Chicago Sports Exchange: Unexpected Sources Boost Bulls To Slump-Busting Victory

By Drew Stevens (@lookwhatdrewdid)

It’s as simple as this, Aaron Rodgers.

If you no longer want any part of an organization whose general manager has begun to dig your grave even as you continue to withstand the rigors of professional quarterbacking with flying colors, then you should most certainly look for a change of scenery. You see how well things are working out for Tom Brady after he ended his longterm relationship with New England, right?

He found greener — and far warmer — pastures in Tampa Bay. Now while it may be tempting to move across country where friendlier climates and your childhood favorite 49ers play, remember, that team blew its chance with you years ago. Besides, the coldest dish of revenge you could serve that bay green and cheese gold-colored front office would be aligning yourself with its sworn enemy, the Chicago Bears.

That’s how you retaliate against Brian Gutekunst, who had the audacity to trade up to select Jordan Love in last year’s NFL Draft, and head coach Matt LaFleur, who was a little too eager to co-sign that move and chose Mason Crosby’s leg, not your invaluable arm, when it mattered most. After all, when you have a chance to really stick it to your ex you don’t date a stranger. You round the bases with the best friend.

Think about it.

Not only would you move from the hallowed ground at Lambeau Field to that at Soldier Field, but you’d also go from being one of the city’s most hated visitors to one of its most beloved residents a la Dennis Rodman.

Plus, you love it here. Or at least that’s what I took from how you talked about the chills you feel before game time listening to both Jim Cornelison belt out the national anthem and Bears fans equally resounding reaction. “Those tingles over the years have made that place a really special environment,” you said in December. “And I do have a lot of respect for the organization, the fan base, their team.”

And we for you, albeit begrudgingly.

But you can’t really blame us for that though, can you? I mean, you did author a 35-16 beat down with your 240 yards and four touchdowns just a few days after speaking so highly of practically all things Chicago. Not to mention that was the 10th victory of your career in the Windy City in the 13 times you’ve played here. Hard feelings are even harder to shake when they’re mixed with the envy of watching your arch-rival swap one hall-of-fame signal caller for another while our carousel of mediocrity at that position continues to turn nonstop.

You can change that. You can rip that ride from its lousy rails. It’ll take some convincing, maybe even a little acting on your part. You’re pretty believable in those State Farm commercials. How good are you at faking or threatening retirement?

As far as compensation goes, tell Gutekunst we can offer the 20th overall pick in this year’s draft and future first-round picks in each of the next two as well. There figures to be a nice crop of blue chip offensive lineman this summer. Something for him to keep in mind given his franchise left tackle, David Bakhtiari, will be playing the rest of his career on a surgically-repaired knee. Also, considering how Kevin King had two touchdowns scored on him and drew a crippling defensive pass interference penalty that essentially robbed you of the chance to play in your second Super Bowl, it seems an upgrade at cornerback is in order. We’ve got a promising one in Jaylon Johnson he might be interested in, too.

If that package doesn’t move him, perhaps we can throw in the tag-and-trade of Allen Robinson. We’d much rather have the two of you here, but if we must sacrifice our most lethal offensive threat then so be it. You’re that special to us. Even today, just a handful of months from beginning your 17th year in the NFL.

Look. Breaking up is hard. There’s no two ways about it. But once you finish sopping up the best comfort food our city has to offer, you’ll adjust. You’ll see that while the sum of the Bears’ current weapons don’t yet compare to that of Davante Adams, Aaron Jones and Robert Tonyan, you’ve had far less to work with in your career than David Montgomery, Cole Kmet and Darnell Mooney.

None of this is to say you’d find the type of immediate success that Brady’s found with the Buccaneers. What it does mean is your arrival would, quite frankly, send an already rabid fanbase over the moon; push our mockery of a front office into credible standing; and our overworked defense into more favorable situations.

If nothing else, how satisfying would it be to flip the league’s oldest rivalry on its head, to force Gutekunst and LaFleur to forever rue the day they chose Love?

In Green Bay you had to escape the shadow of Brett Farve — who, against conventional wisdom, was cast out to the Jets of all teams after reaching near-deity status as a Cheeshead, his association with the Packers being the only one that can rival yours post-Bart Starr. Here, in Chicago, you’d cast a shadow as far as our franchise’s list of starting quarterbacks is long before you even threw your first pass in dark navy and orange.

The offseason is long. Our patience for a player your caliber has been woefully longer.

Just give it some thought.

Ok?

The Chicago Bulls’ signing of journeyman Garrett Temple was met with a chorus of shrugs in November. 

It may be safe to say the tunes surrounding Temple are a little livelier after his work in helping the Bulls top Dallas 117-101 Sunday to snap a four-game losing streak. 

In a game in which the starting backcourt duo of Zach LaVine and Coby White combined to shoot 1-for-13 from the field for just 10 points — all from LaVine — Temple more than picked up their slack. The 11-year vet, who has played for nine other teams, nearly outscored a depleted Mavericks bench by himself with 21 points, 15 of which were a part of a 40-point second-quarter that carried the Bulls to a 15-point lead at halftime. 

