Bulls

Frankie O's blog: What's under your tree?

Frankie O's blog: What's under your tree?

By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

As you get older the holiday season takes on new meaning. For me it signifies the end of the ten month torture-fest known as my fantasy sports affliction. I cant explain the fog that takes over your brain when you have to know every three-back rotation in the NFL as well as every NL bullpen. Its a wonder that I can do anything else. I love the reactions I get in the bar talking about it. Guys are especially skeptical about the roto baseball.

Why would you do that? Dude, youre drinking a Grasshopper, why would you do that?!

But I do understand talking about fantasy sports can make peoples eyes glaze over. Fantasy conversations in the bar should be in general terms, getting specific about your team just kills the buzz. Especially, if youre that guy who owns every player of relevance. Of course thats easy to do if you have a void in your life that makes you enter 7 leagues. The story you want to tell loses all meaning when you begin with the phrase, In my other league Dont be that guy!

Ironic though, in the two month break I get from the obsession with endless statistics, that Im right in the middle of the most wonderful time of the year and all that it brings with it.

Lately, the true meaning of the holiday season is increased stress. At my advanced age - and those of you who know me know how far that it advanced this week! life is about simplification. Unfortunately, that goal is increasingly elusive. So during this season of giving, I do. I give the wife the credit cards and close my eyes. There. That was easy. This is supposed to be a time of fun, right? And since no good deed goes unpunished, Ill have the depressing winter blahs, along with everyone else, when the bills come in next month. Cest la vie. (Did I just go French? Boo-Ya!)

What I think the holidays can do though, hopefully, is bring back that feeling of when we were younger and anything was possible. Kind of like Opening Day, except its colder and you get presents.

It also should be a time to be thankful for what we have. That of course is ironic, since all we are bombarded with by the advertising world is about everything that we DONT have and should, because we deserve it!

Ive gotten to a place where the holidays bring about memories from those of the past and hopefully Im creating the same kind for my kids. None of mine really center on what I got. I always remember as a kid getting a bunch of things, but I couldnt tell you most of what I got or when I got it. (Obviously, most were sports related.) Some of it has to do with being born on Christmas week. So I was getting presents for that, and some that were combined! (I swear Im not bitter! But while Im getting combined gifts, my sister is having picnics and parades on her birthday since she was born on the 4th of July. Honestly!)

Not a year goes by though that I dont remember Christmas of 1971.This was the time when my infatuation in pro football was starting to bloom. It was all we talked about as kids at school or afterward, when we would play at the park until it was time to go home.

After awaking way too early and tearing the paper off all of our presents, we played for a while, then, it was time to visit both sets of grandparents. I remember that for most of the day, the TV was off as we were visiting. After being at my grandparents on my fathers side for a couple of hours, the television was turned on, after we ate, for the Dolphins-Chiefs playoff game. I dont know that I fully understood what I was watching (Or that I would today for that matter!) but I realized that the game meant a lot and was very exciting. The energy came right through the TV. That was assured by the big game AFC voices of their time, Curt Gowdy and Al DeRogatis. The score kept going back and forth with twists and turns. Big defensive plays, field goals, missed field goals, touchdowns and interceptions, until after 82 minutes and 40 seconds, Garo Yepremian kicked the game-winner from 37 yards out. It was (is) the longest game ever played in NFL history. Double-overtime! Twelve Hall of Famers played in the game, six on each side. Both of the head coaches are also inducted in Canton. But the player I will never forget was the Chiefs Ed Podolak. He was all over the field. Smallish for a running back, he had a funky facemask under which his large nose seemed as though it was going to protrude right through it. By the end of the game that nose was covered in sweat and dirt and blood. He had 350 total yards in one of the guttiest performances I have ever watched. Too bad it was in a losing effort. I was rooting so hard for the Chiefs to win. (Setting up a long string of games in which the football team Im rooting for met a bitter demise. Be nice or Ill root for your team!) There is much debate about the greatest games in NFL history, but you can guess which one gets my vote. That was when the NFL started for me.

While watching the game in the living room, I heard the side door in the kitchen open. My grandfather was still in uniform as he came through the door arriving home from his shift as a local police officer. Soon afterward I had to get out (Gladly!) of his recliner in front of the TV. As he loosened his tie as he sat down to relax, I hopped on his knee so that we could have our picture taken together. I sat on the floor next to him as we watched the rest of the game. I dont remember much else, but I remember Ed Podolak and sitting on my grandfathers knee for that picture like it was yesterday. That was forty years ago. It wasnt too long after that my grandfather passed away. That picture is one of the few that I have with him. There isnt a time that I hear about that game and dont think about that picture. Nor is there a time that I look at that picture and dont remember that we watched that game together.

So as I enjoy another Christmas, there are plenty of NBA games and one NFL game to watch. In my family, the Bulls and the Bears will be must-see TV. A game without Kobe kind of loses its luster for the Bulls against the Lakers so I hope he plays, but it doesnt look good. And I wont even get into the Bears situation, but how can we stop watching this far in? But in the end, it doesnt really matter. As always its about getting together and sharing time with each other. But you never know, maybe something memorable will happen that we all can share. I already know that your team doesnt always have to win to have a memory that will last a lifetime.

Thad Young addresses media in wake of reports of being dissatisfied with role

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USA Today

Thad Young addresses media in wake of reports of being dissatisfied with role

Earlier this week, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Thad Young is dissatisfied with his role with the Bulls. Young addressed the report and other questions regarding his role to assorted media after Friday morning shootaround.

Questions are paraphrased for length and clarity. Our Tony Gill also has the full video of Young's comments.

