- Created on 13 December 2012
In six months, 16-year-old Gabby Douglas has gone from Olympic gymnast to Olympic champion to world traveler to author.
And now she has made Barbara Walters' list of "The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2012."
Douglas is joining actor/producer Ben Affleck, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, British boy band One Direction and Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson in the top 10 list at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday on ABC.
"She is such a fascinating woman herself," Douglas said of Walters. "I was really nervous because she is this amazing icon. Once we started chatting, we started feeding off each other. My nerves went away."
Douglas talked in detail about her childhood, the money struggles, an estranged father, her hair, moving away from home to train and what life is like today. And she also had a special moment after taping.
"We were filming on her birthday in September in New York. It was such a blast," Douglas said. "After the interview, we all sang 'Happy Birthday.' We gave her a cake. I can't imagine telling people that I sang 'Happy Birthday' to Barbara Walters!"
It has been that kind of year for Douglas, who won two gold medals at the Summer Olympic Games, went on a U.S. tour with other gymnasts following the London Games and wrote a book about her path from Virginia Beach, Va., to the Olympics.
Playbook had a few minutes to talk with Douglas about her jam-packed year.
You've just released your autobiography, "Grace, Gold and Glory: My Leap of Faith." You talk a lot about your difficult journey and your distant relationship with your mostly absent father. When did you have time to write it and how emotional was it to put it on paper?
I actually wrote the book on the three-month gymnastics tour right after the Olympics. It was very difficult through parts of the book, but it was fun digging into my memories of the good times. I've always wanted to write a book. It's my life story.
How did you remember everything?
I'm 16! I love saying, 'Remember this one time! And remember when we did this!' I get to go back deep in thought. Sometimes I randomly laugh thinking about things I've done. When you're 16, it's not like I have to remember that long ago.
And what was it like when you finished?
I felt really accomplished, especially writing it during the tour. I'm glad I finished. I feel great. I can check it off my list. It's really exciting. I did forget to put some things in, but that's OK. I'm happy with how the book came out.
The book detailed a lot about how your family helped you through some difficult times, including you wanting to give up the sport to work at Chick-fil-A.
My family means so much to me. They have been there for my whole gymnastics career, especially through my difficult times. And they were there to cheer me all the way to London.
You've been a great role model for today's youth. What does that responsibility mean to you?
I'm still the same Gabby. I'm bubbly and energetic and that won't change. I love to laugh. I love to show everyone my personality. I know there are a lot of people watching me and my every move. I'm not worried about doing things that are bad for me. I'm not going to act like that. The only thing I worry about is whether I need to rub lotion on my knees.
What do you tell young people when you meet them about their goals?
You can achieve anything if you work very hard. I'm not talking just about gymnastics, but it could be track or soccer. It's all about heart and dedication and having fun. You'll get there.
Do you think you'd feel differently if you didn't win at the Olympics?
I'm still the same, winning or not. I still would tell people I'm an Olympian and I performed on the world-class stage. I tried everything. I moved to Iowa. I moved away from my family. I tried everything and gave it my all.
Me and my family are getting ready to take a vacation. We're going on a cruise to the Caribbean. I went when I was younger. It's going to be a lot of fun.
And those buffets!
I do have a burger now and then. I don't really eat bad foods every day. I do occasionally have some fries. My routine is usually soup, sandwich, salmon and I love sushi. I don't really like greasy foods. But I do love ice cream.
Then it's back to training for 2016 in Rio?
It's been tough thinking about it. I've been traveling so much. I haven't had much time to work out. I'm not in Olympic shape like I was in London. I'm blessed to have a fast metabolism. I'm ready to take on my new challenges.
- Created on 13 December 2012
(AP) — Not only were the Chicago Bulls short-handed, they were a bit weary after a tough five-point loss to the Los Angeles Clippers at home on Tuesday night.
The Bulls sure didn't look tired or depleted less than 24 hours later.
