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Some games, it seems Ryan Arcidiacono spends as much time on the floor as the mops that ballboys use to sweep up sweat.

Some of his pursuits for loose balls are physical. They look painful. Not that Arcidiacono ever would let on if they were.

“I got a football background. I try to be mentally and physically tough and do whatever it takes to help our team win,” Arcidiacono said. “I don’t want anyone to see when I’m hurting. I think it’s a mindset that my teammates see in me and my opponents see, as well. If they [see] me sluggish, they’ll try to capitalize on that. I try to be mentally tougher and not let them pounce on anything.”

Does anyone wonder why coach Jim Boylen trusts this guy?

Now, whether Arcidiacono landing in the closing rotation for three straight games over players projected to be ahead of him in the rotation is good for the rebuild is a story for another day. (Spoiler alert: It’s probably not.) This story is about a player who moved from a two-way contract, to a non-guaranteed contract, to a guaranteed contract and now an unexpected rotation spot.

“Arch is helluva basketball player,” coach Jim Boylen said. “He’s a smart kid. He’s a tough kid.”

Arcidiacono’s pursuits of loose balls sometimes lead to comical results. In Monday’s loss to the Bucks, he and fellow Villanova product Donte DiVincenzo chased two on one possession.

“The first one, we dove together,” Arcidiacono said. “And then there was one by the bench, and I told him at the free throw line, ‘I wasn’t diving for that one.’ He said, ‘Yeah, neither was I.’

“That first one was good. It reminded me old practices back at Villanova. Donte is such a great athlete and freak competitor.”

Arcidiacono also tied up Giannis Antetokounmpo twice, leading to separate jump ball situations. The 6-foot-11 Antetokounmpo won both, obviously, and offered something of a back-handed compliement of the 6-foot-3 Arcidiacono, saying, “he’s the only one from the Bulls that’s going diving for the balls on the floor.”

In a savvy move, Arcidiacono actually tried to pawn the jump ball duties off to a taller teammate. It didn’t work.

“I knew I wasn’t going to win. There aren’t many people I’d win against,” Arcidiacono said. “But I’m still going to be competitive, get on the floor.”

Arcidiacono is shooting 50 percent from 3-point range, leading the Bulls in charges taken and averaging 2.1 assists to just 0.5 turnovers. A costly one in the fourth quarter still irked Arcidiacono well after the fact.

“I’m kicking myself,” he said. “I can’t make those plays.”

Through 14 games, the Bulls have been outscored by a staggering 46 points in the fourth quarter. That’s a big reason why they’re 4-10. And it’s also why Arcidiacono is getting this opportunity. Boylen trusts him.

“Competing, making shots, making good deep-drive decisions, taking charges, diving on loose balls, playing winning basketball,” Boylen said when asked why he’s closing with Arcidiacono. “He makes other people better. We need more of that. And he does it.”

Whether he continues to get the opportunity to make plays — positive and otherwise — in the fourth quarter remains to be seen. Whatever happens, Arcidiacono knows his role and takes the right approach.

“I’ve been trying to knock down shots, get the ball moving and make the simple, solid play[s]. I think our team benefits from that,” he said. “Finding Coby [White] in transition and getting him going a little bit helps us. I try to do all the little things — get on the floor, make those little possessions count.

“I’ll play my heart out for this team and this city and do what’s best for the Bulls. If [Boylen] tells me to play, I’ll play. If he wants me to be on the bench, I’ll cheer on my teammates as best I can.”

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PORTLAND, Ore. — Carmelo Anthony can’t recall another a 10-block game like Trail Blazers teammate Hassan Whiteside had against the Bulls.

Anthony had 23 points and 11 rebounds and the Blazers downed Chicago 107-103 on Friday night for their second victory over the Bulls this week. But Whiteside stole the show with eight points, 15 rebounds and a franchise-record 10 blocks for Portland. It was most in the NBA this season.

“Never seen that before, and I’ve played with some great shot blockers,” Anthony said. “Tyson Chandler was a great shot blocker, Marcus Camby was a great shot blocker. I’ve never seen a guy with 10 blocks in a game.”

Damian Lillard added 28 points, including 10 in the final quarter, for the Blazers, who have won three straight after four consecutive losses.

The Blazers led by as many as 12 points in the third quarter, but the Bulls pulled within 85-84 in the final period. CJ McCollum stalled the rally with a 3-pointer for Portland.

Anthony’s 3 made it 91-84 with 7:28 left and he held up three fingers for the cheering Moda Center crowd as the Bulls called a timeout.

