Chicago Fire

5 Questions with...Sun-Times' Lacy J. Banks

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5 Questions with...Sun-Times' Lacy J. Banks

CSN Chicago Senior Director of Communications
CSNChicago.com Contributor

Want to know more about your favorite Chicago media celebrities? CSNChicago.com has your fix as we put the citys most popular personalities on the spot with everyones favorite local celeb feature entitled 5 Questions with...

On Wednesdays, exclusively on CSNChicago.com, its our turn to grill the local media and other local VIPs with five random sports and non-sports related questions that will definitely be of interest to old and new fans alike.

This weeks guesta Chicago sports journalism giant whose passion for the city and teams he covers is only equaled by his passion for family and lifecalling him a fighter doesnt do this man justicehis health battles have been well-documented, which include on-going bouts with both brain & prostate cancer and congestive heart failure, but there is no stopping this manhe knows he has a lot more to give to our city and has no plans on stopping nowfrom the Chicago Sun-Times, here are 5 Questions withLACY J. BANKS!

BIO: Lacy J. Banks, 67, has been a Sun-Times sportswritercolumnist for close to 40 years and a Baptist preacher for 60 years. He has preached at more than 100 different churches in the Chicago area. A native of Lyon, Miss., Banks graduated from the University of Kansas with a B.A. in French and he served three years in the Vietnam War as a U.S. Naval officer. Lacy and wife, Joyce, have been married 42 years and have three daughters and five grandchildren. Among beats Banks has covered for the Sun-Times are the Bulls (including this NBA Playoffs run as well), along with the Fire, defunct Sting, Blackhawks, Wolves, Cubs, defunct Hussle, Rush, Sky, college football and basketball and pro boxing.

1) CSNChicago.com: Lacy, so happy to speak with you, especially since there was a terrible rumor that quickly spread around newsrooms in this city that you DIED on April 20! To say it was startling to hear that is an understatement, but you wisely and quickly took to Facebook to let everyone know that you are indeed alive andaccording to your most recent Sun-Times blog postdoing thankfully well all things considered. Is it fair to call you an inspiration to cancer and heart patients out there who aspire to keep on fighting they way you courageously have over the past three years?

Banks: When I attended junior and senior high school in Kansas City, Kan., I lettered in track by running on the 400-meter, 800-meter and 1600-meter relays teams. I don't remember me ever leading off or anchoring those relay teams. I ran the middle legs, meaning I'd receive the baton from a previous runner and pass it on the next one. Likewise, I'm glad to be an inspiration to cancer survivors and to those suffering serious heart problems just as others were inspirations to me. By the grace of almighty God, I'm just passing the baton, Jeff.

Other Chicago sports legends like Wendell Smith, Gene Siskel, Jack Griffin and Dave Feldman ran on my team before me. The same with my oldest sibling, my sister Mrs. Maude Lee Banks-Burrell, and my youngest, my brother Hansel Jordan Banks. God rest their souls. There and so many, many others who have inspired me to fight. But perhaps nobody has inspired me more than my contemporary fellow cancer survivor, Roger Ebert. Look at how cancer has viciously attacked him. Yet he has soldiered on long and strong with a smile on his face and magnificent movie reviews in his soul. Now there's a real giant Jeff. There's a real hero. His afflictions have not diminished his genius in any way, shape or form. And just as his wife, Chaz, has been by his side as his main support system, so has my wife of 50 years, Joyce. Thank you, Jesus.

2) CSNChicago.com: As you well know and as someone who knows the ins and outs of this team as well as anyone, this city has very high expectations for a deep playoff run for the Bulls. In your opinion, what are the three main on-court elements that MUST happen for this team to - lets just say it - reach the NBA Finals?

Banks: First, they must continue to play the same smothering defense that powered them to the best record in the regular season. Second, their star leader and sure-shot NBA MVP, Derrick Rose, must remain healthy and maintain his stellar all-round play. Third, they must have a consistent, balanced offense that will give Rose the support he needs for the first three quarters, rather than force him to pull them out of close games to victoryfourth quarter, after forth quarter, after fourth quarter.

