<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Sports]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/sports http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.comen-usThu, 08 Dec 2016 06:25:54 -0600Thu, 08 Dec 2016 06:25:54 -0600NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Blackhawks Won't Face Rick Nash Friday vs. Rangers]]> Wed, 07 Dec 2016 19:52:55 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-628130454.png

The Chicago Blackhawks are set to play the New York Rangers twice within the next six days, but it appears they will avoid facing one of that team’s best players when they battle their Original Six rivals.

That player is winger Rick Nash, who suffered a groin injury in his team’s game against the New York Islanders on Tuesday night. Nash, who has scored 11 goals so far this season for the Rangers, underwent an MRI on the injury Wednesday, and although the results suggest that he’s not dealing with a long-term issue, he still got some bad news.

According to the Rangers, Nash is expected to miss a week or so with the injury, which likely means that he will not suit up for either game against the Blackhawks during that time. The Blackhawks will welcome the Rangers to the United Center for their next game on Friday night, and then they’ll travel to the Big Apple to battle the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night.

Those two games are the only times that the Blackhawks will see the Rangers during the regular season, so missing out on facing Nash could be a good thing for the team.

Nash is currently second on the Rangers in terms of goal-scoring, and he had been playing well of late, registering points in three of his last four games before suffering the injury Tuesday.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Royals' Asking Price for Davis Was Way Higher: Report]]> Wed, 07 Dec 2016 19:32:45 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-612072938.png

The Chicago Cubs had to give up Jorge Soler in order to acquire Wade Davis in a trade with the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday, but if a report on Kansas City’s original demands is to be believed, the price could have been substantially higher.

According to Comcast Sportsnet Cubs beat writer Patrick Mooney, the Royals had a much bigger fish that they wanted to catch with Davis.

"Before acquiring Aroldis Chapman, Cubs checked in with Royals and the trade-deadline asking price for Wade Davis was Kyle Schwarber," Mooney tweeted.

That’s right. Instead of Soler, who was likely the fourth or fifth option in the outfield for the Cubs in the coming season, the Royals originally wanted Kyle Schwarber, who has already cemented his status as one of the premier power hitters in all of baseball.

As Cubs fans already know, the team laughed off that proposal and made a deal with the New York Yankees for Aroldis Chapman instead, sending a group of prospects that included slick-fielding shortstop Gleyber Torres.

That trade worked out beautifully for both sides, as the Cubs won the World Series and Torres won MVP honors in the Arizona Fall League, and everyone basically lived happily ever after.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Sunday Night Football Preview: Giants vs. Cowboys]]> Wed, 07 Dec 2016 17:34:52 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-602993368.jpg

The Dallas Cowboys and breakout rookie Dak Prescott can atone for their only loss of the season — and win their division — when they play the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football.

What is becoming a dream season for the Cowboys (11-1) started with a mildly disappointing 20-19 home loss to New York. In that game Prescott was forced into starting because Tony Romo fractured a vertebra in a preseason game. Since the opener, all Prescott has done is win.

The Giants (8-4) overcame an early three-game losing streak by winning six in a row before a confidence-sapping loss at Pittsburgh last week. Now they have to defend their home field to have any chance at winning the NFC East.

If New York does so, it’ll almost certainly be due to a big game from Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. Manning is having a pretty good season himself, and Beckham has more than 1,000 yards receiving along with 8 TD catches as his primary deep target.

Dallas cornerbacks Orlando Scandrick and Anthony Brown can make their impact by limiting him, though Victor Cruz is likely to be more involved after a silent game Sunday against Pittsburgh in which he wasn’t thrown to once.

Against a tough Giants rushing defense, the Cowboys’ other rookie star, Zeke Elliott, could be vulnerable. And that could put the game in the hands of Prescott, who has improved since a so-so performance in the opener, but fumbled twice last week on Thursday night.

If Prescott can bounce back to his usual performance level this season — he’s had a QB rating over 100 in 10 games so far — the Cowboys could be the first team to clinch a division title this season.

Players to Watch

Dallas QB Dak Prescott. It’s the biggest game of the rookie’s career, and a division title and playoff spot is right in front of him.

Dallas C Travis Frederick. The Cowboys entire offensive line did an excellent job run blocking last week. If they can win one-on-one matchups against the Giants’ fearsome front, Prescott could have an easier day than expected.

Giants DE Olivier Vernon. Has seven sacks in five games. No one has blocked him since October.

Giants RB Rashad Jennings. The Giants’ run game has been barely there most of this season, but Jennings was productive against Dallas in the opener, and could be a wild card Sunday night.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[White Sox Trade Adam Eaton]]> Wed, 07 Dec 2016 18:16:32 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-598989486.png

The Chicago White Sox were the talk of Washington, D.C. after trading Chris Sale on Tuesday, and the team is back in the headlines again Wednesday as they've dealt another big part of their roster.

This time, the trade piece is outfielder Adam Eaton, who has reportedly been traded to the Washington Nationals. In exchange, the White Sox received the Nationals' top prospect in Lucas Giolito, number three prospect Reynaldo Lopez, and 2016 first round draft pick Dane Dunning in a massive haul of prospects.

Eaton, who registered a 6.2 WAR this season with the White Sox, is expected to play center field for the Nationals next season, with rookie sensation Trea Turner moving in to play shortstop for Washington.

As for Giolito, he was ranked as the top pitching prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline earlier this year, and he made his MLB debut this season. Topping out in the high 90's with his fastball, Giolito did appear a bit raw when pitching for the Nationals, but the White Sox are optimistic that he will be able to work with pitching coach Don Cooper and smooth out any flaws in his delivery.

"I am absolutely thrilled to be joining the Chicago White Sox," Giolito said on his Twitter feed. "I can't wait to play in the great city of Chicago for such a storied franchise."

In the case of Lopez, he projects more as a bullpen arm than as a starter, but the White Sox could conceviably use him ineither role. He posted a 3.21 ERA in 19 games in the minor leagues this season (all starts), but struggled a bit at the big league level as he posted a 5-3 record and a 4.91 ERA in 11 appearances with the Nationals.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jonathan Toews Donates $1 Million to Canadian Charity]]> Wed, 07 Dec 2016 15:29:23 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/jonathan+toews+GettyImages-491739432.jpg

Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews learned to play hockey at a public facility in his hometown of Winnipeg, and on Wednesday he thanked the community with a massive donation to build a new rink there.

During a teleconference on Wednesday afternoon, the Blackhawks' forward announced that he would donating $1 million to the Dakota Community Centre in Winnipeg in an effort to fund construction on a new fieldhouse and other development plans on the campus of the Centre.

