Twenty years later, my number one vision of the Chicago Bulls in the spring of 1996 is 20 limbs and an approximate 35-foot combined wingspan fanned out like a flying octagon — five players between 6’6 and 6’11, four with point guard skills, four who could defend three positions, and a genius on the sideline joining his players in synced consciousness.
Originally published on ChicagoSide, September 13, 2013
One of the coolest pieces of sports memorabilia I ever saw was at Bookman’s Alley, the great old used bookstore in Evanston. It was a poster made of cloth displaying the schedule for the 1927 Chicago Cardinals season, like the 1920’s version of a team schedule refrigerator magnet.
The year I turned 25, I started writing letters to my great-grandchildren. Every time an important event occurs, I write a letter that begins, “Greetings from the past.” Then I group them together by year. The letters will be delivered to my great-grandchildren on their corresponding birthdays. When they turn 25, they will get the letters I wrote when I was 25. When they turn 30, they will get the letters I wrote when I was 30. And so on.
The first two years were done on individual sheets of paper. After temporarily losing the 27-year-old letter, I started writing them in books. Collectively, I call them the Time Journal.
In 1972, his final season with the Black Hawks and his second-to-last season of professional hockey, winger Eric Nesterenko gave Studs Terkel one of the most honest and insightful quotes that any athlete has ever committed to the annals of history:
“The whole object of a pro game is to win,” Nesterenko said. “That is what we sell. We sell it to a lot of people who don’t win at all in their regular lives.”
Tonight, the Blackhawks open the Stanley Cup Finals in Tampa with a chance to bag their third championship in six seasons. Prior to that, the franchise had gone 49 years without a championship. Nesterenko was a part of that team.
When we last spoke, back in April of 2010, filmmaker Alex Beh had recently released Babe, his fourth short film. In the intervening five years he has directed three more shorts, directed several music videos, starred in commercials for Bud Light and Burger King and has now released Warren, his feature film debut.
The movie stars Beh as the title character, a Chicago man drifting through his late 20s while his parents (John Heard & Jean Smart) get divorced and his ex-girlfriend (Sarah Habel) turns up back in town with a fiancé. Beh is the lead but dishes out plenty of screen time for his co-stars, with particularly strong performances from the veterans Heard & Smart. Let me be the first to say that Heard — whose credits include Home Alone, After Hours, Big and The Sopranos — gives one of the best performances his career as Warren’s hard-drinking, love-lorn, soon-to-be-divorced father.
“My goodness,” I thought after reading a quote on Boston sportswriter Tom Curran’s twitter feed attributed to Denver Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib. “Did he really say that?”
The quote was simple in its brilliance: “People that dry-hump stats to make a point probably prefer reading sheet music to hearing the song.”
I’d found my way to Curran when Neil the Boston Fan said hello on twitter, sparking a conversation about sportswriting, and which Boston sportswriters tickle Neil’s fancy. He mentioned Curran, and then that Talib quote, perfect in its construction.