Even Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Bill Russell had to have help. They finally paid the price Saturday when they spotted the Indiana Pacers a huge early lead and failed to pull it out despite another heroic finish. But they almost lost more than the game. When Rose twisted his left ankle in the first quarter, it was one scary moment because that twist looked awfully ugly on video replays. Thank God that it wasn't as serious as it looked. He stayed in the game and again almost saved the Bulls in the fourth.

3) CSNChicago.com: Youve now covered two of the greatest players to ever to put on a Bulls uniform: Michael Jordan and Derrick Rose. At this point in Roses stellar early portion of his career to MJs standout early years in the league, what would you say are some striking similarities & big differences between these two NBA titans?

Banks: They are both cold-blooded killers, but with different temperaments. Jordan's emotions ran hot and heavy. But he did not let them rattle him when he had to be focused at money time, when the pressures of the game were at their maximum. But Rose? He is incredibly calm and just as confident and competent. Jordan was obviously bigger at 6-6 than Rose at 6-3, but both are outstanding finishers and Rose is a better penetrator and glass-master than Jordan. Give Rose the slightest sliver of space and he'll slice and dice opponents off the dribble no matter how much those opponents pack the paint and pelt him with cheap shots.

4) CSNChicago.com: There was a time period when there was a long drought in this city between pro team championships (1963 to 1981 to be exact). That all changed in 81 when the now-defunct North American Soccer Leagues (NASL) Chicago Sting, a team filled with huge personalities and amazing skills to match, won the Soccer Bowl over the New York Cosmos. Many younger Chicago sports fans obviously wouldnt know how big that moment truly was in this city. As a beat writer for the Sting during those years, tell us what it was like to cover that team and how they captivated Chicago at that moment in time.

Banks: The Sting was something of an unwanted child because soccer was not that popular a sport in Chicago in particular or America in general. But the ownership of Lee Stern and the coaching of Willy Roy are the main reasons the Sting gave Chicago two major-league championships. Stern, a native of Chicago, was to Chicago as an owner what Derrick Rose, also a local native, is to Chicago as a player.

Quick note of trivia: can you remember another owner or player who was born in the same city he became its championship sports hero? Magic Johnson was not born in Los Angeles. Neither was Shaquille O'Neal or Kobe Bryant. Bird was not born in Boston. Neither was Russell. Jordan was not born in Chicago. Neither was Walter Payton or Ernie Banks. Tim Duncan was not born in San Antoniobut Dwayne Wade and Isiah Thomas were both born in Chicago before bringing NBA championships to Miami and Detroit respectively.

5) CSNChicago.com: In addition to being a veteran Chicago sports journalist, youre also a man of deep faith who has helped spread the word of God to thousands of parishioners over the past six decades. With the reported decline in church goers over the past decade or so in all faiths, what can be done in your opinion to bring them back?

Banks: A miracle. A cataclysmic miracle. Like an invasion of aliens from outer space. Of course, the return of Jesus Christ performing miracle as He did in His first coming could also do it. But the bible tells us that when Christ returns the second time, He is coming back to take what's left of His church dead and alive. The bible teaches that most of mankind, as in the past, still will never accept the faith in God that Jesus authored and finished. As prophesied in the bible, these are the "last days" when people will no longer endure sound doctrine. And the real essence of Christianity, the religion of which I am a redeemed member, or any other good religion, is a faith that will make us love each other as we love ourselves.

BONUS QUESTIONCSNChicago.com: Any final thoughts youd like to share Lacy?
Banks: I am seriously concerned about the destructive direction in which America is headed. Ninety-five percent of this nation's wealth is possessed by five percent of the population. Plus, too many of our congressmen are multi-millionaires, which means they are out of touch with the sufferings of the masses. Every previous great empire was destroyed more from within than without. People became more greedy, insensitive, ignorant, unloving and undisciplined. Our government is corrupted by congressmen who are in the pockets of special interest groups that are only interested in making money at any and all costs. Mis-prioritizing has resulted in the savaging of our environment and the deadly deterioration of our infrastructure. I believe that Republicans and Teapartiers, in essence, care nothing for the poor and the middle class. And they are full of hate and anger. I can understand anger. Our growing economic woes, greatly resulting from the abandonment of American workers, through out-sourcing of jobs to cheap labor abroad, are causing people to be angry about losing their jobs, their affordable health care, their homes and their retirement benefits. But we are at our worst when we start hating each other according to race, religion, sexual persuasion, social and economic status. What I'd like to promote most, Jeff, is love (which is God) and a government that will look out for the best interest of humanity in general and Americans in particular. After all, this IS America. And we ARE Americans.