Joakim Noah scored 21 points, Luol Deng added 19 points and 12 rebounds, and the Bulls won their fourth in a row on the road with a 96-89 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night.
"We've been fighting all year, but we've let a lot of games slip," Noah said. "But there's a lot of basketball left and we have to keep playing like this. Back-to-back can be tough if you let it. We fought hard and we had everyone here contribute. That's what you need and I thought we were resilient. We went to the basket hard and we went to the glass hard."
Following that home loss, the Bulls traveled to Philadelphia and appeared more rested than the Sixers, who had Tuesday off.
Marco Belinelli had 16 points and Nate Robinson, starting in place of guard Kirk Hinrich, had 14 for Chicago. Hinrich injured his left knee in Tuesday's loss to the Clippers and is listed as day to day.
"In the NBA, you have to play whatever is in front of you," Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said. "Back-to-back doesn't matter. Readiness to play is huge in this league and tonight, we showed that. We were tough."
Jrue Holiday scored 26 points, Evan Turner added 16 and Thaddeus Young had 13 for Philadelphia. Reserve Spencer Hawes chipped in with 10 points and 10 rebounds, and Nick Young also scored 10 for the Sixers.
Down the stretch it was the Sixers who seemed to have heavy legs.
"I thought fatigue was a factor," Philadelphia coach Doug Collins said.
Philadelphia took an 80-79 lead when Holiday knocked down a jumper with 5:20 remaining.
But the short-handed Bulls — still playing without All-Star guard Derrick Rose (left knee), as well as guards Richard Hamilton (torn plantar fascia in his left foot) and Hinrich — responded with a 7-0 run to take an 86-80 lead.
Jason Richardson hit a 3-pointer to get the Sixers within three before Deng came right back with a tough driving layup to push the lead back to five.
Deng had one of his worst games of the season with an eight-point effort against the Clippers, but he shook it off to help carry the Bulls to another tough road win.
"Sometimes back-to-back, you feel great, and sometimes, you don't and something is just missing," Deng said. "Tonight, we were ready to bounce back."
The Sixers took a 44-41 lead into halftime despite missing all four of their 3-point attempts and all three of their free throws. Philadelphia shot 46 percent from the field and wound up at 45 percent by the end of the game.
"We just have to continue to execute and put our pulse on the game early," Thaddeus Young said. "If we do that, we'll be fine."
- Created on 11 December 2012
Following a well-attended inaugural event earlier this month, the Chicago Elite Classic basketball tournament will return to Chicago next year with the intention of making it an annual staple, Mayor Emanuel announced on Monday.
The event, which pitted six of the top high school basketball teams from the Chicago area (including Simeon Career Academy, Whitney Young High School and Proviso East High School, among others) against some of the best programs from around the country, drew more than 10,000 fans to the UIC Pavilion on Dec. 1.
"This annual event will highlight Chicago's commitment to High School basketball, which unites our City and showcases the community and competitive spirit that make Chicago's student-athletes so successful," the mayor said in a statement.
Local coaches Tyrone Slaughter of Whitney Young and Rob Smith of Simeon Career Academy initially pitched the idea earlier this year as a way to showcase Chicago's prep school talent to the rest of the country, an opportunity that Mr. Emanuel was eager to seize in hopes of continuing to boost Chicago tourism through various sporting events.
A number of Chicago-area companies jumped on board with sponsorship support, including United Airlines, ComEd, BMO Harris Bank, Loop Capital LLC and the Alliance of Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs (ABLE), a locally-based group of a couple dozen African-American CEOs.
ABLE and the Business Leadership Council helped raise about half of the funds to put on the event, which cost roughly $300,000 total.
"We were honored that the City of Chicago and local businesses gathered together to help us make the event an enjoyable experience for all involved, said Mr. Slaughter of Whitney Young. "We look forward to bringing the country's best high school teams in the country back to our great city next year."
This year was also a prime opportunity to shine some light on Chicago high school basketball with Simeon senior star Jabari Parker (number two in the ESPN 100 top-ranked prep players nationwide) and Whitney Young junior Jahlil Okafor (number two in ESPN's 2014 ranking) in the mix.