Lauri Markkanen’s 3 closed the gap for Chicago to 93-92. Lillard answered with his own 3 to again hold off the Bulls. After Zach LaVine’s corner 3 with 31.7 seconds left narrowed it to 105-103, Whiteside tipped in Lillard’s shot for the win.
Enlarge Image
Carmelo Anthony, who scored 23 points, goes up for a shot during the Trail Blazers’ 107-103 win over the Bulls on Friday night.
Carmelo Anthony, who scored 23 points, goes up for a shot during the Trail Blazers’ 107-103 win over the Bulls on Friday night.NBAE via Getty Images

“I told the guys, I’m insurance now. When they go up for a layup, I’m going to be there. I might not get them all, I know a lot of people want me to get every single one, but I’m going to do my best job to get a lot of them,” Whiteside said about his blocks.

LaVine finished with 28 for the slumping Bulls, who have lost seven of their last nine games.

This was a frustrating one, very winnable,” LaVine said. “We were battling. Dame did what he did in the fourth quarter, turned it up to another level.”

The Blazers have been boosted by the recent signing of Anthony, who scored 25 points in Portland’s 117-94 victory over the Bulls in Chicago on Monday.

The Blazers acquired the 10-time All-Star to shore up the frontcourt and help the team overcome a slow start after going to the Western Conference finals last season. The deal was official Nov. 19.

Between the two games against the Bulls, the Blazers defeated Oklahoma City 136-119 on Wednesday night.

The Bulls fell to the injury-addled Golden State Warriors 104-90 on Wednesday at the new Chase Center to open a three-game road trip.

Tomas Satoransky was a game-time decision for the Bulls with a left toe bruise, but started. Ryan Arcidiacono, who has been slowed by a right elbow strain, also played.

Coby White’s layup put the Bulls up 28-22 near the end of the first quarter but neither team was able to reach a double-digit margin in the first half. Lillard’s layup gave Portland a 49-43 lead late in the opening half and the Blazers went into the break ahead 53-47.

LaVine led all scorers with 18 points at the half, but four of the Blazers starters were in double figures, including Anthony.

Whiteside had collected seven blocks by early in the third quarter, but he also picked up four personal fouls.

The Bulls pulled within 57-56 on Satoransky’s 3-pointer, but Lillard came back with a 3 for Portland. The Blazers went up 72-60 midway through the third quarter on McCollum’s 3-pointer as they appeared to pull away.

But White’s 3-pointer narrowed the gap to 79-76 and the Bulls rallied to within three points heading into the fourth quarter.

“This loss hurts, this is a painful loss, every loss these guys take hurts,” Bulls coach Jim Boylen said. “This was a hard-fought game, give them credit.”

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The Golden State Warriors are on pace to have one of the biggest single-season win declines in NBA history

The Golden State Warriors are in the midst of a historically bad season. After a loss to the Orlando Magic Sunday night, the Warriors are no 4-17. That’s good enough for the worst record in the NBA through the first quarter of the 2019-20 NBA season.

For one of the greatest teams in NBA history, who were coming off a 57-win season and a loss in their fifth-straight trip to the NBA Finals, the drop off is stunning.

Even after they lost Kevin Durant to free agency and Klay Thompson to injury, many pundits still felt the Warriors would be a playoff team. They still had Stephen Curry, they still had Draymond Green, and they added D’Angelo Russell. Of course, it all went south when Curry broke his hand early on and the tank was on.
More from Sir Charles In Charge

San Antonio Spurs: Big changes are needed to salvage the season
New York Knicks: It’s unlikely David Fizdale will survive the season
The Houston Rockets are the bad good team, which isn’t ideal
Miami Heat: Tyler Herro has been fantastic so far in rookie season
The Detroit Pistons are dangerously toeing the line of NBA purgatory

So now, the greatest team of the past decade is in danger of going into the history books as the owners of one of the worst single-season win declines in NBA history.

The Ringer recently detailed in an article, the worst one season drop-off in NBA history occurred in 1998-99 when the Chicago Bulls went from 62 wins and a championship the year before to a measly 13 wins. It was a 49-win decline. The reasons are pretty obvious. Michael Jordan (semi) retired, Scottie Pippen went to the Rockets, and the Bulls were left with a team led by Toni Kukoc.

It began six seasons of futility where they never won more than 30 games. The next six years were marred by a series of bad draft picks and personnel moves. In 1999, the Bulls made a good pick in selecting Elton Brand with No. 1 pick but then they traded him after two years to the Clippers for Tyson Chandler and Brian Skinner. They also took Ron Artest in the first round, who they shipped out to the Pacers after two and a half years in a trade that brought back Jalen Rose.

