Cubs

Random News of the Day: Wooing LeBron

Random News of the Day: Wooing LeBron

Wednesday, June 30, 2010
3:02 PM

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

Random News of the Day has acquired a list of what each NBA team is bringing to Ohio in an attempt to lure prized free agent LeBron James away from the Cavaliers. You thought that only a handful of teams were involved in this? Think again:

Atlanta Hawks: Front office team plans to help rehab a charming three-bedroom, two bath home for LeBron. The 1 12 acre lot in the suburb of Lawrenceville will be transformed, with an assist from TLCs "House Hunters."

Boston Celtics: Now that Paul Pierce will reportedly opt out of his contract, the Celtics hope rebuild with James and a talented supporting cast, including Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish. Oh ... and Greg Kite. Don't forget Greg Kite.

Charlotte Bobcats: Agreement in place for James to take on Michael Jordan in a quick game of H-O-R-S-E. Winner decides on the LeBrons future in Charlotte. In the event that Jordan loses by three letters or less, the competition will shift to the golf course for an impromptu 72-hole tournament.

Chicago Bulls: You might not know this, but LeBron is already coming to Chicago. Two men, driving a 1974 Mount Prospect police car, reportedly have James with them. Reports indicate that they were 106 miles away from Chicago with a full tank of gas and a half pack of cigarettes. As a precaution, pedestrians are advised to stay clear of Daley Plaza.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Ehh ... a three-year, 5 million contract should do the trick, no?

Dallas Mavericks: Mark Cuban plans to pull off a sign-and-trade with Cleveland. It includes bringing No. 23 to Dallas and sending Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, Tony Romo, Ross Perot and the ghost of J.R. Ewing to Cleveland.

Denver Nuggets: New GM Jack Torrance, fresh off a successful stint as a hotel caretaker in the Rockies, plans to give LeBron the largest contract in NBA history, provided he stay away from the typewriter in the main lounge and the Snow Cat in the garage.

Detroit Pistons: A group of wily go-getters will march from Auburn Hills into Ohio, in a grass-roots effort to lure James to Motown. Group leaders Eminem, Smokey Robinson and Kid Rock plan on singing Bob Segers Youll Accompny Me upon crossing into the Buckeye State.

Golden State Warriors: Lifelong Warriors fan Danny Tanner, accompanied by longtime housemates Joey Gladstone and Jesse Katsopolis will offer unlimited special guest spots on Wake Up San Francisco and Rush Hour Renegades.

Houston Rockets: Once LeBron is signed, the Rockets will move to the Astrodome, which will be renamed the LeDome. Five-year, 470 million dollar contract will be offset by the 67,925 fans paying an average of 6,919 per ticket (Note: Salary cap to be abolished in September 2010. Shhhh).

Indiana Pacers: Head coach Norman Dale, who once told referee Dick Bavetta that his team was on the floor after sending out only four guys, reportedly doesnt care if James wants to play on his team or not.

L.A. Clippers: As we speak, a 1987 Toyota Corolla, driven by Billy Crystal, is on Interstate 40 heading east out of California. Representatives Benoit Benjamin, Loy Vaught and Olden Polynice -- who are piled into the three remaining seats -- plan to woo King James away with a Danny Manning highlight reel and a Blake Griffin glossy photo.

L.A. Lakers: A crash-course in Zen Buddhism by Phil Jackson. A few Laker Girls. Eight months of duct-tape around Ron Artests mouth. And a signed affidavit from Kobe titled You got next. LeBron signs the contract within five minutes.

Memphis Grizzlies: Front office has to first convince LeBron that the Memphis Grizzlies arent in the NBDL.

Miami Heat: The question has always been, Can LeBron share the spotlight with Dwyane Wade. The real question, the Heat front office should assess, is whether they can all share the spotlight with Marlins infielder Dan Uggla.

Milwaukee Bucks: In an optimistic campaign titled Were Gonna Do It, an elegantly packaged gift basket, complete with A&W Cheese Curds, Leinenkugels Red Lager, Violent Femmes CDs and Prince Fielder batting gloves will be presented by Laverne & Shirley.
Minnesota Timberwolves: The TWolves front office estimates that, if LeBron signs with the team, he will pass up Randy Breuer, Felton Spencer and Thurl Bailey on the franchises all-time point list by Nov. 7.

New Jersey Nets: J-Woww, Snookie and The Situation plan on having a hot tub party just outside of Akron, with LeBron as the guest of honor. According to reports, the key to a contract lies within a proposed GTL clause (Gym, Tan, Laundry).

New Orleans Hornets: Care package to include a sack of Krystal burgers, a couple of Hurricanes from Pat OBriens, novelty beads and the Sigma Chi fraternity from LSU ... just because they didnt have a place to crash for the night.

New York Knicks: The Knicks plan to send 17,000 of their fans to fill Bostons TD Garden. They will join the 1,000 Celtics fans who are still ... still ... there chanting New York Knicks! towards LeBron James from the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Knicks hope that the cries of their fans will be heard 639 miles away.

Oklahoma City Thunder: In addition to having a rest area on the Turner Turnpike renamed in his honor, Oklahoma City mayor Mick Cornett plans to give LeBron a novelty key to the city -- which will be covered in A1 sauce.

Orlando Magic: Another sign-and-trade appears to be in the works. LeBron, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the Cleveland Indians and the rights to Jake Delhomme will go to Orlando for Hannah Montana and a six-pack of Fanta Orange Soda.

