Bulls

Proviso West to expand to 32 teams

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Proviso West to expand to 32 teams

The Proviso West Holiday Tournament, already regarded as the state's premier basketball event during the Christmas season, is going to get bigger than ever.

Tournament director Joe Spagnolo announced Monday that Proviso West, which will conduct its 51st annual tournament on Dec. 27-30 in Hillside, will expand from 16 to 32 teams beginning in 2012.

"We're going for greatness," said Spagnolo, who has been affiliated with the tournament since 1981. "We've been working on it for a long time. It will give more teams an opportunity to play here. I got tired of saying 'no' to new teams that wanted to play here."

Under the new format, the tournament will be expanded from four to six days with games being played on the main court in the 3,000-seat gymnasium and two start-of-the-art portable floors in the adjacent fieldhouse. The event will begin on the Saturday before Christmas and conclude on the afternoon of New Year's Eve.

"Our mission has always been to promote high school basketball," Spagnolo said. "Our motto is: 'Proviso West is where basketball is best.' We want everyone to enjoy what we have, from paying customers to referees to participants. We think it is a special event and we want more people to get involved in it."

The new format will call for games to be played simultaneously on three days of the tournament with two games under one roof in the fieldhouse for a single admission price. Single sessions will remain at their current pricing but on days where there are games in both facilities a ticket will allow admission to all games on both courts.

"If you're quick on your feet, you'll be able to see the end of all 61 games in the tournament," Spagnolo said.

The Proviso West Holiday Tournament was founded in 1961 by then athletic director Walt Sawosko, who wanted to start a local tournament so Chicago area schools could be at home during the holidays and wouldn't have to travel. It was expanded from eight to 16 teams after the first year.

Until that time, Chicago area schools that wanted to participate in holiday tournaments had no choice but to play at DeKalb or Pontiac or Centralia or Carbondale or not play at all. Because of Proviso West's popularity, other local holiday events such as Elgin, York, East Aurora, Rich South, Lemont and Wheeling were organized in later years.

Spagnolo said the inaugural 32-team field will be announced within the next week, after the pairings at all other holiday tournaments throughout the state are announced.

This year's opening-round pairings will pit Morgan Park vs. Hinsdale Central, Glenbrook North vs. St. Patrick, New Trier vs. Fenwick and Homewood-Flossmoor vs. Von Steuben in the upper bracket and Hillcrest vs. Morton, Rockford Auburn vs. Proviso West, Proviso East vs. Brooks and St. Joseph vs. Benet in the lower bracket.

Spagnolo said most of the 32 teams have already been secured and the dates for next year's event will be announced later this month.

Bulls' treasure Johnny 'Red' Kerr was a walking basketball encyclopedia

Bulls' treasure Johnny 'Red' Kerr was a walking basketball encyclopedia

With the Eastern Conference finals and NBA Finals games largely shifting to network coverage, the broadcasting work from Tom Dore and Johnny “Red” Kerr for the 1996 playoffs is mostly over.

But what a treat it has been hearing that duo work together again during NBC Sports Chicago’s re-airing of the 1996 playoff run. Covering the games meant you didn’t get to hear the humorous interplay between the two, or Dore’s economical play-by-play work, or Kerr’s heart-on-his-sleeve bemoaning of missed boxouts or official’s calls.

Not that those of us around that team didn’t hear such moments off the air. It was fun to catch up with Dore on a recent Bulls Talk podcast. And I’d call getting to know Kerr one of the highlights of my two decades-plus around the franchise.

Red was there when John Havlicek stole the ball. And he was there when Michael Jordan held the pose.

Yes, Kerr was a walking, talking basketball encyclopedia who bled Bulls red. A storyteller supreme.

Beyond basketball, Kerr graciously sat for a tear-stained interview about his 46 years of marriage to Betsy after she passed away in October 2000. He did so because he wanted to share their love story, because her support allowed him to pursue his passions and because of her Bulls fandom.

At the time, Kerr shared how he hand-picked the three songs played at his wife’s funeral. This sparked a discussion about our shared passion for music.

From that day on, Kerr used to burn me CDs of artists he liked or he thought I’d like or I had told him about. In fact, having a 68-year-old Kerr thank me for introducing him to Uncle Tupelo is a career moment that may be hard to top.

Kerr became the first coach in sports history to lead an expansion team to the playoffs when he guided the 1966-67 Bulls. His knowledge of the game burned through every broadcast. His humor played out in lines like this one as the Bulls eliminated the Knicks to advance to the Eastern Conference finals against the Magic:

“The Bulls are trying to send the Knicks to play golf tomorrow. The Bulls might play golf, too.”

A bust of Kerr stands in the atrium of the United Center, a fitting tribute to a wonderful player, coach and broadcaster. And above all, a gem of a man.

Every other night through April 15, NBC Sports Chicago is airing the entirety of the Bulls' 1996 NBA championship run. Find the full schedule here.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.

Cubs-Cardinals games in London officially canceled

Cubs-Cardinals games in London officially canceled

The Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals were set to play in London this June, but the COVID-19 outbreak and the uncertainty about the 2020 baseball season and schedule forced those games to be canceled.

The news had been reported by The Sun on March 26, and was practically a foregone conclusion anyway, but MLB made it official on Wednesday.


Information is thin here, but there are some subtleties worth pointing out. First, there are no details on if it will be rescheduled. There are too many uncertainties about baseball’s 2020 schedule and the availability of London Stadium going forward. England’s sports are also on hold and it’s not known when West Ham, the soccer team that plays at London Stadium, might need the stadium in the next couple years with the Premier League schedule also in flux for the foreseeable future.

Also, the wording in MLB’s announcement is canceled and not postponed. That doesn’t make it seem like there are plans to reschedule this. Even if they want to reschedule more games in London, it is a difficult time to plan a big event in a foreign country.

The games were originally scheduled for June 13 and 14. Last year, the Red Sox and Yankees played in London and the contract called for two years of games in London.