Then in the next four drafts, they took Marcus Fizer (what?), Eddy Curry (meh), Jay Williams (unfortunate), and Kirk Heinrich (huh!). They finally made a good pick in 2004 taking Ben Gordon and their fortunes started to change as they made the playoffs that next year for the first time since Jordan left.

The next longest decline happened in 2010-11 when the Cleveland Cavaliers went from 61 wins the year before to 19 wins – a 42-win decline. That, of course, was precipitated by the loss of LeBron James, who took his talents to South Beach. It was the beginning of a long stretch of futility that was only broken by the Return of the King in 2014-15. Although they did draft Kyrie Irving with the No. 1 pick in 2011 and he was a cornerstone of the 2016 championship team.

The third-largest decline occurred in 1996-97 when the San Antonio Spurs won just 20 games – 39 fewer games than they did the year before. This was the Tim Duncan year when the Spurs tanked to get the prize of the 1997 Draft, Tim Duncan. (Spoiler alert: they got him.)

The year before, the Spurs won 59 games led by all-NBA first teamer David Robinson and fellow all-star Sean Elliott. In 1996-97, Robinson played in only 6 games due to foot and back injuries while Elliott only played in 39 games due to injuries, Chuck Person also missed the entire year with injuries.

So, the Spurs were terrible, and the ping pong balls went their way, which means they got Duncan in the draft. They also brought back a healthy Robinson and Elliott and went from 20 wins to 56 in 1997-98. The following year they won their first of 5 championships as the Spurs dominated in the 2000s.

Which brings us to the Warriors. The Bulls record of a 49-win drop is probably safe, but the Warriors are on pace to win about 16 games. Considering they won 57 the year before, the drop would be around 41 games at this pace. That would be 3rd worst of all-time.
Next: NBA Monthly Roundup: 3 November takeaways and 3 December predictions

They’ll likely get a top 3 pick in the draft and add that player to a team that includes a healthy Curry, Thompson, Green, and Russell. That could make for a very good team next year and they could be in the position to draft the cornerstone of their next dynasty like the Spurs did.

Let the tanking begin.

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On the way to a 15-0 run to open the third quarter in Philadelphia on Wednesday, new Knicks starting center Taj Gibson became an offensive beast.

Known more as a defensive specialist, Gibson scored on three straight possessions — an 18-footer, a spinning, driving dunk past Joel Embiid and banging in a 3-pointer.

The 34-year-old Gibson has solidified the starting lineup by doing whatever is needed. His effect, however, on young center Mitchell Robinson may be more important when assessing his worth.

The Knicks are 3-4 since Gibson got the starting nod — 1-7 beforehand.

“He does give that starting lineup a sense of stability,’’ Knicks coach David Fizdale said. “He’s also been fantastic for Mitch. That relationship has been worthwhile.’’

After the Brooklynite signed a one-year, $10 million deal this summer, Gibson told The Post his main goal would be as a Mitchell mentor. He has lived up to every part of the agreement.

“I’m doing what the team needs and it’s needed now [starting], but it’s Mitch’s seat,’’ Gibson told The Post in Philly. “I’m just keeping it warm for him. I work out with him every day. Just trying to get him better every day. I’m doing what the team needs and being the veteran.”

At 6-foot-9, Gibson is a natural power forward, but saw spot duty at center in Chicago and Minnesota — both under Tom Thibodeau, his biggest fan.

“It’s a new game now,’’ Gibson said. “You got to be able to move your feet and guard multiple positions. I’m doing what the team needs me to do. It’s a new day and age.”

Gibson and Robinson, the Knicks’ 2018 second-round pick, have become Frick and Frack.
see also
Taj Gibson is home and wants to prove Knicks’ doubters wrong

“I work out with him every day,’’ Gibson said. “Me and him go on the court and work out together, shoot foul shots together. I’m just trying to get him better.

“He works hard. He listens to me and understands what he needs to work on. Every day we challenge each other. I try to make him understand the game and learn. Because right now he’s just so talented, he’s just playing off pure talent.”

Robinson has been productive — if foul-prone — when healthy. He’s missed four games with assorted injuries (two sprained ankles, two damaged fingers, a concussion).

Having Gibson teach him the nuances should help the shot-blocking/alley-ooping Robinson take another step this season after a Second Team All-Rookie campaign in 2018-19. Robinson has grown as an alley-oop specialist in recent games, with Marcus Morris finding him twice for dunks in crunch time Wednesday.

“Every day he learns and comes in with new dose of energy and his game develops every day we’re out there,’’ Gibson said. “He shocks me every day. He’s grown and understands the seriousness of the game now. He’s not just going out there playing.”

At some point this season, the pupil should replace the master as starting center, probably when the 21-year-old stops picking up silly fouls.

