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Five reasons to watch tonight's "Bulls Classics"

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Five reasons to watch tonight's "Bulls Classics"

Five things to watch in tonight's Comcast SportsNet's "Bulls Classics" broadcast of the Bulls' 117-116 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Feb. 16, 1989, in which Michael Jordan scored 50 points, including the game-winning shot:

1) In something that was a staple for Jordan throughout his career, perhaps the most impressive aspect of his 50-point outing wasn't the gaudy numbers, but the manner in which he accumulated the high point total. He shot 16-for-26 from the floor, including splitting a pair of three-point attempts, and nailed 17 of his 18 shots from the charity stripe. In addition, he snared eight rebounds, dished out five assists and swiped three steals on the evening in Chicago Stadium. For good measure, he knocked down his final attempt, a mid-range jumper, with one second remaining in the contest to give the Bulls the one-point victory.

2) In the 1988-89 season, the Bulls were still coming into their own, but were making strides toward being the franchise that would dominate much of the next decade of NBA basketball. It was center Bill Cartwright's first season in Chicago after being traded from the New York Knicks for power forward Charles Oakley. Cartwright, who finished with 11 points and eight boards that night, wasn't a star, but he was a consistent, legitimate pivot presence and paved the way for Horace Grant to join fellow second-year forward Scottie Pippen in the Bulls starting lineup. As for Grant and Pippen, they were still somewhat raw, developing young players, but their near-identical stat lines -- Grant recorded 18 points, six rebounds, five assists and a blocked shot, while Pippen went for 17 points, five apiece of rebounds and assists, to go along with two blocks and four steals -- offered a glimpse of the well-rounded veterans they'd later become. The Bulls went on to finish the regular season with a 47-35 mark and advanced all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they'd suffer a painful -- literally and figuratively -- defeat to the hated Detroit Pistons after knocking off the Knicks and Central Division rival Cleveland in the first two rounds of the playoffs.

3) Milwaukee was no slouch in those days, as the Bucks actually finished with a better regular-season record than neighboring Chicago before losing in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Jack Sikma and Terry Cummings were a formidable big-man tandem and the wing trio of star Sidney Moncrief, sixth man Ricky Pierce, a dangerous scorer and Paul Pressey -- credited by many as the game's first "point forward," as he was deployed by former coach Don Nelson -- was also quite strong, although Pierce and Moncrief both missed that February 1989 game on Madison Street.

4) Not only is Milwaukee close in proximity to Chicago, but that season's edition of the Bucks featured some local flavor. The aforementioned Cummings, reserve Tony Brown and then-aging backup point guard Rickey Green all hail from the Windy City, while Sikma is from nearby Kankakee, Ill.

Fun fact: Milwaukee reserve Tito Horford is the father of current NBA All-Star Al Horford of the Atlanta Hawks.

5) An inordinate number of players from this game went on to coaching careers. Cartwright is an assistant with the Phoenix Suns and Bulls starting point guard Sam Vincent is currently a head coach in the D-League, although he previously was the head coach of the Charlotte Bobcats. Milwaukee, however, takes the cake. Starting point guard Jay Humphries and backup big man Paul Mokeski also coached in the D-League, Pressey is a Cavaliers assistant, Moncrief is back with the Bucks as an assistant, Sikma is on the Minnesota Timberwolves' new staff and Brown was most recently a Clippers assistant under Dunleavy. Dunleavy actually coached against the Bulls in the 1991 NBA Finals, when he was at the helm of the Lakers. Blue-collar forward Larry Krystowiak (24 points, game-high 18 rebounds) was actually the Bucks head coach for a short stint, sandwiched between college head-coaching jobs at his alma mater, the University of Montana, and his current position at the University of Utah.

ICYMI: The Bears lose a shootout, the Bulls drop their home-opener and the Blackhawks

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ICYMI: The Bears lose a shootout, the Bulls drop their home-opener and the Blackhawks

It was a busy weekend for Chicago sports fans, from the Bulls' home-opener, to two Blackhawks games and a shootout at Soldier Field between the Bears and Patriots.

Bears

The Bears came a yard away on a Hail Mary pass from forcing overtime, ultimately losing a 38-31 shootout to the Patriots and showing they still have much to prove. Mitchell Trubisky said that there is a new standard and that coming up short is not good enough anymore.

While Trubisky's accuracy was uneven Sunday, he showed continued development, throwing for 300+ yards for the third straight game. He also scored on a nifty eight-yard rushing touchdown in which he covered 71.9 yards of distance.

While the Bears struggled to contain the Patriots' offense and recorded just one sack, the defense is still confident in the unit and team overall. 

Bulls

Off the court, Denzel Valentine suffered a setback on his injured left ankle and will be reevaluated in two weeks. On the court, the Bulls' defense cost them Saturday against the Pistons, but especially late on Ish Smith's game-winning basket for the Pistons.

With Kris Dunn on paternity leave, the Bulls signed guard Shaquille Harrison and waived center Omer Asik. The move comes on the heels of Fred Hoiberg saying potential lineup changes are "still up in the air." 

The Bulls also announced three broadcasters that will call the first five road games minus-longtime play-by-play man Neil Funk. Funk is cutting 20 road games from his schedule this season.

Blackhawks

Corey Crawford picked up his first win since Dec. 17, 2017, leading the Blackhawks to victory in vintage fashion. The Blackhawks were outshot 28-15 through two periods, and Crawford stood tall en route to a 4-1 Blackhawks' win.