"From my earliest days playing hockey, Dakota Community Centre has always played a pivotal role in my upbringing and my career," he said. "I believe that in supporting Dakota, we will see endless possibilities for the community centre's future and transformation in the lives of our community members."

According to the CBC, the complex renamed its ice rink the Jonathan Toews Sportsplex after the Blackhawks won their first Stanley Cup title in nearly 50 years back in 2010. It was one of many honors that Toews received after that championship, but it was one that always stuck out to him thanks to his roots in the area.

"We are so proud that Jonathan has chosen to give back to the community in this way," Toews' parents Bryan and Andree said in a press release.

<![CDATA[Jorge Soler Posts Touching Goodbye to Cubs Fans After Trade]]> Wed, 07 Dec 2016 14:55:01 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-534722802.png

Outfielder Jorge Soler was one of the first pieces added to the mix when the Chicago Cubs began their quest to rebuild their organization, but his time with the team has come to an end as he was traded on Wednesday afternoon.

Soler, who signed with the Cubs out of Cuba in 2012, quickly made a name for himself in Chicago with his prodigious power and his infectious enthusiasm for the game, and he endeared himself to fans because of his vibrant personality.

After it was announced that he had been traded, Soler took to Twitter to thank both the fans and the Cubs for making his time in Chicago memorable.

"Thank you Cubs, the amazing fans, the city of Chicago & my teammates," the outfield wrote. "World Series Champs baby! So many memories I'll cherish forever."

Soler was traded to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for closer Wade Davis on Wednesday. Soler is going to play some right field and will serve extensively as a designated hitter for the Royals, according to G.M. Dayton Moore.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Cubs to Send Soler to Royals for Closer Wade Davis]]> Wed, 07 Dec 2016 13:19:39 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/trade.png

It took nearly 24 hours to complete, but the deal is now official as the Chicago Cubs have traded Jorge Soler to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for All-Star closer Wade Davis.

Davis, 31, has been dominant for the last three years and is expected to become the Cubs' closer when he arrives in Chicago next season.

The right-hander has especially excelled in postseason play, and helped the Royals win the 2015 crown. In those 27 1/3 innings as a reliever, he has a 0.33 ERA — one earned run in 27 1/3 innings, with 39 strikeouts.

USA Today's Bob Nightengale reported the teams agreed to the trade late Tuesday:

[[405207135, C]]

Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com and Jon Heyman of Today's Knuckleball both reported the deal as officially being done on Wednesday afternoon, marking the end of a bizarre saga that saw the deal seemingly agreed to, put on hold because of unnamed holdups, and then ultimately go through.

The Cubs headed to the MLB winter meetings being held in the nation’s capital this week looking to get back to work to defend the title that the franchise had waited more than a century for.

Soler, 24, is highly regarded for his potential, but his injuries combined with a surplus of outfielders on the Cubs’ roster make him expendable.

The Royals were looking to unload at least one or two high-profile players this offseason.

Davis closed out 27 games for the Royals last season. He spent time on the disabled with a forearm injury last season and was limited to 43 1/3 innings, but returned to pitch in September.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Chicago Cubs Fans Named Best in the World]]> Tue, 06 Dec 2016 18:56:38 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/184*120/GettyImages-621095314.jpg

Cubs fans may have already considered themselves the best in the world, but now it's official, according to a new report. 

Lifestyle site FanSided released their inaugural list of the 250 fanbases that are the best and most passionate across sports, entertainment, tech and more. 

To few Chicagoans' surprise, the Cubs took home top honors, coming in at number one ahead of Star Wars, Beyonce and the Dallas Cowboys. 

"The true sign of a die-hard fanbase is its willingness to stick with the team through good times and bad," the site reads. "And surely no fanbase has proven itself more adept at the latter than that of the Chicago Cubs."

FanSided’s Fandom 250 Top 10:

1. Chicago Cubs
2. Star Wars
3. Beyoncé
4. Game of Thrones
5. Dallas Cowboys
6. Netflix
7. The Walking Dead
8. Ohio State Buckeyes
9. LeBron James
10. Harry Potter/J.K. Rowling

Fansided, which calls itself "the network for fans," also released a heartfelt essay on Cubs fans following their beloved team's first World Series victory in 108 years.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cubs' World Series Win Comes With Big Payday for Players]]> Tue, 06 Dec 2016 15:56:13 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-621152150.png

Getting a shiny trophy and a big ring are two of the biggest benefits of winning a World Series title, but for the Chicago Cubs, they’ll also get a pretty sweet paycheck out of their championship run.

According to a release from Major League Baseball, each player on the Cubs will receive a postseason share worth nearly $369,000.

According to Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago, the Cubs issued 66 full player shares, 8.7 partial shares, and four cash awards from their postseason run. The players then voted on who would receive what money.

According to Eric Fisher of the Sports Business Journal, the Cubs got a World Series-winner pool of $27.6 million from Major League Baseball, which is a new record in the sport.

While a payout of $369,000 isn’t a huge deal to big-ticket guys like Jason Heyward and Jon Lester, that kind of money makes a difference to younger players on their first big league contracts.

Players like Addison Russell, Kris Bryant, and Willson Contreras are all making under $1 million a season on their contracts, meaning that the postseason bonus checks are going to be a nice Christmas gift under the tree for players like that.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Opinion: Sale Trade Not Enough to Set Sox on Right Path]]> Tue, 06 Dec 2016 15:22:15 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Chris+Sale.png

For years now, the Chicago White Sox have been in a position where they felt close to competing, but after once again missing the playoffs in 2016 and seeming to be directionless, they’ve opted for a rebuild now as ace pitcher Chris Sale has been traded.

If G.M. Rick Hahn is thinking the way he needs to be thinking, the move to send Sale to the Boston Red Sox is merely the opening salvo in a round of trades that will help position this team to compete for championships in the future, and to finally set a course for a ship that has been sailing in circles for far too long.

For the White Sox, that sea change started with Sale, and there are a lot of players that could also be jettisoned as they look to rebuild for the future. A player like Jose Quintana could conceivably become the new ace of the staff, but he could also be unloaded for a healthy load of prospects and talent if that’s the direction the team chooses to go.

If the White Sox understandably don’t feel it’s necessary to deal Quintana away, there are plenty of other pieces that will attract interest. The first one that comes to mind is third baseman Todd Frazier, who is one year away from unrestricted free agency.

With a powerful bat and a contract that will expire before the insane free agent frenzy of 2018, he is an asset that should command interest, and there have already been reports that the Los Angeles Dodgers are looking at him as a fall-back option if they are unable to bring back Justin Turner this offseason.

