Wennington: Man of the People

Wennington and the Hulk
Hulk Hogan cannot contain his excitement after learning that Bill Wennington is on his way to the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame.
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    February 2, 2005 – Even though his Chicago Bulls have cooled slightly in the last week, it was still a good one for the man from north of the border as he was elected for enshrinement into the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame on Tuesday. In this week’s column, Bill Wennington responds to fan e-mail about life on the road, the prospect of a coaching career and one of his best one-liners.

    By Bill Wennington

    After a tough loss in New Jersey on Tuesday, I’m back in Chicago for a few days before heading down to Miami with the team for a Saturday showdown against Shaq’s Heat. I realized it is Wednesday, which means I need to get my story to Adam at the Bulls office, so he can get it on the web. Of course neither my lap top nor my desktop computer is responding to my prodding (I would not call what I do typing). Finally, after multiple system scans, my old laptop responds. So here it goes…

    The Bulls have now passed the midway point of the season and their record is 22- 21. That’s above .500 and good enough for third in the Central Division and seventh overall in the Eastern Conference. Not bad considering the last several seasons and the start to this one.

    I am sensing that a lot of my media companions have already raised their expectations for this team. I have only one request, and it’s that everyone remains patient with this young group. I feel that the team is on the road to success, but there will be more hills to climb before they reach the summit.

    The last four games may be a testament to that as the team went 2-2 but gave up more than 100 points in three of them. It is a sign that the defense has slipped a bit. Defense has been the calling card of this team so far this year. With a couple of days of practice before the long road trip starts, it is up to Coach Skiles to get things back on track.

    Gordon and Benny at Luther South HS
    Ben Gordon and Benny the Bull were on hand for a tsunami relief fundraiser this week.
    (Photo: Bill Wennington)

    Fortunately, there isn’t much in the way of travel mishaps to report this week, thank goodness. However, Ben Gordon and I did get stuck in traffic on our way to Luther South High School in the south loop of Chicago this week. Then again, that’s pretty much the norm in the Windy City. Anyway, we went there for a tsunami relief fundraiser, and it was a lot of fun. My hat is off to all that organized it. We had a great time and Benny the Bull was hilarious.

    For the rest of this week’s column, I decided to get to more e-mails because everyone has been so great in sending them in. They are pouring in from all over the world. I’ve received so many that I can not answer them all, but I have read each and every one and they are a lot of fun.

    Leading off, “Duane.golf4me” writes:

    “It was interesting reading about the team's travel experiences in your second column. I have always wondered what was meant when you hear rookies talk about the rigors of the schedule and the travel. Going back to your article, why stay in Detroit on an off day to practice (albeit cancelled) when you can go early into Atlanta?”

    Timing and circumstances led to us staying in Detroit. By doing that, it meant that the players could get to bed by a reasonable time, if they so desired. If we would have jumped a flight to Atlanta, we would not have arrived until as late as 3 or 4 a.m. And what is better than spending another night in Motown?

    I loved this one from Billy Schultz (St. Paul, Minnesota), who says: “Awesome job, Bill.” It is short and sweet and there is a lesson to be learned here: compliments can get you almost anywhere in life.

    Tomek Mielcarek from Bogucin City, Poland, e-mails:

    Neil Funk
    Funk catches up on his sleep during a team flight.
    (Photo: Bill Wennington)

    “I was wondering if you have ever thought of coaching for an NBA team, or coaching in general. Don’t get me wrong—your writing is just fine and I’m looking forward for some more. But coaching just crossed my mind and I'm curious about your attitude.”

    Coaching is always on my mind. In fact, I have a 13 year-old son, Robbie, who loves to play basketball and I’ve coached his teams before. I really enjoy it and I would definitely consider it down the road. Right now though, I am having fun with my partner, Neil Funk, who enjoys naps on the plane when he isn’t broadcasting the Bulls game on MVP 1000 Chicago.

    Just two more, including this special note from Dick Yob in Wisconsin:

    “It is fun to listen to you guys and pretty exciting the way the team is playing. I enjoyed your first column, and especially like the off the court insights and perspectives of traveling with the Bulls. Keep writing and ‘take care’ of our son Matt. Don't tell him I said that. He'll give me a rougher time than he normally does.”

    For the record, Mr. Matt Yob of the Bulls Media Relations Department is a great guy and he has helped me out tremendously. I’m happy he is here. If he does give you a hard time, give me a call and I will straighten him out.

    In the last e-mail, “D Kazz” writes:

    “I remember on one particular night you really lit it up back in the glory days. After the game a reporter said, ‘Bill, you really looked good out there tonight.’ You replied, "Thanks, I'm using a new hair gel!" Maybe you can do an article on all of the Wennington one liners you've used throughout the years. You're a funny guy!”

    Thanks! That was indeed funny then… but what I would give now to use a little hair gel…

    To Pascal in Sweden, I’m sorry you don’t get to see the Bulls in action but I am happy that you do stay abreast of the team on the internet. I hope you enjoy my book— it was a lot of fun to write and go over some great memories.

    Bill's bookClick here now for your own personal copy of Bill's book.

    One last hello goes to Mary Burke of Ottawa, Illinois. Thanks for the notes and all your support over the years!

    Again, all your e-mails are great and I wish I could get them all in. Many of you want to read stories of the Bulls teams that I played on. I try not to dwell on the past too much, especially since I am writing about the current team. However, for those of you who are really interested, I did write a book called “Tales From the Bulls Hardwood.” There are a number of stories in there that the whole family can enjoy.

    Thank you all for reading. Keep the e-mails coming and Be Someone’s Hero.

    Send your questions and/or comments to Bill at bullsvip@bulls.com and check back next week to see if he responds to your e-mail.

  • Last Week's Column: Thrown Under the Bus (01.25.05)
  • Team the Theme for Skiles’ Squad (01.18.05) | Wennington Column on the Way
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