Frankie O: Who are you?

Frankie O: Who are you?

Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010
2:55 PM

By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

As Bears fans bask in the glow of Sundays domination of the Eagles, instead of giving me a ton of grief, they give me a ton and all ask the same question: What do I think of the Bears now? I dont believe that its because a bartenders opinion is going to seal the deal, but rather part of a larger quest. Besides the burning desire to learn oneself, there is always that need to define others. When it concerns the local heroes, this is always taken to a new level. The essence of any sports discussion, or in the bar read: argument, is the ability to clearly and accurately describe what we have witnessed and how it will affect the future. People want to know. Who am I? Or who I am? Those are two completely different questions! This was forever etched in our sports consciousness after one of the most famous melt-downs ever, the Dennis Green The Bears are who we thought they were! rant after a Monday night game in which his team had a melt-down and handed the Bears the game. While us fans found what he said, and especially how he said it, to be hysterical, it brought to the fore the questions that keep my bar lively.

This couldnt be more true than in the discussions of this years Bears. The two biggest faces, Jay and Lovie, and the team itself have been analyzed over and over. (Analyze This!) Ill start with Jay. After his heroes welcome upon his trade here, no one has endured more scorn since he began playing. Throwing an average of two picks a game will do that. But also its the demeanor thing. The public has a perception of how it wants its star quarterback to look, feel and PLAY like. Cutler so far, obviously, has been all over the road in his play. The thing that loses him support is that when discussing his play, he looks completely disinterested to the point of boredom. Doesnt he realize how serious this is? Why do you think Derek Anderson is taking so much heat for being caught smiling and laughing on the sideline Monday night while his team was getting hammered? For fans its just as important that you carry yourself as a winner as it is winning, well when youre losing anyway, if you win, do whatever you want. ALL is forgiven with winning. That the Bears are winning now, and hes playing very well, has brought some understanding or should I say acceptance to his personality quirks. He also earned points with his rant towards the officials, for sticking up for his teammates. Funny, not too long ago the same act would have been vilified around here not too long ago for him once again being petulant. This is the same Cutler, just one who seems to be figuring out his third offense in three years, and one who for the first time in his career is playing on a team with a defense that can make a difference.

Lovie is a fun one to discuss now. I havent felt the overwhelming support for him yet, and I find that a little puzzling. Heres a guy that was given a second chance in fans eyes. I did not come across a single person at the bar last year that thought that he should have been retained as coach. (Nor Jerry Angelo as G.M. for that matter.) That he has taken this opportunity and run with it is all to his credit. Defensive play is what he is known for and the defense is playing great. Being a leader that can right the ship is just as important, and his influence over the offense to change when it was needed cant be denied. But once again it gets to the perception thing. During the awfulness of the last three years, his even-keel demeanor, lack of anger and say nothing coach-speak made him the number one target of fans discussing what was wrong with the team. Some even considered him to have an above-it-all arrogance. Well now, during the good times, he has the perception of a calm cool leader. It cracks me up that as maddening as I sometimes found his behavior, especially during the last two years, to be, that he is EXACTLY the same right guy right now. How funny is that? How funny is it that I think that right now, he should be considered the coach of the year in the NFL?

So who are the Bears? I think that right now, they are one of the best teams in football. The win on Sunday made that statement for all to see. But as Jerry Glanville once pointed out, NFL stands for: Not for long! Anything can change in an instant. Thats why I found it very telling when discussing the aftermath of the game, everyone on the team said its all about next week and moving forward. Basking in the glow in this league will get you beat in a hurry and turn you into yesterdays news. (Or LAST weeks Sports Illustrated cover!) This team being focused on that is a good thing. They have a five game opportunity in front of them and its going to be fun to see how they respond. They are playing at a level that will let them play for a while and thats the point. For as I have reminded everyone who wanted to give me the needle for Sundays outcome, winning games in November only gives you a chance, winning games in January and February are what we all will remember, and tell us all we need to know. (Analyze That!) (Get it? A sequel reference. A sequel!)

