Five reasons to watch Bulls-Nets classic tonight

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Five reasons to watch Bulls-Nets classic tonight

Tonight at 7:30, Comcast SportsNet unveils the first of it's Bulls Classics series featuring 15 of the greatest games in franchise history. With that in mind, here and five things to watch from the Bulls' classic 128-113 win over the NewJersey Nets on Feb. 26, 1987, in which Michael Jordan scored athen-franchise record 58 points:

1) Jordan averaged 37.1 points per game in his third season as a pro,so his scoring outburst -- a regular-season record, as he scored 63against the Boston Celtics in the 1986 playoffs -- wasn't exactly ashocker. However, his efficiency (he was 15-for-16 from the floor and26-for-27 from the charity stripe) was remarkable. He didn't evenattempt, let alone make, any three-pointers and it's not as if heneglected other aspects of the game, corralling eight rebounds, swipingthree steals and even blocking a pair of shots. Additionally, he playedonly 37 minutes, below the 40 minutes per game he averaged that season,in which he played all 82 games after playing in only 18 the previousyear due to a foot injury.
2) "A championship" was Jordan's answer when the late, great Johnny"Red" Kerr asked him "what's next?" in a postgame interview, but hewould have to wait four more years to realize that goal. The Bullsfinished the 1986-87 season with a 40-42 record, failing to advance tothe playoffs in Doug Collins' first year as head coach. Futuremainstays like Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant were still collegeplayers at the time, but the addition of the forward duo in the 1987NBA Draft built the foundation of the team for the beginning of itsspree of titles.

3) Bulls power forward Charles Oakley was eventually traded to New Yorkin exchange for Bill Cartwright, a move which Jordan reportedly wasn't fond. Oakley would miss out on Chicago's championship run, asCartwright was an important piece of the franchise's first three-peat,often having to defeat Oakley's rival Knicks. A young Oakley, now anassistant coach with the Jordan-owned Charlotte Bobcats, already wasdeveloping into one of the league's premier rebounders -- he led the NBAin the category that season and the next -- made clear by his 17 boardsin this outing and would go on to be known as one of the most ruggeddefenders of his era. However, he hadn't yet become the accuratemid-range shooter that he'd be later in his career, as evidenced by his5-for-18 night from the field, although he did hand out seven assistson the evening.

4) Current Bulls executive vice president John Paxson, who scored 16points and distributed five assists that night, started next to Jordanin the backcourt, a role he held through the organization's first twotitles before passing the torch to B.J. Armstrong for Chicago's thirdchampionship season. In fact, Paxson was the only member of the 1986-87Bulls to remain on the team long enough to win a title, although oneplayer who would return to the Bulls later -- replacing Jordan during hisfirst retirement -- was Pete Myers, who was hired by the Golden StateWarriors as an assistant coach this offseason.

5) That season's edition of the Nets was an interesting group. NewJersey was led in scoring that night by blue-collar power forward BuckWilliams with 25 points, while Orlando Woolridge -- who would lead theteam in scoring after coming from the Bulls the previouscampaign -- chipped in with 20 off the bench. As Sam Smith noted onBulls.com, current NBA referee Leon Wood -- who won an Olympic gold medalwith Jordan in 1984 -- was another Nets reserve, scoring 10 points. MikeGminski turned in a strong effort with 14 points and 13 boards, whilerookie Pearl Washington, a college star at Syracuse turned NBA bust,and Albert King, brother of the more accomplished Bernard, were alsostarters.

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Neil Funk and Stacey King will host each game in-studio, sharing their memories from the game.

The full schedule is as follows:

Wednesday, Nov. 2, 7:30 p.m.February 26, 1987:New Jersey Nets at Chicago Bulls

Jordan sets a new all-time Bulls scoring record with 58 points; also sets new Bulls record of 2627 from the free throw line, including 19 straight; terrific post-game interview with the late Johnny Red Kerr asking MJ Whats next?the youthful Jordans response: an NBA Championship.

Wednesday, Nov. 9, 7:30 p.m.February 16, 1989:Milwaukee Bucks at Chicago Bulls

Jordan scores 27 of his 50 points in 4th quarter, including a 20-footer with one second remaining on the clock.

Tuesday, Nov. 15, 7:30 p.m.May 7, 1989:Round 1, Game 5 - Chicago Bulls at Cleveland Cavaliers

The Shot: Jordan hits game-winning shot at buzzer over Craig Ehlo giving the Bulls a huge first round upset against the Cavs.

Tuesday, Nov. 22, 7:30 p.m.June 12, 1991:NBA Finals, Game 5 - Chicago Bulls at LA Lakers

Bulls celebrate first NBA Championship, Jordan scores 30 points, to go along with ten assists and five steals. Coverage includes post-game locker room coverage of Jordan clutching the Larry OBrien NBA Championship Trophy with his father James Jordan at his side.

