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Bulls honor Norm and Red


Shroinke

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The Chicago Bulls are remembering Johnny "Red" Kerr and Norm Van Lier, who both passed away within hours of each other on Thusday, by wearing black armbands across their sleeves.

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Red Kerr played for and helped lead the Illinois Fighting Illini to the Final Four in basketball's heyday. He then played professionally in the late 1950's, mostly with the Syracuse Nationals, where he won a world title. He then returned to Chicago, becoming the first head coach of the Bulls and the Suns. But most of today's Bulls knew him as the excitable member of Bulls broadcasts for the last 30 years. The Bulls recently honored him with a ceremony recounting his life and acomplishments, including tributes from past and future hall-of-famers Dolph Schayes, Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan. The team also dedicated a statue of him as a broadcaster which was placed in the United Center. Red passed away at 76 after battling prostate cancer.

Norm Van Lier played for the Bulls from 1971 to 1978, helping lead the team to its first two appearances in the conference finals. The backcourt of Jerry Sloan and Van Lier layed down heavy defense against greats like Jerry West, Rick Barry, and Oscar Robertson. He too became part of Bulls broadcasts, most recently with Comcast SportsNet, added a sense of cool and toughness. Norm passed away too soon at the age of 61.

They will be missed by all of Chicago, and many more accross the country.

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I'm surprised that the Bulls didn't do something special on the jerseys for Red and Norm. I remember when they wore the same black stripe on the jerseys back in 1991-1992 when Sherri Berto, one of Jerry Reinsdorf's assistants passed away. They later named the practice facility in Deerfield, in her name. Hopefully, here pretty soon they'll send banners up to the rafters at the United Center for both Red and Norm.

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I'm surprised that the Bulls didn't do something special on the jerseys for Red and Norm. I remember when they wore the same black stripe on the jerseys back in 1991-1992 when Sherri Berto, one of Jerry Reinsdorf's assistants passed away. They later named the practice facility in Deerfield, in her name. Hopefully, here pretty soon they'll send banners up to the rafters at the United Center for both Red and Norm.

Here's a picture with the black band from 1991-1992 on Jordan's jersey.

clydea1.jpg

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I usually am in favor of simple tributes such as this. However, in this case, I think the tributes fall short, just as they did during Kerr's (honored him too late) and Van Lier's lives (apparently never).

To me, Norm Van Lier is to the Bulls what Ron Santo is to the Cubs. Great player, but maybe not quite the number-retiring type based on the team's criteria, but then being popular, longtime (albeit outspoken) broadcasters puts them over the top. I think Norm's No. 2 could have been retired. Did they really need to save it for Tim Thomas' second tour of duty? It would join 4, 10, 23 and 33. Still plenty to choose from.

As for Red, all that hoopla two weeks ago and they still didn't raise a banner to him. Sure, they unveiled a bust, but no banner with a mic or anything else. Many people criticized that tribute as being too much like a funeral, with lots of past-tense references when the guy was sitting right there.

Were they borderline-worthy of that kind of honor? Maybe, but why not err on the positive side?

And a Reinsdorf assistant gets a practice center named after her? I never realized that was why it was called Berto Center. Interesting.

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I usually am in favor of simple tributes such as this. However, in this case, I think the tributes fall short, just as they did during Kerr's (honored him too late) and Van Lier's lives (apparently never).

To me, Norm Van Lier is to the Bulls what Ron Santo is to the Cubs. Great player, but maybe not quite the number-retiring type based on the team's criteria, but then being popular, longtime (albeit outspoken) broadcasters puts them over the top. I think Norm's No. 2 could have been retired. Did they really need to save it for Tim Thomas' second tour of duty? It would join 4, 10, 23 and 33. Still plenty to choose from.

As for Red, all that hoopla two weeks ago and they still didn't raise a banner to him. Sure, they unveiled a bust, but no banner with a mic or anything else. Many people criticized that tribute as being too much like a funeral, with lots of past-tense references when the guy was sitting right there.

Were they borderline-worthy of that kind of honor? Maybe, but why not err on the positive side?

And a Reinsdorf assistant gets a practice center named after her? I never realized that was why it was called Berto Center. Interesting.