On Young's thoughts on the report:

I mean, you know, y'all see my quote in the same article, so, the quote was, 'I'm gonna go out there and play as hard as I can, when I can and do what I do to help the team win games. We're just coming off a really good win for us, we're looking forward to the next game and that's all it is. No matter if I'm playing 20 minutes or I'm playing 30 minutes. You guys have seen all year long I'm just gonna continue to go out there and play as hard as I can to help my teammates. And that's what it's all about, me going out there for my teammates and just staying calm, staying patient and waiting for my time.

On if he's frustrated with the amount of playing time he's receiving:

I mean, everybody wants to play 30-40 minutes a game. Everybody wants to play, especially when they feel they can help the team. But like I said, at the end of the day, whatever coach sees fit to do, I'm falling in line, I'm rolling with it. I've said that in all previous interviews, you can see that from all my quotes they've all been the same. Nothing has changed, and I played 30+ minutes last game, but if I come out and play 18-20 minutes this game, I'm still gonna go out there and play as hard as I can, no matter what. Like I said, it's about me always being there for my teammates and my teammates knowing I'm gonna be there for them regardless in any type of situation.

On if he's talked with Jim Boylen about his playing time:

I mean, we've talked. But at the end of the day, like I said, it's all about what coach wants to do and I have to fall in line with what our coaches are putting out, and believing in the game plan. I do believe in our gameplan, I believe we can win each and every game, you know, we've lost some very, very close ones. But I do feel like I can help the team a little bit more, but at the end of the day, like I said, it's all about me going out there with the time I do get and taking care of business. 

On how he feels he can help the team:

In ways, specifically, impactful times in the game, when teams are making runs or we need some type of defensive energy and some defensive spurts in end-of-game situations. But like I said, we're in a stage where we're trying to win games and we're trying to develop players and we're trying to make sure everybody's on one accord. And like I said, with the times that I do get, I go out there and try to be as productive as I can, the same as each and every guy on this team.

On if the conversations he had with Bulls in the offseason match up with the way things are now:

I mean, like I said, the conversations in the offseason were the conversations in the offseason. But going into the season things change and things come out a little differently. But, for me, like I said, it's not really about what was said in the offseason and all of that. It's about me going out there day-to-day, doing the work, and making sure that I go out there and help my team win games, so that's been my focus, that's my only focus and coming here, my only focus is to win basketball games and I want to do that at all costs.

On if the timing of these reports surfacing soon after playing his highest minutes total of the season (33 minutes against the Hawks on Wednesday):

Like I said, you've seen my quotes in the article. So, my quotes have always kinda been the same. Just to be ready at all costs, go out there and do my job when it's needed and go out there and whatever minutes I get, play as hard as I can in those minutes. So, I don't think about the timing or anything like that, I leave that timing thought process for y'all. But for me, like I said, it's all about coming to work and putting my hard-hat on each and every night.

On if he is disillusioned with the amount of playing time he's receiving:

Like I said, everybody wants to play more minutes. That's every guy on this team. Every guy wants to go out there and be able to play 30 minutes a night. It just so happens I came from a team — or my last seven, eight years — I've been playing 30 minutes a night and being very impactful within those 30 minutes. It's definitely a change, but like I said, whatever time that you do get, you go out there and you play as hard as you can, you continue to be professional, you continue to believe in what you're trying to build and you continue to believe in your teammates each and every night.

On if he should be rewarded for positive play with more playing time down the stretch of games:

I mean, yeah, I mean, it should be. But at the end of the day, like I said, we have different things that we're trying to do. Like I said, we're trying to develop guys and we're trying to win at the same time. But at the end of the day, the minutes. Yes, I would like to play more minutes, but if I'm playing 20 minutes a game, within those 20 minutes, I'm gonna try to give somebody hell during those 20 minutes. So, it is what it is.

On if he regrets joining the Bulls:

No, I mean, I love my teammates to death. Obviously the circumstances are not the best-case scenario. But at the end of the day, I love my teammates, I go to war with them each and every day, I love being able to help some of the guys get better. I love going out there and having fun with these guys, playing games. And I love getting into the film room with the coaching staff and going over different things that we can do better as a team. I just love everything about the game, I love everything that it brings, and like I said, the situation is not best case scenario, simply because I am only playing 20 minutes a game. But if coach sees fit to play me 20, sees fit to play me 25, sees fit to play me 30, I'm with whatever he decides. He's the man in charge, he's our chief, and we have to go out there and be able to follow behind our chief each and every night.

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Bears injury report: Amukamara set to return Sunday, four Bears ruled out

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USA TODAY

Bears injury report: Amukamara set to return Sunday, four Bears ruled out

The Bears released their final injury report Friday leading up to Sunday’s matchup against the Packers.

Cornerback Prince Amukamara looks set to return from a hamstring injury that kept him out Week 14 against the Cowboys. The 30-year-old suffered the injury on Thanksgiving against the Lions. Cordarrelle Patterson practiced in full after being limited Thursday with a head injury.

Players on injured reserve aren't listed on the report, but things are looking up for defensive lineman Akiem Hicks. Bears head coach Matt Nagy said "We like what we're seeing from him" Friday.

Hicks must be activated off IR by 3 p.m. Saturday to play against the Packers.

Offensive lineman Bobby Massie (ankle), linebacker Danny Trevathan (elbow), tight end Ben Braunecker and wide receiver Taylor Gabriel (concussions) are all out Sunday. Defensive lineman Roy Robertson-Harris (foot) and Javon Wims (knee) are questionable.