Plenty of local flavor in Bulls' home opener

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Plenty of local flavor in Bulls' home opener

When people talk about the city of Chicago breeding guards, they arent kidding. Three of the four starting guards in the Bulls New Years Day home opener against the Grizzlies hail from the Windy City.

In addition to reigning league MVP Derrick Rose for the home team, Memphis boasts a starting backcourt of two Chicago Public Schools products, shooting guard Tony Allen and point guard Jeremy Pargo, who has replaced the injured Mike Conley in the starting lineup.

Allen went to Crane High School, blocks from the United Center, before heading to junior college and leading Oklahoma State (which also featured Bulls reserve John Lucas III) to a Final Four. His younger brother, Ryan Allen, a senior on the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukees mens basketball team, also happens to be one of Roses best friends.

Hes a tough competitor. He can really play. Hes had some injuries in his career, but whenever hes gotten extended minutes, hes played really well. Hes as good as a defender as youll find in the league. Terrific cutter, slasher, can put it on the floor, can score, can play off people. If you turn your head, hes great at moving without the ball, said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau of Allen, who inspired Memphis Grit and Grind themed playoff run last postseason. I had the opportunity to coach him in Boston and hes a winner. Tough guy. When he got the opportunity to play last year, he played great.

Pargo, the younger brother of erstwhile Bulls guard Jannero Pargo, now with the Atlanta Hawks, grew in the same Englewood neighborhood as Rose. However, like his brother (who played in junior college before playing at Arkansas with current teammate Joe Johnson), he took the long route to the NBA, excelling overseas before making it to the league after the lockout ended.

Its another game. Youve got to come out and be prepared, and do whatever it takes to help your team win, said the younger Pargo, who estimated that he had 20 well-wishers at the game. Rose is a great player. Ive got to come out and be focused and ready, and when the opportunity presents itself, try to take advantage of the opportunities and the moments.

During the lockout, I had no idea what the expectations would be or should be. It was a tough time and fortunately, we were able to come through it, continued the Robeson High School graduate, who starred collegiately at Gonzaga before playing professionally in Israel. Its something that I wanted to do, play ball at the highest level and Ive been given an opportunity, so Im going to do whatever I can to help the team and take full advantage of the opportunity.

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks win in Minnesota

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks win in Minnesota

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

Wednesday on CSN: Illinois State and Loyola host in Valley doubleheader

Jonathan Toews has five-point night, including a hat trick, in Blackhawks' win over Wild

Report: Bears seeking trade partners for Jay Cutler

Bulls Talk Podcast: What is the Bulls' approach at the trade deadline?

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred open to idea of Cubs hosting All-Star Game at renovated Wrigley Field

White Sox Talk Podcast: 1-on-1 with executive vice president Ken Williams

Northwestern's offense nowhere to be found as Illini complete sweep of season series

Quick Hits: Blackhawks respond the right way in win over Wild

Under-the-radar Reynaldo Lopez impressing White Sox: 'He's got some stuff'

Why Sammy Sosa compared himself to Jesus Christ in candid interview

Why Joe Maddon won’t tone down the stunts at Cubs camp

Why Joe Maddon won’t tone down the stunts at Cubs camp

MESA, Ariz. – Joe Maddon teased reporters when pitchers and catchers reported to Arizona one week ago, promising the Cubs wouldn't tone down the gimmicks now that they're World Series champions: "We already have something planned for the first day that you might not want to miss."

A weekend of rain in Mesa postposed the first full-scale full-squad workout until Monday, and the wet grass meant the big reveal had to wait until Tuesday morning, when gonzo strength and conditioning coordinator Tim Buss drove a white Ferrari onto the field for the team's stretching session.

The bearded man they call "Bussy" rocked sunglasses, a gold chain around his neck, brown dress shoes and the same navy blue windowpane suit he wore to the White House. The overarching message as Buss blew kisses and Cypress Hill's "(Rock) Superstar" and Jay Z's "Big Pimpin'" blasted from the sound system: Humility.

"I hope everyone gets the sarcasm involved," Maddon said.

So, uh, no, the Cubs aren't going to dial it back or turn the zoo animals away or worry about the target they proudly wore on their chest last year.

"I don't know if the mime's coming back or not," Maddon said during the welcome-to-camp press conference. "Could you do a mime two years in a row? I don't know if that's permissible under MLB rules somewhere. I don't think you can bring a mime back two years in a row.

"Magicians are OK. You can anticipate a lot of the same, absolutely."

Before rolling your eyes at a star manager who loves the spotlight, it's important to note that the stunts are largely Buss productions.

"A lot of times, I'm not even aware," Maddon said. "He just knows he's got my blessings. He knows he does not have to clear it with me, unless it's absolutely insane. It works pretty well this way."

While every Maddon dress-up theme trip doesn't get universal love in the clubhouse, Buss has a unique way of getting millionaires to pay attention, almost tricking them into doing work.

"He's got several well-endowed players on the team that support his histrionics," Maddon said.

[MORE CUBS: MLB commissioner Rob Manfred open to idea of Cubs hosting All-Star Game at renovated Wrigley Field]

Since taking over this job in 2001, Buss has survived multiple ownership structures (Tribune Co., Sam Zell, Ricketts family) and the Andy MacPhail/Jim Hendry/Theo Epstein transitions in the front office, working for managers Don Baylor, Rene Lachemann (interim), Bruce Kimm (interim), Dusty Baker, Lou Piniella, Mike Quade, Dale Sveum and Rick Renteria.

"He must have some good photographs, right?" Maddon said. "He's a different cat. He's a weapon."

Buss can clearly get along with almost any kind of personality. But it took Maddon – and the explosion of social media – to give him this kind of platform.

"No, nothing's changed, man," Maddon said. "It's all the same in regards to 'the same,' meaning the methods, the process. I just got aired out by one of our geek guys for not using the word ‘process.’ It’s true. Last year, I used the word ‘process’ often. I’m going to continue to use it a lot again this year.

"Why were we able to withstand the word 'pressure' and 'expectations' as well as we did last year? Because we weren't outcome-oriented. We were more oriented towards the process. Anybody in your job and your business – if you want to be outcome-oriented – you're going to find yourself in a lot of trouble just focusing on that word.

"It's all about the process. Our process shall remain the same, absolutely it shall. Hopefully, we're going to add or augment it in some ways that can be even more interesting and entertaining."

The irony is that the Cubs have repeatedly used outcome-based thinking in defending Maddon's decisions during the World Series. But the manager obviously deserves so much credit for creating an environment where this team could play loose and relaxed and not collapse under the weight of franchise history.

"Our guys are pretty much in charge of the whole thing," Maddon said. "I love the empowerment of the players. I love that they feel the freedom to be themselves. If they didn't, maybe Jason (Heyward) would not have gotten the guys together in a weight room in Cleveland after a bad moment.

"All those things matter. And you can't understand exactly which is more important than the other. So you just continue to attempt to do a lot of the same things. Process is important, man, and we're going to continue along that path."