Game 1: Homecoming of sorts for Philly's Collins

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Game 1: Homecoming of sorts for Philly's Collins

Doug Collins is very familiar with Chicago.

Collins was born in Benton, Ill., and attended Illinois State University, where the court in Redbird Arena is named after him. The 76ers made him the first overall pick in the 1973 draft and he went on to play eight seasons in the NBA, averaging 17.9 points per game.

The Bulls gave him his first shot as a head coach in the 1986-87 season and he spent three years on the sideline in Chicago. The Bulls played in Chicago Stadium back then, so Collins never coached in the United Center.

Collins said his return to Chicago is a "very special feeling" and says he still keeps in touch with Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and others within the organization.

"It's interesting -- Jerry Reinsdorf and I have become the best of friends," Collins said. "We spoke about a month ago for an hour on the phone. He's reached out to me and maybe we'll get a chance to go out to dinner while we're here. He's been a very special guy.

"Bulls VP of basketball operations John Paxson is like a son to me, so I have very strong feelings about him. All the people who work for this organization, basically, they're still here."

Collins coached Michael Jordan during his three years in the league and took the Bulls to the Eastern Conference Finals in the 1989 playoffs, in which they beat the Cavaliers 101-100 in a thrilling Game 5 thanks to a Jordan jumper.

"I was telling our guys the other day. I remember our '89 run when we got to the conference finals," he said. "I remember flying to Cleveland and thinking about what I was going to say to our guys for Game 5. It was interesting -- the Kentucky Derby was that day and the winner was 'Sunday Silence.' And I just told them that's what it was going to be in Cleveland. And then Michael hit the shot."

Collins hasn't been in Chicago since that 1989 season, but he still has a lot of respect for the Bulls and the city.

"This is a special organization," he said. "Not many teams can have the championship runs that they've had, win 12 games the next year and have sell-outs.

"This is a very special city. They have embraced me. I don't have any championship rings. Jerry's given me six championship watches with great notes that I kept very proudly. I haven't been here since '89. But when I walk down the street, the bus drivers are honking and waving and the fans say how much they appreciated my time. I love this. I love this city and it's going to be interesting to see. I'm sure they're not going to be lovely to me today, but it's a very special place."

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Will Gar Forman's plan work?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Will Gar Forman's plan work?

On the latest edition of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, David Kaplan is joined by Rick Telander (Chicago Sun-Times) and Mark Carman (WGN Radio) to talk Bulls. 

The panel breaks down the trade with Oklahoma City and question whether the team is better or worse now. 

Later, the guys talk about the Blackhawks' trade for Tomas Jurco and also break down the upcoming Daytona 500. Finally, Telander discusses his five-part series chronicling the Orr High School basketball team as they excel on the court and try to survive off it. 

Listen to the SportsTalk Live Podcast below. 

Blackhawks acquire Tomas Jurco from Red Wings

Blackhawks acquire Tomas Jurco from Red Wings

General manager Stan Bowman saw the potential in Tomas Jurco several years ago.

For the 24-year-old forward, it wasn’t working out with the Detroit Red Wings. Perhaps a change of scenery, an opportunity on a team that could vie for another Stanley Cup, makes a difference. The Blackhawks are about to find out.

The Blackhawks acquired Jurco for a third-round pick in this year’s draft on Friday afternoon. The 24-year-old Jurco has played in 16 games with the Red Wings this season but has yet to collect a point. In four seasons with the Wings, Jurco had 15 goals and 24 assists in 159 games. Red Wings general manager Ken Holland told Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press that, “things haven’t worked out” for Jurco there and that he wanted to go elsewhere.

Jurco was on a bye as a member of the Red Wings but, now that he’s with the Blackhawks, the bye ends. Bowman was hopeful Jurco would join the Blackhawks at practice on Saturday. Also, to clear a roster spot for Jurco, the Blackhawks reassigned Vinnie Hinostroza to the Rockford IceHogs.

[RELATED: Nick Schmaltz gaining confidence, effectiveness with Blackhawks]

Bowman said he’s been watching Jurco for a few seasons now.

“We’ll be patient with him but we really think there’s a good fit there, looking at his skills and the style of hockey we play,” Bowman said. “He’s been an accomplished player at a lot of different levels. He’s shown flashes in the NHL, not as consistently as he or the Wings would like, but you can see the talent and potential. You have to have some patience with these guys. It doesn’t always come together right away. I’m not expecting him to carry our team but I think he can contribute.”

It was an under-the-radar trade for Bowman but that’s not surprising. In late January, Bowman said he probably wouldn’t do much at the trade deadline; he liked how the Blackhawks’ young players were progressing and figured, if that continued, the team would be in good shape. Since then the Blackhawks have won eight of their last nine and are just three points behind the Western Conference-leading Minnesota Wild. As the Blackhawks kept winning it looked like, if they did anything, it would be a depth move.

So will there be any more moves? At this point it doesn’t seem likely, be it on forward or defense – Bowman didn’t have an update on Niklas Hjalmarsson (upper body) but said he’s happy with the depth in Chicago and Rockford on defense. Bowman said he’ll keep talking but, “but it’s a little bit different than in previous years when I thought we definitely needed something and were lacking in an area.”

“I’ve had a feeling about our team, not just recently but even a month ago. I liked the way this group was starting to come together,” Bowman said. “We’ve seen that enhanced over the last couple of week here. We’ve seen players step up, [Nick] Schmaltz in particular. [Ryan] Hartman’s been good all year. We’ve seen Jonathan [Toews] become a dominant player again. It gives your team a confidence that you have balance, scoring in different lines. We just added a young player to help us now as well as in the future. There’s a lot to be excited about. I’m not expecting more trades. I can’t predict more will happen but I have a good feeling about this group right now.”