Rise Chicago

I’m so excited! I’ve been invited to participate in another Nike basketball training and competition June 28th - August 5th. Follow me on all my social media outlets for exclusive coverage.

 

Twitter: @AkishaLockhart

Instagram & Snapchat: @ShesGottaSho

Facebook: Akisha Lockhart

Just Do It!

Nike has a long history of speaking up for causes that reflect its values. That continues today with the launch of EQUALITY, an initiative in which Nike encourages people to take the fairness and respect they see in sport and translate them off the field. 

 

Anchored by a new film simply titled “Equality” which features several Nike athletes including LeBron James and Serena Williams, along with entertainers Michael B. Jordan and Alicia Keys, the initiative is centered on using Nike’s voice and power of sport to inspire people to take action in their communities. The film will air during the broadcast of the Grammys this evening and then again next weekend during NBA All-Star.

 

For additional information, please visit: http://www.nike.com/us/en_us/c/go/equality.

 

Tweet us @TeamAINIOM your thoughts!

If you guessed the Indiana Pacers' Paul George you're CORRECT! Check out Paul's PG1s below. Suggested retail price of $110.00.

Photo Credit: Nike

Just Do It Chicago: Last night, hundreds of runners took to Chicago streets for some pre-Marathon action as part of Nike+ Run Club. NRC Local Run – THE PEOPLE'S RACE: a historical 4-mile run through Chicago with stops at iconic landmarks that have shaped the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Photo Credit: Nike

#ChiLeague Classic Training: Akisha Lockhart calls on an old friend for help before her BIG day! Follow her on Instagram @ShesGottaShow for footage from her game.

#ChiLeague Classic Training: Day 2 Photo Recap. Follow Akisha on Snapchat search shesgottashow for more exclusive footage!

Photo Credit: Nike Basketball

#ChiLeague Classic Training: Day 1 Photo Recap. Follow Akisha on Snapchat search shesgottashow for more exclusive footage!

Photo Credit: Nike Basketball

Congratulations to Serena & Venus Williams! The sisters win their 14th Wimbledon doubles title. And Serena wins Wimbledon to tie Open era record with 22nd Slam title!

S/O to our friend Black Thought & The Roots for this DOPENESS!

Black Thought & Akisha Lockhart

The "Hero In A Half Shirt" aka Ezekiel Elliott stars in Akisha Lockhart's first snapchat video. Welcome to NFL Draft Week!

Chasing 73

Who's calling out the Warriors ? Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen said on The Dan Patrick Show that this year's Warriors' team would have no shot versus the 1995-96 Bulls. Scottie Pippen called a sweep in 4! Would this be the 1995-96 rules or today's play rules. That would be a good question and would that make Michael Jordan even that much better? I don't think anyone believes the Warriors would win a series but the sweep from Scottie adds some spice to the controversy pot. The Warriors are ahead of the running of the bulls 1995-96 pace at the same time for the 73. Pippen said he could hold Stephen Curry under 20 and Michael Jordan on Klay Thompson and Dennis Rodman on Draymond Green would this be too much bump and grind on the smaller lineup. Michael Jordan (no) hand checks ! Lookout, dream on fans that was the zone.

1995 -96 Chicago Bulls Team

Now, Golden State at this point has the best ever start to a season than any professional sports team ever. They have the largest win margin over a campaign first 4 games (100) points. The best ever record 48-4 at the All Star break in league history. Next the longest-ever homecourt winning streak 45 consecutive regular-season home victory extends back to it's 2014 2015 Campaign which was snapped by the Boston Celtics. The Golden State Warriors still trying to avoid a consecutive loss along with the San Antonio Spurs.

The Golden State Warriors

Now let's talk about the new and improved Dubs Bomb Squad. Number 30 Stephen Curry the baby faced assassin made the 3-ball that made them the first team in NBA history to make a thousand 3s in a season. And how they got there was partially by the most single-season 3s by one player that took the title from who else but (himself) hitting, 12 threes in 1 game. Adding to three hundred 3s in 1 campaign with more games to up the ante. Are the bombs falling yet?

