LeBron, Carmelo, Wade and Paul to host tour

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LeBron, Carmelo, Wade and Paul to host tour

From Comcast SportsNet

LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony are going homeand bringing friends with them.

With no end to the NBA lockout in sight, the All-Star group is set to lead a four-game Homecoming Tour, starting with a matchup in James hometown of Akron, Ohio on Dec. 1, followed by a Dec. 4 game in New Orleans, a Dec. 7 game in Chicago and culminating with a Dec. 10 contest in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

James, Paul, Wade and Anthony are committed to play in all four games of the tour, which was announced early Monday. Proceeds from the tourwhich will include events such as food drives, educational outreach programs and clinics in each citywill benefit the four headlining players charitable foundations, and tour sponsor Google Plus will stream each game live.

Itll be very neat, Wade told The Associated Press. First of all, this is something we talked about doing a long time ago as players. To have an opportunity to go to these different cities that were from, to bring basketball to them at a high level and also have a charitable component in each city and to be with the guys, itll be cool. Its something were looking forward to.

Tickets for the first three games go on sale Tuesday. Tickets for the East Rutherford game will be on sale Wednesday.

The rosters for the four games will likely change considerably in each city. James will play a significant role in organizing the Akron game, as will Paul in New Orleans, Wade in Chicago and Anthony at East Rutherford.

Chris Boshwho, along with James and Wade, makes up the so-called Big 3 with the Miami Heat, is expected to play in all four games. Bosh, along with James, Wade, the New Orleans guard Paul, the New York Knicks forward Anthony, Heat forward Udonis Haslem and others have been part of a rigorous training camp in Oregon for players represented by Creative Artists Agency since late last week.

Im sore, Wade said from Oregon. But thats why we set it up this way. We want to get into work mode. When we get into the tour, we want to play. We want to be equipped to do that. We dont want to just run up and down the court and jack up shots. We want to get into the things we need to do when it comes to strength, defense, all those things you usually do in training camp. So were getting into that mindset.

Theres been no shortage of exhibitions featuring NBA players during the lockout, which is now in its 21st week and has already led to the cancellation of more than 300 gamesroughly one-quarter of a full season. Talks broke off last week after players declined an offer that the NBA said would have raised salaries considerably, which apparently wasnt enough to convince player reps that it was the right deal.

The principals involved in this say the tour will be different from most offseason exhibitions in many ways, notably the extensive charitable aspects.

I am so excited to have this opportunity to participate in this tour, Anthony said in a press release. To couple two of the things I love to do play basketball and give backis special. This is just the beginning of a movement to facilitate change in our communities and I am happy to be a part of a group of guys willing to lead the charge.

Events begin Nov. 29 in New York with a court dedication and food drive, before the group moves to Akron for events the following day that include a Wheels for Education programsomething James is extensively involved with in an effort to help keep kids from dropping out of high schooland a basketball clinic at the Boys & Girls Club bearing the two-time NBA MVPs name.

I am really proud of the work were doing in Akron and know what this tour means for the community, James said.

Paul will host an education-themed event and a clinic in New Orleans on Dec. 2, in advance of the game there two nights later. Wade hosts two events for charity in Chicago on Dec. 6, and another clinic is planned for New York on Dec. 9.

Being able to play the game I love alongside my friends as well as raising money for charity is a win-win situation, Paul said.

Wade said another element hes looking forward to is simply being around NBA players on a full-time basis again, if only for a couple of weeks. While he remains hopeful that much of the season can be saved, hes also not necessarily optimistic that hell be back in a Heat uniform again and trying for another NBA finals trip anytime soon.

Were approaching it as basketball, Wade said. Were not doing it so people dont forget our names. Were really doing this to continue to make an impact in the communities that we go to and also to show that we love this game, were going to continue to play it and that this is something we all decided to do together. So thats what makes this special.

Bears' benching of rookie Jonathan Bullard a surprise message from coaching staff

Bears' benching of rookie Jonathan Bullard a surprise message from coaching staff

Whether it will prove to be a wakeup shot for an underachieving rookie or not, the announcement that rookie defensive end Jonathan Bullard was inactive for Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers is noteworthy for multiple reasons.

