White Sox

Crane's Jackson is a Hall of Famer

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Crane's Jackson is a Hall of Famer

James Jackson probably won't be able to attend the Chicago Public League Basketball Coaches Association's annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony on May 12 at the Hawthorne Race Track in Cicero.

He lives in Australia.

A 1974 graduate of Crane, Jackson is one of 13 former players who will be inducted in the Hall of Fame class of 2012. Others include King's Efrem Winters and Laurent Crawford, Vocational's Allen Hunt, South Shore's Bobby Joor, Carver's Ken Maxey, Hubbard's Reggie Rose and Kenwood's Donnie Von Moore.

Other inductees include coaches Mike Oliver of Curie and John Costello of Bowen, Washington's Dejeanette Flournoy, Leslie Hill and Angelina Williams, Fenger's Shujuana Shannon, Whitney Young's Cindy Connor and two boys teams, Crane 1972 and South Shore 1947.

Jackson grew up at 14th and Throop, known as "the village." From an early age, he played basketball with his brothers Thomas and Melvin. He idolized his brothers, Larry Foster and Jerome Freeman, another future Crane star. At Medill elementary school, he knew he had a gift for the game.

Crane coach Dan Davis recruited Jackson out of Medill. He spoke to Jackson's mother and promised her that her son would graduate from high school. Mount Carmel tried to lure Jackson but he never wavered in his decision to attend Crane. His older brothers went there and he was enthralled by stories of the great players who came from Crane.

He got off to a shaky start. As a sophomore, when Nate Williams led Crane to the Elite Eight and a trip to Champaign, he was unable to play because he suffered a chipped bone in his knee. He had to sit on the bench and watch all the games.

Jackson started a few games as a freshman and was paired with playground legend Arthur Sivels, who dropped out of school after his freshman year. "As a player, he was one of the best I ever played with. He passed the ball, scored and dribbled. He could have been NBA material," James said.

As a junior and senior, Jackson developed into one of the best players in the Public League. He played against Rickey Green, Bo Ellis, Sonny Parker, Billy Lewis, Andre Wakefield and Maurice Cheeks.

As his reputation grew, college coaches began to take notice. Gene Bartow, who coached at Memphis State, Illinois and UCLA, recruited Jackson as a junior (for Memphis) and a senior (for Illinois). He had several offers from Big 10 and ACC schools. He also was approached by Jerry Tarkanian of Nevada-Las Vegas.

But he ended up at Minnesota. "Jimmy Williams, the assistant coach, showed a lot of interest in me. It was a Big 10 school and I always wanted to play in the Big 10," he said.

He signed with Minnesota but left when the Gophers were placed on probation by the NCAA and transferred to Boston College. But he wasn't happy on the East Coast and returned to Minnesota. "I should have gone to Nevada-Las Vegas," he said in retrospect.

In 1979, he was drafted by the Chicago Bulls but wasn't in good physical condition and didn't perform well in training camp. He played with the Alberta Dusters of the Continental Basketball Association. After one year, he returned to Minneapolis. Then he got a call to go to Australia.

"I got a call from Dick Rymer, an American coach who had been living in Australia for a number of years," James recalled. "He ran into one of my assistant coaches at Minnesota, Jesse Evans, in an airport and the spoke about me. That's how it all came about."

From 1982 to 1991, Jackson played with several clubs in Queensland and Western Australia. He conducted basketball clinics in some of the most remote towns in the outback of Western Australia for the Aboriginal Sport and Recreation Department of Western Australia. He also has worked in retail and owned his own sporting goods store.

He married Romana in 1992. In 2000, when their son Jamal was 5 years old, he reconnected with basketball. He has coached and been involved with clubs in Western Australia and Queensland ever since. They live on the Gold Coast.

For the past seven years, he has worked for a traffic control company and has served as an assistant coach on his son's Under 18 team in the Premier League.

He still marvels at how a young kid from the West Side of Chicago could end up on the Gold Coast of Australia, all because he had an extraordinary ability to play the game of basketball.

"I had never heard of Australia. 'Where is that?' I said," Jackson recalled. "How many times do you get a round-trip ticket to another country? I'm still there today. It blew me away...laidback lifestyle, friendly people, nobody in a rush about anything, great climate, nice place to bring up a family, totally different than the United States.

"Life has been pretty good for me. I have no regret that I didn't make it in the NBA. I believe in fate. I ended up in Australia. My wife is Australian. The normal temperature in Brisbane is 70 degrees. I never see snow. People think I'm crazy when I say I appreciate snow."

Why Royals pitcher Brad Keller hit Tim Anderson: Bat flip was 'over the top'

Why Royals pitcher Brad Keller hit Tim Anderson: Bat flip was 'over the top'

Brad Keller seems to be OK with being a villain in Chicago.

