Coby White hadn’t played like himself in his first three games back from rehabilitating a shoulder that was surgically repaired in June.
He knew it. Social media certainly knew it.
But displaying a trait that has defined his young career to this point, White placed his trust in the right direction.
“Nothing happens overnight. I feel in society nowadays, everyone thought my first game back I was supposed to do what I did tonight,” White said following the Chicago Bulls’ 109-103 victory over the Knicks. “And that’s just not reality.
"I haven’t played in six months, on a new team. I knew a game was coming. I just had to trust my work but also take my time. Nobody rushed me — the front office, the players, the coaching staff. They all just told me to be confident.”
You remember that White, the one who skips gleefully downcourt after sinking a critical 3-pointer. The one who plays with a joy that belies the trying circumstances he overcame to succeed.
The one who has the ability to shake off 1-for-11 start to the season to deliver 10 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter, including his first three 3-pointers of the season.
“I’m just personally happy for him,” coach Billy Donovan said. “People look at him the last couple games and (wonder) how far off is he. But for me, when you watch a guy every single day work the way he does and never points fingers at anything, always tries to figure out what he can do better, as a coach you have a real appreciation for a professional like that.”
So do White’s teammates. Zach LaVine and Derrick Jones Jr. showered White with water as he performed an on-court postgame interview with NBC Sports Chicago. DeMar DeRozan added that his teammates greeted White with a standing ovation as he entered the postgame locker room.
White is a well-liked and, more importantly, well-respected teammate. He keeps moods light and after-hour workloads heavy. Teammates, coaches and front office executives know how hard it is not only to return from injury but come back from losing the ability to play a game they all love.
That’s why DeRozan and others kept telling White a game like Sunday night’s was coming. It’s why DeRozan offered an “I told you so” afterward.
“It’s hard to try to find a rhythm,” DeRozan said. “This does a lot for his confidence. We all had that same confidence in him.”
White’s coaches and teammates kept pumping him up as he worked his way back and then endured his underwhelming first three games.
“He’s resilient and very determined,” Donovan said. “He’s very singularly-minded and focused on what he needs to do to get better.”
White said his shot felt fine despite being errant in his first three games back. He kept trusting his work ethic and the organization’s confidence in him.
Donovan has noted many times White’s ability to handle in-game adversity and respond. Add his ability to handle multi-game adversity to the list.
Then again, White, who grew up in a small town and lost his father to cancer at a young age, has overcome much more than a shooting slump.
“I’ve been going through stuff my whole life,” he said. “Growing up where I grew up, where I came from, my parents are resilient. My brother is resilient. My sister is resilient. I think my whole family kind of defied the odds of a typical family from Goldsboro, N.C. living in a single-wide trailer. My whole life I had to fight. And I’m going to continue to fight.”
In a world of immediacy, there’s still a place for perseverance.