"We really appreciate them making the effort to come to our hometown," said Mr. Parker, who is still yet to commit to a college next year. "I am very happy that the Chicago Elite Classic will become an annual event."
- Created on 12 December 2012
(AP) — Chris Paul liked the way the Los Angeles Clippers grinded out an ugly win when they were challenged.
Blake Griffin had 22 points and 10 rebounds to help Los Angeles beat the Chicago Bulls 94-89 on Tuesday night for its seventh straight victory, the team's longest winning streak in two decades.
Marco Belinelli hit a 3-pointer with less than a minute left to cut Chicago's deficit to 89-87, but Paul answered with a floater in the lane, then iced it with three free throws down the stretch as Los Angeles snapped the Bulls' season-high three-game winning streak.
Paul finished with 18 points and four assists, below the 20 and 10 he averaged in his first dozen games against Chicago but enough for the Clippers to sweep the season series for the first time since 2009-10.
"I kind of forgot what it was like to play in the fourth quarter," said Paul, who hadn't seen late action since Dec. 3 at Utah. "But at the end, we knew we were on the road and we'd have to withstand a run we knew they would make. Our defense kept us in the game."
Chicago shot 50 percent from beyond the arc, but only 1 of 6 in the fourth quarter.
"We want our identity to be a defensive identity," Paul said. "We're still trying to build that."
The Clippers (15-6) are on their longest winning streak since an eight-game run during the 1991-92 season. They have won 10 of 12 at the United Center.
Carlos Boozer scored 24 points and pulled down 13 rebounds for the Bulls, who had won five of six overall.
It was Boozer's 10th double-double in 13 games, but he missed a pair of free throws and was called for an offensive foul during a crucial sequence 3 minutes into the fourth quarter as Chicago failed to cut into the Clippers' lead.
The Bulls (11-9) had held opponents below 90 points in seven of their last nine games, though they did keep the Clippers under 100 for the first time during their seven-game run.
Griffin was a force inside throughout, quieting the home crowd with his thunderous dunks. He also knocked down his first 3-pointer of the season in the second quarter after missing five previous attempts.
"Games on the road like this, after we had a little bit of success, six games, coming on the road, you don't want to have a letdown," Griffin said. "Chicago's a tough team. These are the kinds of wins you need."
The Western Conference Player of the Week then followed with a pair of rim-shaking dunks in transition as part of a 15-5 Clippers run to end the first half. They went into halftime with a seven-point lead, matching their biggest advantage of the game to that point.
"The end of the second quarter changed the game," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "We started dancing with the ball. When you do that it leads to turnovers, live ball, and transition baskets for them. We shot ourselves in the foot there.
"You can't do that against good teams."
Griffin averaged 30.3 points and 12.0 rebounds in his first four career games against Chicago. The only team he has better numbers against is the New York Knicks (31.1 ppg).
Griffin had 26 points and 10 rebounds in his team's 101-80 win over Chicago on Nov. 17 in Los Angeles.
Joakim Noah finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds. It marked the first time the Bulls have lost when both Noah and Boozer have double-doubles (8-1).
Luol Deng was held to just eight points, his lowest output since a seven-point performance in Chicago's season opener.
He and Noah committed four turnovers apiece. Chicago turned the ball over 16 times.
"We can't put that team in transition," Noah said. "The turnovers hurt us."
Defense ruled early as both teams struggled out of the chute. Los Angeles missed its first six field-goal attempts before Caron Butler finally knocked down a jumper more than 3 minutes in. Chicago fared little better, starting 1 of 10 from the floor.
The Bulls had to go to the bench after two fouls were called on Kirk Hinrich in the first quarter, but Nate Robinson and Taj Gibson provided a spark in relief.
Robinson knocked down a pair of 3s to help Chicago keep pace, and Gibson's jumper midway through the second quarter gave the Bulls their first lead since the opening minutes.
