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Archive for March, 2009

Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank, NBC Chicago Street Team

Before it was an environmental clarion call spouted by business and government leaders everywhere, the phrase “go green” was the Michigan State Spartans’ battle cry. For those lucky enough to be in Detroit this weekend (Yes, it’s weird describing Detroit as a coveted destination) you’ll hear lots of “go green” and “go white” as MSU becomes the first team to play in the Final Four in their home state since Duke laced them up in Charlotte in 1994. When Tom “H to tha” Izzo brings his Spartans to Ford Field, a venue 92 miles from their campus, his resume will include 11 straight NCAA appearances, 5 Final Fours in those 11 years, a National Championship in 2000 and a 30-10 overall tournament record. With the recent collapse of the Indiana Hoosier program, Sparty has become the Big Ten’s (and the Midwest in general) finest program. No other team from the heartland is a March Madness fixture like the Spartans, with Izzo preparing each and every one of his recruited four-year players for Final Four glory. But this success is a more recent phenomenon.izzo_at_midnight_madness

State wasn’t admitted into the Big Ten until 1995 and the nation didn’t really “Meet the Spartans” until the Jud Heathcote era (1976-1995). They weren’t considered a power until the 1979 National championship- when Magic Johnson, Greg Kelser and company defeated Larry Bird’s Indiana St. team in the highest watched game in college history. This established East Lansing as a haven for stellar guard play. The list includes Steve Smith, Scott Skiles, Eric Snow, Shawn Respert, Mateen Cleaves, Charlie Bell, Jason Richardson, Shannon Brown, Drew Neitzel and current Big Ten player of the year Kalin Lucas. Lucas spoke about his conversations with Mateen Cleaves, the floor general on the last Spartan championship team. “Mateen tells me this is my team and I have to be the general, I have to run the team, I have to give guys shots, but I also have to get my shots,” Lucas said.

The hard-line Izzo leads teams that get better as the season progresses and excel in rebounding (currently first nationally) and defense. “Defense can be measured in a lot of ways: points allowed, opposing field goal percentage, but it’s almost like what Jay Bilas says about heart, you measure it when things are on the line. And I thought down the stretch our defense is getting better, it’s been pretty solid when we’ve had the right lineups in there,” Izzo said

See more of Paul M. Banks’ work at the NBC Street Team, the Washington Times and The Sports Bank

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stephanie_small1Stephanie S. Green, NBC Chicago Street Team

For dance fans in Chicago, Spring means much more than the anticipation of good weather — it means that the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns to the Auditorium Theatre!

This year, Alvin Ailey celebrates its 50th Anniversary, and there are numerous ways to join in the celebration.

Click here to read the rest of this post on nbcchicago.com.

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Marcus Riley, NBC Chicago Street Team

Are you a little sore that you missed out on snagging tickets for U2’s concert this summer at Soldier Field? Don’t feel bad, not all of us have the high-tech equipment and/or connections needed to get such an elusive ticket.

But now you have a second chance. U2 will play a second Chicago show on Sept. 13 at Soldier Field.

Click here to read the rest of this post on nbcchicago.com.

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Marcus Riley, NBC Chicago Street Team

How do you do most of your professional networking these days? Facebook? LinkedIn? Twitter? Here’s a novel idea — how about actually meeting some people in person?

That’s the idea behind a new monthly networking event called “Movers + Shakers Mondays” at Rosemont’s aloft Hotel.

Click here to read the rest of this post on nbcchicago.com.

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Joy DiNaro, NBC Chicago Street Team

Returning to the forefront of the music world after a four-year hiatus might be difficult for most, but R&B artist Ginuwine made it look easy at his intimate concert at Crobar (1543 N. Kingsbury).

“I’ve matured a lot since I was last on the scene in 2005,” Ginuwine says.

Chicago was a necessary stop for Ginuwine since his newest single “Last Chance,” references the Windy City’s very own Barack Obama.

“I had to use the person who made change a big word,” Said Ginuwine. “I definitely had to use President Obama.”

Ginuwine’s career started in 1996 with the multi-platinum disc The Bachelor. He says that his second run at a music career is very different.

“I’m not doing back flips on stage nor am I singing songs that are as raunchy.”

No raunchy music? I say it’s always good to bring sexy back.

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Blagica, NBC Street Team (Video)

It was one of those terrific days, but first, a little bit of background…

He's still smiling after a long day

He's still smiling after a long day

I learned that Dan Aykroyd would be in Chicago promoting his new Crystal Head Vodka and Dan Aykroyd Wines.  In addition to being in Chicago, Mr. Aykroyd was going to be at the Binny’s South Loop – a hop, skip and a jump from my home.  A few phone calls into his marketing folks and I was able to clinch an interview for our Street Team, along with my husband’s blog, The Windy City Wine Guy. Today was Day 2 of the tour, focusing on the wine collection, and we were off to Binny’s.

Partnering up Jean-Charles Boisset and DeLoach, Mr. Aykroyd’s mission is to bring affordable and tasty $20 bottles of wine to tables across the States. Aykroyd made the connection with Boisset in a Toronto restaurant and the rest is wine history.

The Windy City Wine Guy

The Windy City Wine Guy

I had the opportunity to interview Dan as he finished signing the 1,000+ pieces of product and memorabilia that kept coming his way. Note: the reason why Mr. Aykroyd is sporting shades? All of the camera flashes can cause major damage to his retinas and his doctor prescribed the sunglasses.  From my silent observing to the one-on-one interview, I was amazed by Mr. Aykroyd’s commitment to both his business, but also his family. Thank you to Binny’s South Loop for hosting our Blues Brother and thank you to John W. for arranging our meeting.

[blip.tv ?posts_id=1942357&dest=-1]

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Marcus Riley, NBC Chicago Street Team

If you’ve been putting off pitching in for the environment, the least you can do is observe Earth Hour on Saturday.

Between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m., households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights and electrical appliances.

So why not make it a party? Several area businesses have special events and menus planned for Saturday.

Click here to read the rest of this post on nbcchicago.com.

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