The Dubs combined with the Dallas Mavericks for the most threes in one game (39) all this is part of the Warriors March back to the championship stage. All of you NBA Ballers look out for the young group from Oakland, they are setting and crushing records, taking on all comers. This was the quickest ever playoff berth for NBA team with two months remaining in the regular season at the time of the berth. And just the other night they scored a season-high 136 points what more needs to be said about this team? But, there is more.

Lebron James

The Golden State Championship bench the deadliest in the NBA. These reserves have contributed quality minutes throughout the season giving that first team the needed rest and efficiency in both offensive and defensive possessions. This reserve group is highly ranked and respected among the NBA Ballers. Who's ready, Who's going to call the Warriors out to play the soon-to-be playoffs will start the story. Could this be the next dynasty? Could the Championship window be closing on the (King) LeBron James these questions and more will be answered here at AINIOM.  Can you Dig It!!

McDonald's All-American Games

It was a cool Chicago night and basketball enthusiasts of all ages gathered together at the fabulous 95 year old Chicago Theater for the McDonald’s All-American Game Jam Fest.  It’s a skill competition in advance of the March 30th All American Game at the United Center featuring  the top high school males and females basketball players from around the US.

The crowd was great, and the family support was heartwarming. The audience was full of young boys and girls cheering on their favorite players with dreams of one day being on such a massive stage. I can only imagine the excitement the parents were feeling at the possible thought of the inroads the McDonald All-American experience could have on their child’s quest to play professionally.

With such excitement and energy Jam Fest begin with the 3-point contest followed by the Legends & Stars shootout and finally the slam dunk contest.  For the festivities the theater stage was transformed into a half-court with an assortment of light affects and a DJ booth.  

“Last year's Jam fest was at the University of Chicago but playing basketball on the grand stage was quite a spectacle and displayed the versatility of the theater,” said Joel Fisher Executive Vice President of MSG Sports. Follow us on Twitter @TeamAINIOM for our LIVE coverage!

 

Fun Fact: past players include Michael Jordan, Derrick Rose, Magic Johnson and LeBron James.

Side note: Jeannie Boehm was the only Chicago area player named to either the male or female All American roster. 

If you didn't know!

The University of Oregon defeats Ohio State University 46-33 in the 1939 first-ever  National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Men's Division 1 basketball tournament. The tournament began  March 17th and ended with the championship game March 27th. In 2001 the tournament format grew to  65 teams from the original 8 team 1939 format in the first 12 years of the NCAA  men's basketball tournament. The tournament breaks down into 4 regions of 16 teams after a (play in) game between the 64th and 65th seeds. The winning teams from those region comprise the Final Four.

They then meet to decide the championship. The NCAA women's tournament started with 32 teams and expanded to 64 which format mirrors the men's with play in four regions culminating in the Final Four held at one location the day after the NCAA men's championship concluding the college basketball season. The Final Four as the tournament became known and informerly known as March Madness or the Big Dance has been televised since 1969 the games are currently broadcasted by CBS, TBS, TNT, and Tru TV by the tradename NCAA March Madness.

Today there are millions of Americans that fill out tournament bracket sheets attempting to predict the tournament outcome, while college NCAA basketball has  become one of the most popular sporting events among gamblers after the Superbowl. The majority of the betting takes place when Las Vegas, office pools, and the internet see action from sports enthusiastic and gamblers alike. Qualifying: since 2011 a total of 68 teams qualify for the March/April tournament. 32 conference champions earn automatic bids. 31 of the 32 conferences hold tournaments to determine which teams receive the automatic qualifications. The Ivy League is the only conference that does not conduct a tournament. The regular season champion automatically receive a tournament berth.

The remaining 36 slots go to at-large bids which are determined by a (selection committee) in a nationally televised event on a Sunday. Preceding the first four play in tournament dubbed Selection Sunday by the media, fans, a group primarily of conference commissioners and school athletic directors who are appointed into service by the NCAA.

