SHOP: Gear up for the playoffs, Bulls fans]

Gasol, 34, has enjoyed an eventful first season in Chicago, turning in a career year on the court and embarking on a personal journey off the court that included stops at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Sesame Street and even a new book chronicling his life. All that culminated in Gasol taking home the Magic Johnson Award last month.

"Pau is a multi-layered, refined type of person," Bulls teammate Nazr Mohammed told the Tribune.

Gasol said he finds an escape in the opera, attending performances to attain "balance." He's taken Bulls teammates along for the ride, too, hosting Mohammed in December and reportedly bringing rookie Nikola Mirotic along another time.

Gasol has built an unlikely bond with several people in the opera community, including tenor Placido Domingo, who is also from Spain. The two met in L.A. when Gasol was playing for the Lakers and have been friends since, following the other's career.

"It is obvious he likes [opera]," Domingo said. "And it is wonderful he also gives the opportunity to enjoy the opera to his teammates."

Be sure to check out the full profile at the Chicago Tribune. It's well worth a read.

Report: NBA and ESPN planning a televised H-O-R-S-E competition

Report: NBA and ESPN planning a televised H-O-R-S-E competition

The NBA and ESPN are teaming up to plan a televised H-O-R-S-E competition among "several high-profile players," according to reporting by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

It's the latest in a line of creative ideas from the NBA and ESPN to fill the void left by the indefinite suspension of live sports due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Friday night, ESPN broadcast the first half of the first round of a players-only NBA 2K20 tournament, to run through April 11.

No details have emerged as it relates to a timeline of events, which players would participate or what the format of the H-O-R-S-E competition would be.

Players would trade trick shots virtually, according to Wojnarowski. Many NBA players undoubtedly have private home gyms or courts from which they could safely compete.

This isn't the first time the NBA has waded into the H-O-R-S-E waters. In 2009 and 2010, H-O-R-S-E was broadcast on TNT as a regular part of All-Star weekend festivities before being cancelled in 2011 (Kevin Durant won the competition both years). And understandably so. This matchup, between Durant and Rajon Rondo, devolved into a standstill 3-point contest narrated by a boisterous Charles Barkley:

That event was a reclamation of a 32-player H-O-R-S-E tournament the league broadcast on CBS during the 1977-78 season, which Paul Westphal won over Rick Barry. Barry made the finals as a replacement for an injured Pete Maravich, who absolutely trounced his way through the tourney. 

At least there was some creativity back then:

Of course, all of the league's past H-O-R-S-E experiments were held in person with fans in attendance. It remains to be seen how they'll look to spice up this iteration of the competition.

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Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan highlight decorated Hall of Fame class

Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan highlight decorated Hall of Fame class

The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame announced its official Class of 2020 on Saturday. And my word is it stacked:

Headlined by Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and the late Kobe Bryant, this is one of the most star-studded classes in history. Also set to be honored: 10-time WNBA All-Star and four-time Olympic gold medalist Tamika Catchings, three-time NCAA-champion coach Kim Mulkey, five-time Division II National Coach of the Year Barbara Stevens, four-time National Coach of the Year Eddie Sutton, two-time NBA champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich and longtime FIBA executive Patrick Baumann.

There are some Chicago ties in here, too. Garnett famously spent a year of his high school career at Farragut Career Academy on the West Side of Chicago, receiving McDonald's All-American and national player of the year honors in 1995. Catchings won an IHSA Division AA state title as a freshman and Ms. Illinois Basketball as a sophomore in a stint at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire before embarking on her illustrious college and WNBA career.

And Tomjanovich, of course, coached the Houston Rockets teams that won the only two non-Bulls titles from 1991-1998 — teams that current Bulls coach Jim Boylen served as an assistant with

As of this writing, the Class of 2020 is set to be officially enshrined in Springfield, Mass., on Aug. 29.

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