Here are some of Friday's top stories in Chicago sports:
From the moment the Milwaukee Bucks arrived at Walt Disney World for the NBA’s restart in Orlando, Fla., Robin Lopez has been his typically humorous self on social media.
The former Bulls center and current Bucks man in the middle, along with twin brother Brook, has never disguised his love for all things Disney. Brook owns a house on the property. And the brothers have visited Disney properties both stateside and overseas for years.
But little did Robin know when he visited the resort over All-Star weekend that he’d be back, not only on the park’s grounds, but playing for the Eastern Conference favorites with a title at stake.
“So far, it’s very much been surreal,” Lopez said on a Zoom media session Sunday. “I never quite thought these two worlds would collide in the way that they have. I think it’s going to be pretty interesting going forward.”
Lopez expressed his appreciation to NBA and Disney officials for ensuring the so-called bubble is safe for competition, and relished the opportunity to be practicing with his close-knit teammates again. At all his NBA stops, including with the Bulls, Lopez has cemented his status in the locker room as a favorite teammate of many.
“I’m just enjoying myself,” Lopez said. “It’s nice to be back on the floor.”
Lopez couldn’t estimate how many visits he has paid to the property, though he did reveal he has stayed at the resort where the Bucks are located before. Calling himself “sartorially challenged,” Lopez said he has a nice collection of Disney-related T-shirts with images and slogans that he plans to wear to and from practices and games.
Lopez has also engaged in a long-running, tongue-in-cheek feud with NBA mascots over his 12-year career. Along those lines, he jokingly tweeted in late April that NBA mascots not being allowed in the bubble would be fine because — well, duh — Disney characters would be present.
Asked how his progress in securing these alternative mascots for games was going, Lopez took the bait.
“I don’t want to use the word alternatives. That takes a group of characters, a cadre of characters, that are the cream-of-the-crop at what they do. And that sullies their names by suggesting they’re merely playing in the same ballpark as NBA mascots,” Lopez said, the sarcasm dripping. “There’s a pyramid to this, you know with the NBA mascots, MLB mascots, NFL mascots are all the way down (low).
“It would be a blessing to have the Disney characters around our game, around our sporting events. Whatever the children do these days, please tag the mascots in that statement.”
It's the building in which the Bulls' dynasty took off.
It's also the building in which plenty of Bulls' heartbreak occurred.
Yes, the Palace of Auburn Hills, located in Auburn Hills, Mich., met its demise Saturday morning. Workers imploded the grand building, which, as one of the first multipurpose arenas, served as an instructional blueprint for the Bulls and Blackhawks when they constructed the United Center.
Watch: The Palace of Auburn Hills imposion— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) July 11, 2020
The former home of the Pistons stands no more pic.twitter.com/aWuaKkEBqG
The Pistons played in the arena from 1988 to 2017, and won three championships while calling it home. Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf has said many times over the years that then-Pistons owner Bill Davidson, who privately financed the arena, advised him and Bill Wirtz on its good and bad aspects before Reinsdorf and Wirtz teamed up to open the United Center in 1994.
Most everyone who went there simply called it “The Palace.” It's where the Pistons, led by Isiah Thomas, refused to shake the Bulls' hands as they swept them out of the 1991 Eastern Conference finals en route to the first of their six titles. It's also where Scottie Pippen suffered a migraine headache in a depressing Game 7 loss in the 1990 Eastern Conference finals.
"They were always bullying people, and I remember at shootaround that morning we swept them, they were yelling at us to get off the floor when we still had 30 minutes left," former Bulls center and current TV analyst Stacey King told NBC Sports Chicago's K.C. Johnson when Johnson worked for the Chicago Tribune. "We were like, 'You're down 3-0! Scottie walked over with a fake broom and acted like he was sweeping the floor and said: 'You all are down. Get ready for the summer.' They were a prideful bunch. And I knew that hurt them."
King said these words before the Bulls' final game in The Palace on March 6, 2017. He also acknowledged when the Pistons Game 7 victory in 1990 — and what Michael Jordan did afterward.
"Michael said, 'We won't lose to them again in a playoff series.' And we didn't," King said. "But they were unbeatable here for a while. The fans, the energy in here with so much at stake between us, it was one of the most fun places to play. For a while, they were the bully and we were the kid they took the lunch money from."
The Pistons moved to the sparkling Little Caesars Arena, located in downtown Detroit, for the 2017-18 season.