They also determine where all 68  teams are seeded and placed in brackets. Next the tournament is divided into four regions (West, South, East, Midwest) each region has 16 teams and four teams are added per the decision of the selection committee. They then divide the teams between the regions. The top teams will each be placed among the 4 regions with the number one ranking and this process continues down the line the teams are normally prohibited from playing on their home court so all sites are neutral by current NCAA rules but there are exceptions.

The tournament consists of 7 rounds. The first 4,  first round,  the 2nd round, the regional semifinals Sweet Sixteen the regional final Elite Eight national semifinals Final Four and the National Championship. For added drama because of the tournament being single elimination chances of a underdog Cinderella team running the table is always possible. As mentioned the actual (play- in) is Tuesday March 15th. The tournament will begin Thursday March 17th with the crowning of the champions Monday April 4th. Again if you didn't know, Now you know! Good luck with those brackets!

Did former NFL star Darren Sharper have a Sweetheart Deal?

Darren Sharper 2010 New Orleans Saints Super Bowl stand out has renewed plea negotiations with federal prosecutors and is preparing a trial defense which could indicate that his plea agreement in the drug and sexual assault case is off. The federal indictment charge Sharper with distributing the drugs Alprazolam, Diazepam and Zolpidem more commonly known by the brand names Xanax, Valium and Ambien respectively with the intent to commit rape. 

 

Entertainer Bill Cosby has also been the subject of publicized sexual assault with the earliest alleged incidents taking place in the mid 1960's. He has been accused by 60 women of either rape, drug facilitated sexual assault, sexual battery, child sexual abuse and or sexual misconduct. Here are some known facts about a serial rapist. It's a person (male or female) who forces a series of victims into unwanted sexual activity.

They're predators or psychopaths that enjoy preying on others and this without a conscience also most rapes are between acquaintances not to exclude family members and do not involve violence. Many involves victims perceived to have put themselves at risk drinking at a bar or going home with strangers. How be it some of the date rape drugs before mentioned have long been a popular topic in the media, by far the most common drug used in sexual assaults is alcohol and it is very effective.

 

According to psychologist N.G. Berrill: Antisocial individuals become masters of reading other people, that's why they are good predators. Social attitudes make rape difficult to prosecute. Case's that involve drugs and alcohol can turn on whether victims consent to sex. The difficult to prove issue: consent. Jurors are traditionally hesitant to convict when one person testifies to hearing (yes) while the other person swears to saying (no). But do women cry wolf are there false reports. Today studies show that only about one in three victims report sexual assault in the first place and 98% of rape victims don't lie.

Darren Sharper

How would you feel if someone did this to you?  How would you want someone to treat your mother sister or your daughter. Despite the on field ferocity Sharper was invariably described by fellow players as polite, courteous and kind. He took interest in women's issues he briefly dated actress and former model Gabrielle Union a rape victim who became an outspoken advocate. The NFL institution embrace Darren Sharper he was selected to appear in the league book NFL Dads dedicated to daughters designed to raise awareness of battered women. In the book photo he drape an arm around his daughter. My daughter makes me mindful of how women are treated undervalued and exploited he wrote which is why I feel compelled to take advantage of this opportunity to speak out about domestic violence.

Darren Sharper & Gabrielle Union

In April 2015 New Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro dismiss concerns that Darren Sharper a defensive stand out for the New Orleans Saints Super Bowl winning team got a Sweetheart Deal after he admitted to being a serial rapist. He had been implicated in drugging and raping 9 women in four states and the plea deal was worked out with the relevant state prosecutors and the federal government.  9 years! 9 years behind bars!

 

Update: February 19th 2016 the federal judge in New Orleans has formally agreed and rejected the plea deal. Sharper had been facing life in prison if convicted of aggravated rape charges. Former Saint Bernard Sheriff's deputy Brandon Licciardi and Eric Nunez of Metgirie face charges in connection with the case also. They have already pleaded not guilty in  state court where each face  a mandatory life sentence if convicted as charged. A new court date is scheduled for May 16th 2016.

