O'Donnell: Michael Jordan to Eloy Jimenez -- tales behind two mammoth arrivals

  • Michael Jordan celebrates a Bulls win during the 1998 NBA Finals against Utah at the United Center.

    Michael Jordan celebrates a Bulls win during the 1998 NBA Finals against Utah at the United Center. Daily Herald File Photo

Updated 6/19/2019 4:41 PM

THIRTY-FIVE YEARS AGO Thursday -- June 20, 1984 -- Chicago awoke to the somewhat hopeful clarion, "Bulls Draft Michael Jordan."

Now long forgotten was a Chicago Tribune headline of the same morning -- above a story by the brilliant Bob Logan, still the greatest beat writer in the history of the team -- "Trade Winds Miss Jordan."


Most prominently, the Clippers offered Terry Cummings. Atlanta dangled Tree Rollins.

Rod Thorn, Jon Kovler and team committee -- thank goodness -- said, "No thanks."

But most ominous was a deal over which the Bulls had no control.

Houston, set to take Hakeem Olajuwon as a generational center with the draft's first pick, offered Portland -- primed to select at No. 2 -- Ralph Sampson.

Had the Trail Blazers gone for it, they would have wound up with Sampson alongside Clyde Drexler rather than Sam Bowie. And the Rockets suddenly would have been headed for dynasty heights with a 1-2 take-away of Olajuwon and Jordan.

Instead, the gods of all things air turned the net tides gently, gently Chicago's way.

Thursday, John Paxson and bunker mates are in a far different strait as the 2019 NBA Draft takes place (ESPN, 6 p.m.).

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If they somehow get Jarrett Culver -- the Pippenesque project from Texas Tech -- it's a nice win.

Beyond that, barring fantastic fortune as yet not visioned, it's just another droop around an endless roundabout of fleece.

THE WHITE SOX SCORED a double win at Wrigley Field Tuesday night.

Eloy Jimenez's tremendous ninth-inning home run was enough to send Sox fans into gleeful recall of Charlie Daniels' regionally anthemic "South's Gonna Do It Again."

And the WGN-Channel 9 presentation of the game -- anchored by the increasingly sharp Jason Benetti and Steve Stone -- almost doubled the viewership of NBCSCH's telecast, according to industry sources.

Benetti is very good. The indisputably astute Stone -- once a labeled a "Clutch Cargo pontificate" by some bearded blabber -- comes across as reborn.


Key backstagers for Channel 9 were the Hall of Fame Bob Vorwald -- executive producer of WGN Sports -- along with producer Jon Walgren and director Todd Benjaminson.

WGN went no-frills. Kevin Cross and staff at NBCSCH buried itself with too little energy upfront and enough needless foo-foo in back to be distractive.

Play-by-play mates Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies seemed to lack "big game." Supplemental Doug Glanville is a very bright fellow but was of minimal utility during great baseball theater.

And roving reporter Kelly Crull added about as much as Montana Gov. Steve Bullock headed for the Iowa caucuses.

She opened at a rooftop party and was later chatting with a beer vendor and touting the merits of The Catalina Club with some guy named "John."

Apparently the Dalmatian at the Waveland Avenue firehouse wasn't available.

So call it game, night, momentum -- the White Sox and WGN.

"THE LIFE AND TIMES OF CHET COPPOCK" will be the focus when your humble insouciant hosts a discussion sponsored by the Arlington Heights Memorial Library on Wednesday night, July 10, at Mike Taffe's Eddie's Lounge in downtown Arlington Heights.

Panelists will include Cheryl Raye-Stout -- co-creator of "Coppock On Sports" on the old WMAQ-AM -- and Dan Jiggetts, the Harvard-educated former Bear who parlayed an internship with Coppock at WMAQ-Channel 5 into a terrific broadcasting career.

Reservations are free but extremely limited (at ahml.org) and already almost gone.

Coppock made two appearances under the auspices of the AHML during the final years of his life, including one at which he provided the longest opening answer in library history without a question being asked.

STREET-BEATIN': The U.S. Women's World Cuppers continue their campaign for image restoration in a group stage finale vs. Sweden Thursday (Fox-32, 2 p.m.). Proving once again that the specter of poor sportsmanship can sell, close to 5.3 million viewers tuned in for the 3-0 win over Chile on Sunday, an American broadcast record in the WWC niche. … NBC Sports has dispatched the unflagging Eddie Olczyk to handicap the final two days of Royal Ascot this weekend (Friday, NBCSN, 7:30 a.m.; Saturday, NBC-5, 8 a.m.). No word yet on which network the keenly versatile "Edzo" will cover the 2020 national political conventions for. … Purple Rain Out: The Minnesota Twins may be MLB's great opening comet of 2019 but on-field success doesn't necessarily translate to promo-department smarts. As the hey-hey! theme after homies homer at Target Field, the team has replaced Prince's iconic "Let's Go Crazy" with "Bombtrack" by angered-out poseurs Rage Against The Machine. … It's starting to inch toward ornery in the hod carrying about who is the lesser listenable in late-morning Chicago radio sports talk -- David Kaplan or Dan Bernstein? (As Phil Georgeff would say, "Can't split 'em.") … Die-hard Pale Hoser Rich Roeper was an energizing addition to Roe Conn's WGN-AM (720) crew from John Barleycorn's before Tuesday's Sox-Cubs opener. The multitalented Roeper vividly remembers his first trip to old Comiskey: "July 29, 1966, Yankees 2, White Sox 1, Mickey Mantle went deep for his 494th career home run, passing Lou Gehrig on the all-time list."

• Jim O'Donnell's Sports & Media column appears Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at jimodonnelldh@yahoo.com.

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