“That’s going to come,’’ Gibson said. “He understands the main thing is awareness. He watches film. He’s frustrated sometimes when he messes up. He understands we need him on the court and not fouling in the game.”
see also
Assessing the Knicks’ underwhelming signings so far

As a starter, Gibson is bringing a little of everything — rebounding on both ends, defensive grit and some scoring punch. The USC product is averaging 9.1 points and 6.1 rebounds in 19 minutes as a starter. As a bench player, he was at 2.8 points and 2.3 rebounds in 12 minutes. There were also two consecutive games when he did not play at all.

“He’s just solid,’’ Fizdale said. “This isn’t his first rodeo. He’s comfortable in all these roles. Whether you play him, don’t play him, start him, bring him off the bench. It doesn’t matter to him. He never gets messed in the head.”

“I just pay attention to detail,’’ Gibson said “Start the game off right, have the team moving in the right direction early in the game and set the pace. I just want a good start for the team and do my job.”

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There used to be a time when Black Wednesday meant I’d wake up with bar plans for the evening solidified. Maybe I’d be hitting a local dance club to groove to some New Order or doing kamikaze shots at a dive bar while watching whichever sporting event (usually college basketball) ESPN chose to air.

Tonight, I’ll be at home flipping through my Bill James Baseball Abstract while watching a Ken Burns Baseball marathon on Amazon Prime. If my 25-year-old self could have seen my 55-year-old self, he might have gone into a deep depression. But the truth is, baseball is the same passion for me today as nickel beers and dollar shots were when I used to hang out at Cagney’s Saloon in Oak Lawn and Erik the Red’s just off of 111th Street & Western Avenue back in the late 1980’s.

I’d get my hopes up for a transaction or two this long weekend, but we’re still in the extended speculative stage of the offseason, which means a lot of debate over potential moves that will probably never happen. Frankly I’m surprised that so many people have buyer’s remorse over Whit Merrifield even though the second baseman has yet to be acquired. A lot of the about-face on Merrifield comes from a Steamer projection that indicates he will be a 99 wRC+ player — that’s ever-so-slightly less than league average — in 2020.

So instead of gushing over the one guy who represents everything the Cubs need at the top of their lineup, Whit the Stick is now perceived as an aging middle infielder whose second-strongest skill set, speed, is about to be rendered useless. It’s no matter that Merrifield’s 20 stolen bases last season and projected 25 for this season would basically lap 2019 team leader Javier Báez. Steamer says he’s going to bust, so it must be true. Besides, Merrifield’s best attribute is his ability to make contact, a skill the Cubs are clearly lacking. Why would you not want a 3.3 oWAR player with an AAV of $4.06 million leading off for the Cubs for the next three years?

Coincidence or not, Addison Russell is projected to earn $5.1 million through arbitration if the Cubs tender him a contract next week. In the meantime, most Royals fans would like to see Kansas City keep their inexpensive All-Star.

If you look at Merrifield’s 2019 season, it looks almost exactly the same as the 2015 season of Ben Zobrist. The Cubs gave Zobrist, then 34, a four-year, $56 million contract. Merrifield is going to be 31 next year and the two players are excellent comps, so I’d say the regression fears are a little overstated. The most ridiculous thing I’ve read is that the Cubs would have Daniel Descalso 2.0 on their hands if they make this acquisition. I’m not sure how you compare a career bench player to a guy who had 206 hits last season, but that rationalization apparently exists.

True, the Royals’ alleged asking price appears to be exorbitant, but last I checked the Cubs are the only team heavily connected to the second baseman. I’d bet giving up one of Ian Happ or Nico Hoerner plus minor league pitcher Cory Abbott would get the deal done. I’d have no problem with that trade and most Cubs fans shouldn’t either. Frankly speaking, Happ, who isn’t even eligible for arbitration until next winter, should be enough to get a trade done, but Abbott is a decent enough kicker if that closes the deal.

In the meantime, let’s not get too worked up over a Steamer projection. Merrifield will probably be a 104-107 wRC+ player next year and is likely to produce 2020 stats that compare favorably with the just concluded season. He bats leadoff, makes great contact, and plays every day.

There are four cosmic phenomena that travel faster than the speed of light. You can add Cubs fans’ ability to switch from overdrive to reverse without hesitation to that list.