Philadelphia 76ers: Brotherly Love takes on a whole new meaning as Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger visits the negotiations. The plan is to strategically place a pen into LeBrons hand, with a Sixers contract in close proximity. Pronger has been given the green light to gently body check Lebron into the contract, hoping that he accidentally signs it in the process.

Phoenix Suns: Dimwitted crook H.I. McDunnough and a local policewoman named Ed plan to kidnap LeBron James at midnight on July 1. Getting back to Arizona might be tricky, though, as they will be chased by a couple of ex-cons and a bounty hunter riding a Harley (cue banjo music).

Portland Trail Blazers: Front office says that the correct way to get from the midwest to Oregon is to follow the Oregon Trail. They will urge him to be a Carpenter from Ohio and to get as many oxen as possible to make the journey easier. However, Portlands rigorous health exam -- which includes testing for typhoid, cholera and dysentery -- could send the wrong message to LeBron and prove costly for the Blazers.

Sacramento Kings: Currently, no plan is in place to woo LeBron to Sacramento. With a nucleus of Ime Udoka, Omri Casspi and John Brockman, the Kings feel their roster is pretty much set.

San Antonio Spurs: Plan is to bring Tim Duncan to Cleveland and having him participate in a staring contest with LeBron. Loser switches cities.
Toronto Raptors: Bryan Adams, Neil Young, Jim Carrey and Dudley Do-Right head south across Lake Erie in a barge filled with Molson and Tim Horton's cappuccino as part of a goodwill gesture. Signing LeBron to the Raptors should be easy, but convincing him to close out games for the Blue Jays will be the tough part.

Utah Jazz: Karl Malone to be brought in to tutor LeBron James on what its like to win at the championship level. Oh wait. ...

Washington Wizards: Legendary heckler Robin Ficker has been lured out of retirement and will be brought to Ohio. Ficker, accompanied by a Speco Technologies ER370 megaphone, will use constructive criticism on James. In a soothing tone, Ficker plans to note how a 3-for-14 shooting performance in Game 5 against the Celtics can be a focal point for improvement in D.C.

July 1. Its coming.

Tick ... tick ... tick ...

Or something like that.

Joe Collins is an assignment desk editor for Comcast SportsNet and contributor to CSNChicago.com.

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

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USA TODAY

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.

Four takeaways: Blackhawks on wrong side of history in loss to Lightning

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AP

Four takeaways: Blackhawks on wrong side of history in loss to Lightning

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning at the United Center on Sunday:

1. Blackhawks on wrong side of history 

Earlier this year the Blackhawks made history by appearing in five straight overtime games to start the season, something no team in NBA, NFL, NHL or MLB history has ever done.

But Sunday they found themselves on the wrong side of it after allowing 33 shots on goal in the second period alone. It tied a franchise high for most given up in a single period — March 4, 1941 vs. Boston — and is the most an NHL team has allowed since 1997-98 when shots by period became an official stat.

"It's pretty rare to be seeing that much work in a period," said Cam Ward, who had a season-high 49 saves. "But oh man, I don't even know what to say to be honest. It's tough. We know that we need to be better especially in our home building, too. And play with some pride and passion. Unfortunately, it seemed like it was lacking at times tonight. The old cliche you lose as a team and overall as a team we weren't good enough tonight."

Said coach Joel Quenneville: "That was a tough, tough period in all aspects. I don’t think we touched the puck at all and that was the part that was disturbing, against a good hockey team."

2. Alexandre Fortin is on the board

After thinking he scored his first career NHL goal in Columbus only to realize his shot went off Marcus Kruger's shin-pad, Fortin made up for it one night later and knows there wasn't any question about this one.

The 21-year-old undrafted forward, playing in his his fifth career game, sprung loose for a breakaway early in the first period and received a terrific stretch pass by Jan Rutta from his own goal line to Fortin, who slid it underneath Louis Domingue for his first in the big leagues. It's his second straight game appearing on the scoresheet after recording an assist against the Blue Jackets on Saturday.

"It's fun," Fortin said. "I think it would be a little bit more fun to get your first goal [while getting] two points for your team, but I think we ... just have to [turn the page to the] next chapter and just play and be ready for next game."

3. Brandon Saad's most noticeable game?

There weren't many positives to take away from this game, but Saad was certainly one of them. He had arguably his best game of the season, recording seven shot attempts (three on goal) with two of them hitting the post (one while the Blackhawks were shorthanded).

He was on the ice for 11 shot attempts for and five against at 5-on-5, which was by far the best on his team.

"He started OK and got way better," Quenneville said of Saad. "Had the puck way more, took it to the net a couple of times, shorthanded."

4. Special teams still a work in progress

The Blackhawks entered Sunday with the 29th-ranked power play and 25th-ranked penalty kill, and are still working to get out from the bottom of the league in both departments. In an effort to change up their fortunes with the man advantage, the Blackhawks split up their two units for more balance.

They had four power-play opportunities against Tampa Bay and cashed in on one of them, but it didn't matter as it was too little, too late in the third period — although they did become the first team to score a power-play goal against the Lightning this season (29 chances).

"Whether we're looking for balance or we're just looking for one to get hot, I think our power play has been ordinary so far," Quenneville said before the game. "We need it to be more of a threat."

Four more minor penalties were committed by the Blackhawks, giving them eight in the past two games. That's one way they can shore up the penalty kill, by cutting back on taking them.