Yes, I too was getting the feeling that the tribute had the mood of a funeral instead of being a fun celebration. They should have raised a banner for Red, no questions about it. Heck if they can raise one for Jerry Krause, Red should have had his in a heartbeat for how much time he's spent with the Bulls.

I found out why it was named the Berto Center back in 1996 when I went with my grandparents back to their hometown of Forreston, IL for a family reunion. Then we made a trip to Deerfield to watch the Bulls practice and then to Chicago to watch them play at the UC since my grandfathers relatives had tickets, and they let us use them while we were there since I'm a huge Bulls fan. While we were there at the Berto Center, I asked an employee about the name and they told my about the assistant.

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To me, Norm Van Lier is to the Bulls what Ron Santo is to the Cubs. Great player, but maybe not quite the number-retiring type based on the team's criteria, but then being popular, longtime (albeit outspoken) broadcasters puts them over the top.

Ron Santo is one of the greatest third basemen to ever play the game. I'd like to think it didn't take groaning into a microphone to get his number retired.

Norm Van Lier was a very good guard during a time when the NBA wasn't really a respected world-class league, and so his achievements are overlooked. The kind of defense that he and Jerry Sloan played would make Bruce Bowen look like a gentleman. Probably a reach here, but maybe that's part of why that era is overlooked.

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To me, Norm Van Lier is to the Bulls what Ron Santo is to the Cubs. Great player, but maybe not quite the number-retiring type based on the team's criteria, but then being popular, longtime (albeit outspoken) broadcasters puts them over the top.

Ron Santo is one of the greatest third basemen to ever play the game. I'd like to think it didn't take groaning into a microphone to get his number retired.

I agree. However, the Cubs and Bulls criteria may be different. That's why I qualified it that way. Also, I'm not talking Hall of Fame, just retired number. The Bulls history is shorter, and Jordan tends to skew things. I never saw either one play, but it has been nice to hear all of the stories in the past few days on Van Lier (and Kerr).

Ron Santo got his number retired on the last day of 2003 even though he wasn't a Hall of Famer, which before that was a "requirement" for the Cubs. Sadly, I think it was a Johnny "Red" Kerr type of tribute, as Santo was having some health problems and I think they decided not to wait. In retrospect, it was a good move, and I think it was hard for the Cubs to argue for years that a guy should be in the Hall and they won't even acknowledge he was one of their best. Say what you will, but that groaning kept him around the Cubs and in the public eye and I'm going to guess he'd be still waiting without it. Not saying it's right.

I don't want to make this about the Cubs, so let me end it this way, with all due respect to Berto: Norm Van Lier and Johnny "Red" Kerr likely deserve a memorial beyond the routine.

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I agree, this is kind of a lame tribute, but what do you expect them to do for two people? Wear two armbands? (actually not that bad of an idea.)

Maybe they could put a tribute on the court for the rest of the season, or something like that. If it was just Stormin Norman, or just Red, they probably would have done a patch, but for both of them, the jerseys would probably get a little bit crowded.

Also, Norm should for sure have his number retired.

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It's already a Bulls jersey - I'm not sure why the Bull logo needs to be there. Maybe a simple dividing stripe would work, and if done at an angle, would allow for the names to be larger.

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Bulls just announced a Red / 2 patch. Much better, in my opinion.

EDIT:

Patch

131680.jpg

Story

Damn, beat me to it. Bulls.com also has a mockup of what the jersey's will look like with the patch.

I like the idea of the dual patch, but it looks to much like an equipment tag.

I still would have gone with two black circles, one saying "RED" and the other "2". Or maybe black diamonds.

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Bulls just announced a Red / 2 patch. Much better, in my opinion.

EDIT:

Patch

131680.jpg

Story

Damn, beat me to it. Bulls.com also has a mockup of what the jersey's will look like with the patch.

I like the idea of the dual patch, but it looks to much like an equipment tag.

I still would have gone with two black circles, one saying "RED" and the other "2". Or maybe black diamonds.

This is an absolutely incredibull, pun intended, idea. It is a great way of giving the respect they both deserve, but not obnoxiously and over the top. However it seemed like they kinda went by what each player was known as. Johnny was known as Red, and that was well known, but if Norm was so popular and well-known with the number 2, why isnt it retired???? it better be up in the UC rafters soon.