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks win, Jimmy Butler starts All-Star Game

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks win, Jimmy Butler starts All-Star Game

Here are some of Sunday's top stories in Chicago sports:

Jimmy Butler: 'Hopefully I’m not going to get traded'

Patrick Kane leads Blackhawks to win in Buffalo homecoming

What Joe Maddon wants to see next from Javier Baez

Jose Abreu ready for 2017 after season full of 'different challenges'

Wojnarowski: Bulls-Celtics Jimmy Butler trade talks 'will loom over the entire week'

After surreal offseason, Ben Zobrist comes to Cubs camp in style as World Series MVP

White Sox rookie Charlie Tilson out at least 10 days with foot injury

Fire score five goals for fourth preseason win

Simeon beats rival Morgan Park for city championship

Former Northwestern football player Torri Stuckey now focuses on helping others

Jimmy Butler: 'Hopefully I’m not going to get traded'

Jimmy Butler: 'Hopefully I’m not going to get traded'

NEW ORLEANS — Every All-Star isn’t created equal, even by the slimmest of margins as the best 24 NBA players take their turn on the midseason stage.

So Jimmy Butler being announced among the first five as an All-Star starter had to represent some form of validation, now that he’s not a novice at the whole experience and he’s able to go through the motions of the hectic weekend without breaking much of a sweat.

But despite being a three-time All-Star and routinely mentioned as one of the game’s top 15 players or even top 10, he can’t shake the trade rumors that have seemed to follow him since this time last season.

As he finished up his All-Star experience at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, clarity was nowhere to be found—although heading to some tropical island for a couple days to actually unwind with clear water and warm air seemed to be the best therapy if he’s stressed by the uncertainty of the next few days.

“What’s Thursday? Oh, trade deadline,” Butler said. “I don’t know. I don’t know. Am I anxious? Come on, man. I don’t worry about it. It don’t bother or scare me none.”

“Hopefully I’m not going to get traded but I don’t know. I don’t control that. Control what I can control, like going on vacation.”

Surely it has to be frustrating for a guy who’s elevated his game yet again, averaging 24.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.8 steals for the Bulls in 51 games. But he refuses to let it damper his All-Star spirits, playing with some of the best players in the world and a few guys he calls friends, like DeAndre Jordan and Kevin Durant.

“Not for me,” said Butler of the potential stress. “Not saying I’m untradeable but I don’t think about that. If I’m not in a Bulls uniform, I’ll give you a hug and say goodbye to you.”

Moments after Butler made his statement in the media room, the floodgates opened for the trade market as fellow Olympian DeMarcus Cousins was traded from the Sacramento Kings to the New Orleans Pelicans for what seemed to be mere fodder, pennies on the dollar for the most talented center in the NBA.

[SHOP: Get your Bulls gear right here]

While Cousins is far more of a handful than Butler could be, the trade almost signals a consistent truth that always bears repeating—that short of a select few, anybody can be traded.

Even a franchise altering talent like Cousins, who was traded to the city he was physically in for All-Star weekend, and included in the package of players was a guy who hit him in the groin last week (Buddy Hield), resulting in a Cousins outburst and ejection.

Butler has made his name with the Bulls, although not necessarily on the All-Star stage, a player who values defense and doesn’t have as much flash as some of the game’s shinier players.

With a six-point outing in 20 minutes, Butler was an on-court afterthought despite being a starter for the first time.

“Six? Should’ve gone for eight,” he sarcastically deadpanned.

In a relatively jovial mood through the weekend, Butler joked about the talk surrounding him and tried to brush it off as mere chatter as opposed to the franchise not seeing enough in him to make a firm commitment for the long-term, as the Boston Celtics are always hovering.

League sources expect the Celtics to engage the Bulls in conversations for the next few days, but nobody has a great feel for what either side is truly looking for.

But as Butler insisted, he’s only controlling what he can control, which is making himself a fixture for All-Star games to come as opposed to some of the first-timers who don’t know if they’ll get back here again.

“I think I got two underneath my belt,” Butler said. “I know what they’re feeling the first time, It’s so surreal like maybe I do belong here. That’s how I was thinking. Now it’s how do I get here every year? I think that’s the fun part, that’s the challenge. A lot of those guys have done it 10-plus years, hopefully I’m one.”

The only question seems to be, which uniform will it be in because the crazy season has begun.