The deactivation was surprising if only because so many of Ryan Pace’s draft choices have been getting on the field and doing reasonably well. Telling Bullard to take a seat was a statement by coach John Fox, coordinator Vic Fangio and line coach Jay Rodgers, all of whom were involved in evaluations leading to the Bears using a third-round pick on the defensive lineman, that this staff is not going to simply and stubbornly stick with a player because they picked him.

Bullard was the only one of the Bears’ top seven picks in the 2016 draft, other than injured cornerback Deiondre Hall, who did not start against the 49ers.

Bullard, expected to challenge for a starting at one D-line position because of his pass-rush potential, did get one start (against Tampa Bay) but played just 14 snaps against Tennessee and was credited with just one (assisted) tackle. Bullard has one sack and two quarterback pressures in 212 snaps played. The sack came at Indianapolis. In the six games since then ... crickets.

Playing time is the ultimate cudgel coaches have this side of the transaction wire. Not saying that Bullard comes under this umbrella, but he would not be the first NFL player who treated their high draft selection as having achieved something when it actually was the beginning, not the finish.

But while coach John Fox cited “ability” first as the reason for Bullard being deactivated, a lack of motivation appeared to be involved based on Fox’s subsequent explanation.

“I think there's a variety of ways to motivate young people,” Fox said. “He's a player that we do like, that we're trying to bring the best out of like we do all our players. He gets to practice all week just like the other players, then how they perform in practice sometimes is reflective on what kind of opportunities they get in the game, so they have to earn it.”

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This approach has worked. Many drafts ago, the Bears used the No. 5 pick of the 1998 draft on running back Curtis Enis, who held out for most of training camp before signing following one of the more bizarre negotiating processes ever. Enis arrived in camp but had decided that he was a runner and didn’t see himself as a blocker, even though no one less than center Olin Kreutz, who knows something about blocking, would later say that Enis was far and away the greatest blocker at running back that Kreutz had ever seen.

Joe Brodsky, the crusty old running backs coach under Dave Wannstedt, had zero tolerance for Enis’ attitude, which included insulting at least one assistant coach. Brodsky privately got squarely in the face of the rookie and informed him that until he made protecting his quarterback as important as running the football, Enis would not start for the Bears.

Enis watched Edgar Bennett start until Brodsky’s message sank in, which was midseason. Enis finally started — one game, against the Rams — and was having the best game of his season when he unfortunately tore his left ACL and his career was all but finished.

But it took tough love from a coaching staff that needed him for its survival (which subsequently did not happen, losing six of the next seven games and costing Wannstedt and staff their jobs) to get through to Enis.

Bullard is not Enis, but the organization invested a Day 2 draft pick in him to be more than fill for the depth chart. Now the burden falls to Bullard to demonstrate that he got the message.

“It's like anybody, from adversity they respond, and that was one of the things I was impressed with our team (Sunday),” Fox said. “Things didn't go well early in the game, defense got put in a couple tough spots because of some special-teams errors and then how we responded as a team, so I would expect the same from any individual player, whether it's due to injury or maybe coaches' decision.

“We want guys to prove us wrong.”

Wednesday on CSN: Northern Iowa hosts South Dakota State

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USA TODAY

Wednesday on CSN: Northern Iowa hosts South Dakota State

Northern Iowa tries to break its four-game losing streak as they hose South Dakota State on Wednesday night. This game will be carried live on CSN with a 7:00 p.m. tip.

The Panthers (3-4) started the season with wins over power-conference teams like Arizona State and Oklahoma before dropping the last few games.

Senior guard Jeremy Morgan is off to a strong start this season as he's putting up 15.4 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.4 steals and 2.9 assists per game. 

They'll get a solid test from South Dakota State as the Jackrabbits have one of the best mid-major players in the country in sophomore Mike Daum.

The 6-foot-9 Daum is averaging 20.2 points and 8.6 rebounds per game this season as he's the frontrunner for Player of the Year in the Summit League this season.