Another player that should command some interest is first baseman Jose Abreu. Even though he opted out of his contract and is now eligible for arbitration this offseason, the slugger has shown some incredible talent in his first three big league seasons, and with a power-hitting first baseman serving as the cornerstone for some of the sport’s most competitive clubs, there could be a line around the block to trade for him if he is indeed available.

In fact, there is already one report linking Abreu to the Colorado Rockies, who have been looking to field a more competitive team thanks to the development of players like Nolan Arenado and the continued success of outfielder Carlos Gonzalez.

Outfielder Adam Eaton is another player, like Quintana, that could fall under either the “too good to give up” or “good enough to gather up a bumper crop of prospects.” With a solid defensive year in right field and a lead-off bat that many teams covet, Eaton could return a huge amount of talent if the Sox decide to trade him, but he could also be a cornerstone type player for when the team hits competitive times again in a few years.

Closer David Robertson is another player that teams should be interested in, as he’ll be cheaper than Aroldis Chapman or Kenley Jansen and can help bolster a bullpen in an era where teams are loading up on arms for playoff glory in the mold of the 2015 Kansas City Royals and the 2016 Chicago Cubs.

Finally, there are other players that could potentially garner interest, including second baseman Brett Lawrie, and the White Sox should explore every option that they have in terms of moving players who are in their final few years of team control.

To be blunt, the White Sox were not just a Chris Sale trade away from being competitive in the future, and the move has to be a first step if the transition process is going to be an effective one.

There are a lot of variables that can go wrong in a rebuild, but if the team is dedicated to a goal and actively works towards it, then it is a heck of a lot better for fans in the long run than a team that continues to tread water and wonder why it isn’t getting any closer to land.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cubs Working on White House Visit Before Obama Leaves]]> Tue, 06 Dec 2016 15:05:28 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-621151234.png

There are only seven weeks left in the administration of President Barack Obama, but before he leaves the White House, there is one last thing that he wants to do.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the Obama administration is trying to work out a scheduled visit by the World Series champion Chicago Cubs before the president leaves office on Jan. 20. The compressed timeframe is making a visit difficult, but the president wants to fete his hometown team before he leaves office.

“Obviously the challenging part is with an outgoing president, and now that we’re in the offseason, it makes it extremely challenging to coordinate with the players being on vacation,” Cubs spokesman Julian Green told the Tribune Monday. “It’s been difficult to do.”

Most of the Cubs are off at their vacation homes and fully into their offseason routines. Some players have bigger plans, with Kris Bryant planning on getting married in the early part of January.

Between those plans, and the transition planning going on at the White House before Donald Trump takes over the Oval Office on Jan. 20, time is quickly running out to schedule a visit, but that isn’t stopping the two sides from potentially trying.

A Kenwood native and noted Sox fan, Obama initially invited the Cubs with a tweet after they won the World Series in November, writing "It happened: @Cubs win World Series. That's change even this South Sider can believe in. Want to come to the White House before I leave?"

“Regardless of who is in the White House, or who may be working for the administration, certainly this has been something that would be viewed as an honor,” Green told the Tribune. “It’s just a difficult exercise in scheduling.”

If the Cubs end up deciding to wait until they play the Washington Nationals next season to make a visit to the White House, that trip would occur late in June.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Former Bears RB Rashaan Salaam Dies at Age 42]]> Tue, 06 Dec 2016 14:44:16 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-1401599.jpg

Tragedy once again struck the football world on Tuesday afternoon, as it was reported that former Chicago Bears first round pick Rashaan Salaam has passed away at the age of 42.

Salaam’s death was reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, citing a family spokesman with knowledge of the situation. According to the report, the coroner in Boulder, CO reported that Salaam’s body was found at a park on Monday, but that there were no signs of foul play in the case.

Salaam was chosen by the Bears with the 21st overall pick in the 1995 NFL Draft out of Colorado, where he was a standout running back for the Buffaloes. He won a Heisman Trophy during his collegiate career, rushing for 2055 yards and 24 touchdowns as he fended off Steve McNair and Kerry Collins for the prestigious award.

After being drafted by the Bears, Salaam had an excellent rookie season, rushing for 1074 yards and 10 touchdowns in his first season in Chicago. Unfortunately, injuries and drug-related issues dogged him through the rest of his NFL career, as he played three more seasons with the Bears and then never played in the NFL again.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chris Sale Traded to Red Sox in Blockbuster Deal]]> Tue, 06 Dec 2016 15:02:16 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/chris+sale4.png

The Chicago White Sox have made the first big splash of baseball's offseason, as they've sent pitcher Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox in a blockbuster trade.

The deal, first reported by MLB Network's Ken Rosenthal and confirmed by USA Today's Bob Nightengale, signals the start of a rebuilding process for the White Sox and will give them some excellent prospects for the future.

"We cannot thank Chris enough for all he has done and what he has meant for the White Sox organization since we drafted him in 2010," White Sox G.M. Rick Hahn said in a statement. "We certainly wish he and his family all the best."

The White Sox will receive top Red Sox prospect Yoan Moncada in the trade, along with three other players. The White Sox will also receive pitchers Michael Kopech and Victor Diaz from the Red Sox, and outfielder Luis Basabe is part of the package as well.

"When you trade a player of Chris Sale's aability, it can only be because we were motivated by an impactful return of young talent, and we have more than accomplished that," Hahn said. "We believe each of these players can be part of a quality core of future championship-caliber White Sox teams."

Moncada, ranked as the number three prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America, is a five-tool player that has had scouts drooling for years. In two minor league seasons, the versatile player has 23 home runs, 100 RBI, and 94 stolen bases, immediately giving the White Sox a solid center field option that can hit for power and steal bases.

Kopech is a hard-throwing right-handed pitcher who was clocked at 105 MPH earlier this year. In his three seasons of minor league ball, Kopech has a 2.61 ERA and has struck out 11.5 hitters per nine innings.

Diaz is a lower-tier prospect who struggled at the single-A level last season, with a 3.88 ERA and a 2-5 record in 37 appearances. Basabe has had a solid career at single-A, with 12 home runs and 53 RBI in 474 plate appearances last season.

<![CDATA[Baez to Represent Puerto Rico in World Baseball Classic]]> Mon, 05 Dec 2016 16:54:28 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-618079840.png

During the World Series, Chicago Cubs infielder Javier Baez and Cleveland Indians infielder Francisco Lindor were on opposite sides of one of the most exciting series ever played, but next March, the two friends will unite behind a common goal.