The Collapse of a Dynasty

Did we see it coming or did we think or lack of thinking that this would ever happen. The once great Lakers teams that were so exciting to watch with bronze and finesse how many times would the Lakers haters think not again. Not again, Pat Riley at courtside setting the fashion trend. Not again, Kareem with the devastating Skyhook and let's not forget Showtime with Magic Earvin Johnson. Not again, the Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal dominance.

 

The Zen Master winning 13 championship rings (11 as a coach two as a player). Jackson used and perfected the use of Tex Winters triangle offense as well as an Eastern philosophy earning him the nickname Zen Master. The dominance of Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O'Neal started with the title in 2000, 2001 and 2002. Then after losing the 2004 NBA Finals to the Detroit Pistons Lakers' owner Jerry Buss shipped O'Neill off to the Miami Heat ending the threesomes 8-year run. 

In the '05-'06 season the Lakers then lose to the Suns in Game 7. In the '07-'08 season the Lakers used Kwame Browns' expiring contract to acquire Pau Gasol and go to the finals that year and lost to the Celtics, but won the next two championships with Kobe, Pau, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum. It's been close to 6 years since Phil Jackson left the Staples Center for Madison Square Garden .

 

Exit Phil Jackson and enter Mike Brown.

Brown turned the Cleveland Cavaliers into one of the top defensive teams in the NBA guiding them to the 2007 NBA Finals. He was also named NBA Coach of the Year in 2009. But his tour with the Lakers was short-lived he returned to the Cavaliers for the 2013-14 season. Now the summer of 2012 the Lakers were able to make some trades and the starting lineup consisted of Dwight Howard ,Kobe Bryant ,Steve Nash, Paul Gosal ,and Metta World Peace. 

 

Once again the Lakers are a title contender. Up next Mike D'Antoni. November 12th 2012 D'Antoni signed a three year contract worth 12 million after Mike Brown's 1 & 4 start to the 2012-2013 season.  The Lakers faced San Antonio in the playoffs that year but lost in the opening round for the first time since 2007 and suffered their first opening-round sweep since 1967. In D'Antoni's first full season with the team in 2013-14 the Lakers went 27- 55 for the second worst winning percentage in team history.

April 30th 2014 D'Antonio was out and in came Byron Scott as the Lakers' head coach. Scott was fired by the Cleveland Cavaliers management. In each of his three seasons with the Cavs they struggled defensively, ranking in the bottom five of the league in defensive efficiency. After three interviews, for the position which had become vacant after Mike D'Antoni's resignation on July 18th 2014 he signed a multi-year contract to coach the Lakers. 

 

Was this the beginning of the end? Is this Kobe's farewell tour or  the team's farewell tour as we know them. They have the worst record in modern day Laker history. They're out of the playoff race or were they ever in it? Is there a focal point to build around? How important will the off-season be? Mike Bresnahan of the LA Times reported that the Lakers franchise seems torn on whether head coach Brian Scott will return for the rest of the guarantee year of his contract next season. 

 

General Manager Mitch Kupchak declined to comment when asked questions pertaining to Scott when asked by the media. The Lakers do have a young core and, how well they mesh together we'll have to wait and see. We still have one last item to consider could Phil Jackson return? He still has the inside track at the Staples Center with fiancé Jennie Buss. Will she clean house from top to bottom could there still be a possibility of Showtime! We'll all just have to wait and see. 

Joy and Pain

(Joy and Pain) Maze live in New Orleans concert is one of the greatest soul/ funk live albums of all time. The live version of Joy and Pain became a national and international hit in 1981. While we're all familiar with the lyrics of joy and pain (I like sunshine and rain) are we in agreement that as we go through life we should learn how to deal with the ups and downs and joys and pains of life. Going out on our daily trek we check the forecast to see if it's sunshine and clear skies if so we don the RayBan's  and off we go, looking good and you know that!

