What's next for CSN's Bulls Analyst Kendall Gill?

What's next for CSN's Bulls Analyst Kendall Gill?

Last week, Kendall Gill was a rising star in broadcast media, doing Chicago Bulls pre and post game analysis for Comcast SportsNet Chicago. Currently, he is suspended for the rest of the Bulls season.

“We have made a decision to not have Kendall Gill appear on our air for the remainder of the Bulls season. We will re-evaluate our current position on this matter during the off-season,” said a statement from the station.

So former Illini star Kendall Gill could need a new job this summer. Or maybe even consider a new career. But that’s all speculation on what’s down the road.

Not many details are known about the event which occurred after Kendall Gill, Big Ten Network analyst Tim Doyle and Crain’s Danny Ecker appeared as panelists on CSN’s “Sports Talk Live,” a new talk show that debuted last month.

Gill was relieved of on-air duties after he allegedly punched Big Ten Network analyst Tim Doyle last Tuesday night. The incident occurred after the show’s taping in the Comcast SportsNet studio newsroom. According to Ecker, who was there, Gill confronted Doyle in the CSN newsroom after the taping because of critical comments Doyle made regarding Gill’s analysis of last Monday night’s Chicago Bulls loss to the Denver Nuggets. A controversial call by the officials wiped out a potential game-winning basket by Joakim Noah in overtime. The Bulls really kind of got jobbed. As did the Illini on Sunday night in the NCAA Tournament, even a member of the Illini opposition admitted it. (What a tumultuous week for the Illini program)

Kendall Gill said the officials made a “a very bad call.” Doyle, who used to play college basketball for Northwestern supposedly told Gill that he de-followed both him and fellow Bulls analyst Stacey King on Twitter.

Now I said it would be a terrible idea to have Doyle on the show back on February 24th. When writing about the format change from Chicago Tribune Live to SportsTalk Live I said:

“Just don’t have BTN’s Tim Doyle on; because he has a track record of not saying intelligent things on the air.”

I never envisioned anything like this happening though. I also called Tim Doyle the worst sportscaster ever back in December.

But no one should ever he physically attacked for expressing their opinion; and I didn't think anyone would. Also  you MUST listen to this Tim Doyle interview this past Friday on WSCR. He discusses the fight somewhat, but much more important is the perspective on life you’ll get from hearing Doyle talk about his past week.

Neither CSN nor BTN will discuss this incident any further. Kendall Gill himself is wisely remaining silent. But ABC 7′s Mark Giangreco had an opinionated remark about the scuffle.

And since Gill is a quintessential local guy, played preps, college and pro ball (at least for one year) locally, let’s look back at how he got to where he is in life before guessing on what could be ahead for him.

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Both Gill and myself are from the far south suburbs and we both probably look at Champaign-Urbana as just a REALLY FAR SOUTH suburb of Chicago. I first met Gill while attending his basketball camp in 1992. He was a 20 ppg. scorer in the NBA with the Charlotte Hornets, I was a 14-year-old sporting an Illini t-shirt and shorts. This made me stand out a little bit from the other campers in Kendall Gill’s eyes. (It certainly wasn’t my ballin’ ability. I’ve succeeded as much on the hardwood in my life as Tim Beckman has in coaching Illini football)

It was pre-determined for me that I would attend the University of Illinois. Two of my three older sisters graduated from U of I. One of them once got a ride home from a party via the motorcycle of Jeff George. Yes, the Jeff George, number one overall pick in the 1990 NFL Draft out of Illinois by the Indianapolis Colts, and genuine professional bust. George was considered a malcontent and head case. His many stops around the NFL included the Minnesota Vikings, Oakland Raiders and Chicago Bears.

I entered U of I in 1996 and graduated in 1999, covering football for the school paper. QB Kurt Kittner, who holds all the major passing records in Illini history, was my neighbor during my final year in Champaign. Kittner told this kid from Palos Heights, IL some off-the-record stuff that will…stay off-the-record. The point I’m trying to make is that Illini athletics have been in my blood for decades.

I point this out because you may or may not see Illini bias in my brand of reporting sometimes, so I may as well just come clean with it. Kind of like CBS 2′s Ryan Baker, you may or may not see Illini bias in his reporting, given that he was roommates/friends with members of the 1989 Flyin Illini Final Four team.

You can see a lot of Illini bias in this screen grab from SB Nation’s Illini sports blog The Champaign Room. Click on it for a larger view

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Gill was born in Chicago and starred at Rich Central High School in suburban Olympia Fields. Graduating in 1986, Gill led the Olympians to a 2nd place finish in the IHSA class AA state tournament.