According to Major League Baseball, Baez and Lindor, former high school rivals, will both represent Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic, which will be contested in four different countries beginning on Mar. 6. The tournament, held every four years, features teams from 16 different nations.

Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa will also play for Puerto Rico in the tournament as they look to get back to the championship round after losing in the title game to the Dominican Republic in the 2013 edition.

Several other Cubs players are expected to participate in the tournament, including first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who will likely represent Team Italy, and Kris Bryant, who is expected to represent the United States in the event.

The tournament takes place during MLB spring training, and concludes with the finals at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Official Cubs World Series Movie Available for Purchase]]> Tue, 06 Dec 2016 16:26:07 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/cubs+world+series+movie+both+125.png

With snow on the ground and cold temperatures in the forecast, Chicago Cubs fans could certainly use a dose of summer right now, and now they’ll be able to get a spiritual pick-me-up.

That’s because the official MLB video of the Cubs’ 2016 World Series championship run went on sale Tuesday morning. The film, which is available on DVD and Blu-Ray, features all of the behind-the-scenes footage you can handle from the 2016 Fall Classic, where the Cubs erased a 3-1 series deficit and beat the Cleveland Indians in seven games to clinch their first title in 108 years.

The film is narrated by long-time Cubs fan and Hollywood icon Vince Vaughn, and it features all of the moments that defined not just the Cubs’ 2016 playoff run, but their historic season as well. Created by production company Shout! Factory and Major League Baseball, the film is available in a 90-minute, two-disc format on Tuesday, or a whopping 20-hour, eight-disc "collector's edition" on Dec. 13.

From Miguel Montero’s NLCS grand slam to the rain delay that seemed to be just the kind of divine intervention that the Cubs needed in Game 7, the team’s journey is recounted in amazing detail that will fill fans with awesome memories of one of the most momentous sporting achievements in history.

The movie is available for pre-order on Shout! Factory's website, where the two-disc DVD/digital set retails for $20.99 (or $27.99 with Blu-Ray), and the collector's edition is listed at $63.97 for Blu-Ray and $47.99 for DVD. 

Following their respective release dates, both versions of the film will be available at retailers across the Chicago area.

Photo Credit: Shout! Factory]]>
<![CDATA[Report Reveals Reason for Rajon Rondo Suspension]]> Mon, 05 Dec 2016 17:01:56 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Rajon+Rondo+Suspended.jpg

Chicago Bulls point guard Rajon Rondo will miss Monday’s game after being suspended by the team for "conduct detrimental to the team," and we now have a clue as to why he was hit with the ban.

According to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, Rondo was suspended after getting into a “heated argument” with an assistant coach during the Bulls’ loss to the Dallas Mavericks. The coach and Rondo apparently resolved the issue, but the Bulls still felt it was appropriate to discipline Rondo:

“Coach Fred Hoiberg would not go into details of that suspension, but a source said that Rondo got into a 'heated argument with an [assistant] coach, and wouldn’t let it rest.' The confrontation happened Saturday, during what was an awful performance in Dallas by both the team and Rondo, and once calmer heads prevailed, both Rondo and the assistant 'were over it,' the source said.”

Rondo will be replaced in the starting lineup by Jerian Grant as the Bulls look to bounce back after their blowout defeat in Dallas.

Rondo is averaging 8.2 points and 7.2 assists per game during the regular season, so his absence will certainly be felt. Tip time against the Blazers is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Kevin C. Cox / Staff]]>
<![CDATA[Cubs' Season Ticket Prices Set to Skyrocket in 2017]]> Mon, 05 Dec 2016 15:42:16 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-619364484.jpg

The Chicago Cubs won their first World Series title in 108 years in 2016, and as a result fans with season tickets are going to have to open their wallets a lot wider next year.

The Cubs announced Monday that the average season ticket price will climb by a staggering 19.5 percent next season. The ticket price increases will be especially high for club box infield seats, which will go up by 31 percent.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the most expensive premium seat in the ballpark will cost $409, with the home opener and games against the New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals getting the "diamond" designation on the team's ticket plan.

Colin Faulkner, the Cubs senior VP of sales and partnerships, issued a statement detailing the team's reasoning behind the significant increases.

"Trying to capture that demand and continue the progress on the field, and (with) our mission to field a consistently competitive team, no surprise, we'll be increasing season ticket prices," he said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Winter Meetings Preview: 5 Players the White Sox Could Trade]]> Mon, 05 Dec 2016 13:29:16 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-531295948.png

The Chicago White Sox are a team in search of a path forward after yet another disappointing season in 2016, and as baseball’s Winter Meetings get underway in Washington, D.C., most of the focus seems to be on what they can do to get better not just for 2017, but for many seasons to come.

With that in mind, the team is listening to offers on any number of players, including some of the most talented players on their big league roster. That group includes ace pitcher Chris Sale, who could command one of the biggest trade hauls in recent memory if the White Sox end up deciding to trade him.

So which players could be sent packing from 35th and Shields after this week? Here's a look at five potential candidates that could be among those the White Sox trade in a quest to replenish their farm system and prepare for a brighter future.

Jose Abreu

It surprised no one when Abreu opted out of the final three years of his contract with the White Sox, giving him the right to go into arbitration for a higher payday in the process. The Sox could conceivably sign him to a long-term deal and keep him around, but going into a season where he will turn 30 years old, there is also a case to be made that trading him could net them a good haul of prospects.

After all, Abreu is a power hitting first baseman in a league where that is one of the requirements to be a successful organization, and while not a lot of contenders are looking for that player on their roster, a team trying to jump into that contender echelon could look at Abreu as a good starting point.

Adam Eaton

While Eaton is under team control on a very friendly contract for the next five years (three years of full control, and two years of options), his name has been floated by some baseball insiders as one that the White Sox could conceivably move if they get a mind-blowing offer for him.

Even with that being said, it may just make more sense for the Sox to hold onto him at this point. He was a Gold Glove nominee in right field and is a top of the order threat in a sport where that type of player is becoming more and more difficult to find, and with a good amount of time left on his contract, he could be around when the White Sox are contenders again.

Todd Frazier

Frazier is under team control for one more season, and if a team is looking at a win-now situation and needs a corner infielder, then Frazier could be an excellent candidate to trade for.

One team that could consider making a run at Frazier would be the Los Angeles Dodgers, as they’re currently trying to re-sign free agent third baseman Justin Turner. If they are unable to come to terms on a deal with him, a one-year pact with Frazier could be an excellent alternative, as the team is going to look to shed salary before they go into an absolutely hellacious luxury tax situation following the 2017 season.

