Former Grizzlies' GM Versace to Run for Congress 

AP -- Former Memphis Grizzlies GM and NBA commentator Dick Versace is looking for a new job: congressman.

The 67-year-old Versace, a Democrat, said Thursday that he will bid for the 18th Congressional District seat in central Illinois. Incumbent Republican Ray LaHood announced in July he will retire when his term runs out in 2009.

Versace said he will tour the district in a 28-foot motor home called the "Common Sense Express" after he formally announces his intention to run for office at a news conference in the next couple of weeks.

"I’m going on a listening tour," he said.

Versace is well known to basketball fans around the country. He is a former NBA assistant coach and head coach, and was a longtime television commentator. In 2005, he stepped down as the Memphis Grizzlies' general manager after six years with the team.

But before that, he was at Bradley University, where he won three Missouri Valley Conference Championships and a National Invitational Tournament title from 1979 to 1986. "I feel a real debt of gratitude to the Peoria area," said Versace, who has homes in Peoria and Chicago. "I had the most wonderful eight years of my life there."

Versace joins Chuck Giger, a retired Navy aviator who lives in Chatham, as a Democratic candidate. At least three Republicans have announced they will seek the GOP nomination for the seat.

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