Cubs

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.

Why former Cub Bobby Scales, now a baseball exec, needed to 'make my voice known'

Why former Cub Bobby Scales, now a baseball exec, needed to 'make my voice known'

Bobby Scales held up a lime-green object so the others on the Zoom session could see it.

“This is my cell phone case. It’s neon green. I hate this thing,” said the former Cubs infielder who’s now the minor-league field coordinator for the Pirates.

“The reason I keep it neon green is because if I get pulled over, and I’m sitting in my car and it’s in my cupholder, there’s no thought that that’s a gun,” he said. “You’re not going to say I went to draw for something.”

It’s one of several examples Scales shared on the latest episode of the Cubs Talk Podcast of the countless ways being black in America impacts daily thoughts and actions, some smaller, some larger and all collectively exhausting, especially at what might be a “tipping point” moment for the country after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Scales, 42, was a feel-good story for the Cubs in 2009 when he made his big-league debut after persevering through a decade in the minors. He was also a rarity as one of a dwindling number of African-American players in the the majors.

He’s even more of a rarity in that regard as a front-office executive in a sport that has become even whiter in its executive and on-field management positions in recent years.

Scales, a passionate advocate for a game that might be reaching its own cultural tipping point, talks about the power of sports to drive public discourse and change, as well as the shortcomings MLB faces in that effort as “one of the true last bastions of the real old boys’ network.”

Baseball lags behind the other major American sports in tolerating political or social advocacy, never mind dissent. And its fewer and fewer non-white American insiders have found stronger voices in this national moment of outrage and protest — whether it’s former Cubs outfielder Dexter Fowler on social media, Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward on the airwaves or Scales this week on a Chicago podcast.

RELATED: Cubs' Jason Heyward on racial injustice: 'It feels like a broken record'

Baseball might be a tough culture from which to speak out.

“But that doesn’t mean you [should] be afraid to do so,” Scales said. “That’s why I’ve made my voice known.”

Scales, who talked briefly with the Cubs about a front office job at a time he wanted instead to keep playing in Japan, eventually became a farm director for the Angels before joining the Pirates and is considered a rising star among executives in the game.

That could make him one of its more important voices for the kind of change urgently needed in a sport that long ago began losing its appeal with younger Americans, that has a pace-of-play problem, that clings to a culture of “unwritten rules” that discourage bat flips and fist pumps (read: joy), and that has a growing racial gap to bridge in this country — certainly compared to the participants and fans of football and basketball.

“I love this game. I don’t want to have to love another game,” Scales said. “I love this game. I want to work in this game. I want to effect change. I want to affect the lives of young men, in this game. So I want the best for it, too.”

It’s a game that for better and for worse has often reflected American culture, from its six decades of strident segregation to its seven decades of imperfect integration and all its labor battles, drug scandals and tech booms throughout.

And if this moment of outrage and backlash in American history actually is the tipping point that leads, finally, to measurable change in a way that the deaths of Amadou Diallo (1999), Eric Garner (2014) or Sandra Bland (2015) did not, then maybe there’s even hope for a more outspoken and inclusive culture in baseball.

“Every white listener of this podcast, I want you to understand,” said Scales, whose family history includes a great grandmother who marched on “Bloody Sunday” in 1965 across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala.

“One, we’re not making this stuff up,” he said. “This stuff is real; it happens every day. And, two, we’re really, really over it. 

“It’s time. Give it up. 

“What are we so scared of in this country that we cannot talk through?”

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10 most important Bears from 1985 Super Bowl championship team

10 most important Bears from 1985 Super Bowl championship team

Unapologetically authentic and thoroughly engaging from the head coach to an unusually large rookie, the 1985 Bears remain legendary. Yet, once the glamour and adulation are removed, which players were most responsible for that successful season? The answers don’t just reside in statistics, or even in wins and losses.

A rewatching of each contest reveals various reasons, and maybe one or two unlikely contributors to that unforgettable campaign. Keep reading and rediscover which 10 players are most responsible for the ‘85 Bears’ legacy of dominance.

10 most important Bears from 1985 Super Bowl team

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