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Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank, NBC Chicago Street Team Last week, the International Olympic Committee visited Chicago to further evaluate the city’s 2016 Olympic bid. This week, Team USA basketball’s most prominent leaders, along with other basketball celebrities from around the nation, will visit Chicago as the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Foundation holds its inaugural “Court of Honor Gala” at Union Station.

The Tuesday evening Gala celebrates the achievements and contributions of Jerry Colangelo, chairman of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and managing director of the USA Basketball senior national team from 2005-2008. Colangelo, a Chicago native and University of Illinois graduate, assembled the 2008 U.S. Olympic team, coached by another Chicagoan, Duke University coach Mike Krzyzewski, who will speak at the Gala. Krzyzewski guided the “Redeem Team” to Olympic gold in Beijing this past summer.krzyzewski_colangelo

Chris Bosh of the Toronto Raptors, a member of the Olympic team, will also speak at the event and former Duke star and current ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas will serve as master of ceremonies. I had an exclusive with Bilas at the NABC’s ESPN Zone mixer on Monday night.

“It’s going to be one of those rooms with all the people who have been great doers in the game of college basketball. I think the biggest development we’ve had over the last 30 years in USA basketball is when Jerry Colangelo took over as Executive Director and formed a real program that we can now build on. We’ve had so many great coaches and players over the years in USA basketball, but we haven’t had the structure to give them the tools they need to be as successful as they can be. I think the program put in place by Jerry Colangelo, working with Coach K and everybody at USA basketball- that was a big home run they hit in Beijing, but it was also over a three-year period. What they did the three years before was perhaps more important: with the structure, organization, how they choose the team, the commitment that all the players made, it wasn’t just a commitment for the summer, it was a three-year commitment,” Bilas said.

Krzyzewski will also lead a group of some of the nation’s top collegiate coaches in the NABC Foundation’s Ticket To Reading Rewards (TTRR) program. The coaches will visit Chicago middle schools to visit with students and the TTRR program, a reading incentive program that encourages Middle School students to read books outside the classroom and obtain rewards for reading.

In addition to Krzyzewski, coaches scheduled to participate include Jim Boeheim of Syracuse, an assistant coach with the 2008 Olympic team; Mike Brey of Notre Dame; Jeff Capel of Oklahoma; Tom Izzo of National Runner-up Michigan State; Bill Self of Kansas, the 2008 NCAA champion; Tubby Smith of Minnesota; Kentucky’s recent hire John Calipari; and Bruce Weber of Illinois.

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

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Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank 

At 14-2, our home-state Illinois Fighting Illini currently possess the most wins of all Big Ten teams. After last season’s abysmal 16-19 showing — a school record for losses — this year looks MUCH better than most people expected at midseason.

The Illini have two signature wins: a triumph at No. 9 Purdue (the program’s first road victory over a top ten team since the 1989 Final Four “Flyin’ Illini” days), and an utter thrashing of No. 25 Mizzou in the “Braggin’ Rights” game. Sure, Purdue has not looked like the preseason conference favorite that they were hyped to be, and maybe Illini Nation no longer feels the need to abuse their bragging right privileges obtained from handing the Missouri Tigers their first loss this season.

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

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Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank As the only person to work for both Chicago baseball teams as both a player and as a broadcaster, current White Sox radio color analyst Steve Stone is the foremost authority on Chicago baseball. On September 13th, it was announced that Stone, a Ford C. Frick award nominee, will take over for Darrin Jackson as White Sox TV color analyst, signing a contract that will run through 2014. Stone or “Stony” as he is nicknamed, has also done television broadcasts for ESPN and TBS. Stony, also 670 The Score’s lead Baseball Analyst, is well known and loved for his baseball predictions, the high rate at which these predictions comes true, and the multitude of products that he has endorsed over the years. I had an exclusive with Stony on Saturday night before the Sox-Indians game. Here’s what he had to say about the White Sox:

“They’ve always had the ability to win this division, but we’ve seen at times they’ve also had the ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, the bullpen hasn’t been getting the job done, it’s been an inconsistent offense, they just came off a bad road trip at 3-7, but this has always been a good team, not a great team.”

On how Chicago’s baseball summer of 2008 ranks all-time. I asked him to compare and contrast it with other seasons (like 1977) when both teams were in contention late into the year…

“I was player in the late 70s and as a player you tend to become myopic towards the team you play for. As a member of the South Side Hitmen in ’77 and ’78 I didn’t pay a lot of attention to what the Cubs were doing, because I was a White Sox player. When I played for the Cubs in ’74-76, I didn’t pay a great deal of attention to what the Sox were doing because I was a Cubs player. I know it would be a unique experience to have both teams in the postseason. They certainly are not making it any easier on this side of town. On the other side of town they have already clinched and are doing whatever they can to see the Mets in the first round.”

I’ll be back soon with his thoughts on the Cubs. To read more from this interview Click Here.

To check out my blog, “Chicago Blue State” on the Washington Times website, go here.

For more Chicago sports analysis and discussion go here.

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