Cubs News & Notes

Báez and the Cubs front office are expected to discuss a long-term extension at the Winter Meetings in San Diego next month.
A poll of National League front office executives revealed that just under half believe Kris Bryant will be traded this winter.
Do the Cubs have a shot at signing free agent third baseman Anthony Rendon? Probably not, even if they do trade Bryant.
Need an offseason baseball fix? Jordan Bastian of MLB.com lists the Cubs’ top 5 wins of 2019, with plenty of video highlights.
New Scouting VP Dan Kantrovitz believes the Cubs job is the perfect one (subscription to The Athletic required).
Razzball recently profiled their top Cubs prospects, with outfielder Brennen Davis taking the No. 1 spot. Get excited about this kid, he’s going to be very, very good. Davis slashed .305/.381/.525 in the Midwest League, where he was 2.2 years younger than the average player.
If you weren’t already aware, Davis is the son of former Chicago Bulls guard Reggie Theus.
Kendall Graveman, whose option was declined earlier this offseason by the Cubs’ front office, agreed to terms with the Mariners on a one-year deal with a club option for the 2021 season, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
The Cubs’ Marquee Sports Network will rely on the expertise of WGN’s Bob Vorwald as a special adviser to general manager Michael McCarthy.

Tuesday Stove

The Rangers intend to aggressively pursue Rendon.

If Texas really wants to change its culture, signing a top free agent such as Rendon would accelerate that process.

Other than Mookie Betts, Francisco Lindor, or any member of the Cubs infield, here are 10 names that will probably be mentioned as trade candidates at the Winter Meetings starting December 8.

MLBTR offers a quick rundown of the offseason catching market, including trade candidate Willson Contreras.

The Phillies signed infielder Josh Harrison to a minor league deal.

The A’s may look to trade some of their more expensive players in an effort to slash payroll.

The Yankees are said to believe that Gerrit Cole will sign with the Angels.

The Pirates managerial search may be coming to a conclusion, as the front office, led by Ben Cherington, is said to have narrowed its field of potential hires to Derek Shelton of the Twins and Matt Quatraro of the Rays.

Extra Innings

Evan wrote about a dubious award given by Pitching Ninja Rob Friedman to Yu Darvish and Victor Caratini but the video is still fun to watch.

They Said It

“We’ve all learned over time that in this industry — it’s cliché — but you can’t be standing still even if you’re having some success.” – Dan Kantrovitz

Tuesday Walk Up Song

Heart of Mine by Norah Jones and the Peter Malick Group. Great cover of a song written by Bob Dylan.
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Luol Deng will be in attendance at the Chicago Bulls’ game against the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday. He recently inked a one-day contract to retire as a Bull. Per KC Johnson of NBCS Chicago, he’ll likely be honored by the organization.

Luol Deng will be in attendance at the Chicago Bulls’ game against the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday. He recently inked a one-day contract to retire as a Bull. Per KC Johnson of NBCS Chicago, he’ll likely be honored by the organization.

Deng announced his retirement in October after 15 years in the NBA. His journey started with the Bulls — a team where he spent nine and a half seasons with.

During his stint in Chicago, Deng was one of the focal points of the team. He was essential in the team’s playoff campaign in the mid-late 2000s as well as the 2010s. From an individual standpoint, Deng had his best years in the Windy City. He was selected into the All-Star team twice, was part of the NBA All-Defensive Second Team, and was part of the NBA All-Rookie Team.

When he left Chicago, Luol Deng seemingly fell out of the radar. He jumped from team to team, suffered several injuries, and when he did get a chance to play, he saw very limited action. Some fans even thought that he had retired.

So it’s definitely a class act by the Bulls to sign him for just one day. History hasn’t been nice to some players and the Chicago organization wants everyone to remember that once upon a time, Luol Deng was the face of the franchise and is now an important part of the organization’s rich history.

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Back in 1984, Tommy Edwards settled into his seat at the Biograph Theater to catch a movie with his wife when some ambient music started playing in the background.

“I told Mary Lou, ‘I know this song. It’s Sirius by the Alan Parsons Project,’” Edwards, a longtime disc jockey and radio programmer at WLS, said, referencing his wife. “The more I listened to it, I’m thinking, ‘Wait a minute. This could be the Bulls’ song.’”

The next day, Edwards bought the vinyl album, put it on his turntable at home and started practicing the Bulls’ starting lineup behind it.

“And because it has so many great parts to its intro—a new guitar part or crescendo—it worked great,” Edwards said. “The Bulls loved it immediately. Michael (Jordan) loved it. That’s been the opening lineup music ever since.”

The song actually has become a cultural phenomenon, played at weddings and bar mitzvahs and in sporting venues around the world. And it will last beyond Edwards, who will serve his last game as Bulls public address announcer Saturday against the Houston Rockets.

Edwards, whose innovations and broadcasting chops helped transform in-game sports entertainment, worked in the role from 1976-1981 and 1983-1990 at the old Chicago Stadium and again from 2006 to the present at the United Center. He missed the championship years as his successful radio career took him to Boston and Los Angeles, where he will retire to be with his three children and four grandchildren.