Wednesday, Nov. 30, 7:30 p.m.June 3, 1992:NBA Finals, Game. 1 - Portland Trailblazers at Chicago Bulls

Jordans infamous shrug told the story as he was six of ten from three-point range with 35 points in the first half.

Tuesday, Dec. 6, 7:30 p.m.June 14, 1992:NBA Finals, Game. 6 - Portland Trailblazer at Chicago Bulls

Bulls win back-to-back NBA titles and celebrate their first home court championship at Chicago Stadium.

Tuesday, Dec. 13, 7:30 p.m.May 17, 1993:Round 2, Game 4 - Chicago Bulls at Cleveland Cavaliers

Jordan hits game-ending, series-clinching Shot II" reminiscent of his playoff series-clincher at Cleveland four years earlier.

Tuesday, Dec. 20, 7:30 p.m.May 31, 1993:Eastern Conference Finals, Game 4 - New York Knicks at Chicago Bulls

On this Memorial Day telecast, Jordan shines once again with a stellar 54-point performance that tied the series at 2-2.

Tuesday, Dec. 27, 7:30 p.m.June 16, 1993:NBA Finals, Game 4 - Phoenix Suns at Chicago Bulls

The Bulls go up 3-1 in the Finals against Sir Charles & the Suns as Jordan dominates with 55 points.

Tuesday, Jan. 3, 7:30 p.m.June 20, 1993:NBA Finals, Game 6 - Chicago Bulls at Phoenix Suns

John Paxson hits three-point championship-winning shot with 3.9 seconds left, giving the Bulls their first three-peat.

Monday, Jan. 9, 7:30 p.m.March 28, 1995:Chicago Bulls at New York Knicks

In just his fifth game back from retirement, No. 45 Jordan scores 55 points and sets up Bill Wennington for a game-winning slam dunk at the famed Madison Square Garden.

Monday, Jan. 16, 7:30 p.m.June 16, 1996:NBA Finals, Game 6 - Seattle Supersonics at Chicago Bulls

Bulls cap off record-breaking 72-10 regular season by downing the Sonics at the United Center for their fourth NBA title.

Monday, Jan. 23, 7:30 p.m.June 11, 1997:NBA Finals, Game 5 - Chicago Bulls at Utah Jazz

A flu-stricken, yet determined Michael Jordan scores a game-high 38 points, giving the Bulls a 3-2 Finals series edge.

Monday, Jan. 30, 7:30 p.m.June 13, 1997:NBA Finals, Game. 6 - Utah Jazz at Chicago Bulls
Steve Kerr scores a 17-footer with five seconds left in the fourth quarter, followed by Toni Kukoc cementing the deal with a slam dunk with 0.6 seconds left, as the Bulls send the United Center crowd into delirium winning their fifth NBA title.

Monday, Feb. 6, 7:30 p.m.June 14, 1998:NBA Finals, Game 6 - Chicago Bulls at Utah Jazz
Jordan hits historic game-winning shot as the Bulls clinch their sixth NBA Championship. Jordan finishes with 45 points in his final appearance in a Bulls uniform and named NBA Finals MVP for the sixth time.

All times are Central Time. Schedule subject to change.

Cubs' Anthony Rizzo gets day off vs. Mariners

Cubs' Anthony Rizzo gets day off vs. Mariners

Anthony Rizzo isn't in the lineup on Saturday afternoon as the Cubs battle the Seattle Mariners.

The Cubs first baseman is getting the day off. 

"He’s really been needing a day, so it just turned out really well for today," said manager Joe Maddon. "Day game and then a night game tomorrow actually gives him more of an extended time to rest. We rely on him so heavily all the time. It was just the right thing to do today."

Willson Contreras will be his replacement for the day.

Saturday is the first regular-season day off for Rizzo since June 5 — and first since the All-Star break nearly three weeks ago. 

“I think it’s important to give them time off, I really do," Maddon said. "I think it’s really unrealistic to expect high-end performance by pushing someone to 162 games. ...A guy like Rizz, maybe he needs five or six plus for regular off days in a year to really be productive consistently."

Maddon also stressed the fact that he wants to keep his players healthy and not overwork them.

"I don’t want to wait til a guy who gets hurt to need a day off," Maddon said. "I’d rather be proactive with that. I put out the feelers yesterday to ask around who’s going to be needing a day. So I have other ideas coming up possibly, but for today it was absolutely the right thing to do for Rizz."

Rizzo is batting .214/.250/.464 in 14 games after the break. His 24 homers and 79 RBIs are among the league's best.

Rizzo has missed three games this season, two of which were due to back stiffness.

"I think it’s wise to be proactive, physically and mentally to give them their rest," Maddon said. "I think you’re going to get a sharper performance on a more consistent basis."