David Robertson

The market for closers this year is stacked with talent, as guys like Mark Melancon (who reportedly has agreed to a contract with the San Francisco Giants), Aroldis Chapman, and Kenley Jansen are all available as free agents.

With that kind of talent commanding insanely high price tags, there is certainly a good opportunity for a team to trade away a closer on a more reasonable contract, and although Robertson is due a total of $25 million in the next two seasons, his deal would actually qualify as “reasonable.” If Jansen and Chapman get snapped up at the meetings, players like Robertson and Kansas City’s Wade Davis could be very attractive options and net some nice returns for their respective teams.

Chris Sale

Here is the big one, and White Sox fans certainly have very strong opinions on whether or not the team should deal Sale. After all, there is only one other lefty pitcher in the game that can match Sale in terms of sheer dominance (Los Angeles’ Clayton Kershaw), and it’s almost impossible to find an ace pitcher of his quality and at his reasonable price tag.

Because of that, the White Sox are going to tread very carefully with Sale, and they will only trade him if they get a ridiculous amount of value back. If he gets traded to a place like Atlanta, he would only go if star shortstop Dansby Swanson was included in the package. If he gets traded to Boston, players like Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andre Benintendi would certainly have to be part of the mix.

There are plenty of other teams potentially involved, including the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros, but the White Sox are going to have to think long and hard about whether to trade Sale or not. Prospects don’t always pan out, and although they’ll certainly be able to demand a Major League player or two as part of any deal, getting back appropriate value for a player of his quality is going to be difficult.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rondo Suspended by Chicago Bulls for 'Detrimental' Conduct]]> Mon, 05 Dec 2016 10:56:32 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/rondo.png

Chicago Bulls guard Rajon Rondo has been suspended for one game for "conduct detrimental to the team," the Bulls announced Monday. 

The Bulls said Rondo will serve the one-game suspension Monday night as Chicago hosts the Portland Trail Blazers.

Rondo was signed to the team this summer in a deal that reportedly will pay him $28 million over the two-year contract.

The deal included a “mutual buyout” option before the second year, according to reports.

Rondo, who spent the first nine seasons of his career with the Boston Celtics, played the 2015-16 season with the Sacramento Kings.

He averaged 11.9 points and 11.7 assists per game with the Kings, and although he often clashed with management, he still had one of the most productive seasons of his career.

Check back for more on this developing story.

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<![CDATA[Thursday Night Football Preview: Chiefs vs. Raiders]]> Mon, 05 Dec 2016 16:34:56 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-617476462-chiefs-raiders-oct-2016.jpg

Derek Carr has emerged as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL this year. Now he’s got a chance to lead his team to a major win.

First place and an inside track to the AFC West title are on the line when Oakland (10-2) visits Kansas City (9-3) on Thursday Night Football, at 8 p.m. on NBC.

Oakland will be in the hunt for its seventh straight win after roaring back late to blow by Buffalo, while the Chiefs are coming off a more dramatic win.

Do-everything star Eric Berry returned an interception of a 2-point conversion attempt back for the go-ahead points in the fourth quarter of a 29-28 win at Atlanta.

Kansas City’s Alex Smith mostly enjoyed a pressure-free day against the Falcons, something he’s not likely to repeat against Oakland’s Khalil Mack.

In the teams’ first meeting this year, the Raiders were held scoreless after halftime and Carr had a forgettable day in a season to remember.

Through 12 games, he’s thrown for 24 touchdowns and over 3,000 yards. But quarterbacks, fairly or not, aren’t judged just by stats.

On Thursday night, Carr can add to his resume by leading his team to the brink of its first division title since 2002 — in his third season.

Four to Watch

Oakland WR Michael Crabtree: Amari Cooper is the leader in yards receiving, but Crabtree has more touchdowns, and Carr threw to him 11 times in Sunday’s win.

Oakland DE Khalil Mack: Could be the best pass rusher in the NFL right now, but teams can usually ignore the Raiders’ other rushers.

Kansas City DB Eric Berry: Returned two interceptions for points on Sunday. One was for a touchdown, and the other came on a 2-point conversion attempt in the fourth quarter of a one-point win.

Kansas City TE Travis Kelce: Coming off a huge game in which he had eight catches for more 140 yards.

Photo Credit: Brian Bahr, Getty Images (File)]]>
<![CDATA[Snow Joke: Bears, 49ers Make History with Bad First Quarter]]> Sun, 04 Dec 2016 14:28:12 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-627686318.png

Take a game between two teams with a combined three wins on the season, add a healthy helping of snow, and you get some NFL history as the Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers set a mark for futility in their game on Sunday.

In the first quarter of the game, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and Bears quarterback Matt Barkley combined to attempt three passes, none of which were completed.

According to the good folks at Elias Sports, the game's dismal beginning marks the first time both teams have combined for zero completions in an NFL contest since the 1988 season, when the New York Jets and New England Patriots accomplished the feat during their November match. 

This time, the Bears and 49ers completed zero passes combined for the first 22:30 of the game, until Colin Kaepernick finally found Vance McDonald for a four-yard completion. That completed pass was the only one made in the first 28 minutes of the game as the two teams dealt with snow and cold conditions.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bears Blowout 49ers 26-6]]> Sun, 04 Dec 2016 21:53:37 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-627685012.png

The Chicago Bears have been blown out on several occasions this season, but on Sunday the shoe was on the other foot as they defeated the San Francisco 49'ers 26-6 at Soldier Field.

After not completing a pass in the first 28 minutes of the game, Matt Barkley earned his first career NFL victory in convincing fashion, completing 11 passes for 192 yards. Jordan Howard had a monster game for the Bears, rushing for 117 yards and three touchdowns in the victory.

After a completely uneventful first quarter (aside from a history-making display of passing ineptitude by Colin Kaepernick and Matt Barkley), the 49'ers finally got a break in the second quarter. Shaun Draughn blocked a Pat O'Donnell punt near the goal line, and the Niners set up shop deep in Bears territory.

Fortunately for the Bears, their defense continued to play well even as their special teams let them down, and the 49'ers were forced to settle for a 31-yard Phil Dawson field goal to take a 3-0 lead with about seven minutes to go in the first half.

Deonte Thompson fumbled the ball away on the ensuing kick-off, giving the 49'ers another short field. Once again the Bears' defense played well when it needed to, and Dawson was called upon for a second straight field goal and a 6-0 lead for his team.