“I was on Chicago's villain list,” the Royals pitcher said during an appearance on The Charity Stripe podcast. “NBC Sports tweeted it. The list was LeBron James, Aaron Rodgers, Ryan Braun and me and one hockey player. I'm like, 'This is a pretty good list to be on.'”


Keller entered the collective Chicago sports consciousness when he intentionally hit Tim Anderson with a pitch last April, sparking a benches-clearing incident, a couple of suspensions and a resurgence in baseball’s ceaseless debate over unwritten rules and the culture war between old-school and new-school mentalities.

For White Sox fans long bereft of the meaningful baseball that typically stokes heated rivalries, Keller plunking one of the faces of the franchise — not only a strong presence in the community but a guy who since his best friend was killed has not stopped talking about how much fun he wants to have on the field — did the trick.

“It was like the first week of April. I'm not going to say a meaningless game because every game in the big leagues means something. But the 12th game of the season doesn't really define if you're going to make the playoffs or not,” Keller recounted. “This game, I was grinding. I was sucking this game. I was throwing really well, numbers-wise, but I think I was behind every single hitter. I was getting lucky, honestly. I was all over the place. I think I had five walks that game, too.

“Comes around the fourth inning, or whatever it is. Runner gets on second base. And I think the at-bat, he battled me for like nine pitches. It was like a long-ass AB, I remember. Basically, in my mind, I'm like, 'I'm not walking him.' Because he's fast, he can steal bases if he gets on. If there's a single, he's probably going to score from first. So I'm like, 'I'm not going to walk this guy.' So I throw a sinker in, and he turns on it, hits a home run.

“And how he acted afterwards, to me and my whole team, was just over the top. It's like, 'Bro, you hit a homer. Congrats.' This wasn't a Game 7 homer. This wasn't a playoff homer. This wasn't even a homer to win the game. Ultimately, we won the game, 3-2, in the long run, but that gets kind of lost in the whole transaction of everything. It just seemed like, at the time, it was an April home run. 'Why are you throwing your bat to the dugout or whatever?' We had beefs in the past, as far as our teams, and that was just like fuel on the fire, basically, is what it seemed like.

RELATED: Tim Anderson and the Royals stir up baseball's never-ending debate: 'You want him to not do that? Get him out'

“I was upset because I was grinding that day and I was already pissed off at myself, and then you pull some shit like that? It was like, 'All right, this is bullshit.' ... I come in, and I'm pissed, I'm hot. And I had other guys on the team like, 'Screw this guy,' basically. Like I said, we (the Royals) had beefs (with Anderson) in the past.

“So anyway, comes down to it. We ended up tying the game up. Comes around the sixth inning, and he had to know it was coming. He was leading off the sixth inning, and he was literally a foot from the dirt when I was on my second warm-up pitch. I've never seen anyone get out to the box that fast in my life.”

Being “over the top” in celebrating an accomplishment doesn’t really seem like the type of thing that warrants having a projectile thrown at you. But that’s what the old-school types think. Keller, it should be noted, is younger than Anderson.

Major League Baseball seems to be supportive of bat flips and celebrations and the like, spending a hefty sum on an advertising campaign trumpeting that style of behavior: “Let the kids play.” After all, baseball’s a game, and games are supposed to be fun.

But bad blood between division rivals must be thicker than any sea change in how a new generation of players is acting on the field.

Keller’s explanation of the event isn’t about to win him any fans on the South Side of Chicago, and he’ll likely stay on that list of villains, at least as long as Anderson remains a White Sox hero. After winning the big league batting title last season and being at the center of a young team on the rise, that could last a long while.

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NFL head coaches can reportedly return to team facilities next week

NFL head coaches can reportedly return to team facilities next week

No one steals thunder quite like the NFL. 

On a day when the NHL is planning to publicly announce how their season will return, it's being reported that the NFL may take a significant step towards their own reopening – and soon. 

Yahoo Sports' NFL columnist Charles Robinson is reporting that NFL coaches may return to team facilities as early as next week, and the league has its eyes on OTAs in mid-to-late June:

The sources told Yahoo Sports that if coaches resume their in-house work next week, minicamps including players could be scheduled as early as June 15 or as late as June 27, depending on COVID-19 data and whether a handful of franchises get a “go ahead” signal from state governments to resume full operations. Resuming full operations and getting a minicamp scheduled would represent the league's biggest step to date toward keeping the 2020 NFL season on track for a regularly scheduled fall kickoff.

Robinson's source adds that 'June 15 and June 27 are the dates that have been identified as potential full-squad minicamp windows,' and the 'key hurdle' is the timeline in which California governor Gavin Newsom begins to reopen the state. Newsom has already expressed a willingness to have professional sports team return under strict and specific guidelines. 

The news is a good sign for the return of the NFL on a normal schedule – a reality that's looked increasingly likely over the past couple weeks.