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.

Fire to resume U.S. Open Cup at packed house in Cincinnati

Fire to resume U.S. Open Cup at packed house in Cincinnati

Since arriving this winter, Dax McCarty has been the one to raise the expectations for the Chicago Fire and continued to do so after the Fire beat Orlando.

He raised the question to himself if it was realistic for the Fire to win MLS Cup, the Supporters’ Shield and the U.S. Open Cup and he said “Why not?”

The Fire’s U.S. Open Cup hopes take center stage on Wednesday when the team plays at FC Cincinnati in the round of 16. The Fire beat Saint Louis FC in the team’s first match in the tournament and even though Cincinnati is another USL team like St. Louis, things should be different.

Cincinnati is trying to showcase itself as a future MLS market and had a crowd of 30,160 for the 1-0 win against the Columbus Crew last round, which was a record for a U.S. Open Cup match played before the final. Another big crowd is expected when the Fire come to Nippert Stadium.

While cities like St. Louis and San Diego have run into trouble getting stadium deals done, Cincinnati has only had positive momentum so far in the expansion process. For example, there’s a story from USSoccer.com saying Cincinnati is the capital of American soccer.

Cincinnati’s ambition is clear in the statement from team president and general manager Jeff Berding when it was announced that Wednesday’s match will be broadcast on national TV.

“We look forward to showing off our great city as the hottest new soccer market to the rest of country,” Berding said.

To add to the spectacle of the match, a local brewery from each city placed a bet on the match in the name of charity.

The Fire brought mostly a first choice lineup to Missouri in the win last round. Of the Fire’s most common starters, only Bastian Schweinsteiger, David Accam, Nemanja Nikolic and Joao Meira sat out.

This time around Accam and McCarty will be out with their national teams. Nikolic did travel this time around.

The two teams met in the preseason, with the Fire winning 3-2 back on Feb. 22.

Cincinnati features a pair of former Fire players in Austin Berry (2012 MLS Rookie of the Year) and Corben Bone. Cincinnati is 5-5-5 in the USL this season, but as coach Alan Koch said after the team beat Columbus, “The beauty of cup soccer is anything can happen in one game.”

Cubs will make statement with trip to Donald Trump's White House

Cubs will make statement with trip to Donald Trump's White House

WASHINGTON — Within a matter of days last November, the Cubs won a staggering World Series for the first time in 108 years and Donald Trump won a scathing election to become the 45th president.

Those two surreal worlds will collide again on Wednesday when a group of Cubs get a private White House tour that can be interpreted as a political statement, something larger than this four-game series against the Washington Nationals.

This comes less than six months after the Cubs enjoyed an East Room ceremony that became the final official event at Barack Obama’s White House, at a polarizing time when speculation centered on whether or not the Golden State Warriors would skip the traditional photo op with Trump, not wanting to make an implicit endorsement after winning another NBA title.

“You’d have to talk to the Warriors,” manager Joe Maddon said Tuesday. “To go tomorrow is out of respect to the Ricketts family and to the office and the building itself. Listen, I like the United States a lot. I like living here a lot. And I like everything that it represents a lot.

“So when you get a chance as a citizen to get to go to the White House, you go. I think you go. Whether you like the person that’s running the country or not — out of respect to the office itself — you go.

“I don’t agree with all the other banter that’s going on right now, because I have a different perspective.”

Chairman Tom Ricketts and his brother, Todd, a board member who withdrew his nomination to become Trump’s deputy commerce secretary, brought the World Series trophy to Capitol Hill on Tuesday and did a meet and greet with Illinois Congressional staffers at the Russell Senate Office Building.

Within the Ricketts family/Cubs board of directors, Pete is Nebraska’s Republican governor and Laura was a superdelegate and a major fundraiser for Hillary Clinton. President of baseball operations Theo Epstein is also active in Democratic circles.

[CUBS TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

Maddon also plans to attend a luncheon on Wednesday with young Republicans organized by Congressman Lou Barletta, an old buddy from growing up in Hazleton, Penn., and an early Trump endorser.

“It’s not as ceremonial as the last one was, going there as the World Series champions,” Maddon said. “It’s more based on the Ricketts family relationship and the crowd that’s going to the White House.

“The Ricketts family’s been tied in there really well ... so wherever Mr. Ricketts would like me to go, I’m going to do (it). Mr. Ricketts and the Ricketts family has been good to all of us, so part of that is that.

“The other part is whenever you have a chance to go to the White House, I think it’s easy to say yes out of respect to the office and the building itself.”

Maddon didn’t know if meeting Trump would be on the itinerary and said he understood if some players passed on the invite.

“I don’t have any rules to begin with,” Maddon said. “I just want you to run hard to first base. As long as you run hard to first base, they can make up their own mind whether they want to go to the White House or not.

“Furthermore, not having to wear a suit, I think, is the best part of this whole trip, because, to me, to have to dress a certain way to impress somebody, my God, nobody would ever fail. So I’m all about all of the circumstances right now.”

Maddon didn’t sound at all concerned about the optics of visiting the White House at a time of travel bans, sub-40 percent approval ratings and investigations into the Trump campaign’s connections to Russia, or meeting with a president who compared Chicago to Afghanistan.

“I like living here a lot,” Maddon said. “I like this country a lot. And I would much prefer living here than some of the other places that adopt different methods of government.

“I think sometimes that gets confused when people want to take a stand and not really realizing actually what we have, which is a lot better than most every place else.”