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Posts Tagged ‘United Center’

>Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank

Global tourists flock to the United Center’s Michael Jordan statue. The venue that once housed the world’s most marketable (and arguably greatest) athlete now hosts a laughing-stock of a team. With homage to the Talking Heads “And you may ask yourself, well how did I get here?”

 

The Ben Wallace Signingpaxson11

What did (hopefully soon-to-be-ex) GM John Paxson do when he had a desperate need for low-post scoring? He gave 4 years and $64 million to a big with absolutely no offensive skills. Big Ben’s disappointing play and general surliness led to him being dealt in a garbage-for-more-expensive garbage trade with Cleveland…and the Bulls current status as WAY over quota on “combo” guards who really can’t play either guard position very well.

Drafting Joakim Noah & Tyrus Thomas

I screamed at the television on NBA Draft night 2007 when Noah donned a Bulls cap to complement his suit that only a Dean of Clown College would wear. If Noah’s lack of discipline and offensive skills doesn’t repulse you, perhaps his disjointed “Silver spoon/paper plate” public persona will. Noah tries to pass himself as dollar store when his whole life has country club. Thomas, a fellow top ten overall selection, has also been all sizzle and very little steak. His extraordinary athleticism going underutilized and made him a Jay Williams like bust.

Bumped from First Class to Coach

Firing Scott Skiles on Christmas Eve 2007 was not only Dickensian, but also the worst thing to happen to this team defensively. Sure, he had some faults, but at least he motivated them to actually guard, which is more than I can say about Vinny Del Negro, a man who (rightfully) possessed no previous head coaching experience. Skiles, the current Milwaukee Bucks coach has his new team looking down on the Chi in the standings. Change we can believe in for 2010 starts with giving Del Negro, a man who’s ideas on defense are about as accurate ad Donald Rumsfeld, a pink slip.

Deng’s Regression

Remember when there was talk about Loul Deng becoming the Bulls’ next All-Star and cornerstone? Do you recall Halloween of ’06 when Kobe Bryant trade rumors swirled about, with Deng and Kirk Hinrich deemed (try not to laugh) “untouchable?” In short, Pax must be held accountable for his inability to evaluate talent properly.
Paul M. Banks is a contributor for The Washington Times and founder of the webzine The Sports Bank.net

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 Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank 
While the media continutes to appropriately document the amazing genesis of the Chicago Blackhawks, they have possibly overlooked the sad story involving the United Center’s other tenant.

As the Hawks continue rising out of obscurity to lead their league in attendance and merchandise sales, the Bulls (the only Chicago team who’ve accomplished a championship dynasty within our lifetimes) further declines into the abyss. A new low was reached when they recently lost at home to the lowly Oklahoma City Thunder who had a grand total of five wins on the season. What kind of Bulls team loses to a franchise named after a sound?

Click here to read this full article on nbcchicago.com.

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Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank If the local NHL team has an Oscar night, this was it. The Chicago Blackhawks launched their 2008-09 regular-season home opener Monday night with a special red carpet event on Madison Street at 5pm. 21,712 attended the first home game of a historic season. This is the first year that every Hawks game will be broadcast on television. Unfortunately, they lost 3-2 in an overtime shoot-out to the rival Nashville Predators at the United Center.     

The 2008-09 Blackhawks players arrived via limousine (I have a media print-out listing each player’s limo assignment…If any hard core fans are interested, you can ask comment below) and were each introduced before walking down a red carpet into the United Center. Blackhawks Color Analyst Eddie Olczyk served as the master of ceremonies, while team President John McDonough was the premier guest speaker.

All the local sports media heavy hitters were in the press box to see an arena that was a sea of red. The team, as well as most fans in attendance, wore the road red jerseys (the kind you would recognize from Wayne and Garth in “Wayne’s World” and Clark W. Griswold in the “Vacation” movies) The leader of the visiting opposition noticed and commented on the newly augmented game atmosphere. “Quite frankly for the last ten years we’ve been coming here and there was crickets in the building, but that was a pretty good atmosphere and I think it’s great for the league, it’s great for the city of Chicago,” said Nashville head coach Barry Trotz.

