Bears

Knicks GM Grunwald, former HS star Cross and what could've been

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Knicks GM Grunwald, former HS star Cross and what could've been

When Glen Grunwald was named vice-president and legal counsel of the Denver Nuggets, I called to congratulate him. We go back a long way, to the time he broke in as a freshman sensation for Norm Goodman's basketball team at East Leyden.

When he returned my call, he began: "I finally made it to the NBA."

Now he's back again. After serving as interim general manager for the New York Knicks since last July, he has promoted to executive vice-president and general manager on a permanent basis. No more interim. He has a hearty endorsement from Knicks owner James Dolan.

"Glen has done a terrific job this season," said Dolan, the chairman of Madison Square Garden. "He is an intelligent, seasoned executive and we look forward to him continuing in the role of general manager for many years to come."

Grunwald was just as upbeat when he returned my congratulatory call the other day. "It's a new job. We have a great fan base. Hopefully we can keep moving forward. I never knew where life would take me," he said.

After serving as general manager of the Toronto Raptors from 1994 to 2004, he became president and CEO of the Toronto Board of Trade, the largest business organization in Canada, before joining old friend and college teammate Isiah Thomas as senior vice-president of basketball operations of the New York Knicks in 2006. He was promoted to interim general manager in 2011.

Now he is preparing for the NBA playoffs and the upcoming NBA draft. He is excited about working with another college teammate, Mike Woodson, the Knicks' new head coach, and is proud of the development of former Oak Park star Iman Shumpert, who moved into the Knicks' starting lineup, then suffered a season-ending ACL tear last Saturday at the same time that the Bulls' Derrick Rose was sidelined with the same injury.

Shumpert was the Knicks' first-round draft choice last year, the No. 17 pick out of Georgia Tech. "He has played so well for us. Unlike most rookies, he knows how to play hard and compete. He has great physical gifts. He is athletic and has a great NBA body," Grunwald said.

Of all of the outstanding high school basketball players I observed as a student and fan and covered as a sportswriter for four daily newspapers over a period of 50 years, two who stand out are Grunwald and Russell Cross.

I'll always wonder how good they could have been, if they could have achieved the Hall of Fame stature of George Mikan or Harry Gallatin or Andy Phillip or Isiah Thomas or Dan Issel or Cazzie Russell or Jerry Sloan or Don Nelson or, upon his retirement, Kevin Garnett.

They never had a chance.

Grunwald, the only four-time All-State selection in Illinois history, was recruited out of East Leyden by Indiana coach Bob Knight. He chose Indiana over North Carolina and Kentucky. But he suffered a severe knee injury during the summer prior to his freshman year and never was able to fulfill his enormous potential.

"Sure, I'll always wonder how good I could have been," he once told me. "It was tough not to succeed in basketball after high school. But I was part of a good college program and happy to be part of its success, however small. When you are injured, you feel you can get better. But the gradual realization is that it won't be the same."

He was co-captain of Indiana's 1981 NCAA championship team that was led by Isiah Thomas. He was drafted by the Boston Celtics in the fifth round of the NBA draft but never played in the NBA. Instead, he focused on his education, earning a law degree, an MBA and an Honours business degree in marketing. He was a successful corporate attorney for major law firms, including Winston & Strawn in Chicago, before joining the Denver Nuggets.

Cross was the Bill Russell and Anthony Davis of his time, a 6-foot-10 center with great athleticism and the wingspan of a 747 jumbo jet. A two-time All-Stater, he had a feared reputation as a rebounder and shot-blocker and led Manley to the state championship in 1980.

Under the guidance of coach Gene Keady at Purdue, Cross was Big Ten Rookie of the Year and a two-time All-Big Ten selection. He led Purdue to the NIT finals as a freshman and sophomore. As a junior, his team lost to Arkansas in the third round of the NCAA tournament. Afterward, he declared for the NBA draft. He was selected by Golden State as the No. 6 pick in 1983.

But his professional career never took off. He was slowed by a knee injury that he suffered during his senior year at Manley, when a Simeon player charged off the bench and tackled him to prevent him from scoring. The injury was never completely repaired and his knee got progressively worse, despite surgery during his sophomore year at Purdue.