 

Now the other side of the coin. The weather forecast calls for overcast clouds and rain so now we don our finest coats and hats from Nordstroms and off you go as with the sunshine still looking good. Does this say something about character, how it's supposed to work. The mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual. Does it say that up or down win or lose we should try to look our best and do our best. Just something to chew on. Now let's do what we do here at a AINIOM sports.

 

It's 1990 91 Eastern Conference Finals the defending NBA champions Detroit Pistons (bad boys) led by Isiah Thomas vs the up-and-coming Chicago Bulls led by Michael Jordan. Its Easter, Its nationally televised, Its at the Palace of Auburn Hills and what you're about to see is self inflicted character assassination (the process to destroy the credibility and reputation of a person and or institution) by Bill Laimbeer and Isiah Thomas. Did they the Detroit Pistons not get the weather forecast of the day which was rain. Did Isaiah lead the team into the storm without that hat and raincoat from Nordstroms let's take a look they seem to be all wet.  See video below!

Did this act of bad sportsmanship walking off the court not shaking hands have a lasting repercussion on his career Isiah Thomas well one thing for  sure it didn't help. Can you erase a scene like that can the kids that looked up to you understand why you walked off when they needed to see your character, looking good, rain or shine the same kids that emulated you openly. It's said that time heals all wounds. But before we go let's mention a real sunbather this bathers forecast has and still looks RayBan like. Retired NBA basketball superstar of the Chicago Bulls Michael Jordan with six championships 1991 2,3,6,7, and 8 and he has nine division titles the Bulls never lost an NBA final series in their history known for having one of the NBA's greatest dynasties no rain in the forecast for MJ.

Da Bears

ESPN 30 for 30 (The Chicago Bears) did you miss it?

 

If so, here's the deal! Were the '85 Chicago Bears (The Monsters of the Midway) the greatest team ever to take the gridiron? Let's take a quick look back. Da Bears were led on offense by quarterback Jim McMahon who led the team to the greatest season ever. They also had a running back by the name of Walter Payton that rushed for over fifteen hundred yards and 9 touchdowns while also leading the team in receiving with 49 catches for (483) yards the 85 Offensive Player of the Year did they have the greatest running back in NFL history?

 

Now let's flip script the Bears' defense was coached by Buddy Ryan who brought his own thing to the table. The defense was led by middle linebacker Mike Singletary the Bears' leading tackler and  the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Also defensive end Richard Dent led the NFL with 17 sacks and would be named Super Bowl XX Most Valuable Player. The interior line anchored by 350 pound William the (Refrigerator) Perry.

 

This Bears' starting defensive line allowed a total 26.5 sacks in 1985 was this the best? Any Pittsburgh Steelers (Steel Curtain) fans out there! Chicago finished with an 18 and 1 overall record and allowed only five of the teams they faced that year to score more than 10 points!

Again did you get that 5 teams more than 10 points in a game is that shut down defense? The cherry on top (Super Bowl 20 The Monsters of the Midway) the Bears' coach by the 1985 Coach of The Year Mike Ditka destroyed the New England Patriots 46 to 10 the 10 points would be the only points they would give up in the entire playoffs the greatest let us know your thoughts by tweeting us @TeamAINIOM. Fun fact ...  the one defeat was at the hands of the Miami Dolphins.

The Evolution of Black Super Bowl Quarterbacks

Is there a new game face on the horizon in the NFL? Is there fear that the once exclusive private club (NFL Super Bowl quarterbacks) is now wide open to the public at large? Doug Williams Washington Redskins', quarterback number 17 for Super Bowl 22, was the most valuable player, first black quarterback in Super Bowl history to start and win a Superbowl in 1988. In the second quarter he threw four TDs for 322 yards first in Super Bowl history .This record stood until 2014 when Seattle Seahawks' quarter back Russell Wilson and his team won Super Bowl XLV 1 1  1. The second, black quarterback to win the covenant Super Bowl trophy to be continued? Time will tell ! February 7th the stage is set could there possibly be another member to this elite prestigious Super Bowl quarterback club? Let's stay tuned for the rest of the story!

