Coby White has scored a season-high 33 points in back-to-back games, but he's staying level-headed as hype and hysteria swirls around him.
“You’re going to have highs and lows over the season. I try to be the same throughout. That’s kind of how I live my life,” White said Tuesday. “It’s great and all but I just try to stay positive. A lot of people are saying congrats and whatnot. But I just have to keep getting better.”
This same approach served White well the last time he faced his mentor, Chris Paul. The Bulls blew leads of 26 points in the first half and 10 points in the fourth quarter to lose 109-106 at Oklahoma City in December.
Afterward, a posed picture of White and Paul smiling on the court after the gut-wrenching defeat landed on social media. Some critics pounced, saying that was neither the time nor place for fraternization.
Never mind that White played for Paul’s AAU team and received mental and emotional support from the All-Star guard as White’s father lost his battle with cancer.
“He means a lot to me and my family, especially me. He’s been there for me for a long time now,” White said. “I played for his AAU organization. He’s like a big brother, a mentor for me, someone I always looked up to and he’s always been by my side no matter what.
“Whenever I needed something, I knew I could call on him, and he had my back through anything. He’s always supported me through everything. I can’t thank him enough for what he’s done for me.”
There are basketball benefits, as well. White studies Paul’s game, noting that he outscored the Bulls by himself 19-16 in that fateful fourth quarter in Oklahoma City.
“I love that he’s super smart. He’s a technician with the basketball. He can do it all — finish, get to the lane, shoot the 3. He’s such a leader, vocally and by example. He’s willing to go that extra mile for anything,” White said. “His leadership is what stood out to me. Even in AAU, him being the coach, you still see that Alpha Dog mentality with him on the sideline.”
White said the two talk occasionally during the season and certainly will Tuesday, no matter the outcome.
“Coming into the league, I wanted to be good really quickly. I know it doesn’t work like that,” White said. “So he just told me to be patient, keep grinding and everything will take care of itself.”