“Mary Lou and I have always wondered what it would be like to have the entire year to do the things we want to do—travel, be with family. The nine months of the basketball season kept us from doing that. Now we’re going to be able to go to birthday parties all the time and do all the things grandparents do more frequently,” Edwards said. “Leaving is going to be bittersweet. I’m looking forward to being in Los Angeles with the kids and family. But I’m going to miss doing games. It’s part of my DNA.”

One day, Edwards finished his disc jockey shift at WLS and a sales manager who had a friend who worked for the Bulls told him the franchise needed a public address announcer. Edwards, who grew up in Topeka, Kansas, watching Wilt Chamberlain play in college, was a huge basketball fan.

“I said, ‘Wait a minute. So they want to pay me to go to games?’” Edwards said. “I thought about it for about a second and then said, ‘OK, I’ll audition.’”

He got the job. Originally, the in-game entertainment merely consisted of Edwards on a microphone and organist Nancy Faust working her magic. But the Bulls recognized an opportunity to use Edwards’ musical knowledge and ability to dub music from his radio station to bring to the Stadium.

“When the game got very exciting, I would play a song called ‘Rock and Roll, Part 2’ by Gary Glitter,” Edwards said. “Opposing teams would call me and ask what song that was.”

When the Bulls drafted Jordan, marketing officials worked with Edwards to come up with something special for the potential star. They had already teamed to be the first in the league to turn off the lights for starting lineup introductions in 1977. At first, Edwards used Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” to introduce Jordan and the other starters. Some games, he’d experiment with the theme song from the hit TV show “Miami Vice.”

And then Edwards heard “Sirius,” the instrumental introduction to the song “Eye In The Sky.”

By this time, Edwards had begun using his “And now . . .” prelude to the starting lineup introductions. Per his then-young daughter’s request, he had permanently settled on using “the man in the middle” for the starting center intro after first trying the more simple “in the middle.”

One son served as a ballboy for nine years. His family grew up around the game. A big part of his life’s work has served as the soundtrack to many memorable sporting events.

“It’s been wonderful,” Edwards said. “I’ve had a great time.”

That includes great memories. Like the time then-announcer Johnny “Red” Kerr accidentally kicked a live wire underneath the scorer’s table, setting off the horn celebrating hockey goals just as Knicks’ Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing prepared to shoot free throws.

“Ewing looks over at us with fire in his eyes, like, ‘What are you doing?’ The officials did too,” Edwards said, laughing. “He bounced the ball to shoot again and it went off again. It looked like he was getting ready to come over to the table. The official jumped in front. He said, ‘What are you guys doing?’ We said, ‘We’re not doing anything!’ Meanwhile, the electrician is crawling under the table and finding the wire that Johnny Kerr is accidentally kicking.”

Or the time Darryl Dawkins, the dunker extraordinaire for the 76ers, got into a long conversation with Edwards and official scorer Bob Rosenberg about how much money his wife spent on a fur coat as he prepared to check into the game.

“Play stopped, the officials waved him on and he’s not paying attention. He’s talking to us,” Edwards said, laughing. “We’re saying, ‘Darryl, uh, you need to go in the game.’”

Or the one time Edwards forgot Kirk Hinrich hated having his name announced as he prepared to shoot free throws and Hinrich missed both shots.

“I felt terrible,” Edwards said. “I loved Kirk.”

Or the time Derrick Rose approached Edwards and asked him to play Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight” because he heard it once at a Bulls game as a kid.

“I’m going to miss my friends, the guys and girls at the (scorers) table. We all have to rely on each other so much,” Edwards said. “I’ll miss watching the players up close and appreciating the incredible talent they have. I’m going to miss working for Jerry Reinsdorf. He’s terrific. He has built such an incredible organization.

“Chicago fans are incredible. I’ll remember moments like when Joakim (Noah) stole the ball from (Paul) Pierce and went down and dunked and the crowd went crazy. I’m there with a microphone and I can’t hear myself on these giant speakers because the crowd is so loud. It’s so exciting to be a part of that.”

After Saturday, Edwards no longer will be.

“But I’ll still be a huge Bulls fan,” he said. “That doesn’t change.”

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All-Star guard Jimmy Butler made a dramatic return to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday, boldly challenging teammates, coaches and front-office executives in the practice session, league sources told ESPN.

Butler was vociferous and intense throughout the scrimmages, targeting president of basketball operations and coach Tom Thibodeau, general manager Scott Layden and teammates, including Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, league sources said.

As the GM watched on the sidelines during a scrimmage, sources said that Butler yelled to Layden: “You f—ing need me, Scott. You can’t win without me.”