Ball Up Million Dollar Summer Challenge

Another week of street ball competition has passed, and only the best of the best are getting through. One Chicago proved their toughness and showed their skills defeating The Elite and Wright Sports to become the Chicago Market champs, taking in $50,000! One Chicago (CHI) will play Madness (DC) on July 29th in the quarterfinals to see who goes on to play the Sean Bell All-Stars (NYC) in the semifinals July 30th.  As far as individuals, Karrington Ward, the 6’7” player out of Lockport, IL won the Ball Up Slam Dunk contest, taking home $7,500. Stay tuned to see who does their city proud and takes home some loot as a bonus! #BallUp #BallUpMDSC #Chicago #Ball #BallisLife #ChiTownBasketball #Sports #AINIOM

One Chicago wins to go on to the Finals
Karrington Ward wins Chicago's Slam Dunk Contest

Wimbeldon 2015

This past week Wimbledon crowned Serena Williams as the women’s champion and Novak Djokovic joined her as winner of the men’s singles. The 21-year-old Spaniard Gararbiñe Muguruza surprised many in 2014 when she defeated Williams in the French Open. The match was entertaining as there were many close calls, but Williams’ ferocity and determination was apparent, and won 6-4, 6-4. That makes it the 33-year-old Williams’ sixth Wimbledon title and her twenty-first Grand Slam title! I’m sure she’s not done either. Her hunger is that strong.

 

In the match between 28-year-old Serbian, Novak Djokovic and almost 33-year-old Swede, Roger Federer, many were eager to witness if Federer could defeat the same opponent that he lost to in 2014. Federer could have made history by winning the match, which would have given him his eighteenth Grand Slam title, but Djokovic didn’t let that happen. In an intense back and fourth match, it looked like Federer had the chance to get his historic win. However, towards the end Djokovic was simply too tough of an opponent and won 7-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-3. That makes it his third Wimbledon title and his eighth Grand Slam. Federer was disappointed, but he made it clear to the media in the post-conference that he’s not done yet saying, “I’m still very hungry and motivated to keep playing, and a match like this is obviously very helpful.”

 

Congratulations to the winners!

Chi League 2015

With Chicago finally feeling like summer, the Chi League kicked off their games this past 4th of July weekend. The Nike-sponsored-event is holding their pro am basketball games this year at Whitney M. Young Magnet high school. Attending yesterday’s game, you could feel the energy. With every passing game, the bleachers got more and packed. The players were definitely wanted to put on a show. Players got up there and threw down some nice looking dunks, there was a little shake and baking on their defenders, and more, but don’t let the host Young Wayne catch ya slipping – the host/actor/comedian will definitely let you know how he feels about your mistakes. It was a good time, and I plan on catching as many games as I can. Even some celebrities wanted to take a peek at some of the young talent, with appearances by Derrick Rose, Deon Cole and Antoine Walker. If you’re a basketball fan that wants to catch some good summer hoops, enjoys good talent, good music playing in the background and an entertaining host, you should check out the upcoming games! They’re held on Saturday and Sunday, four games a day, opening game at 3 p.m. at 211 S. Laflin St, Chicago, IL. The atmosphere is family-friendly, the competition is real, they have a concession stand you can grab some food while watching the hoopers do their thing on the hardwood, and the bonus: it’s free! I had a lot of fun with my AINIOM girls, and hope to catch some more games! For more info, go to www.nike.com/chicago

Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Stayin' Alive....Hawks Win in Double OT in Game 4

Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images. Antoine Vermette with the fist pump after making game winning goal.