Temple also dished out three assists with two steals and a block. Thad Young and Otto Porter Jr. chipped in 15 points and 14 points, respectively. The trio helped the Bulls to 61-22 advantage in bench points. 

BUY – Bulls Learn Lesson After Embarrassing OKC Loss

A day after having to look in the mirror at their unraveling in Oklahoma City, the Bulls tightened up on their resolve — and ball security — in a 117-101 victory in Dallas. 

The Bulls (5-8) led the undermanned Mavericks by as many as 19 points and  maintained a double-digit advantage throughout the fourth quarter. Zach LaVine, who set a franchise record for consecutive games with at least seven three-pointers, didn’t get his only points from the field until the third quarter. He finished with 10 points and notched 10 of the team’s 32 assists.

In his second game back from health and safety protocols, Lauri Markkanen scored 29 points to go along with 10 rebounds. Both season highs. Markkanen led six Bulls who scored in double figures. 

The win snapped a string of four consecutive losses, the last of which came in overtime despite holding a 16-point fourth-quarter lead over the Thunder and prompted head coach Billy Donovan to have the team watch every second of its collapse in practice Saturday. That the Bulls committed five less turnovers (13) than their season average and league-worst mark (18.3) would suggest it worked. 

The Bulls host Houston tonight and will look to claim victory in the back-end of back-to-back games for the first time in four tries. Friday, the Bulls begin a weekend back-to-back that sees them travel to Charlotte Friday before getting a second crack at the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers Saturday evening. 

SELL – Bears Digging Deep Hole Regarding Credibility

Somehow, the Bears gave their worst performance of the season three days after it officially ended. 

Last week’s year-end press conference in which Chairman George McCaskey explained why a front-office shakeup wasn’t in the works for his team that rolled in mediocrity for a second straight season, left Bears fans feeling emptier and more resentful than any lopsided loss ever could. 

In his mind, consecutive wins against three teams with losing records held more weight than the six-game collapse that preceded it; progress was ultimately measured not by how the Bears stacked up against the rest of their conference compared to a season ago, but by Darnell Mooney’s historic rookie campaign; back-to-back 8-8 seasons, two Wild Card playoff exits and one outlier winning season weren’t as damning for general manager Ryan Pace as his relationship with head coach Matt Nagy was redeeming. 

This is what complacency looks like.

And it bears little resemblance to the once-proud charter franchise that fans across the Chicago sports spectrum (Bulls, Cubs, White Sox, and Blackhawks) could all get behind.

SELL – Blackhawks Setting New Futility Standard To Start Season

It didn’t take long for the Blackhawks to figure out just how far below the bar they are from competitive hockey. 

Three games into a season in which they’ll be without Kirby Dach and Alex Nylander — and possibly even their captain Jonathan Toews — the Hawks (0-3-0) were outscored 15-5 (5-1, 5-2 and 5-2) in contests against the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers. This is the first time they’ve gone pointless through a season’s first three games since 1997-98 and only the 10th time it’s happened in franchise history. 

On a positive note, Patrick Kane’s 634th career regular-season assist on an Alex DeBrincat goal in the second period tied Neal Broten for eighth place on the NHL’s all-time list among players born in the U.S. 

The Hawks stay on the road against the Panthers again Tuesday before hosting Detroit for a pair of games Friday and Sunday. 

BUY – Sky Reward Winning Wade With Contract Extension

In news that could’ve been seen from a mile away, the Sky signed general manager and head coach James Wade to a multi-year extension last week.

The decision to keep the former WNBA Coach of the Year, who also has a 32-24 record and a pair of playoff appearances to his name after two years at the wheel, under contract through the next five seasons should have been a no-brainer.

4 Reasons Chicago Sky Fans Should Celebrate 4 More Years with Coach James Wade (Sports Are From Venus)

What’s not clear is what Wade will do to bolster his defense that was only middle-of-the-pack good last season. Or if resigning Cheyenne Parker, who is coming off of a career year will force him to look toward the trade market to do so.

Wade has already proven himself to be shrewd (see his swap of 2019 first round pick Katie Lou Samuelson for Azura Stevens) in the past. So there’s no reason to believe he’s short on ideas on how to direct the Sky past the second round for the first time since 2016.

BUY – Red Stars Signing Spree Includes Famous Athlete Daughter

Is there such thing as an off-season efficiency rating? 

In a matter of just two days, the Red Stars acquired the rights to five new players and re-signed a dozen more. 

The Red Stars selected two-time national champion Stanford Cardinal forward Madison Haley with the seventh pick in last Wednesday’s NWSL draft. Kelsey Turnbow, Brianna Alger, Channing Foster, and Naperville native Alissa Gorzak rounded out the rest of their picks. Turnbow won’t join the team until next year having opted to return to Santa Clara to finish her master’s degree. 

Haley is the daughter of five-time Super Bowl champion Charles Haley. Also of note, Trinity Rodman, the daughter of former Chicago Bull and five-time NBA champion Dennis Rodman, was taken second overall by the Washington Spirit. 

Among the players who re-signed with the Red Stars — some of whom did so just hours before the draft — was midfielder Nikki Stanton, who, after spending two years with the club, left to play in Norway last season. 

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