After the two-minute warning, the Bears' dormant offense suddenly came to life as Barkley completed three straight passes, including a long one to Cameron Meredith. After a pass interference penalty in the end zone, the Bears found paydirt as Jordan Howard punched the ball in from the one-yard line to give Chicago a 7-6 halftime lead.

The Bears' offense continued to find its sea legs in the early stages of the third quarter, and they extended their lead as a result. Barkley completed passes to Meredith and Josh Bellamy, and Howard finished the drive with his second rushing touchdown of the afternoon to extend Chicago's lead to 14-6.

Bellamy continued to make up for his drop a week ago as he hauled in two long catches on the Bears' next drive, and Howard naturally got to finish the drive off with another touchdown scamper as Chicago's lead ballooned out to 21-6.

The 49'ers pulled Kaepernick in the fourth quarter in favor of Blaine Gabbert, but nothing could slow down the Bears' aggressive attack. For good measure, Leonard Floyd sacked Gabbert late in the game for a safety, and the Bears cruised from their as they got their third win of the season.

The Bears will look to keep up their winning ways next week when they travel to Detroit to take on the NFC North-leading Detroit Lions at Ford Field.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Blackhawks Call Up Lars Johansson to Replace Corey Crawford]]> Sun, 04 Dec 2016 13:47:47 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-522507568.png

The Chicago Blackhawks had some options on how they wanted to set their roster after Corey Crawford underwent an appendectomy on Saturday, and on Sunday they have made their choices as Lars Johansson was recalled from Rockford.

Johansson, who has a 6-7-1 record with a 2.63 goals against average in 16 games this season, will be the back-up for Scott Darling during Crawford’s absence. He has never played in the NHL, and until this season was playing in the Swedish Hockey League.

To make room for Johansson on the roster, the Blackhawks needed to clear salary cap space, and to do that they sent Nick Schmaltz down to Rockford. The rookie forward has a goal and three assists in 26 games this season, and he’s looked tentative at times on the ice as he’s tried to adjust to the NHL game.

The Blackhawks could have placed Crawford on long-term injured reserve to create cap space, but that would have guaranteed that the netminder would have missed 10 games, and the team is only hoping that he’ll miss two to three weeks after undergoing surgery on Saturday.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Top Chicago Boxer Dies After West Side Shooting]]> Sun, 04 Dec 2016 19:24:34 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/ed+brown+123+2.png

A top prospect in the boxing ring and an inspiration around the world, Chicago's Ed Brown died Sunday after being shot on the city's West Side. 

Brown, 25, was sitting with his 19-year-old sister in a parked car in the 3200 block of West Warren Blvd in the East Garfield Park neighborhood early Saturday, according to police. Around 1:10 a.m., a silver vehicle pulled up and someone inside opened fire, authorities said.

Brown was shot in the head and taken to Mount Sinai Hospital in critical condition, according to police. His sister was shot in the leg and also taken to Mount Sinai, where she was in good condition, officials said.

His manager Michael Cericola confirmed Sunday that Brown died from his injuries.

"Tonight we mourn the loss of Chicago’s Favorite Son," Cericola said in a statement. "The boxing ring is one of the scariest places in the world but it’s nothing compared to the streets of Chicago. Ed’s life was filled with tragedy and he battled through it all long enough for all of us to be able to meet him."

"We are thankful for our time with him," he added. Cericola said Brown was heading home from the gym when he was shot.

"They just rolled up and opened fire on him," Cericola said.

Brown was hardly a stranger to gun violence in Chicago. In June, he told NBC 5 his story of surviving, and even striving for success, in a life filled with hardship.

When Brown was 11 years old, his mother was one of 21 people killed during the E2 nightclub stampede in 2003. About a year later, his father was sent to prison and his grandmother stepped in to care for him. Even so, Brown said he grew up in Garfield Park lacking guidance. 

"He was put into a boxing program to eat up some of his time but when he wasn't in the gym he was out looking for trouble," Cericola said in June.

"At first I was just doing this to do it," Brown told NBC 5 of his early boxing days, after his uncle introduced him to the sport at age 6. "Then I saw I was really good at it, so I wanted to get a world title." 

"It gave me confidence, a lot of confidence," he added. "Showed me I could actually be something."

But as Brown found success in the ring, he struggled in school, and got into trouble on the streets – even getting shot multiple times before the shooting that claimed his life. He was celebrating a victory in his first professional fight in 2012 when he was shot in the chest. 

He survived and focused on rehab, returning to the ring months later to win two more fights before being shot again, then serving a 10-month prison sentence. 

After being released from prison, Brown threw himself into his sport, signing with Las Vegas promoter Cameron Dunkin. One of boxing's most famous managers, Dunkin said in June that Brown could one day rank among the top five fighters in the world, adding "he's that good."

Brown's fourth-ever professional match in May 2015 was the first of 13 fights that year alone - all of which he won. 

"I'm tired of going up the same path and doing the same thing, getting shot, going to jail. I want to do something different," Brown told NBC 5 in June. 

"I feel like I'm doing something good. I'm on the right path," he added. 

Brown's most recent fight in November brought him to a 20-0 record with 16 KOs, putting him on track to one day achieving his world championship goals. 

"If I get a world title, it'd be crazy," he said in June. "A young kid from Chicago with a WBC belt around his waist? It'd be wild."

"I got my chance now, so I gotta do what I can do," he told NBC 5. "I might be on TV, might be a big superstar from Chicago. It's my dream come true."

A dream that his teammates and mentors were helping him attain before he died.

"He brings everyone together. He's just... I don't know. I'm just holding it in right now," teammate Ray Corona said Saturday after visiting Brown at the hospital. 

Now, the Chicago boxing community is left to mourn their loss, and his family's, as Brown leaves behind a 3-year-old daughter.

No one is in custody for the shooting, according to police, who continue to investigate.

Photo Credit: WMAQ
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<![CDATA[Blackhawks Update on Crawford After Emergency Appendectomy]]> Sat, 03 Dec 2016 15:19:56 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-619017298.png

The Chicago Blackhawks had an unpleasant surprise Saturday as Corey Crawford had to undergo an appendectomy, and head coach Joel Quenneville provided an update on the goaltender's condition after their game against Philadelphia.

In his postgame remarks, Quenneville said that the surgery went according to plan, but it will knock out the goaltender for two to three weeks of action.

To compensate for Crawford's absence, the Blackhawks are expected to call up goaltender Lars Johansson from Rockford. In 16 games with the IceHogs this season, Johansson has a 2.63 goals against average, a .911 save percentage, and a 6-7-1 record in AHL action. 