Following his return from a major injury, the Blackhawks will monitor Crawford's workload moving forward. 

Meanwhile, in Columbus, Blue Jackets forward Anthony Duclair regrets not making the most of his stint with the Blackhawks last season. Also, the Blue Jackets and Blackhawks are both experiencing challenges as a result of the Brandon Saad-Artemi Panarin trade from last summer.

Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, they set an NHL record and tied a franchise record (confusing, we know) by allowing 33 shots on goal during the second period Sunday. The Blackhawks ultimately fell 6-3, though Alexandre Fortin scored his first career NHL goal in the process.

Glanville: Fall to Spring - A player’s offseason changes meaning with each changing season

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Glanville: Fall to Spring - A player’s offseason changes meaning with each changing season

A few weeks after the we (the Cubs) were eliminated from the 2003 playoffs, I got a phone call from my college professor. Since it was officially the off-season, I was in the early stages of a break from following a pocket schedule to tell me where to be every day for nearly eight months.

But this was a man I could not refuse. I chose my college major to go into his field of transportation engineering and he was calling because he needed a teaching assistant to accompany him on his trip to South Africa.

One minute I could barely move off of my couch in my Chicago apartment after losing Game 7 against the Marlins. The next minute, I would be standing within miles of the Southern most point in Africa at the Cape of Good Hope. Why not? I needed the distraction so I agreed to go.

The offseason is its own transition. Leaving the regimen of routine, of batting practice and bus times, to an open ended world that you have to re-learn again. When I finished my first full major league season in 1997, I lived in Streeterville at the Navy Pier Apartments.

That offseason, I decided to stay an extra month in Chicago only to wake up panicked for the first two weeks because I thought I was missing stretch time for a home day game. A major league schedule becomes etched in your DNA after a while.

It is also a time that you get to reflect. The regular season does not give you a moment to really get perspective on what was just accomplished, what it all means, what you would change. I always joked about the T-shirt I wanted to a sell that listed all of the things a major league player figures out during the off-season. From the perfect swing to the ex-girlfriend you need to un-break-up with next week.

It all becomes so clear when a 96 MPH fastball isn’t coming at you.

For years, I would arrange a training program to follow, but I quickly learned that I had to mix it up. There was only so much repetition I could stand in the off-season. So some years, I moved to the site of spring training and worked out early with the staff, other years I found a spot at home where I grew up or wherever I played during the season, to train.

I was single when I played, but now with a family, I have a better understanding of the challenges my teammates would express as they were re-engaging as a daily father again after this long absentee existence.

To keep it fresh and spicy, when I got older in the game, I enrolled in a dance studio and took a winter of dance lessons. Salsa, Foxtrot, Rumba, you name it. On Thursdays we had to dance for an hour straight, changing partners in the room every song change. Dancing with the Stars had nothing on me.

Of course, not every offseason is fun and games. There were years when I wasn’t sure I would have a job the next year, or I was in the throes of a trade rumor. In 1997, I was traded from the Cubs to the Phillies two days before Christmas. In 2002, my father passed away on the last game of the season, leading the offseason to be a time of mourning.

By my final season in 2005, I thought I was officially on my couch forever. I was going to fade away into oblivion like many players do. No fanfare, the phone just would stop ringing and I would just let the silence wash over me. The Yankees had called earlier in that off-season, acting like they were doing me a favor which I turned down, then they called back later with a more open tone, seeing me as a potential key piece in their outfield with Bernie Williams slowing down quite a bit at that point.

I did get off that couch for that call, only to get released the last week of camp, so I was back on the couch, with a fiancé and some extra salt in the wounds after that final meeting with Brian Cashman and Joe Torre, who boxed me into the coaches office to tell me I was released. Released? Come on. Never had that happen before.

The Cubs players will go through all of this if they have the good fortune of playing a long time. The wave of uncertainty, the meaning of age in this game spares no one. Each offseason is a time to reset, a period where you get away, seemingly adrift from the game, then as spring gets closer, the shoreline comes up in the horizon once again, magnetically drawing you to its shores for another season.

Amazingly, you don’t always know your age and what it has done to your body. 34 can’t be that old, right? I can still run, or throw 95. Then those 23-year-olds in camp are the wake up call, or maybe you are that 23-year-old and can’t believe your locker is next to Ryne Sandberg’s.

Then you blink, and you are advising Jimmy Rollins about etiquette and realize you have become that guy, the seasoned vet, preaching about locker room respect.

For the 2018 Cubs, they fell short of their goal to repeat their 2016 magic. Failed to meet their singular destination that meant success over all else. Yet, those who come back for 2019, will not be the same player, the same person, that left the locker room at the close this season. They will have grown, changed, aged, wizened up, rehabbed, hardened. All of which means that new perspective is the inevitable part of this time off, whether you like it or not.

Baseball is a game that has this unique dynamic. The highest intensity rhythm of any sport. Every day you are tested. You are pushed to the brink by sheer attrition. According to my teammate Ed Smith, who was playing third base at the time when Michael Jordan reached third, Jordan, after playing well over 100 games in a row, said to him “Man, I have never been this tired in my entire life.”

The grind.

Then it stops on a dime. Season over. Only on baseball’s terms.

But you may be granted another spring. Another crack at it. Until one day, the baseball winter never ends and its time for you to plant your own spring.