Why the Cavs’ future depends on these NBA Finals…

By Allie Burger

It’s now…or maybe not for a long time for the Cleveland Cavaliers if they don’t win the 2017 NBA Finals. Here’s a breakdown of all the moving parts in their organization that could be affected if they lose.

Photo at top: The Cleveland Cavaliers are tied for the oldest team in the NBA and do not have a draft pick until 2019. (Allie Burger/MEDILL)

Chi-Town Browns Backers keep fingers crossed for Cleveland

By Grace Austin

Cleveland Browns fans often speak of the “Factory of Sadness,” a nickname for FirstEnergy Stadium, where the often-losing NFL team plays. Since the team’s return to Cleveland in 1999, the Browns have made the playoffs only once, in 2002. Last season, they won only one game.

But in the heart of Wrigleyville, Chicago’s Chi-Town Dawg Pound brings together diehard fans that still root for the hometown team from “The Land.” The Chi-Town Dawg Pound was voted the No.1 Browns Backers Worldwide fan club in 2016, mostly due to a mix of attendance, enthusiasm and philanthropic efforts. And with a No. 1 pick in the draft this year, hope for this year’s team is brewing.

Photo at top: The Cleveland Browns chose defensive end Myles Garrett as its No.1 pick, breaking a long tradition of first-round quarterback picks. (Grace Austin/MEDILL)

Basketball brings opportunity to West Side high schooler

By Lauren Baker and Peter Jones

Basketball is everything for Michael Flenory. The West Side native started playing in the sixth grade. Since then, the sport has given him structure, introduced him to new people and allowed him to travel across the country.

Now 16, Michael plays for Uplift Community High School and the Chicago Raptors, an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) team. Like many young Chicago basketball players, Michael has big dreams for the future. His goal is to attend the University of Iowa on a basketball scholarship. Michael’s mom Cassandra Bernard hopes he can even make it to the NBA.

Photo at top: Michael Flenory dribbles the ball at his AAU team practice. (Lauren Baker/MEDILL)

Westinghouse senior builds a bright future with a best friend

By Allie Burger

Coreyoun Rushin’s got a lot going on.

He is one of the top high school basketball prospects in the city. He has multiple Division I offers. And he didn’t even play his freshman year or at a local basketball powerhouse.

Here’s how Rushin stuck to his promise to a best friend, in the process pursuing his dreams and changing the basketball culture at George Westinghouse College Prep in East Garfield Park:

Photo at top: Coreyoun Rushin and Jocke Fields helped Westinghouse win the 2017 IHSA Class 3A regional championship. (Allie Burger/MEDILL)

West Side showcase provides college opportunities for local basketball players

By Allie Burger and Jacob Rogers

Chicago basketball guru Daniel Poneman has teamed up with NBA player Evan Turner to provide local high school and junior college basketball players a free opportunity to change their lives.

The Evan Turner Prospect Showcase is a day-long event that gives 250 athletes the chance to play in front of 150 college scouts and coaches from across the country.

Poneman says that about 70 percent of participants find success at the showcase.

Photo at top: Poneman started the showcase in 2010. It has grown from one two-hour session to a day-long event. (Molly Morrison/LOYOLA)

White Sox Fans Have Low Expectations for 2017 Season

By Jennifer Lee

As the city of Chicago still seems to be celebrating the Cubs’ World Series title, their cross-town rivals are being over-shadowed yet again. White Sox fans have suffered through some rough seasons after a successful bid for the championship in 2005, and this year doesn’t look like it’s going to be much different.

Photo at top: Personalized commemorative bricks outside Guaranteed Rate Field. (Jennifer Lee/MEDILL)

Road to glory not always easy for Northwestern’s Scottie Lindsey

By Astasia Williams

SALT LAKE CITY – Scott “Scottie” Lindsey has helped Northwestern men’s basketball write the most important chapter in program history. But Lindsey’s own story hasn’t always been a fairy tale.

The Hillside, Illinois, native was a three-star recruit from Fenwick High School in Oak Park, Illinois. Now he’s an All-Big Ten player and a weapon who can destroy any opposing defense with his reverse layups or smooth 3-point shot. Going from wildcard underclassman to second leading scorer for the Wildcats’ first-ever NCAA Tournament team, things have gone uphill for Lindsey. But adversity almost prematurely ended his magical season when he came down with mononucleosis during Big Ten play.

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Will Chris Collins remain at Northwestern for the long haul?

By Mark Singer

Even if this season ends in Salt Lake City Thursday, Chris Collins has firmly cemented his legacy as the greatest basketball coach in Northwestern history. Now the question for Collins is, does he want to add to his legacy in Evanston or somewhere else?

Judging by his comments on Selection Sunday, Collins doesn’t seem poised to leave this team anytime soon.

“This is not the end game,” he said after the Wildcats secured the No. 8 seed in the West Sunday. “To me, this is the beginning of Northwestern basketball.”

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From dunks to deliveries: Former No. 1 Pick La Rue Martin’s Unlikely Success Story

By Elan Kane

La Rue Martin Jr. thought his future was set. The Portland Trail Blazers had drafted him No. 1 overall in the 1972 NBA draft. Money and fame awaited.

Fifteen years later, he started work as a UPS driver, struggling to find uniform pants that fit his 6-foot-11 frame.

“There is life after sports,” Martin said. “Period.”

It’s been 45 years since the draft and Martin, a former Loyola University star, is now the UPS Illinois district public affairs and community services manager. He is labeled by many as one of the biggest busts in NBA draft history, but he is fine with that designation.

“I don’t believe in saying anything negative, you have no control over that,” Martin said. “I took care of my family, did what I had to do and I’m the type of person I can’t dwell off the negatives. I can’t. I kept my head up high and moved onto a positive mode of life and it has treated me very well.”

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Basketball builds a brotherhood

By Alan Suriel

For some people basketball is just a sport to play when they’re bored. For others, basketball is a sport in which they give up everything. They give up your social life. They give up television. They give up rest and relaxation. For those people, basketball is life.

Every so often, a person who is committed to the sport finds a group of players with the same passion. Those guys become teammates. They then find a man who has been around the block for a few decades. That man has played the game. That man has taught the game. Those teammates call that man “Coach”.

East-West University is far from a big-time basketball program. As a matter of fact, they aren’t even affiliated with the NCAA. It is an independent program that uses basketball to better their players on and off the court.

However, what they didn’t expect was for the players to form a brotherhood, not only on the court, but away from it as well.

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