Gibson scored eight of his 10 points in the second quarter.
Jamal Crawford, the NBA's leading bench scorer, finished with 10 points for Los Angeles. They all came in the second after being tripped by Robinson, who was called for a flagrant foul.
- Created on 11 December 2012
(AP) — Coach Lovie Smith realizes the Chicago Bears no longer control their fate in the NFC North. Their playoff hopes still are in their hands, though.
That's something Smith emphasized Monday on the heels of an ugly loss at Minnesota that knocked the Bears (8-5) out of first place in the division. They've dropped four of five and are free falling for the second straight year with Green Bay coming to Soldier Field this weekend.
If the Packers (9-4) win, they clinch the division and a wild card is no sure thing for Chicago. The Bears were sixth in the NFC after Sunday's loss, with Washington, Dallas and Minnesota a game behind them.
"We need a little bit of help as far as the division is concerned," Smith said. "But we do control our playoff hopes. That's what we have to lay everything we do right now on, to just play better football."
That's something the Bears haven't done since they racked up 51 points in a win at Tennessee on Nov. 4. They were 7-1 after that game, but the schedule took a tougher turn with back-to-back losses against Houston and San Francisco that started this slide.
It lightens up after this week with games against Arizona and Detroit to close the season, although both are on the road. The Bears could get into the playoffs with fewer than 11 wins, but it might come down to tiebreakers.
"The pressure we're feeling right now is on our performances," Smith said. "Improving, it's on us. We talked about someone else controlling the division, but what happens to us, it doesn't' really matter about the teams ahead of us or the teams behind us right now. It's just what we do. We're not looking at that at all. ... We have the Packers coming in and that's enough right there for all of our thoughts to just go on them."
The recent skid has only fueled the notion that the early run had as much to do with who the Bears were playing as it did with how good they are.
It's also sparked memories of last year's collapse and renewed speculation about Smith's future. He was spared at the end of last season while then-general manager Jerry Angelo got the ax, after the Bears went from 7-3 to finishing at 8-8.
New GM Phil Emery had a mandate to keep the coach for this season, but beyond that?
"I think every day I've been here, each day I think all of us come to work we're going to do the best job we possibly can," said Smith, who's signed through 2013. "All of our futures are tied. It's all based on wins and losses, really, and I'm OK with that."
The Bears have lost all the momentum they had in the early going, just as they did after Cutler broke his right thumb last season.
He was unable to finish the game against Houston because of a concussion and missed the next game at San Francisco. Against Minnesota, Cutler had to leave in the fourth quarter because of a sore neck.
Cutler took a hit to the head by Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen that drew a penalty, but he said afterward his neck was bothering him all afternoon and worsened as the game went on. Cutler finished that drive before Jason Campbell took over, but he doesn't expect to miss any more time.
He said Monday during his weekly appearance on the "Waddle & Silvy Show" on Chicago's WMVP-AM 1000 that "unless something drastic happens, absolutely" he will be ready to play against the Packers.
Kicker Robbie Gould also strained his left calf during warmups. He did handle extra points and an onside kick but ceded kickoff duties to punter Adam Podlesh. The Bears did not attempt any field goals, so it's not clear if Gould or Podlesh would have handled them. Smith did not rule out bringing in kickers for tryouts this week in case Gould isn't ready.
The Bears could point to a long list of injuries in recent weeks, with Brian Urlacher (hamstring) possibly out for the remainder of the season and cornerback Tim Jennings (shoulder) sidelined against Minnesota. But that only partially explains the poor execution on both sides of the ball, the lack of big plays on defense.
They were supposed to be built to weather them, anyway. And at the moment, the Packers are rolling despite a run of injuries that would have derailed most teams.
"Right now we just have to win out," receiver Brandon Marshall said after the loss at Minnesota. "It doesn't matter. Forget the Xs and Os, forget the first 11, 12 games of the season. All of that doesn't matter at this point. We have the guys in this locker room that can get it done and we have to get it done."