Fresh ink: February 11, 2009

fresh ink 15 staff reporters: “Sorry, Detroit Pistons. But it just wasn’t gonna happen. Not on Johnny ‘Red’ Kerr’s big night. And Ben Gordon made sure of that. On the night Kerr received the 2009 Hall of Fame Bunn Award for over 35 years of contributions to Chicago as a player, coach, administrator and broadcaster, the Bulls stormed back to shock the Pistons in a 107-102 win. On his back in front of the visitors bench, Gordon didn’t see his big shot fall through the net. Instead, he glanced at the scoreboard. ‘I did see the three [points] go up,’ he said. Gordon then buried the free throw to complete the go-ahead four-point play. With Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in the house, the Bulls rallied from a 10-point deficit with about 3 1/2 minutes left, finishing the game with a 17-2 run in the victory. ‘I couldn’t explain this if I tried,’ the Pistons’ Tayshaun Prince said.”

Melissa Isaacson of the Chicago Tribune: “They were worried he might not be well enough to make the tribute in his honor, that he might not have the strength to sit through the ceremony or the vigor to be brought down onto the court. What they forgot, of course, was who they were dealing with. Before it was over, Johnny Kerr took the microphone from his son Matt, and one of the all-time NBA ironmen spoke from his heart and the place that truly defines him. ‘This is the happiest day in my life,’ said the first coach and soul of the Bulls franchise, ‘if I can steal an old quote from another old-time player.’ It was thoroughly appropriate.”

Nick Hut of the Northwest Herald: “President Barack Obama sent in a taped message, saluting Kerr for being ‘the fan on the barstool next to us’ and for ‘never losing faith in the Chicago Bulls.’ It was a star-laden event that lasted more than a half-hour, nearly tripling the usual length of halftime. Mayor Richard M. Daley sent in a letter proclaiming Tuesday, Feb. 10 to be ‘Johnny ‘Red’ Kerr Appreciation Day in Chicago.’ NBA commissioner David Stern also spoke via tape, thanking Kerr for his ‘love and respect for the game.’ Jordan and Scottie Pippen both thanked Kerr for livening up countless team bus rides and plane trips over the years with his wit and storytelling. Jordan, to loud applause, walked up to Kerr before speaking and repeated the ritual from his playing days of clapping resin in Kerr’s face. ‘Players come and go,’ Jordan said, ‘but the one constant thing about the Chicago Bulls has been Johnny ‘Red’ Kerr.'”

Mike Imrem of the Daily Herald: “This is how much Johnny ‘Red’ Kerr is Chicago. If Ron Santo played high school baseball here along with playing and broadcasting for the Cubs, he’d be Kerr. If Dick Butkus stuck around for 30 years to do color on Bears games after playing prep, college and pro football here and in Champaign, he’d be Kerr. But only Johnny Kerr is Johnny Kerr, the forever Chi-guy.”

Rick Telander of the Chicago Sun-Times: “Arranged around Kerr, who was seated rather uncomfortably in a red cushioned wheelchair near the center circle, were hoops greats and pals such as Scottie Pippen, Dolph Schayes, John Paxson, Bill Wennington, Jim Durham, Bob Love and Jerry Colangelo, who would make the trophy presentation. Jordan was there, too. And when host Neil Funk announced good old No. 23, the crowd went nuts. Jordan walked up to Kerr and clapped his own gigantic hands near the man who once played in 844 consecutive games, who was the first Bulls head coach, who announced Bulls games for three decades, who once was bright red and feisty but now is shades of gray. Resin powder exploded from Jordan’s palms in a cloud of glory. Kerr, has been his custom, pulled out a hankie and cleaned his pants and glasses. What, you though LeBron James invented the powder ritual?”

Fred Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune: “Jim Durham, who teamed with Kerr on Bulls broadcasts, told the story of a fan who saw the two of them at an appearance once. Kerr is 6 feet 9 inches and Durham is about 5-8. The fan wanted to know how the two appeared to be the same height on television while sitting at courtside. ‘It’s easy, JD sits on my lap,’ Durham said Kerr told the fan. ‘And I bet when he’s talking, you never see my lips move.'”

The Hall of Fame Network: “Johnny ‘Red’ Kerr has been selected to receive the 2009 John W. Bunn lifetime Achievement Award by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award was instituted by the Board of Trustees of the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1973 and is the most prestigious award presented by the Hall of Fame outside of Enshrinement. Named in honor of Hall of Famer John W. Bunn (Class of 1964), the first chairman of the Basketball Hall of Fame Committee who served from 1949-1964, this award honors coaches, players and contributors whose outstanding accomplishments have impacted the high school, college, professional or international game. ‘Mr. Kerr’s career contributions are the epitome of what the John W. Bunn Award Lifetime Achievement Award is meant to recognize. There are few people who have committed their lifetime to the game of basketball as Johnny ‘Red’ Kerr has done. He has touched every facet of basketball and has done so with an unmatched passion, dedication, professionalism, and respect for the game he loves,’ stated John L. Doleva, Hall of Fame President & CEO.”

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: “Tyrus Thomas didn’t just help spearhead an improbable comeback Tuesday night at the United Center. He further flamed a debate. The Bulls’ 107-02 victory over the Pistons doesn’t happen without Thomas’ monstrous fourth quarter, Ben Gordon’s four-point play and Derrick Rose’s continued wizardry, all of which helped erase a 15-point, fourth-quarter deficit and a 10-point deficit with 3 minutes, 34 seconds remaining. Thomas scored eight of his 22 points and four of his 10 rebounds in the fourth quarter of his sixth double-double in seven games. The best stretch of the third-year pro’s career continues to raise questions whether or not an Amare Stoudemire trade should be made.”

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press: “This might be a season low for the Pistons. After leading by 15 points with just more than 8 minutes remaining, the Pistons saw the Bulls battle back, and when Ben Gordon nailed a three-pointer with 16.7 seconds left and was fouled, Chicago took a 105-102 lead on his free throw. And in a game where Rasheed Wallace was dominant in the third quarter and Rip Hamilton scored 30 points, neither they nor any other Piston could make a play as the Pistons fell, 107-102, Tuesday night.

Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald: “Derrick Rose took a shoulder to the chin from Detroit power forward Antonio McDyess in the final seconds of Tuesday’s wild comeback victory. He left the court in obvious discomfort, but Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro was encouraged after talking to Rose in the locker room. ‘He has a little bit of a headache,’ Del Negro said. ‘His neck’s bothering him a little bit. But I think he’ll be fine. They’re going to check him out, but I just talked to him and he seemed fine. Just a little shaken up, that’s all.'”

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