Fresh ink: March 2, 2009

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Lacy J. Banks of the Chicago Sun-Times: “More than 1,000 fans and friends of Norm Van Lier — ranging from a homeless man to U.S. Rep. Danny Davis — braved snow and freezing temperatures Sunday to attend the former Bulls star’s wake. Sitting in front of the open casket at Michalek Funeral Home on the Near West Side for a nonstop seven hours was Van Lier’s wife, Susan, who greeted each mourner with a smile and words of gratitude. ‘Some say, ‘You don’t know me because I was just a fan of Norm’s,’ she said. ‘But I tell each one, ‘No, you weren’t just a fan. You’re the people who helped make him the success he was.’ I had to greet them all for Norm.’ Van Lier, a three-time All-Star in the 1970s, died Thursday at 61 after years of health issues that included congestive heart failure. His funeral is at 10:30 a.m. today at Fourth Presbyterian Church.”

Fred Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune: “Former Bears linebacker Doug Buffone, who teamed with Van Lier on ‘The Bull and the Bear Show’ on WSCR-AM 670, said he was struggling with the stunning death of his longtime friend. ‘You can say what you want about Michael Jordan and what a great player he was for the Bulls,’ Buffone said. ‘But nobody related to the fans of Chicago the way Norm did. They loved him. I’ll really miss him.’ Former Bulls Tom Boerwinkle, LaRue Martin, Bill Wennington and Bobby Wilson also attended Sunday’s visitation. So did Chicago congressman Danny Davis, longtime Bulls security man John Capps and all the children of the late Johnny ‘Red’ Kerr. Other attendees included former Bulls Kendall Gill and Dave Corzine, as well as Van Lier’s former broadcast colleagues Tom Dore, Steve Kashul, Lou Canellis, Chet Coppock, Tom Shaer, Kerry Sayers, Dyrol Joyner and Mark Schanowski. In addition, former Tribune NBA writer Sam Smith, former St. Francis teammate Sam Sloan, longtime Bulls senior vice president Irwin Mandell, Bulls stats crew member Chris Wilson, veteran clubhouse man Joe Lee and equipment manager John Ligmanowski.”

Mike Puccinelli of CBS 2 Chicago: “A March snow storm did little to slow the stream of mourners at Michalik Funeral Home on Chicago’s North Side who came to pay tribute to Stormin’ Norman Van Lier. ‘Such a great figure in Chicago and I think that’s borne out by the number of people that are here on such a frigid and snowy day,’ said Chicago Tribune Bull’s beat writer K.C. Johnson. The three-time NBA All Star was remembered Sunday by those who played with him on the court during his six years with the Bulls and those who worked with him later in the broadcast booth. ‘Everybody loved him and why? Because he was just like everybody else,’ said ex-Bear and co-host of Comcast Sportsnet ‘Monsters in the Morning’ Dan Jiggetts. ‘He’s the same guy that would sit down and have a burger with you and the same guy that would sit down and announce a championship game.'”

Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald: “Rockets forward Ron Artest, who scored 32 points against the Bulls on Saturday, spent his first 2½ NBA seasons in Chicago, which was long enough to bond with Norm Van Lier, a kindred spirit of sorts. ‘Van Lier, he was big on the way I played,’ Artest said. ‘He always gave me a lot of compliments on my defense and said I kind of played the game how he played it. A lot of people used to tell me that. I never knew how good he was. It even took me a year to notice that (retired) jersey ‘Sloan’ was Jerry Sloan. That shows you how young I was; I didn’t know anything.’ Before Saturday’s game, Artest commented on his first year in Houston as only he can. ‘It’s the first season I can wait for the story to happen instead of making the story,’ he said. ‘I’m not waiting until the end of my suspension or talking about getting in a fight. It’s been a good adjustment.'”

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: “If the Bulls’ fourth-quarter comeback Saturday night against Houston seemed impressive, consider what happened Sunday. An MRI exam revealed Luol Deng does not have a stress fracture of his right tibia, which would have sidelined the fifth-year forward for the Bulls’ final 22 games and — gulp — possibly beyond. Hey, why not dream about the playoffs after the Bulls stormed back from a 17-point deficit with less than six minutes left against a Western Conference power and then got the unexpected good news on Deng? After all, X-rays taken late Saturday had team officials thinking Deng could be lost for the season. Even coach Vinny Del Negro said, ‘It doesn’t sound very good.’ Instead, Deng has told people he might even practice Monday in advance of Tuesday’s game at Charlotte. On top of that, forward Tim Thomas now is listed as day-to-day after an MRI revealed nothing more than a strained left quadriceps tendon.”

Brian Hanley of the Chicago Sun-Times: “Deng’s return this season seemed a long shot Saturday night. With 22 regular-season games remaining, he said the worst-case scenario was that he wouldn’t be back. ‘It’s been bothering me maybe three or four weeks,’ Deng said. ‘I thought it was just a sprain. I had a play in the first half where I jumped up, and I felt it. I’m not in pain. When I’m walking, when I get on my toes or I’m jumping, I feel it in there a little bit. I thought it was just a bruise, but it stayed there.’ Thomas left the game Saturday with what at first was said to be a hyperextended left knee. Coach Vinny Del Negro later described it as a strained quadriceps tendon. ‘Losing players is never easy,’ Del Negro said. ‘You just have to deal with it. Other guys have to step up and find ways.’ One of those guys is Salmons, who has averaged 15 points in five games since the Bulls acquired him from Sacramento on Feb. 19. He started all 53 games for the Kings before the deal, averaging 18.1 points. ‘Having John Salmons — he can play the two and the three — is a big benefit for us,’ Del Negro said. ‘He has versatility off the dribble.'”

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3 Responses to Fresh ink: March 2, 2009

    tony.pipptana March 3, 2009 at 5:53 am #

    I admire the amount of energy you must be putting toward your blogging. As a devoted follower of Basketbawful, I know [basically] how you write; and, I know that it entertains me.

    However, as a Bulls non-fan, I’m curious what you would suggest is your main draw for those of us who love basketball, but care little about the Bulls. Do you intend to make more fans out of the masses? Or, do you care for us as much as we care for your team?

    This is just curiosity. I’ll be reading either way. I just haven’t really started, yet, so I wondered – I guess – what are your intentions with my daughter? I mean, with this here blog?

    P.S. I’m honoring Jordan’s backseat with the new, Disney-friendly version of my name. Picture Scottie Pippen on the phone with Patrick Ewing: “You wanna go to war? Okay, I’ll take you to war!!” That’s what I’m talking about.

    tony.pipptana March 3, 2009 at 6:00 am #

    whoa… why does it say I posted that at 5:53am? It’s 10:53pm here at the bottom of the Rockies… which means, it’s 11:53pm there in Bulltown… which means… have you been outsourced to Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire?

    Matt McHale March 3, 2009 at 9:50 pm #

    Hey Tony — You said: “However, as a Bulls non-fan, I’m curious what you would suggest is your main draw for those of us who love basketball, but care little about the Bulls. Do you intend to make more fans out of the masses? Or, do you care for us as much as we care for your team?”

    I care a lot. I want to make this site funny and informative. Unfortunately, it’ll probably be best suited for Bulls fans. I’m not sure I’ll be trying to convert people. Either you’re a fan or you’re not. What I’m hoping is that Derrick Rose becomes amazing, makes the Bulls great, and then everybody’ll jump on the bandwagon. You hear that, Derrick? Please become amazing. My blog is counting on it.

    Oh, and the time stamp on the site it messed up. I’m trying to fix that. Grr…

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