Scott Darling will get the bulk of the starts for the Blackhawks in Crawford's absence, with the team's next four games all scheduled for home ice.

The Blackhawks could potentially place Crawford on long-term injured reserve to save salary cap space, but that move would mean that he'd have to miss a minimum of 10 games. If that is the decision reached by the team, he could return to the lineup no earlier than Dec. 27 against the Winnipeg Jets, which would fall just outside of the three-week timeframe.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Blackhawks Sign Eric Semborski as Back-Up Goaltender]]> Sat, 03 Dec 2016 13:08:57 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/eric+semborski+.png

It's the stuff of any sports fan's dreams. A player goes down on the field, the coach surveys the crowd and points at you, yes you, to come down and finish the game for the desperate team.

While that far-fetched scenario can't and won't happen in most sports, it does happen occasionally in hockey, and that's exactly what the Chicago Blackhawks have done on Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia.

With the team set to take on the Flyers, the Blackhawks suddenly found themselves without a back-up goalie as Corey Crawford was scratched following news of his acute appendicitis. Scott Darling will get the start in net, but the team had to sign an emergency back-up goalie, and that man is 23-year old Eric Semborski.

If you haven't heard of Semborski, you're not alone. He's never played a single minute of NHL action, and he's never played at any level of hockey above club hockey at Temple University.

Despite that lack of NHL experience, he was on the ice wearing a red Blackhawks jersey during warm-ups, and if Darling struggles or gets injured against the Flyers, Semborski will suddenly be an NHL goaltender.

Because teams only carry two goaltenders on their roster, they are allowed to sign goaltenders to contracts on an emergency basis should the need arise, and that's exactly what happened for the Hawks Saturday.

Semborski, who currently works for a Flyers clinic that teaches hockey to young children in the Philadelphia area, was the lucky guy, and surely plenty of fans will want to see him actually get some action.

Photo Credit: Twitter/@NHLBlackhawks
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<![CDATA[Corey Crawford Undergoes Appendectomy]]> Sat, 03 Dec 2016 15:51:45 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-620163066.png

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford was all set to play for the team Saturday afternoon against the Philadelphia Flyers, but when he'll take the ice again is now in question after he was diagnosed with appendicitis. 

"Corey presented this morning with acute appendicitis," Blackhawks head team physician Dr. Michael Terry said in a statement.

"He is undergoing an appendectomy today at a Philadelphia hospital. We are anticipating a full recovery and return to play," Terry added. 

The diagnosis means that Crawford will be out for an undetermined period of time after the procedure, according to the Blackhawks, who will provide more details of the timeline for his return when they "have more information about the surgery."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Photo: LeBron James Pays Off Cubs World Series Bet]]> Sat, 03 Dec 2016 10:50:04 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/lebron+james9.jpg

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James made a bet on the outcome of the World Series with Chicago Bulls guard Dwyane Wade, and on Friday he paid the piper after the Chicago Cubs won the championship.

As part of the bet, James had to come to the United Center for the Cavaliers' game against the Bulls wearing a full Cubs uniform, and on Friday afternoon we got a picture of the star player fulfilling his end of the bargain:

Wade had earlier challenged his former Miami Heat teammate, proposing that the loser would have to dress in the winning baseball team's uniform for the next Bulls-Cavaliers game.

The Cubs ended up beating the Cleveland Indians in the World Series, thus making Wade the winner over his former teammate in the friendly wager.

The Bulls emerged winners again on Friday night, beating the Cavaliers 111-105

Photo Credit: Mike Berman
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<![CDATA[Soccer Players Who Missed Doomed Flight Cope With Loss]]> Fri, 02 Dec 2016 07:23:06 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/soccer-plane-crash.jpg

As the recovered bodies of Brazil's Chapecoense soccer team begin to be returned to families Friday, the players who did not travel on the team's ill-fated flight are left mourning their teammates, NBC News reported.

"I still have the chance to hug and kiss my children, but my teammates can't do that anymore," said Chapecoense defender Demerson Costa.

The crash killed 71 people, including 19 people from the soccer team. The pilot reportedly told a Colombian air traffic controller he had run out of fuel just moments before the plane crashed into the Andes Mountains.

One player, Matheus Saroli, didn't board the flight because he forgot his passport. He lost his father, coach Caio Junior, who was on board.

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Jon Lester Has Hilarious Reaction to New CBA]]> Thu, 01 Dec 2016 14:34:26 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Lester.png

On Wednesday night, Major League Baseball and its Players Association agreed on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, and while it ensures that there won’t be a work stoppage, some players didn’t get everything that they wanted with the deal.

One of those players is Chicago Cubs pitcher Jon Lester, who is still reveling in the team’s victory in the World Series last month. While he’s plenty happy that there won’t be a lockout in the baseball world, there is one thing that he wished would have been part of the agreement:

If there was one thing that Cubs fans got tired of hearing about during the postseason (aside from the team’s championship drought), it was Lester’s inability to throw to first base. He has devised ways to get around it, including quick pitches and pick-off throws from the plate, but commentators and analysts continually harped on the throwing issue even as the Cubs won a championship.

The new CBA in baseball ensures labor peace through at least 2022, meaning that it will have been nearly 30 years since the last work stoppage that the sport endured back in 1994. The five-year pact will take effect immediately after the two sides agreed to a deal on Wednesday night to avoid a potential lockout.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Jay Cutler to Undergo Shoulder Surgery Over Weekend]]> Thu, 01 Dec 2016 13:48:58 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-624669094.png

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is dealing with a serious shoulder problem, and John Fox revealed just how serious the issue is on Thursday afternoon.

According to Fox, Cutler will undergo shoulder surgery on Saturday, and as a result he will be placed on season-ending injured reserve.

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Cutler suffered a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder during a loss to the New York Giants two weeks ago. Originally Fox said that the injury wasn't anticipated to be season-ending, but after trying various rehab methods, the team has decided to go with surgery to repair the injury.

With the surgery, there are fresh questions about whether it's the end of the road for Cutler in Chicago. The quarterback's contract becomes a lot easier to dump from the payroll after this season, and after eight seasons and only one playoff win, it's entirely possible that the team could decide to go in a different direction in the future.

For now, Matt Barkley will continue to be the starter for the team, and David Fales will remain the back-up for the final five games of the season.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[LeBron James Is Sports Illustrated's Sportsperson of Year]]> Thu, 01 Dec 2016 12:23:53 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/kingjamesja.jpg

LeBron James delivered on a promise and ended decades of Cleveland sports misery in 2016.