Flashes of Stanley Cup excitement zoomed across the United Center ice Saturday night. It was a crucial game in the Blackhawks/Ducks series. The game was necessary for the Hawks whose momentum and confidence could have shifted. Coming of a game it looked promising for the Hawks who had a “pretty comfortable” lead 3-1 going into the third period, but what’s really “comfortable” in playoff game for the Cup? Then history happened: the Ducks were down 3-1, but in a matter of seconds, 37 to be exact, the Ducks went on a rampage scoring 3 quick goals.  That 37 seconds and 3 goals scored was the second quickest in NHL history to the Maple Leafs in 1979 when 3 goals were scored in 23 seconds. The crowd was stunned. Thoughts of a game 5 being down 3-1 in the series was not how the Blackhawks wanted to view their near future. Patrick Kane kept hope alive scoring the tying goal, making it 4-4 and then came overtime. Then the second overtime. It was looking reminiscent of a recent past Hawks game when fans were struggling to stay awake for the final outcome. Then it happened: the as of late struggling Antoine Vermette followed his own miss and was able to whip the game winning goal past Frederik Andersen. On making that winning goal, Vermette said, “The main focus is about the team’s success. That’s all that matters, so I’m glad we won tonight.” It’s always refreshing to hear the team being put before any individual accomplishments. Let’s see if the Hawks can one up the Ducks Monday night in Anaheim. 

DRAFT DAY IN THE BOOKS FOR CHICAGO

Chicago definitely had its expectations met with the whirlwind of events and activities during NFL Draft week. Chicago transformed into a Disneyland of football. Grant Park became “Draft Town” and provided a fun, interactive and entertaining playground to adults and kids of all ages. The massive structure of half crescent domes, jumbotrons, and tents created this atmosphere. It was a great atmosphere made for the fans to follow along with the Draft and celebrate in the picks.

Chicago went in with the number 7 pick. Many weren’t sure what direction the Bears organization wanted to go with, but they went with Kevin White, the wide receiver from West Virginia. This seems like a sensible draft for the Bears since White can contribute that missing piece with the departure of Brandon Marshall. Is it an even substitution, White for Marshall? No. But the addition of White to play alongside veteran Alshon Jefferey has the potential to be a great duo. Last season White contributed 109 passes for 1,447 yards, and 10 TD’s for WVU. When selected White said, “I’ve been through so much. I’ve been wanting this all my life, so I’m finally here, and I’m ready to turn this city around! I’m a great guy. I’m humble, very confident. I’m ready to work!” The crowd roared in excitement and approval. Additionally, the Bears drafted FSU DT Eddie Goldman, OR OL Hroniss Grasu, MSU RB Jeremy Langford, PS S Adrian Amos and TCU OT Tayo Fabuluje.

In between picks, fans and spectators would roam around the 900,000 square foot playground in between Selection Square and interactive activities. Fans could jump and measure their vertical like the athletes, run the 40-yard dash, even kick a field goal! Displays of Super Bowl rings, the Lombardi trophy, player autograph signing, Bears memorabilia of some of the greats were a few of the attractions for fans to enjoy. Seeing the smiles on kids and adults was wonderful to see! I would say the city of Chicago scored big time with its hosting duties and that the Draft days and Draft Town were a big success! Now, who’s ready for some football??! #NFL #Draft #DraftTown #Chicago #Sports #AINIOM

The Butler Did It!

Jimmy throwing down a dunk over ZaZa Pachulia (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune)

Game 2 of the Bulls/Bucks playoff series was a close one, but when that final buzzer sounded the Bulls walked off the court victorious 91-82. Rose was fired up at the Bulls’ opening huddle, but he was cold in the first half, going 0 for 7. After the first quarter, they scored a mere 11 points, a franchise low. Things got a little testy when Aaron Brooks and John Henson collided near the top of the key. Brooks, who was called for the blocking foul, fell to the ground, but then Henson walked and hovered over Brooks’ body.  That started the tiff, Butler and Mayo exchanged words, and Bulls and Bucks were now in a scuffle. That skirmish resulted in 4 technicals. That may have prefaced the remainder of the game.