He was traded to Denver but was released. He played in the CBA, then went overseas and played in Italy and Spain for seven years. He retired in 1991 after doctors told him that he couldn't play another year on his damaged knee.

"From a physical standpoint, I never played well in the NBA. I never played up to expectations and my potential," Cross said. "My skill level wasn't quite the same. I wasn't able to run as fast or jump as well, things that were part of my game that helped me to dominate."

But Cross, a very religious man, has no regrets over his experience. "I am appreciative of what I got done in high school and college. There was some disappointment but no regrets for not playing in the NBA," he said.

"It was a blessing in disguise that I was able to play overseas and see other countries and learn new languages."

Where are Bears skill players being selected in fantasy football drafts?

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USA Today

Where are Bears skill players being selected in fantasy football drafts?

For fantasy football players planning their annual summer draft strategy, reviewing a player's average draft position (the average draft slot where a player is being selected in fantasy drafts across the country) is a great place to start.

It's also a great place to look to gauge the national opinion of the Bears' skill players on offense. For example, Todd Gurley, the Rams' feature running back, currently sits atop fantasy draft boards with an ADP of No. 1 overall. Le'Veon Bell is second, and Dallas' third-year runner, Ezekiel Elliott, is third. Essentially, they're considered three of the best -- if not THE best -- running backs in the NFL by fans.

So where do guys like Jordan Howard, Allen Robinson and Mitch Trubisky rank? Let's take a look.

Note: Average draft positions are from Fantasy Pros.

Jordan Howard:  ADP = 25 (RB15)

Players ahead of Howard include Bengals second-year back Joe Mixon, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and Packers receiver Davante Adams. Call it a hunch, but Howard will outproduce this ADP.

Allen Robinson: ADP = 42 (WR17)

Robinson trails players like Josh Gordon, Doug Baldwin and Stefon Diggs on draft boards. This seems fair with Robinson coming off a torn ACL.

Mitch Trubisky: ADP = 168 (QB26)

Trubisky has a chance to be one of this year's fantasy football league-winners if he quickly takes to Matt Nagy's offense. He's being criminally underrated in fantasy circles.

Tarik Cohen: ADP = 77 (RB32)

Unless Cohen becomes the Bears' feature back, which is a long shot, this ADP and overall ranking seem about right. The only way he makes a jump up fantasy rankings is if the Bears use him like the Saints used Alvin Kamara, with similar results.

Trey Burton: ADP = 94 (TE9)

Burton is one of the Bears' favorites among fantasy GMs. He's expected to become Chicago's Travis Kelce this season. If he does, he'll be a fantasy star.

Anthony Miller: ADP = 206 (WR65)

Fantasy players like Miller the most of all receivers opposite Robinson this season. He's got a chance to prove them right with his blend of inside and outside receiver traits.

Taylor Gabriel: ADP 357 (WR110)

Yikes. Gabriel is essentially undraftable in fantasy leagues this season, according to this ADP. No one is suggesting Gabriel will be the next coming of Tyreek Hill, but this seems awfully low.

Kevin White: ADP 328 (WR105)

White has a slightly higher upside in the opinion of fantasy owners than Gabriel, but he's still nothing more than free agency fodder at this point in summer drafts.

Javier Baez and Kyle Schwarber select their Home Run Derby pitchers

Javier Baez and Kyle Schwarber select their Home Run Derby pitchers

The 2018 Home Run Derby starts Monday night at 7 p.m., and Cubs Javier Baez and Kyle Schwarber have picked who will be their pitchers.

Baez has chosen his brother Gadiel, while Schwarber selected Mike Sanicola, who played at the University of Miami and is a friend of Schwarber’s agent, Jason Romano.

Gadiel does have a baseball background in his back pocket. After playing baseball in high school, he played at Cowley College (JUCO), Tabor College (NAIA) and played in an independent league for two years.

It’ll be a first time experience for both Baez and Schwarber, who are the first Cubs to participate in the Home Run Derby since Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant did it back in 2015.

Could Baez or Schwarber be the home run king? Will just have to wait and see.