For leading the Cavaliers to an NBA title and ending the city's 52-year title drought, James was chosen as Sports Illustrated's Sportsperson of the Year on Thursday, joining Tiger Woods as the award's only two-time winners since its inception in 1954.

"I'm honored," James said following shootaround before the Cavs hosted the Los Angeles Clippers. "I'm more happy for my family, my kids, for my wife, my mom, and for my foundation, for the kids that I represent and the kids that use me as a role model and an inspiration."

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Appearing in his sixth straight NBA Finals in June, James rallied the Cavs from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the favored Golden State Warriors, who won 73 games during the regular season but couldn't put Cleveland away. James scored 41 points in Games 5 and 6 and made a key block in the final minutes of an epic Game 7, making the Cavs the first Cleveland major sports franchise to win a title since the Browns in 1964.

James was selected finals MVP for the third time in his career.

The 31-year-old James returned to Cleveland as a free agent in 2014 and pledged to bring a title to his home state. He did it in his second season, an achievement that ranks as the greatest accomplishment of his career.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Taking the Plunge: Michael Phelps Looks to Dip Into Tech ]]> Thu, 01 Dec 2016 12:30:06 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/mikemikemike.jpg

Michael Phelps wants to dive into Silicon Valley's investment opportunities as he tries to make the transition from Olympic swimming star and product pitchman to entrepreneur.

"I would love to get involved, whether it's in a couple little startups here and there, take a little risk, have some fun and see where it goes," Phelps said in an interview during a recent visit to San Jose, California while appearing at an Intuit software conference.

For now, Phelps isn't providing any details about what he is going to do, though he says he has been getting advice from venture capitalists and other experienced investors in Silicon Valley startups.

Getting into tech investing would be a new direction for Phelps, whose business experience to date consists mostly of his own line of swimwear and endorsement deals with the likes of Under Armour, Visa and Wheaties.

These and other big brands have paid him an estimated $75 million during his career. That's far more than the $1.65 million that he received from the U.S. Olympic Committee and Speedo for winning a record 28 medals, including 23 golds, in five Olympics. He's still promoting products; he is currently doing commercials for computer chipmaker Intel in a campaign that began in October.

Whatever he does next, Phelps isn't ready to start his own investment fund, like retired Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant did earlier this year with entrepreneur Jeff Stibel. And if Phelps has ideas for founding a startup of his own, he's keeping them to himself.

Making the leap from pitchman to businessman won't be easy, said David Carter, executive director of the University of Southern California's Marshall Sports Business Institute. "Athletes come and go and many talk a big game, but they don't follow through," he said. Phelps "is really going to have commit to learning about business and demonstrate his seriousness about it."

Other celebrities have ventured into the tech industry in search of riches, with decidedly mixed results.

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Notable successes include rapper and record producer Dr. Dre, who was part of the founding team that sold Beats to Apple for $3 billion 2014. Actor Ashton Kutcher co-founded an investment fund in 2010 that made early investments in startups such as the ride-hailing service Uber, the home rental-service Airbnb and the music streaming service Spotify. The fund's value had soared to $250 million from $30 million, based on a review of its books earlier this year by Forbes magazine.

Among the flops: HJR Capital, a tech-investment firm that collapsed in 2009, a decade after former San Francisco 49er lineman Harris Barton founded it and later enticed ex-teammates Joe Montana and Ronnie Lott to join him. In Rhode Island, former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling started a video game company that went bankrupt in 2012.

Phelps is exploring ways to expand his business ventures beyond a line of swimwear and other clothing bearing his "MP" logo. Other products are in the pipeline for next year, though he won't say what. "I am getting my feet wet," Phelps said with a grin. "2017 will be a big year."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[All-Star Game No Longer Decides World Series Home-Field Edge]]> Thu, 01 Dec 2016 10:34:04 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/chris+sale3.png

If the Chicago Cubs or Chicago White Sox are able to make it to the World Series in 2017, whether or not they have home-field advantage in the Fall Classic will reportedly no longer be in another team’s hands.

According to the Associated Press, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement reached between MLB owners and the MLBPA on Wednesday night included a provision that the All-Star Game will no longer determine home-field advantage in the World Series.

That practice, which was adopted after the 2002 All-Star Game ended in a tie, will be replaced in 2017, as the team with the better record will get to host four of the seven games of the World Series.

For the Cubs, that rule change would have come in handy during the 2016 Fall Classic, as they didn’t get home field advantage despite winning nine more games than the Cleveland Indians. The American League team won the All-Star Game in San Diego, giving the home-field edge to the Indians.

According to the AP, the American League won home-field advantage in 11 of the 14 years that the All-Star Game decided the location of the Fall Classic, and they ended up winning the World Series in eight of those seasons.

<![CDATA[Jed Hoyer Discusses Dexter Fowler's Future With the Cubs]]> Wed, 30 Nov 2016 17:33:47 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-527173090.png

The Chicago Cubs made their first move of the offseason on Tuesday as they signed Jon Jay to a one-year contract, but there were two other stories that G.M. Jed Hoyer addressed on Wednesday afternoon.

In an interview with media members, Hoyer discussed several topics, including what the acquisition of Jay means for the Cubs, and whether or not it closes the door on outfielder Dexter Fowler re-signing with the team this offseason.

“We would never close the door on a reunion with Dexter,” Hoyer said. “He’s always welcome here. He’s a guy that’s going to live in Cubs lore for a long time. We would love to have him back, but we know how the business works, and that’s not something we’d necessarily count on.”

Reports have swirled that Fowler, now arguably the most talented outfielder on the free agent market, could potentially command $20 million per season, and that would almost certainly put him out of the Cubs’ price range as they aren’t looking to inflate their payroll much this offseason.

Aside from Fowler, another recent report was discussed by Hoyer, as the Cubs’ G.M. was asked about the Chicago White Sox reportedly saying that they would not trade ace pitcher Chris Sale to the North Side under any circumstances.

“I don’t think anything that’s been written is the least bit surprising,” he said. “I don’t expect a lot of deals done between the White Sox and the Cubs. I don’t think I’m saying anything surprising when I say that.”

The two teams have not made a trade in over a decade, and according to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the White Sox have already told the Cubs that they will not trade Sale to them no matter what deal is presented.

The Cubs have been on the lookout for young, cost-controlled pitching, and that quest could pick up steam this offseason. Jake Arrieta is going to be entering the final year of his contract in 2017, as is veteran hurler John Lackey. It’s unclear whether either player will be back in 2018, but with the farm system not exactly flush with talent on the mound, the Cubs are going to be on the lookout to add a player like Chris Archer or Gerrit Cole to the mix.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>