Random News of the Day: Wooing LeBron

Random News of the Day: Wooing LeBron

Wednesday, June 30, 2010
3:02 PM

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

Random News of the Day has acquired a list of what each NBA team is bringing to Ohio in an attempt to lure prized free agent LeBron James away from the Cavaliers. You thought that only a handful of teams were involved in this? Think again:

Atlanta Hawks: Front office team plans to help rehab a charming three-bedroom, two bath home for LeBron. The 1 12 acre lot in the suburb of Lawrenceville will be transformed, with an assist from TLCs "House Hunters."

Boston Celtics: Now that Paul Pierce will reportedly opt out of his contract, the Celtics hope rebuild with James and a talented supporting cast, including Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish. Oh ... and Greg Kite. Don't forget Greg Kite.

Charlotte Bobcats: Agreement in place for James to take on Michael Jordan in a quick game of H-O-R-S-E. Winner decides on the LeBrons future in Charlotte. In the event that Jordan loses by three letters or less, the competition will shift to the golf course for an impromptu 72-hole tournament.

Chicago Bulls: You might not know this, but LeBron is already coming to Chicago. Two men, driving a 1974 Mount Prospect police car, reportedly have James with them. Reports indicate that they were 106 miles away from Chicago with a full tank of gas and a half pack of cigarettes. As a precaution, pedestrians are advised to stay clear of Daley Plaza.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Ehh ... a three-year, 5 million contract should do the trick, no?

Dallas Mavericks: Mark Cuban plans to pull off a sign-and-trade with Cleveland. It includes bringing No. 23 to Dallas and sending Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, Tony Romo, Ross Perot and the ghost of J.R. Ewing to Cleveland.

Denver Nuggets: New GM Jack Torrance, fresh off a successful stint as a hotel caretaker in the Rockies, plans to give LeBron the largest contract in NBA history, provided he stay away from the typewriter in the main lounge and the Snow Cat in the garage.

Detroit Pistons: A group of wily go-getters will march from Auburn Hills into Ohio, in a grass-roots effort to lure James to Motown. Group leaders Eminem, Smokey Robinson and Kid Rock plan on singing Bob Segers Youll Accompny Me upon crossing into the Buckeye State.

Golden State Warriors: Lifelong Warriors fan Danny Tanner, accompanied by longtime housemates Joey Gladstone and Jesse Katsopolis will offer unlimited special guest spots on Wake Up San Francisco and Rush Hour Renegades.

Houston Rockets: Once LeBron is signed, the Rockets will move to the Astrodome, which will be renamed the LeDome. Five-year, 470 million dollar contract will be offset by the 67,925 fans paying an average of 6,919 per ticket (Note: Salary cap to be abolished in September 2010. Shhhh).

Indiana Pacers: Head coach Norman Dale, who once told referee Dick Bavetta that his team was on the floor after sending out only four guys, reportedly doesnt care if James wants to play on his team or not.

L.A. Clippers: As we speak, a 1987 Toyota Corolla, driven by Billy Crystal, is on Interstate 40 heading east out of California. Representatives Benoit Benjamin, Loy Vaught and Olden Polynice -- who are piled into the three remaining seats -- plan to woo King James away with a Danny Manning highlight reel and a Blake Griffin glossy photo.

L.A. Lakers: A crash-course in Zen Buddhism by Phil Jackson. A few Laker Girls. Eight months of duct-tape around Ron Artests mouth. And a signed affidavit from Kobe titled You got next. LeBron signs the contract within five minutes.

Memphis Grizzlies: Front office has to first convince LeBron that the Memphis Grizzlies arent in the NBDL.

Miami Heat: The question has always been, Can LeBron share the spotlight with Dwyane Wade. The real question, the Heat front office should assess, is whether they can all share the spotlight with Marlins infielder Dan Uggla.

Milwaukee Bucks: In an optimistic campaign titled Were Gonna Do It, an elegantly packaged gift basket, complete with A&W Cheese Curds, Leinenkugels Red Lager, Violent Femmes CDs and Prince Fielder batting gloves will be presented by Laverne & Shirley.
Minnesota Timberwolves: The TWolves front office estimates that, if LeBron signs with the team, he will pass up Randy Breuer, Felton Spencer and Thurl Bailey on the franchises all-time point list by Nov. 7.

New Jersey Nets: J-Woww, Snookie and The Situation plan on having a hot tub party just outside of Akron, with LeBron as the guest of honor. According to reports, the key to a contract lies within a proposed GTL clause (Gym, Tan, Laundry).

New Orleans Hornets: Care package to include a sack of Krystal burgers, a couple of Hurricanes from Pat OBriens, novelty beads and the Sigma Chi fraternity from LSU ... just because they didnt have a place to crash for the night.