Banks LINKS:

Lacy J. Banks official Sun-Times blog - Conquering Cancer and Heart Failurewith Jesus, doctors and common sense"

Lacy J. Banks Sun-TimesChicago Bulls coverage

Lacy J. Banks on Facebook

Podcast: How the playoff race is shaping up for the Fire

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USA TODAY

Podcast: How the playoff race is shaping up for the Fire

The Fire have gone three games without a loss so Shane Murray (MLSsoccer.com) and Dan Santaromita discuss the team's recent performances and if the team is back to its best form.

Next, hear from Dax McCarty as he talked to reporters after training on Tuesday.

Finally, Dan and Shane give the latest on the lengthy Fire injury list and look at the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

High School Lites Week 5 football capsules and picks

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High School Lites Week 5 football capsules and picks

CSN Chicago will have cameras covering the biggest high school football games across Chicagoland on the Week 5 edition of High School Lites, Friday at 11 p.m. Can Cary-Grove beat Huntley in Huntley in one of the top Fox Valley Conference showdowns of the season? So who can get a leg up in the Interstate 8 Large conference race when Coal City visits Herscher? Can Lincoln-Way Central defeat the state's top ranked team when Lincoln-Way East comes down Route 30 on Friday night to take on Central in New Lenox? So who ya got: St. Rita or Mount Carmel?

Payton at Lindblom, 4:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Payton Prep (3-1), coached by George Klupchak, has an experienced team back this season. Keep an eye out for senior WR Eli Geleerd, who leads a deep group of skills along with senior OL/DL Ben Lohman. Lindblom (4-0) and head coach Justin Pressley also boast a speedy and explosive offense led by QB Bryce O'Walker plus senior WR CJ Rutherford (Indiana State). Can the Payton defense slow down the Eagles passing attack?

EDGY's Pick: Lindblom 31, Payton Prep 26

Bartlett at (2) Prairie Ridge, 7 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Prairie Ridge (4-0) gets a rare non-conference opponent this week in hosting Bartlett (1-3). Prairie Ridge is starting to hit their midseason stride as QB Samson Evans ran for five touchdowns and passed for another in a 56-13 win last Friday over Crystal Lake South. Bartlett struggled in slowing down South Elgin in last week's 37-15 loss. Can the Hawks defense contain the Wolves option attack?

EDGY's Pick: Prairie Ridge 45, Bartlett 14

(17) Cary-Grove at (20) Huntley, 7 p.m.

EDGY's Take: This is easily one of the top games all season in the Fox Valley Conference. Huntley (3-1) will feature a one-two punch on offense with seniors Eric Mooney (QB) and Melvin Aninagyei-Bonsu (RB). Cary-Grove (3-1) counters with senior RB Max Skol and a big, physical offensive line. The Trojans defense is also a big strength this fall. Can Huntley's offense extend drives and finish with points against the Cary-Grove defense?

EDGY's Pick: Cary-Grove 31, Huntley 30

Coal City at Herscher, 7 p.m.

EDGY's Take: A huge Interstate 8 (large school) conference showdown this week -- the biggest test of the year for both schools. Both Coal City (4-0, 2-0) and Herscher (4-0, 2-0) want to run the football. Class 4A-ranked Herscher will get the ball into the hands of QB Tyler Sarnagin and RB/LB Anthony Koranda while Coal City counters with RB Danny Norton and QB Payton Hutchins. Last possession wins?

EDGY's Pick: Herscher 28, Coal City 20

Plainfield North at Oswego East, 7 p.m. 

