Chicago winters are usually pretty harsh. What gives fans of the Windy City's sports teams a little comfort enduring such misery, at least until baseball arrives, is watching either the Bulls or Blackhawks get in position for a title run.

Michael Jordan certainly spoiled everyone with his run of greatness that led the Bulls to six NBA championships in an eight-year span in the 1990s.

Except for a brief period when hometown product Derrick Rose led a resurgence, the Bulls haven't given their faithful much reason to cheer since Jordan left the scene in 1998. 

The Blackhawks were in even more miserable straits until Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews arrived about the same time as John McDonough was taking over as team president in the late 2000s. Suddenly, hockey was cool again in Chitown. 

Fans who had no clue what offsides was — and probably still don't — suddenly began gobbling up Blackhawks sweaters (that's a jersey for hockey novices). 

Skating off with three Stanley Cups, and just missing out on another, made the Blackhawks a must-see event.

But, as happens with many successful squads, the Blackhawks got old in a hurry. They appear headed for a second straight year of early tee times after missing the playoffs.

The Bulls are in even worse shape. Fred Hoiberg was fired as coach earlier this week (he should be thanking John Paxson) with a team going nowhere fast. Watching Jabari Parker jog down the court as the other team races in for an uncontested dunk seems like a replay every game.

Frankly, it has become difficult to watch the Bulls or Blackhawks play. If you tune in a little late, both are usually behind early. Only the most loyal diehard fan is going to stick around for the whole thing to watch another loss.

Thankfully for Chicago sports fans, the Bears have come to life under first-year coach Matt Nagy. Last week's OT loss to the lowly New York Giants was difficult to stomach, but quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is back for Sunday's showdown against the Los Angeles Rams (7:20 p.m. on NBC).

The Bears need to stretch this season out as far as possible. That will keep the interest on them and make the wait shorter until pitchers and catchers report for the Cubs and White Sox.

College BB: Louisville at Indiana (Fox, 1:30 p.m. Saturday): Both of these marquee programs don't figure to be down for too long as coaches Chris Mack and Archie Miller are rebuilding in a hurry.  

College FB: Heisman Trophy Ceremony (ESPN, 7 p.m. Saturday): For once there is actually some suspense as a late push by Oklahoma's Kyler Murray may overtake Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa, the favorite all season.  

NBA: Raptors at Warriors (ESPN, 9:30 p.m. Wednesday): Well, well, an NBA game before Christmas to actually get excited about. Kawhi Leonard has Toronto, not Boston, looking like it will meet Golden State in NBA Finals.

Contact Jim Benson at jbenson@pantagraph.com.



Reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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