Fred Hoiberg uses foul language, 'Animal House' to challenge Bulls


Fred Hoiberg uses foul language, 'Animal House' to challenge Bulls

The Fred Hoiberg bag of tricks and motivational tactics reached a new level Saturday.

Whether it’s a level of creativity or desperation is certainly up to one’s devices, but the Bulls coach, perhaps seeing the morale on this team slip to an all-time low, showed a motivational video from a famous movie to lighten the mood, and the mild mannered coach even used some profane language to illustrate the severity of things.

“I can’t say what I want to right now. Fight through it and keep battling,” Hoiberg told his team, before some prodding brought out the unexpected phrase.

“Nut the f--- up,” he said only half-jokingly, but considering the Bulls will be without Pau Gasol for their two-game trip to Toronto and Washington, D.C. with swelling in his knee.

Unexpected injuries call for unexpected phrases.

Hoiberg pulled up a clip from the comedy classic movie “Animal House” where John Belushi’s character challenged—or motivated his downtrodden fraternity brothers to band together and disrupt the homecoming parade with some hijinks, as the speech had a couple inaccuracies such as “Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!”.

Either way, Belushi’s point was made and the group rallied.

“We showed them a little speech from Animal House today,” Hoiberg said. “You just try to keep their morale up.”

It’s not unusual for coaches to pull different tactics in desperate situations, as the great Phil Jackson once used clips from the “Wizard of Oz” to lighten the mood during a playoff series against the Detroit Pistons before a game at Chicago Stadium, when the Bulls trailed 2-0 and were facing potential elimination in the Eastern Conference Finals.

[RELATED: Jimmy Butler on track to return Monday vs. Raptors]

The Bulls overcame a double-digit deficit in that contest and forced a game 7 before the motivational tricks could pull no more against the champion Pistons. Then again, that team had Michael Jordan, and he’s not walking through that door.

But on the other side, the Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards aren’t exactly the Bad Boys from Detroit, either.

“We’re playing a team that’s won 14 of 15 at home and is playing their best basketball of the season,” said Hoiberg, referencing the Raptors. “That’s a big thing with our group, is finding a way to fight through these tough times right now. We’re dealing with a lot of injuries and adversity. You can’t feel sorry for yourselves.”

But if there’s a team that brings out the best in the Bulls, it’s the surging Raptors. The Bulls have won all three meetings this season, by an average score of 111-105, including Jimmy Butler’s Superman performance in their first Toronto meeting. Butler scored 40 in the second half, helping the Bulls rally after getting his lip split open inadvertently.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

That type of inspired basketball has been missing for ages now, and it’ll be needed just to keep their heads above water considering Gasol is out and Derrick Rose’s status appears to be in the air after he didn’t go through a full practice with his injured groin, although he showed improvement.

One hit after another, the Bulls seem ready to fall to the canvas, and have pushed themselves to the brink, as they could return home two games under .500 if the pattern of turnovers at a high rate continue on the road—the thing that doomed them in their back-to-back set against the San Antonio Spurs (21) and Miami Heat (18).

“That’s one thing again, I think we had six straight possessions with turnovers in the fourth quarter the other night, and you could just see our morale continue to go down,” Hoiberg said. “We got to find a way to fight through that stuff. That’s been a big thing with this team, is fight through the adversity. You have to have it. These last 19 (it’s actually 18) games are crucial in that area. We’re going on the road now. We have to get off to a good start, we got to fight through the tough times.”

And even though Hoiberg can pull a funny phrase or movie clip for temporary levity, if he finds a healthy body or two it’ll make his life and the Bulls’ life a little bit easier in the coming weeks.

Jimmy Butler's injury produced memories for Zach LaVine, Fred Hoiberg


Jimmy Butler's injury produced memories for Zach LaVine, Fred Hoiberg

MINNEAPOLIS — That feeling of having your knee buckle out of nowhere, Zach LaVine is all-too familiar with it.

That feeling of being on the sidelines and watching Jimmy Butler’s knee give out, Fred Hoiberg has been there, too.

Different perspectives, and different reactions but Butler’s knee injury produced a sick feeling to many who watched it Friday night. Butler turned to pivot in the Timberwolves’ game against the Houston Rockets and immediately collapsed on the floor, having to be carried off.

LaVine tore his ACL in Detroit over a year ago, while it was revealed Butler suffered a right meniscus injury. But it looked all the same and LaVine understood the uncertainty Butler must’ve been feeling before the MRI revealed it wasn’t an ACL injury.

“It’s scary,” LaVine said following morning shootaround at the Target Center Saturday afternoon. “I wish him the best. You don’t want to see that happen to anybody. Especially a player of his caliber and what he’s done for the team.”

When LaVine injured his ACL, he actually played a few more minutes before being removed and going to the locker room. The time between being evaluated by doctors and them coming back feels like a lifetime.

“It’s scary. You know you hurt yourself, you don’t know how bad,” LaVine said. “You think you’re good, you’re a tough minded person trying to get through it.”

“I saw him on the ground trying to get up, (Rockets guard) Chris Paul made him sit down. Jimmy’s a tough dude. Thoughts and prayers going out to him.”

Butler and LaVine were the centerpieces of the draft day trade involving the Bulls and Timberwolves. With Butler suffering the injury the night before playing his former team a second time, the timing produced a bunch of memories.

In Hoiberg’s first year with the Bulls, Butler went down in a somewhat similar manner in Denver, a non-contact injury. It looked just as bad, and Butler was taken off the floor in a wheelchair.

Thankfully it was a right knee strain that cost him several weeks but it wasn’t as bad as it looked. Considering the minutes he’s played over the last few years, Hoiberg was asked if Butler pushes himself too hard to be on the floor.

“Jimmy he wants to be out there,” Hoiberg said. “I remember the first year in Denver, he went down with what looked to be a serious injury. Thankfully he was back on the floor after 15-16 games.”

Actually, Butler missed 11 consecutive games before coming back for a nationally-televised game against the Rockets, playing 34 minutes in a Bulls win and missing the next three games for recovery.

“We really worried when he went down but it wasn’t something that ended his season,” Hoiberg said. “Jimmy’s a worker. He’s one of the hardest working guys I’ve seen. It’s a huge reason for the type of player he is, that work ethic to make him one of the elite players in the league.”

With Bulls-Timberwolves looming, Jimmy Butler is diagnosed with meniscus injury


With Bulls-Timberwolves looming, Jimmy Butler is diagnosed with meniscus injury

Jimmy Butler won't be facing the Bulls a second time this season.

Butler suffered a non-contact knee injury on Friday night in Houston. The initial X-ray only revealed he didn't have any broken bones, but the MRI had to wait until Saturday.

The Timberwolves announced that the MRI revealed a meniscus injury in Butler's right knee. There is not yet word on how long the All-Star guard will be out of action, but if it wasn't already assumed that he wouldn't play against the Bulls, it's now certain.

Avoiding the ACL tear means avoiding the worse case scenario, but this is likely still going to cause Butler to miss a significant amount of time with about a quarter of the regular season remaining. An update from Shams Charania of The Vertical said Butler could return for the postseason.

The Bulls take on the Timberwolves on Saturday night. Butler dropped 38 points at the United Center in his return to Chicago exactly two weeks ago, but the Bulls won 114-113.

Butler posted on Instagram a reaction to the injury.

Saturday's game will be the returns of Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn to Minnesota after they went the other direction in the Butler trade on draft night last June.