It was Butler’s first practice with the team since requesting a trade three weeks ago.
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In an interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols after Wednesday’s practice, Butler described his emotions in the practice session.

“A lot of it is true,” he said. “I haven’t played basketball in so long. I’m so passionate. I don’t do it for any reason but to compete. All my emotion came out in one time. Was it the right way? No! But I can’t control that when I’m out there competing. That’s raw me, me at my finest, me at my purest. Inside the lines.”

Many of the Minnesota players left practice energized by Butler’s performance, mesmerized with him taking several end-of-the-bench players and running the table in scrimmage games against the regulars, league sources said. After punctuating the final victory at the end of practice, Butler marched out of the gym as though to emphasize he had proved his point, sources said. Coaches and players were largely speechless, league sources said.

A fledgling team that has struggled to get by without Butler in the preseason had plenty of teammates anxious to see him back in the gym permanently, sources said. But it is unclear if Butler made his full-time return to the Timberwolves or just proved a point of some kind in practice.

Butler told Nichols that he planned to practice with the team again Thursday, but the team canceled the session in the morning.

Butler acknowledged that he can be hard on teammates, especially Towns, and said on Wednesday that the All-Star center talked trash to him in the scrimmage — and Butler responded. And yet, Butler also chastised his younger teammates for not speaking up and challenging him Wednesday.

“Am I being tough on him? Yeah, that’s who am I,” Butler said. “I’m not the most talented player on the team. Who is the most talented player on our team — KAT. Who is the most God-gifted player on our team — Wiggs. Who plays the hardest? Me! I play hard. I put my body [on the line] every day in practice, every day in games. That’s my passion. Everybody leads in different ways. That’s how I show I’m here for you.”

After a proposed Butler trade fell apart over the weekend, the Miami Heat remain interested in restarting talks with Minnesota to acquire him, league sources told ESPN earlier Wednesday. Minnesota and Miami advanced to the brink of a blockbuster trade for Butler over the weekend — only for the deal to fracture before completion, sources said.

Minnesota had shared Butler’s medical information with Miami late last week, sources said, a typical last step before finalizing a trade. Minnesota moved to amend the framework of the trade and talks collapsed on Saturday, league sources said.

A source of Butler’s discontent appears to be his belief that not all of his teammates are committed to winning.

“I think that’s the part everybody doesn’t see,” Butler said. “I’m not going to say no names. I’m going to be honest: If your No. 1 priority isn’t winning, people can tell. That’s the battle. Now there is a problem between people. That’s where the disconnect is.”

Showing up to practice doesn’t appear to have resolved the issues he has with the team.

“It’s not fixed,” Butler told Nichols. “Let’s be honest.”

Asked if it could be fixed, he said: “It could be. Do I think so? No.”

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Coby White was in a funk heading into the fourth quarter of the Chicago Bulls’ meeting with the New York Knicks on Tuesday night. The rookie was 0-for-5 from the field in the game and had missed 26 of his last 29 threes dating back to the start of the month. Tied going into the final frame, Chicago really did not want to lose to a Knicks team in crisis for the second time this season.

White finally saw a three-pointer go down a minute into the fourth quarter to put the Bulls up one. He hit another on the next possession, and then another. When the final horn sounded, White had broken an NBA rookie record with seven fourth quarter three-pointers to carry the Bulls to a 120-102 win over New York.

White also added a late layup to finish with 23 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter to close out the game. That’s one way to break out of a slump.

This was only the eleventh game of White’s career, but he can already say he’s been directly responsible for leading the Bulls to two of their four wins. White also erupted in his second game to score 25 points against the Memphis Grizzlies to give Chicago its first W.

The Bulls knew they were getting a bucket-getter when they selected White with the No. 7 overall pick in June. It’s been an up-and-down rookie season thus far, but when White gets going, he looks like he could be the spiritual heir to the microwave scoring throne once held down by the likes of Vinnie Johnson and Jamal Crawford.

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Despite White’s recent struggles, he never stopped shooting. He entered averaging more than 18 field goal attempts per-36 minutes while taking 42 percent of those attempts from three-point range.

How does a shooter break out of a slump? Just keep firing.