Despite the loss, there were some bright spots. Martin Havlat, an Olympian who represented the Czech Republic in 2002, scored the first home Hawks goal of the season off a power play about nine minutes in. The Hawks ranked just 24th in the league last season converting power plays, so one of their target priorities for this season was boosting that category. I’m sure you’ve seen the “One Goal” (Like the Eiffel ’65 song) promotional campaign by now. Hawks coach Dennis “Savvy” Savard did see some progress in defeat though. Noting at the post game press conference, “They played harder, competed harder, won a lot more one-on-one battles than in the other two games.” Although the loss was disappointing, the Hawks battled fiercely and the game was an event in itself.
For more Chicago Sports Analysis and discussion.

For my Washington Times.com blog “Chicago Blue State.”

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Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank
During the past year, Chicago’s National Hockey League team has been on a tremendous promotional roll. They scored a public relations hat trick this past summer with the announcement of new broadcast partnerships, the NHL’s first ever fan convention and the announcement of Wrigley Field hosting the NHL’s Annual Outdoor Winter Classic. The new t-shirts reading “Don’t Toews (pronounced TAYVES) me Bro,” should also help win over a few more fans. The Hawks kept the marketing momentum rolling with their first ever Training Camp Festival at the United Center on Saturday. The all day event featured a Hawks practice session, the “Mad Dash to Madison” 5K Run/Walk/Skate, a 3-On-3 Street Hockey Tournament in the UC parking lot, live music, and an interactive games area. This area included, naturally every type of table hockey you could imagine. Here I spoke with Hawks die-hard Kathleen Kelly, 26 of Tinley Park. “It’s such a beautiful day, and it’s great that the Hawks provided all this great stuff here and fun things to do. And there’s the hockey going on inside of course too,” Kelly said. The hockey she referred to was the Hawks first practice of the season. The three intra-squad scrimmages, was what most of the thousands of people paid their $5 to see.

Hawks Coach Dennis Savard addressed the media. “There’s a buzz in Chicago, but there’s a buzz around the league too. They talk about the changes the Hawks have made and how their fans are coming back. The fans choose to come back because they see great things are going on here,” Savard told me. Later I would observe the interior of the Hawks locker room, where the slogan “EARN IT” is emblazoned above the tunnel to the ice. “We’re getting our fans back and we got to go out and earn their respect. We want ‘em here every night for the next decade, or two decades,” Savard stated.

The September 23rd Preseason game versus the Columbus Blue Jackets had just 200 tickets remaining as of Monday. There certainly is a buzz at the box office!

For more Chicago Sports analysis and discussion click here.

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Laura Lodewyck, NBC5 Street Team

…No, he didn’t. Sorry for the false alarm, I just wanted to get your attention. If you’re a Jesse McCartney fan, though, you’re in luck: not only is he not-dead, but you can see him play at Park West on August 16! …ok, actually, you probably can’t, as it’s sold out. I’m such a tease!

Meanwhile, speaking of tomatoes: the falsely accused and anticlimactically vindicated fruits are back with a vengeance, screaming, “EAT ME!” at the Slow Food Chicago Tomato Festival and Potluck Supper this Thursday. Tickets are only 20 bucks for nonmembers! yum!

Meanwhile, speaking of the walking undead: dinosaurs live and growl (or whatever dinosaurs did) at United Center August 14-17. Billed as a “20 million dollar spectacle”, it features 15 life-size dinosaur reproductions, and portrays a dramatic explanation of the beasts’ evolution and demise.

Meanwhile, speaking of bestial evolution and decline: it’s Madonna’s birthday AGAIN! (Didn’t we just celebrate that last year?) Celebrated at Boystown’s Kit Kat Lounge and Supper Club, Kit Kat Diva Katherine will perform as Madonna, depicting her evolution throughout the decades.

Meanwhile, speaking of the wrong decade: can someone explain to me who Jesse McCartney is?? Seriously, I thought he was that guy from High School Musical who’s dating the nude-poser, but I looked him up on wikipedia and now I’m totally confused. Oh, well.