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Bulls just announced a Red / 2 patch. Much better, in my opinion.

EDIT:

Patch

131680.jpg

Story

Damn, beat me to it. Bulls.com also has a mockup of what the jersey's will look like with the patch.

I like the idea of the dual patch, but it looks to much like an equipment tag.

I still would have gone with two black circles, one saying "RED" and the other "2". Or maybe black diamonds.

This is an absolutely incredibull, pun intended, idea. It is a great way of giving the respect they both deserve, but not obnoxiously and over the top. However it seemed like they kinda went by what each player was known as. Johnny was known as Red, and that was well known, but if Norm was so popular and well-known with the number 2, why isnt it retired???? it better be up in the UC rafters soon.

I'm glad they decided to use a patch instead of the black armband. It'll be interesting to see how many people will want to link the number 2 somehow to Red even though it's for Norm.

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if Norm was so popular and well-known with the number 2, why isnt it retired???? it better be up in the UC rafters soon.

A good point was made on the radio in Chicago that if he wasn't good enough to merit a number being retired when he was alive, there should not be a knee jerk reaction to retire it after he dies. It cheapens the honor of a retired number for that franchise.

And going way back to Ron Santo being one of the greatest 3B ever? No way. If he was he'd already be in the HOF. The campaigning doesn't help either. He is also by far the current worst color commentator in sports today.

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What does Ron's insightless commentary have to do with his playing career? Anyway, he's been kept out of the Hall for a variety of stupid reasons, like "there are already too many Hall of Famers from the '69 Cubs," or "he was kinda mean." The first shouldn't matter, and voters have proven that they don't consider character a deal-breaker on any number of guys sketchier than a guy who clicked his heels and got in teammates' faces. Any look at the numbers will bear out that he was one of the best third basemen in history, the best player not to be enshrined, and it's also worth mentioning that he did it all as a diabetic before significant medical advances. I feel confident in saying he has a better claim to Cooperstown than effing Jim Rice. See, this is what happens when we as a nation are crotch-deep in Red Sox propaganda for five years. And people complain about Santo's campaigning.

As for retiring #2, Van Lier's close friends seem to agree that he'd say "don't bother," which is sort of sad. Sadder still is the carefully worded insinuation circulating that the Bulls omitting him from Red's ceremony upset him greatly and caused him to fall into some bad habits when he was already having health problems.

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What does Ron's insightless commentary have to do with his playing career? Anyway, he's been kept out of the Hall for a variety of stupid reasons, like "there are already too many Hall of Famers from the '69 Cubs," or "he was kinda mean." The first shouldn't matter, and voters have proven that they don't consider character a deal-breaker on any number of guys sketchier than a guy who clicked his heels and got in teammates' faces. Any look at the numbers will bear out that he was one of the best third basemen in history, the best player not to be enshrined, and it's also worth mentioning that he did it all as a diabetic before significant medical advances. I feel confident in saying he has a better claim to Cooperstown than effing Jim Rice. See, this is what happens when we as a nation are crotch-deep in Red Sox propaganda for five years. And people complain about Santo's campaigning.

As for retiring #2, Van Lier's close friends seem to agree that he'd say "don't bother," which is sort of sad. Sadder still is the carefully worded insinuation circulating that the Bulls omitting him from Red's ceremony upset him greatly and caused him to fall into some bad habits when he was already having health problems.

The commentary has nothing to do with it. I just wanted to add another insult.

I think people in Cincinnati will argue about a better player not enshrined, but that's a whole separate topic.

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if Norm was so popular and well-known with the number 2, why isnt it retired???? it better be up in the UC rafters soon.

A good point was made on the radio in Chicago that if he wasn't good enough to merit a number being retired when he was alive, there should not be a knee jerk reaction to retire it after he dies. It cheapens the honor of a retired number for that franchise.

And going way back to Ron Santo being one of the greatest 3B ever? No way. If he was he'd already be in the HOF. The campaigning doesn't help either. He is also by far the current worst color commentator in sports today.

True, it does make it seem purely reactionary, but I have been saying it should be retired for as long as I've known Bulls history....becuase it should

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