EDGY's Take: Plainfield North (3-1) is looking to recover from its Week 4 loss to Minooka and will rely heavily on the arm of senior QB Brady Miller. Oswego East (4-0) has been impressive so far but the schedule ramps up big time beginning this week with Plainfield North. Keep an eye on Oswego East senior WR/DB Antwain Walker (Illinois) along with junior QB/S Justin Clark. Can the Wolves raise their game against one of the Southwest Prairie's best teams? 

EDGY's Pick: Plainfield North 20, Oswego East 17

(1) Lincoln-Way East at Lincoln-Way Central, 7:30 p.m. #SendEdgy

EDGY's Take: Lincoln-Way East (4-0) has been on a roll all season. They’re the state's top-ranked team and they rely on a balanced offense led by senior QB Brendan Morrissey. They also feature one of the state's top defensive lines, anchored by Northwestern verbal commit DE Devin O'Rourke. Lincoln-Way Central (4-0) has continued to improve every season under head coach Jeremy Cordell. The Knights are also balanced on offense and will look towards their run game led by senior RB Matt Pollack, junior RB Justin Ellis and a very effective play action passing attack led by QB Sam Pipiras. Can Central's offense run the football consistently against the East defense? Can the East offense run the football against the Central defense? 

EDGY's Pick: Lincoln-Way East 24, Lincoln-Way Central 21

(15) Mt. Carmel at St. Rita, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Mount Carmel (3-1) and St. Rita (3-1) are both looking to get a leg up in the CCL Blue standings with a win on Friday night. The Caravan and Hall of Fame head coach Frank Lenti could have senior QB Alek Thomas (TCU) back in the lineup after missing the first four games of the regular season due to participating in the Team USA U18 baseball tournament. St. Rita and head coach Todd Kuska will look to senior RB Chris Childers (Indiana State), senior QB Jake Zlyman and a defense that has made key stops all season. Can Mount Carmel's offense add a spark with Alek Thomas back under center? Can the St. Rita offense keep moving the football again this week against the Mount Carmel defense? 

EDGY's Pick: Mount Carmel 28, St. Rita 27

St. Joseph at St. Ignatius, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: St. Joseph (2-2) will look to rebound this week after a 21-0 loss to Chicago Hope. The Chargers and head coach Rich Petroski are looking to get back into the state playoffs after the school's historic season a year ago. Keep an eye on senior WR/DB Zach Ford for St. Joseph. St. Ignatius (3-1) was off to a good start this season but then ran into a buzzsaw last Friday in losing to Providence Catholic 35-6. Can St. Ignatius and QB Quinn Donath get the Wolfpack offense back on track this week?  

EDGY's Pick: St. Ignatius 31, St. Joseph 27

(5) Lake Zurich at Warren, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Lake Zurich (4-0) has relied on a quick hitting offense and a lights-out defense so far this season. The Bears will rely on senior RB/LB Joey Stutzman, senior QB Evan Lewandowski plus senior LB/RB Jack Sanborn (Wisconsin). Warren Township (4-0) and head coach Bryan McNulty have also played lights out defense. The Warren Township offense features WR Micah Jones (Notre Dame) and senior QB Ian Shilling. They have both been outstanding so far this season. Can the Lake Zurich offense dent the Warren Township defense? Can the Warren offense big play the stingy Lake Zurich defense? 

EDGY's Pick: Lake Zurich 21, Warren Township 14

VIEWERS' CHOICE: (24) Montini at Marmion Academy, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Montini Catholic (3-1) and first year head coach Mike Bukovsky has settled on senior Nick Orlando at quarterback. The Broncos have rolled ever since. That includes last week's come from behind, last-second win over Brother Rice 29-28. Marmion Academy (4-0) and head coach Dan Thorpe will look to multi-sport standout senior QB Brandon McPherson. The Cadets also had a thrilling 34-31 OT win last Friday over Bishop McNamara. Can the Montini defense contain the Cadets and QB Brandon McPherson? Can the Cadets ramp up its game with first place in the Chicago Catholic Green on the line?

EDGY's Pick: Montini Catholic 27, Marmion Academy 17