If you’ve got anything I’ve missed for this weekend, write me at llodewyck@nudehippo.com. Be sure to type “Lodewyck” into the Search bar in the upper right hand corner to see my previous blogs, and to watch my segments with Nude Hippo.

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 Dave Leonard, NBC5 Street Team, (Video)

When you’re involved in “the industry”, sometimes you can get a little spoiled or even jaded attending concert after concert and event after event.  Things kind of become “old hat” and you feel like, “Oh I’ve been here before”.  This could be even more so stated for my wife and I as we attended the “Heart of the City” tour this past weekend during its two Chicago stops.  We’ve both worked closely (in different capacities) with the two “New York Giants” of the Hip-Hop & R&B game…her with Jay-Z, me with Mary J. Blige.  We weren’t like most fans in attendance who spent their hard-earned dollars to see two of the greatest do their thing, but we are fans nonetheless.  When “Hova” and “MJB” hit the stage of the United Center, all those indifferent thoughts were put to bed and we once again witnessed why these two are two of the greatest who’ve ever picked up a microphone and Chicago showed them the love they deserved.

When 8pm hit, the Chicago Bulls theme song began to play and some fans were surprised by an opening set from songwriting phenom, The Dream (Mariah Carey’s “Touch My Body, Rhianna’s “Umbrella”) who also served as a host for the show.  Dream set things off on a high note with his hit single “Shawty Is A Ten” with several provocative female dancers in tow.   He followed that up with his current single, “I Love Your Girl” and finished it off with the even more risque “Falsetto” which contained more bumpin’ and grindin’ then an R. Kelly concert.

Dream ended his set with a witty dialogue to kill time and then after he exited the stage the countdown literally began to the main event.  After a 15 minute intermission, the lights went out and a video interview montage with Mary J and Jay-Z appeared on opposite sides of the stage.  This sent the super diverse crowd which ranged from the barely post teen to the “old school” into a frenzy.  As the video faded into a helicopter view of the New York City skyline, the large curtain onstage dropped to the ground revealing Mary and Jay standing back to back in their shining glory.

The two icons appropriately kicked things off with their classic collabo “Can’t Knock The Hustle” off of Jay’s legendary debut album, “Reasonable Doubt”.  From that point on they enticed the crowd by making brief appearances in each others sets on songs like Mary’s “Real Love (Remix)” sans Notorious B.I.G. and Jay’s “Song Cry” from “The Blueprint” album.   However it was ladies first as Mary tirelessly performed hit after hit…sometimes only enlisting accompanying vocals of the sold-out crowd on songs like “I’m Goin’ Down”, her rendition of Chaka Khan’s “Sweet Thang” and the mad black woman’s anthem, “Not Gon Cry”.  We even got treated to a little bit of theater on songs like “Your Child” as she had an interpretive drama ensemble act out the lyrics.  Mary commanded the audience as she ran through her entire catalogue bringing the house down on songs like “No More Drama” and ending things on a happy note with her single “Just Fine”.

After Mary ripped the roof off the United Center, u would think the crowd would’ve been exhausted….wrong!!! The video montage started again and chants of “Hova, Hova, Hova” began and the calls were answered.  As the small orchestra began to play, “Jigga-man” himself rose from underneath the stage displaying the all too familiar “Roc-A-Fella hand signal”.  Jay kicked it off letting us know that the “Roc Boys” were definitely in the building and like Mary, he effortlessly smashed his entire catalog…barely breaking a sweat.  At one point he even took us to the club and played classics like “Who U Wit”, “Money Ain’t A Thang”, and “Feelin It” before he let the crowd decide he was going to perform “Big Pimpin’”.  As he has on many other tour stops Jay couldn’t resist a little hometown politics as he asked the crowd if they were ready for change and threw up a huge pic of Barack Obama which drew thousands of applause and cheers.

After Jay performed his “Encore”, my wife and I decided to make our way to the door to beat the parking lot pimpin and gridlock.  As we made our way through the aisles, Mary and Jay re-united one last time to perform the title track for the tour.  The love was definitely in the room for these two music icons and all those who paid $150 and up for their concert tickets definitely got there monies worth and then some.

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