Milwaukee was playing scrappy and maintained within striking distance at the half, 39-38. Then, the second half came along and finally Rose scored his first bucket of the night with a dish from Dunleavy, giving the Bulls the 46-42 lead. The leads shifted back and forth, so it seemed it was anybody’s game. In the fourth quarter, the Bulls showed whose home-court the Bucks were on. With a pass from Rose and an aggressive move towards the basket, Jimmy Butler posterized Zaza Pachulia and threw down a two-handed dunk and-one with authority! At that point, it was Jimmy Butler time. His confidence was exuding through his playing. He drained a corner three over O.J. Mayo and tied the game at 74. He led with yet another three a few minutes later, and you could tell he was in his zone.

Rebounds were huge for the Bulls, who edged out the Bucks 64-48. 16 of those were pulled down from Joakim Noah who pulled down 19 boards and Pau Gasol, who had 16 rebounds, adding to his numbers for his 53rd postseason double-double. Noah and Gasol’s boards made them the first pair of Bulls teammates to both have at least 15 rebounds apiece.

In one play, Zaza Pachulia and Nikola Mirotic went for a rebound, but upon coming down Mirotic took an elbow from Pachulia to the back of the head. Pachulia was called for a technical foul. Fast forward to late in the fourth quarter, a loose ball was up for grabs and the same players got caught up in a tangle on the floor. Pachulia shoved Mirotic in an attempt to get the ball, but Mirotic had enough. They got into it and Pachulia got ejected due to his second technical foul. Welcome to playoff ball. Mirotic left with a left quadriceps strain and is to be re-evaluated Tuesday morning.

Butler scored 14 of his postseason career high 31 points in the fourth quarter. He also had 9 rebounds, 2 assists, and went to the line 14 times, almost as many times as the entire Bucks team (17). After the game Rose was asked what it meant to have a guy who can store down the stretch and he replied, “Huge. It’s always a plus when you have guys that talented and that confident in this game. We’ve seen him put the work in, and he’s actually out there showing that it’s paying off. It pushes us as a team to work on our game individually and with everybody doing that, it gave us a good chance to win the game.” Rose made some key three’s and ended up taking the last shot of the game, sealing the Bulls’ 2-0 series lead. He ended with 15 points, 9 points and 7 rebounds. The teams will head up north to the BMO Harris Bradley Center for their game Thursday night. #NBA #playoffs #SEERED #ChicagoBasketball #Bulls #Butler #Sports #AINIOM

Chicago’s Makeover for the 2015 NFL Draft

Courtesy of the NFL

The NFL has made the decision to use the city of Chicago for its 2015 draft. It will begin Thursday, April 30 and go through May 2nd. Usually held in New York, Chicago has some big shoes to fill. After all, it was been 51 years since the NFL Draft has been held in the Windy City, when it was held at the Sheraton Hotel in 1964. In regard to Chicago, prior to that date, the draft was held at the Hotel Sherman in 1937, the Palmer House in 1941 and 1943, and the Blackstone Hotel in 1951. This year it will be held in the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. What about all of the fans? Can they take part in the excitement? Of course! They can be a part of the anticipation and celebration along the infamous Michigan Avenue. This involves the transformation of Grant Park and Congress Plaza. 900,000 square feet of the area will undergo a makeover and become “Draft Town.” The cost is FREE for fans to enjoy the festivities in Draft Town, and will include a plethora of activities to take advantage of: live music, food, games, photo opportunities with the Lombardi trophy and Super Bowl rings and chances to get free player autographs! And when they say “games” are available, they are interactive and adventurous! There will be a “Sweetness Simulator” where fans can try to float in the air like Hall of Famer Walter Payton which involves entering a wind tunnel skydive simulator. Also, there’s the “Combine Corner” where fans can test themselves and see how well they perform at NFL Combine drills such as the 40-yard dash and vertical jump. Screens will be up everywhere so all can follow along with the draft. Saturday night they will close out the “fandemonium” with a night concert. Everything sounds amazing, but like every Chicagoan I know, let’s hope the weather cooperates! #NFL #DraftTown #football #Sports #AINIOM 

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