Bulls

Rose on his legacy: I want to be a clutch player

656832.png

Rose on his legacy: I want to be a clutch player

WASHINGTON Immediately after Sunday afternoons loss to the Heat in Miami, Derrick Rose revealed his extreme disappointment, most of which centered around, apart from the defeat itself, his two missed free throws in the final minute of the contest. Prior to the Bulls Monday night game against the Wizards, the reigning league MVP echoed those sentiments, but far from his crestfallen demeanor after the game, he voiced a determination to get past the high-profile failure.

Im fine. I can deal with it. My teammates, theyve got to roll with me through the good and the bad. I know if I ever get in that position again, itll be totally different, said Rose, showing even more of a swagger and confidence than in the past. You know, at first, it definitely hurt, knowing that I never would have thought in a million years that I would miss both free throws, but at that time, it definitely hurt. Talked to a few people, you know people try to encourage you. I know if I get in that position again, which I am, it will be a different outcome.

Thats something I live for. I think of my legacy. I want people to think of me as being a clutch player, someone that always comes through, majority of the time, when theyre on the court and Sunday, it hurt a little bit, but I know itll help me in the long run, he continued. If anything, Im just hurt for not only me, but the city of Chicago, knowing how big that game was, not only to me and to the organization, but to the city and our fans all over. Thats a rivalry there and you had your best player up there, had the opportunity to take the lead and I didnt come through. The only thing I can do is hope that they stay with me, stick with me and I promise that I wont let them down again.

Rose refused to take solace in the fact the constantly short-handed Bulls were missing small forward Luol Deng, the teams second-best player, and reserve stalwart C.J. Watson, who could have spelled Rose for at least few minutes Sunday.

Dont get me wrong, thats all good, but we still had an opportunity to win and we didnt. In the NBA, theres no excuses, no matter whos playing, whos out, whos injured, said Rose, putting the loss in perspective. It was huge because it was our next game, but losing to them in the playoffs, of course, with that history, we definitely wanted to win that game Sunday. I think we put ourselves in a position to win and I just didnt come through. I think if I would hit those two free throws, it would have changed the game, but it didnt work that way.

But when asked if there would be any carry-over from his disappointment to Mondays game, Rose was steadfast in his response.

Oh, hell no. Hell no, said Rose, who cited the NCAA championship game during his lone college season at Memphis ironically, he lost to Kansas, whose hero was Heat starting point guard Mario Chalmers as the last time he can recall coming up short in the clutch individually. It just makes me hungry, where tonight, Im going to try to go crazy.

On the other hand, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, equipped with a similar competitive spirit, was adamant in not discussing Sundays game.

We dont look backwards. All were doing is looking at tonights game against Washington, be ready to play. Thats all. Theyre a team, youve got to be ready for their speed and intensity, he said. I dont want our focus to be on Sunday. I want it to be on today and thats all were thinking about.

As for Rose, the All-Star point guard claimed his turf-toe injury doesnt affect him anymore.

I dont feel it anymore. My biggest thing now is just getting rest, he said. My toe is all right, been getting treatment on it, so Im fine with that. Its just getting rest and getting the proper sleeping time.

Ive been making sure Im eating good. I stopped eating sweets as much. Getting rest, sleeping. Really, just laying around in my bed, getting off my feet and eating-wise, I only eat chicken. I dont eat beef, pork or fish, so I think Im eating OK, Rose continued, explaining a health kick partially motivated by the condensed schedule. Just sugar, period. Candy. Thats something Ive stoppedIve slowed down, I would sayand Im still working on it.

Rose also talked about how being a Chicago native, he feels even more of a responsibility to his hometown team.

I wouldnt say a burden, but I like seeing my city happy, especially if Im one of the reasons why. I know what we went through after Mike left and all the years people didnt really watch the Bulls and for them to start watching the Bulls, and for the organization, get our fans back, it means a lot to me, knowing that when you see people, theyve got Bulls hats on, Bulls apparel on. It means a lot to me, he said.

Looking for culture reset, Bulls find themselves in the middle of more drama

Looking for culture reset, Bulls find themselves in the middle of more drama

It was supposed to be an uneventful and culture-resetting season for the Chicago Bulls, but that ended the moment Bobby Portis’ hand connected with the sweet spot on Nikola Mirotic’s face.

Now a light is shining on an unwilling franchise and rightful questions are again being asked about what led to the event, rather than the result.

Mirotic will be out four-to-six weeks with facial fractures and a concussion to boot and Portis was suspended for the first eight games of the season, leaving rookie Lauri Markkanen to man the power forward spot against the likes of Serge Ibaka and LaMarcus Aldridge his first two games.

Welcome to the NBA, kid.