With Ted Larsen, Bears O-line doesn't yet need SOS call

With Ted Larsen, Bears O-line doesn't yet need SOS call

The story from about five years ago goes like this: Ted Larsen and his girlfriend were out on the water, deep sea fishing, when they heard a Coast Guard warning about three kayakers in distress. Realizing the location was relatively nearby, Larsen immediately headed to the area, found the trio, and pulled them aboard before any other help could get there.

The Bears offensive line isn't in nearly as much distress, but after the retirements of veterans Manny Ramirez and Nate Chandler before they would even play a game for them, along with Kyle Long going down on with a calf strain in Thursday's opening practice of training camp, the former Buccaneer and Cardinal may be an important lifeline on Dave Magazu's unit.

"We gotta get some depth there. We have very little depth," Larsen said earlier this week in Bourbonnais. "The guys we do have are good. I think it's just finding the five best guys we have and throw them out there. There's competition everywhere, obviously besides Kyle, so...I'm ready to play whatever position. I've started ten-plus games at every position inside. Wherever they need me to help the team out, I'm ready to go."

Which he wasn't back in June, missing the last half of OTAs and the entire three-day mandatory minicamp with a calf strain of his own. Long was on the sidelines Saturday watching practice without the boot he'd been wearing the previous two days in hopes of speeding the healing process. And while the team's encouraged it's not a long-term injury, flashbacks of Alshon Jeffery's struggles that began with a calf strain a year ago will force them to proceed cautiously.

[MORE: Bears sign Willie Young to two-year contract extension]

As a result, Larsen's stepped in for Long at right guard when the original plan was to have him compete with second-round pick Cody Whitehair and Hroniss Grasu (who have one season of NFL experience between them) at left guard and center, respectively. In his six-year career, Larsen's started 34 games at left guard, 13 at right guard, and ten at center.

"As the unit gets better, the whole team gets better. I'm not scared of any rookies or younger guys. I've played a lot of games, some playoff games. We all have experience in this league. Whoever's out there is out there, whether I'm playing center and helping Cody, or I'm helping Grasu, or whatever it is. You don't want guys to play worse, you want `em to play better, so when you're in there, you're playing at a high level."

The Bears struck on the opening day of free agency to sign Larsen's Arizona teammate from the last two seasons, Bobby Massie, to become their new right tackle. Two weeks later, Larsen followed.

"It's a program on the rise," the 29-year-old explained. "Bobby had signed here.  We played together and it was just another opportunity to come in on a one-year ($1.65 million) deal. It's kinda what I wanted. Play well, have a chance to start, and be on a competitive team."

[SHOP: Gear up for the 2016 season, Bears fans!

The deal came a day after Ramirez originally signed and a month before Whitehair was drafted and Matt Slauson subsequently cut. Things have changed again since then, and for a team adapting to more of a zone-blocking scheme under new offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, cohesion and communication and comfort is crucial before the regular season starts.

Larsen originally played alongside Willie Young as a defensive lineman at North Carolina State before being switched to the other side of the line his junior season. Larsen was a sixth-round draft pick of New England in 2010, but was subsequently cut. Young was a seventh-rounder by Detroit that year. As Young earned a two-year contract extension Saturday, Larsen hopes to prove his worth to the Bears this season, as well. While avid fisherman Young reeled in a new deal, Larsen shares the same off-field passion, part of the reason he was around to help rescue those kayakers.

"We actually were on a flight to Fort Lauderdale this offseason, same day. He was actually going to fish somewhere else and I was going to the (Florida) Keys. It's definitely a mutual interest, same for Bobby Massie - he's another big fisherman."

Who's the best?

"I dunno," Larsen answers. "We just do it for fun."

27 Days to Kickoff: Whitney Young

27 Days to Kickoff: Whitney Young

CSNChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Aug. 1, we’ll unveil the @CSNPreps Top 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 26. You can view Edgy Tim's other football previews here.

School: Whitney Young

Head coach: Tim Franken

Assistant coaches: Victor Marin, Chris Mallette, Cam Browns and Matt Derrig.

How they fared in 2015: 9-1 (7-0) CPL Chicago Big Shoulders Conference. Whitney Young made the Class 7A state playoff field and lost to Niles North in opening-round action.

Biggest storyline in 2016: How will the Dolphins fare moving up to the CPL Illini Red Bird conference this season?

Names to watch this season: RB Ke'Vaughn Chappell, OL/DL Justeon Kimmons

Biggest holes to fill: Can the Dolphins find some answers at quarterback and linebacker after graduation losses from this past spring?

EDGY's Early Take: Whitney Young has been very strong over the past few seasons, and now comes a move up in competition to the rugged CPL Illinois Red Bird conference. Having an All-State running back in Chappell and four returning offensive linemen should help the Dolphins chances this season.