New York Knicks: The Knicks plan to send 17,000 of their fans to fill Bostons TD Garden. They will join the 1,000 Celtics fans who are still ... still ... there chanting New York Knicks! towards LeBron James from the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Knicks hope that the cries of their fans will be heard 639 miles away.

Oklahoma City Thunder: In addition to having a rest area on the Turner Turnpike renamed in his honor, Oklahoma City mayor Mick Cornett plans to give LeBron a novelty key to the city -- which will be covered in A1 sauce.

Orlando Magic: Another sign-and-trade appears to be in the works. LeBron, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the Cleveland Indians and the rights to Jake Delhomme will go to Orlando for Hannah Montana and a six-pack of Fanta Orange Soda.

Philadelphia 76ers: Brotherly Love takes on a whole new meaning as Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger visits the negotiations. The plan is to strategically place a pen into LeBrons hand, with a Sixers contract in close proximity. Pronger has been given the green light to gently body check Lebron into the contract, hoping that he accidentally signs it in the process.

Phoenix Suns: Dimwitted crook H.I. McDunnough and a local policewoman named Ed plan to kidnap LeBron James at midnight on July 1. Getting back to Arizona might be tricky, though, as they will be chased by a couple of ex-cons and a bounty hunter riding a Harley (cue banjo music).

Portland Trail Blazers: Front office says that the correct way to get from the midwest to Oregon is to follow the Oregon Trail. They will urge him to be a Carpenter from Ohio and to get as many oxen as possible to make the journey easier. However, Portlands rigorous health exam -- which includes testing for typhoid, cholera and dysentery -- could send the wrong message to LeBron and prove costly for the Blazers.

Sacramento Kings: Currently, no plan is in place to woo LeBron to Sacramento. With a nucleus of Ime Udoka, Omri Casspi and John Brockman, the Kings feel their roster is pretty much set.

San Antonio Spurs: Plan is to bring Tim Duncan to Cleveland and having him participate in a staring contest with LeBron. Loser switches cities.
Toronto Raptors: Bryan Adams, Neil Young, Jim Carrey and Dudley Do-Right head south across Lake Erie in a barge filled with Molson and Tim Horton's cappuccino as part of a goodwill gesture. Signing LeBron to the Raptors should be easy, but convincing him to close out games for the Blue Jays will be the tough part.

Utah Jazz: Karl Malone to be brought in to tutor LeBron James on what its like to win at the championship level. Oh wait. ...

Washington Wizards: Legendary heckler Robin Ficker has been lured out of retirement and will be brought to Ohio. Ficker, accompanied by a Speco Technologies ER370 megaphone, will use constructive criticism on James. In a soothing tone, Ficker plans to note how a 3-for-14 shooting performance in Game 5 against the Celtics can be a focal point for improvement in D.C.

July 1. Its coming.

Tick ... tick ... tick ...

Or something like that.

Joe Collins is an assignment desk editor for Comcast SportsNet and contributor to CSNChicago.com.

It’s World Series or bust for Cubs while carrying Aroldis Chapman’s baggage

It’s World Series or bust for Cubs while carrying Aroldis Chapman’s baggage

Aroldis Chapman is the ultimate baseball mercenary for a team that hasn’t won the World Series since 1908. The Cubs say they are going into this with their eyes wide open, knowing the superstar closer comes with off-the-field baggage and plans to cash in as a free agent this winter.

For all the talking points about being good neighbors and family friendly, the Cubs care about money and winning, which makes them just like any other professional sports franchise.

Chapman behaved in Yankee pinstripes, handled the New York market and performed with game-over efficiency, going 20-for-21 in save chances. The Cubs wanted a lefty with a 105-mph fastball and a 15.2 strikeouts-per-nine-innings-pitched career rate, making a 4-for-1 trade by rationalizing that they would rather be with Chapman in the playoffs than against him.

So the Cubs – and not the first-place Nationals or even-year Giants – had to deal with the bad optics and the lost-in-translation moments before Tuesday’s 3-0 loss to the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. Chapman did not make a good first impression while getting questions about domestic violence and the 30-game suspension Major League Baseball imposed to start this season.

But if Chapman gets the last out in October, does it even matter if he’s a good guy?

“Ugh,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Was Ty Cobb wonderful? I mean, I don’t know. All these different people that I’ve read about – something happened with (the Sox) in, what was it, 1919?

“At the end of the day, I’m here to get to know him on our terms – me and him. (And) he’s been a great teammate from everybody I’ve read or discussed (it) with.

“That’s the lenses I’m looking at it through right now.”

[RELATED: Hector Rondon says Cubs had to take chance and close Chapman deal]

Chapman joined a team that began the day with a 98.8-percent chance to make the playoffs on the Baseball Prospectus odds report and a 56-1 record when leading entering the ninth inning. This is all about what Chapman can do in October and how his presence can help the Cubs survive three postseason rounds.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch highlighted that the Cardinals haven’t scored a run off Chapman since September 2011, back when Tony La Russa managed a World Series team.