It’s likely he received his wake-up call when he saw his teammates exchange friendly fire, though, considering the witnesses said Mirotic and Portis had been at it for awhile before Portis took one swing to conclude matters.

“Both players owned responsibility in the incident itself but only one player threw a punch. And that punch connected. For us, that is inexcusable,” Bulls Vice-President John Paxson said. “It’s not who we are.”

But when there is no discernable identity, and there’s a coaching staff who’ve witnessed these two go at it for well over two years you have to ask if this is who the Bulls are.

Not in the way of fighting but a team that collectively stands by idly while a situation builds and builds before it explodes, then is forced to clean up the carnage while having to explain and react to an unnecessary event.

Jimmy Butler, gone. Ditto for Derrick Rose. Tom Thibodeau? Dumped too before he picked up what the Bulls didn’t want in Butler on draft night, jump starting this process of the Bulls headed to Parts Unknown.

All have been blamed at some point for the state of affairs. Rose’s knees, Butler’s mouth, Thibodeau’s unwillingness to bend.

Butler took a tongue-in-cheek shot directly across the bow of his former franchise when asked about the incident involving his former teammates, saying “All I know is I’m not to blame for this one”, a nod to the narrative surrounding his trade to Minnesota.

Now who’s left to blame and what happens from here is anybody’s guess.

“When’s the right time to step in? I saw it on the best teams I played on, where you had that competitive spirit,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “You have to have it to have any chance at all. So sure, looking back on it, would we have handled the situation differently? Maybe. I don’t know.”

Both Paxson and Hoiberg expressed the rightful disappointment in Portis while also saying Mirotic had a hand in what occurred. Portis will ultimately bear the responsibility, with his eight-game suspension coming at the worst possible time as his option for next season hasn’t been picked up yet, as it’s hard to see he and Mirotic sharing the same space in a locker room whenever Mirotic returns.

And if he is still around, it’ll be on the players to keep a team from splintering — as if the expected losing won’t be depressing enough.

“As teammates, we're certainly supporting Bobby and supporting Niko,” said Robin Lopez, a de-facto leader on a young roster. “We're going to let them know that what they did, the way they messed up, wasn't right, but we're definitely supporting them.”

Lopez, along with many others, said the confrontation has been brewing for some time, that the pushing and shoving wasn’t anything new. From a human standpoint it’s understandable to sense tension as Portis has been itching for playing time for two years after playing behind veterans, anxious to cement himself on a team that drafted a player at his position four months ago.

Mirotic came in as a golden boy of sorts, handed a starting spot by Hoiberg two years ago and given every chance to snag a starting spot last year before Taj Gibson aggressively stepped in.

His up-and-down performances were rewarded with a $12-plus million deal this offseason and although players usually don’t count each other’s money, they take note of who’s favored and who isn’t.

Mix in competition and ego days before the season began and it’s not surprising something was on the horizon.

But it’s up to a coaching staff to step in, as assistant coach Randy Brown did before the parties were separated in the hope things would settle down.

They didn’t, and now Hoiberg will start yet another season having his aptitude to coach a professional team questioned before he can call an official play or lay out a rotation — because Portis laid Mirotic out on the Advocate Center floor.

Hoiberg desperately wants to change the narrative surrounding his first two years, eager to prove his system can work and that he’s capable of commanding a team that plays hard and organized on a nightly basis.

Whether this is an omen or a random event, it certainly doesn’t bode well for Hoiberg to his detractors.

He stood to the side while Paxson addressed the media, appearing both bewildered and shocked he was having to address such a rare situation a little more than 24 hours before his season-opening cleanse was to occur.

“I’m very disappointed in what happened,” Hoiberg said. “Now, my job is to not let this moment derail us. My job is to get these guys prepared to go out and fight and play as a group, and I’m confident our guys will do that. They’ve shown that going all the way back into late August.

“I’m confident our guys will rally around each other. I’ve seen how much these guys care for each other, and we’re going to go into Toronto tomorrow as a group. We’re going to learn from this. We’re going to grow from this. We’re going to compete, I promise you that.”

It’s clear the Bulls want to extricate themselves from the past couple years and now recent events, but when things are swept under the rug they have a funny way of reappearing at the weirdest times.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Could the Bobby Portis-Nikola Mirotic fight have been prevented?

bulls.jpg
USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Could the Bobby Portis-Nikola Mirotic fight have been prevented?

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski and Vincent Goodwill react to Bobby Portis’ eight-game suspension and how the Bulls handled the incident with Nikola Mirotic. Mark and Vinnie also discuss how the injury and suspension thrusts Lauri Markkanen into the starting power forward spot and the impact on the rest of Fred Hoiberg’s rotation. Plus the duo previews the season opener against the Raptors.