Here’s how White got his seven threes in the fourth quarter:

White’s first make was a one-dribble pull-up in semi transition
His second three was a one-dribble step-back going left
His third was a catch-and-shoot from the right wing off a feed from Ryan Arcidiacono
Make No. 4 was a catch-and-shoot from the right wing off a feed from Kris Dunn
The fifth triple was a catch-and-shoot off a feed from Arcidiacono after Wendell Carter Jr. grabbed an offensive rebound
The sixth made three was a catch-and-shoot from the top of the key off a feed from LaVine
The seventh was that ridiculous one-dribble step-back that’s embedded above

That’s seven three-pointers on just three dribbles in the fourth quarter. White wasn’t thinking about his shooting slump, he was just letting it fly. That’s a trait every great microwave scorer throughout history has had.
White had been struggling before this breakout

White’s standout performance in his second career game against Memphis earned him some goodwill from coach Jim Boylen and Bulls fans, but the truth is that he has been struggling immensely this year. White entered the night averaging 11 points per game, but he was shooting just 34 percent from the field, 21 percent on threes, and below 70 percent from the foul line. It hurt to look at his 42 percent true shooting percentage

Even after his fourth quarter explosion against the Knicks, White is still only shooting 28 percent from three-point range on the year.

This is to say: it’s important to keep White’s role and function in perspective even after a historic night. Still only 19 years old, his game has plenty of room to grow. White needs to learn how to read to the floor so he can leverage the threat of his scoring to make his teammates better. He needs to learn how to get to the foul line when his shot isn’t falling. He needs to add strength so he can absorb contact around the rim and get tougher defensively.

White always has his top-end speed to fall back on, but his effectiveness is also exclusively tied to whether his jump shot is falling right now. Maybe he’ll always just be a streaky bench scorer. Maybe he turns into a speedy starting-caliber guard who can play either backcourt spot. For a young player with so much possible variation in his long-term skill set, sometimes it’s best just to sit back and appreciate the early moments of promise.

Roy Williams, White’s coach at North Carolina, likes to visit his former players during their rookie years. He came to see White in Chicago on Tuesday. When he was interviewed on the TV broadcast, Williams said he was just hoping to bring White a little luck to break out of his slump. That happened in a big way when the fourth quarter came around.

This is the White that Williams knows. White broke high school scoring records in the state of North Carolina as a prep star, then became a one-and-done lottery pick at UNC after most initially thought he’d need to spend multiple years in college. It’s remarkable to think the Bulls’ franchise record for three-point makes in a game is nine, and a rookie just hit seven in one quarter.

White’s quick-hit scoring is always what’s defined him. The Bulls got an early sign of how beautiful that can be.

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The Katz JCC is pleased to announce the Ninth Annual NFI Sports Award Dinner of the Katz JCC, with Special Partner, The Ravitz Family Foundation, will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 3. The keynote address will be delivered by Joel Embiid, All-Star center for the Philadelphia 76ers, Elton Brand, 76ers general manager, and Al Horford, Philadelphia 76ers forward.

“This year’s Sports Award Dinner will be extraordinary,” said Jeff Brown, event co-chair and representing naming sponsor NFI. “The duo of players Embiid and Horford, with the added expertise and guidance of Brand, both on and off the court, is one that has this fan base riled up with excitement and hope.”

“The energy these three bring is electric,” added Jason Ravitz, event co-chair and representing special sponsor, The Ravitz Family Foundation. “We know that their sentiments will touch our attendees in some personal way, but it will also rally them together to support them and the incredible team they are part of.”

Joel Embiid, who has nicknamed himself “The Process,” is the All-Star center for the Philadelphia 76ers. After one year of college basketball with the University of Kansas Jayhawks, he was drafted as the third overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft by the 76ers. In the 2016-17 season, he was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team and has since received two All-Star selections.

Elton Brand is the general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers. He played college basketball for Duke University and was later selected as the first overall pick in the 1999 NBA draft by the Chicago Bulls. During his career, he played for the Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Clippers, Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks. He was a two-time NBA All-Star and an All-NBA Second Team selection in 2006.

Al Horford, who just joined the Philadelphia 76ers this season as a forward, played college basketball for the University of Florida, and was the starting center on the Gators teams that won back-to-back NCAA national championships in 2006 and 2007. He is a five-time NBA All-Star who has previously played for the Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics. He also represents the Dominican Republic national team.

In addition to the keynote addresses from Embiid, Brand and Horford, the JCC will honor several members in the community who are exemplary models of volunteerism.

Proceeds from the Sports Award Dinner benefit an ever-increasing need for Fitness & Wellness program scholarships and services for children, including adaptive activities for those with special needs. Programs include youth sports leagues, nutrition counseling, wellness classes, and obesity prevention.

The JCC Sports Award Dinner will begin at 5:45 p.m. In addition to the keynote address and honoree awards, the event includes dinner and dessert and a sports memorabilia auction. General admissions tickets and patron ticket packages with reserved seating are also available.

To purchase tickets, please visit www.katzjcc.org/sportsaward or call Nancy Caporusso at (856) 424-4444, ext. 1267