“Again, he did do his suspension,” Maddon said. “He has talked about it. He’s shown remorse. And then everybody else has their right to judge him as a good or bad person.

“That’s your right. But I know there are times where I’ve been less than perfect. I think we’ve all been less than perfect in particular moments that nobody’s ever known about. 

“I want to get to know Aroldis. I think he can be a very significant member. And he’s got the potential, yes, to throw the last out of the World Series. And if he does, I promise you, I will embrace him.”

[MORE: Cubs make business decision to look beyond Chapman's domestic violence suspension]

Inside baseball’s conservative bubble, Maddon has to be the game’s most liberal manager, a hands-off, big-picture guy who lets his players run the clubhouse. The Cubs believe his positive vibes and presence will help Chapman’s transition.

“I’m probably the most non-judgmental person you’ve ever met,” Maddon said. “I don’t go in that direction. I do get upset sometimes when people jump to conclusions without knowing everything.

“(Gather) all the information for yourself and make your own opinion. Draw your own conclusion, as opposed to maybe hearing one thing and then all of a sudden jumping on a negative bandwagon.

“I want to get to know him, get to understand him, have good conversations with him. And then, maybe at that point, I could draw some conclusions. But never having been around him, it’s very hard for me to do that.”

Chapman’s Wrigley Field debut will be electric, the triple digits lighting up the huge video board. At that point, the focus should shift back onto baseball. But the equation doesn’t change in a bottom-line business. There is only one outcome that will truly make Cubs fans happy with this deal.

“They expect me to come here, do my job and try to guide us to the World Series,” Chapman said through coach/translator Henry Blanco. “Especially in this city, they haven’t won a World Series in a long time, so they want me to do everything I can to help us win.”

How Joe Maddon helped inspire James Shields' gem over Cubs

How Joe Maddon helped inspire James Shields' gem over Cubs

Joe Maddon's mere presence may have hurt the team he manages Tuesday night.

As the Cubs invaded U.S. Cellular Field for the final night on the South Side of this Crosstown series, Maddon's current team was tasked with facing one of his old friends.

James Shields pitched for Maddon in Tampa Bay for seven years and the veteran right-hander took the hill for the White Sox Tuesday night, spinning a gem — 7.2 shutout innings allowing four singles and four walks.

After the game, Shields — nicknamed "Big Game James" by some — credited Maddon for his outing.

"I get amped up every game pretty much. But I always want to get amped up in front of my old manager," Shields said. "I have a lot of respect for Joe. He helped build me into who I am today. 

"I always want to go out there and show him, especially being 34 years old, that I’ve got this thing."

Maddon certainly noticed.

The Cubs manager admitted "that's what he looks like" when talking about Shields' outing.

The Cubs had pursued Shields in free agency prior to the 2015 season and came close to deal before the right-hander opted to sign with the San Diego Padres for four years and $75 million.

Part of the reason was Shields' competitiveness and desire to finish every game he starts.

"During the first part of the game, I went up to [John] Lackey and I said Shieldsy went to John Lackey Junior College at some point in his life," Maddon said. "I said I used to compare Shieldsy to you all the time back in Tampa Bay, whenever James would [refuse to come out of a game].

"So Johnny giggled about that. Very similar guys — highly competitive, believe they can beat anybody on any given day. You gotta love that about him. He's very good."

White Sox likely will place 2B Brett Lawrie on disabled list

White Sox likely will place 2B Brett Lawrie on disabled list

The White Sox will "probably" place second baseman Brett Lawrie on the disabled list before Wednesday’s Crosstown game at Wrigley Field, manager Robin Ventura said.

Lawrie initially was diagnosed with a tight left hamstring July 21 against the Detroit Tigers, causing a firestorm of speculation he had been traded when he was removed from the game. He was initially considered day-to-day after undergoing an MRI on Friday, and manager Robin Ventura said before both Monday and Tuesday’s games against the Cubs he could’ve been available in an emergency. 

But Lawrie suffered a setback sometime Tuesday, and with two games under National League rules at Wrigley Field requiring more bench pieces, Ventura didn’t want to head to Clark and Addison short-handed. 

“It just seemed like he was going backwards today, during the game, of his knee,” Ventura said. “There's no way you can go over there and play the National League rules with nobody on the bench.”

[MORE: Shields picks up bullpen as White Sox top Cubs again]

Infielder Carlos Sanchez was removed from Triple-A Charlotte’s game Tuesday night and is expected to replace Lawrie on the White Sox roster. 

Lawrie is hitting .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs and 22 doubles over 94 games this season. 

Tyler Saladino has done well in his short stint in the starting lineup since Lawrie’s injury, going 4-15 with a walk. His walk-off single on Monday netted the White Sox their third win in what now is a four-game winning streak, the team’s first since May 6-9.