James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets goes to the basket against the Golden State Warriors on October 17, 2017 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California.

CHUCK'S DAILY CHECK IN 10.18.17

Chuck checks in on the opening night of the NBA and profiles his broadcaster partner, Bill Wennington

by Chuck Swirsky

BULLS UPDATE

Chicago Bulls forwards Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotić had a physical altercation during Tuesday’s practice. As a result of the incident, Mirotić suffered a concussion and maxillary fractures. Surgery is likely required. Mirotić is out indefinitely.

The Bulls are evaluating disciplinary action. An update will be provided when applicable.

BULLS TODAY: The playbook is set, defensive assignments have been stressed. The Bulls will practice this morning then depart for Toronto this afternoon.

WENNINGTON A CANADIAN HOOPS LEGEND

The Bulls are a day away from tipping off their 2017-18 in Toronto. The Raptors entered the NBA in 1995-96 as an expansion team along with the then, Vancouver (now Memphis) Grizzlies.

My broadcaster partner, Bill Wennington ( HOF Canada Basketball ) was born in Montreal and played for Canada’s Olympic basketball team in the 1984 games.

"One of the best things and one of the fondest memories I have. There’s nothing like listening to two national anthems before a game, one for your country and one for the country you’re playing. In’83 we had the Canadian national anthem play after we won the World games in Calgary."

Basketball from the days of Bill Wennington in the 80s has taken a quantum leap to where it is 30 years later. Among 108 international players on NBA rosters this season, Canada leads the way with 11.

"You talk about the grass roots...the coaching is much better now, more kids are playing basketball and more interest in it because kids can get college scholarships.

Timing and titles...

"In 95-96 I was playing with the Bulls and we were winning championships so I was pretty happy where I was, but I thought about playing another year, seeing if I could go back to Toronto but I was 37 years old and my body was starting to break down. I didn’t pursue it. As a Canadian playing in Toronto or Vancouver at the time would have been phenomenal."

One side note on Bill...he loves hockey. Seriously, he LOVES hockey...just like all Canadian kids they strap on the skates from the moment they can walk. As a young man Wennington ‘s passion for the sport hit a detour,

"The biggest skates I had was size twelve and I needed size thirteen and I could no longer find them so I knew it was going to be my last year playing hockey, I knew that. Someone asked me if I wanted to play basketball, so I switched over but the real wasn’t I couldn’t find skates."

Bill wasn’t the first Canadian to play for the Bulls. It was...(answer below)

NEWS and NOTES

Opening night was marred by the gruesome dislocated ankle and fractured left tibia to Gordon Hayward playing in his first game in a Boston uniform. Our best wishes go to Hayward for a complete recovery. The Celtics will always compete under Brad Stevens but let’s be honest the Celtics chances of dethroning Cleveland in the East took a major hit. However, Boston’s two bright, budding, big time stars in waiting Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum had impressive games. Brown scored 25points and pulled down 6 rebounds. Tatum, third overall pick with a 14-10-3 game in 37 minutes.

The game itself had plenty of intriguing moments but LeBron was LeBron. He took over down the stretch and finished with a monster night of 29 points- 16 rebounds- 9 assists. At the end of the game, LeBron and Kyrie hugged it out...plenty of love with Kyrie and his former team mates...the post game handshakes were impressive for some...for others, not so much. Twitter world had mixed reaction to it.

Warriors get their rings...Rockets get the win. Houston held on for a 122-121 road victory in Oakland. Rockets went with a tight eight man rotation...and it’s only opening night! Chris Paul making his Rockets debut sat out the last four minutes with a sore left knee. Something to monitor this season.

The Bulls first Canadian born player was Mike Smrek from Welland, Ontario. In 1985-86 he played in 38 games.

E mail with questions, comments at cswirsky@bulls.com or Twitter. @ctsbulls.

Always a pleasure!

Related Content