In his college basketball career, Gill started three seasons for the Fighting Illini. As a junior, Gill led the Fighting Illini to the 1989 Final Four before losing to Michigan on a last second shot. They had beaten the Wolverines in both their previous meetings that season. The “Flyin’ Illini featured future NBA players Nick Anderson, Marcus Liberty, Kenny Battle and Illini TV/radio broadcaster Stephen Bardo as well as four year starter, Lowell Hamilton. By the way, Stephen Bardo de-followed me on Twitter for what it’s worth. He didn’t tell me that to my face, I just found out through a site that tracks your de-follows. 

Even if Bardo told me he de-followed me, and why, I still wouldn't physicially attack him for it. Partially because he could probably beat me up, partially because it would be the wrong thing to do.

As a senior, Gill led the Big Ten in scoring and was named first-team All-American. Gill left Illinois as the 7th all-time leading scorer and won the NCAA Slam Dunk championship at the Final Four his senior season. Kendall Gill was elected to the “Illini Men’s Basketball All-Century Team” in 2004.

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In the 1990 NBA Draft, Gill was chosen in the lottery with the fifth overall pick by Charlotte, and later named First Team All-Rookie for the 1990-91 season. Gill played in 15 seasons in the NBA for the Hornets, Seattle SuperSonics (he was key on that extremely good Sonics team which unfortunately became remembered as the first #1 seed to be upset by an #8 seed in the NBA playoffs), New Jersey Nets (where he had a career high scoring average/leading scorer on a playoff team bounced in the first round by an NBA Champion Bulls team), Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves, Chicago Bulls (as noted earlier), and Milwaukee Bucks.

In the 1997-98 season, Gill led the league in steals. On April 3, 1999, he recorded 11 steals in a game against Miami, tying a single-game record set by Larry Kenon during the 1976-77 season. In this game, he also recorded 15 points and 10 rebounds for a rare Points-Rebounds-Steals triple double.

Despite two 20+ ppg seasons, Gill never made an All-Star team. He was always thought to have, by NBA standards, extraordinary athleticism, but only good NBA skills. However, he once scored 32 points with Michael Jordan guarding him all game.

Kendall Gill made an appearance on the television shows My Brother and Me and Pros vs Joes, and took up boxing after his playing career was over.

However, Kendall Gill has not led an easy, perfect life. He was diagnosed with depression in the mid 90s, and had a terrible feud with then Sonics Coach George Karl. He took a week’s medical leave from the team in 1996 to treat his clinical depression. And even though he grew up comfortably middle class, Gill encountered extreme prejudice and racism. From the New York Times, the paper of record:

”You don’t think about it, but it’s hard to move from the city to the suburbs,” Gill said. ”I was 10 years old when we moved. Right after that, I went with some people to this all-white country club. I saw all my friends from school, which happened to be white, and they totally treated me different, like I wasn’t supposed to be there. When I jumped into the swimming pool, everyone else got out.”

It was devastating to him. But he didn’t withdraw, and in time, everyone would come to know Gill as a likable kid, the one who had the lawn-cutting business. ”My parents taught me to work for what I wanted,” Gill said. ”My dad had me cleaning garages and mopping the floor.”

When I next met Kendall Gill, I was covering the NBA Draft at the Berto Center in 2010. Again, he was a very nice guy. Here’s part one of my exclusive interview with Kendall Gill discussing the Illini Here’s part two with Kendall Gill discussing the Bulls.

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Some people saw this sports pundit fight as an extension of the Illini vs Northwestern rivalry; that it’s about more than marketing slogans right now.

But it wasn’t.

Others accuse Gill of being just too much of a homer with his Bulls broadcasting, and that led to the criticism that led to the fight that has possibly put his job in jeopardy. But Stacey King is the biggest homer in the world with his “DID YOU NOT GET THE MEMO?!?!” and “GIMME THE HOT SAUCE” exclamations in Gus Johnson fashion. And King isn’t in any trouble.

During his suspension, Gill certainly isn’t missing anything when it comes to Bulls basketball. He might be missing the work and the paycheck, but this Bulls season is a wasteland. They have first-round out written all over them and the Derrick Rose “will he or won’t he return” drama has now mentally, psychologically and emotionally imprisoned a fan base. It’s crossed the line into Brett Favre level status. And I don’t know who’s fault that is- the team, the doctors, Rose, Thibodeau, the media, Benny the Bull, the Luvabulls, everyone combined…but I know the storyline is annoying, played out and irritating and this Bulls season can’t end fast enough.

I just hope Gill’s broadcasting career doesn’t end with it.

But if it does, I completely understand why.

Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net, an author and regular contributor to MSN, Fox Sports , Chicago Now, Walter Football.com and Yardbarker.

Banks has appeared on Comcast SportsNet and the History Channel, as well as Clear Channel, ESPN and CBS radio all over the world. President Barack Obama follows him on Twitter (@PaulMBanks)

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