When pro athletes share their stories, kids listen. Bulls star Jimmy Butler shot hoops with teens from Marshall High School the other day in an event organized by Kellogg’s. The point was to call attention to the importance of a morning meal.

“If I go out and say eat breakfast, they’re probably going to do it,” Butler says. “That’s the job I have in this community. What I say is heard.”

The scene was less scripted a few days earlier when former Bulls star Charles Oakley met with students from Orr Academy High School.

That came about after Oakley’s friend, Chicago lobbyist John Kelly, read the Sun-Times series about Orr being at ground zero of city violence.

Kelly suggested his friend to talk to Orr’s team.

Oakley talked about growing up in Cleveland’s inner city and how basketball and good grades helped him make it out.

The ballplayers asked if Oakley knew anyone who had ever been shot. Yes, he said. Then came questions about getting to college.

There was basketball talk, too.

“Did you really play with Michael Jordan?” one teen asked. “No, son. Michael Jordan played with me,” said Oakley.

Oakley recently made news when he was arrested for allegedly striking a security guard and scuffling with others last month at a New York Knicks game in Madison Square Garden. The former Knicks forward was charged with misdemeanor assault and criminal trespass for the outburst that included him getting tossed from the stadium. Oakley has maintained he did nothing wrong when he was suddenly surrounded by MSG security guards.

Lemonis-Tadros feud heats up

Marcus Lemonis (left) is looking to buy out Bow Truss founder Phil Tadros.

A big battle is brewing between Marcus Lemonis (left) and Bow Truss founder Phil Tadros. | File photos

 

The battle brewing between Chicago businessmen Marcus Lemonis and Phil Tadros is just the latest business feud to play out in the public eye. And it’s a doozy.

Three months ago, Lemonis, who heads Camping World Holdings and stars in CNBC’s “The Profit,” planned to buy Tadros’s Bow Truss Coffee Roasters company.

The partnership fizzled when Lemonis pulled back from the deal. Tadros sued, calling Lemonis’ move calculated to put the company at “a rock bottom bargain basement give-way price.” Lemonis countersued, saying Tadros wasn’t forthright about Bow Truss’s financial straits.

“I’m not going to let him bully or connive people anymore,” Lemonis says.

Tadros counters with a “who’s calling who a bully?” He points to a letter of intent, saying Lemonis “lied” about not knowing about the company’s financial troubles. “If he was a stand-up guy, he would have spent $1 million to help our company.”

Nothing Midwestern Nice about that.

It’s reminiscent of a legendary feud between competing insurance moguls Michael Segal and Pat Ryan.

When the Art Institute of Chicago hired Segal’s Near North Insurance to insure Van Gogh and Gauguin paintings for an exhibition, Ryan reportedly squawked. At the time he headed Aon Corp., a larger insurance company.

Later, Segal would be indicted by the feds for embezzling more than $20 million from Near North. He served time and was released but forever held a grudge against Ryan — even claiming Ryan conspired with Segal’s former employees to send him to jail.

Jerry Mickelson and Steve Traxler, have gone their separate ways since battling in court over shares in Jam Theatricals, the Broadway entertainment arm of Jam Productions.

And I wonder if entrepreneur Lou Weisbach and tech leaders Brad Keywell and Eric Lefkofsky smile at each other through gritted teeth. Weisbach founded Ha-Lo Industries, which for two-plus decades sold T-shirts and tchotchkes and saw $612 million in sales in 2000. When the company’s board considered partnering with an online-sales business owned by Keywell and Lefkofsky, Weisbach fought the plan. He lost and left the company. And Ha-Lo fell into bankruptcy.

Chicago Q owner Fred Latsko talks drolly about his feud with chef Lee Ann Whippen. She filed suit last year claiming he cut her out of the barbecue restaurant’s profits.

“Chicago Q carried her longer than her mother did and sadly had to let her go,” he says. “A partnership is a poor ship to sail in the seas of commerce.”

U. of C. raises fundraising goal

The University of Chicago has expanded its fundraising campaign to a whopping $5 billion.

“By raising the goal, we’re recognizing the success of the campaign to date, and affirming the university’s determination to broaden access for all students and support critical areas of inquiry,” board chairman Joseph Neubauer said in a release.

The campaign launched in 2014 with a $4.5 billion goal.

The $500 million increase was approved unanimously at a recent trustee meeting. It will advance programs across the university, including the Odyssey Scholarship Program that supports undergrads with the greatest economic need.

 

Billy’s got a brand new thing

Chicago restaurateur Billy Dec has a busy month.

Billy Dec

Billy Dec | Getty Images

The Chicago movie production company he co-founded is filming its first movie and the hospitality group he co-owns is opening a new bar.

Elston Films is shooting “Bury the Lead,” a journalism drama directed by Anthony Hemingway (“The Underground” and “Empire”) in Chicago.

Dec is a familiar name on the restaurant scene. He’s a partner of Rockit Ranch restaurants, which is getting ready to open Otto Mezzo, an Italian bar.

Read more Taking Names at shiakapos.com.