The whispers came from the Washington Wizards locker room after Bobby Portis’ Flagrant 2 foul and ejection in the fourth quarter of Saturday night’s game, claiming he broke an unwritten rule on his play against Tomas Satoransky.
One could argue Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg didn’t go far enough in defending Portis after the game, although he said he didn’t believe it was a dirty play.
But following Monday’s shootaround, Hoiberg issued his strongest statement in defending Portis before a belief begins to form about whether or not he’s a dirty player.
“I'll say this about Bobby Portis: He's a wonderful kid, one of the most polite kids I've ever been around,” Hoiberg said. “‘Yes sir,’ ‘no sir,' ‘yes ma'am,’ ‘no ma'am,’ type of kid who's very competitive when he steps on the floor. So again, I said it the other night. There was nothing dirty about that play.”
The Wizards were party perturbed because Satoransky was having a big night against the Bulls and they were down to their last point guard, but all a bird’s eye view can see is the play, Portis’ incident with Nikola Mirotic in the preseason and even Portis’ tweet to Wizards guard Jodie Meeks Sunday afternoon defending himself.
Portis isn’t backing down, vociferously defending his intentions and his belief it was a good defensive play.
“I mean, I don’t like that he said I didn’t abide by the rules,” Portis said before the Bulls-Magic game. “In what basketball world does it say just let a man go lay the ball up? He said, if a man has a clear path to the lane just let him lay it up. Where I’m from, that’s not basketball. So I just thought it was stupid.”
“I was just competing on the ball, made a basketball play. I can’t control how the man feels. At the same time, I feel like I blocked the shot. I can’t argue with the officials. They called what they called. At the same time, I don’t think it was the right call.”
The league office reviews all flagrant fouls to determine if additional discipline will be taken, but the Bulls hadn’t heard anything from the NBA as of Monday morning. Bulls Executive Vice President John Paxson was scheduled to have a call with the league office Monday afternoon.
“Bobby, again, you go and look at that. He made a play on the ball,” Hoiberg said. “He got the ball on that possession. It's a competitive game. Bobby was going to make a play on the ball and trying to help us find a way to win the game down the stretch. John is dealing with it from a league standpoint. I've talked to Bobby at length about it. His competitive nature is to help us win a basketball game.”
The Bulls and Wizards have been down this road before, when Markieff Morris took down Doug McDermott last season on a McDermott dunk attempt. McDermott missed considerable time with a concussion, while Morris was issued a flagrant 1 foul in the game.
“These types of things happen in the game when you have competitive players and big strong physical bodies banging around,” Hoiberg said. “It was unfortunate for Doug. He missed a couple weeks I think it was with the concussion. But you move past it. You hope it’s nothing that will be a long-term injury or situation.”
Portis admitted the situation with Mirotic will likely follow him for the foreseeable future, and presumably, one would think the officials won’t let that factor into their decisions on the floor.
“When you look at these type of things that happen with players and altercations, they happen a lot more than people think,” Hoiberg said. “Every training camp and season I was a part of, you always had something come up. The end result obviously is something you don't deal with very often. Bobby's a competitive player, Niko's a competitive player. And things escalated and things happened and we dealt with it and moved forward. I've talked about this a lot. I give everybody a lot of credit that was involved in the situation to be professional about it and not let it affect the team in a negative way.”