Bulls Insider

Beverley's relationships pave way for his passion

/ by K.C. Johnson
Presented By Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
Bulls Insider

When general manager Jerry Krause made the controversial decision to trade for Dennis Rodman in 1995, he did so knowing that, from coach Phil Jackson to Michael Jordan, the Chicago Bulls had a strong enough leadership system in place to absorb Rodman’s personality.

Fast forward almost 28 years.

This is not to equate Dennis Rodman with Patrick Beverley as either player or person. Nor is it to compare directly the two situations: Those Bulls chased championships; these Bulls are grasping for play-in relevancy.

But a big reason why Beverley’s strong personality and direct leadership style will work over the final 23 games is because of pre-existing relationships with the Bulls’ stars in DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine. 

Following Beverley’s first practice for his hometown franchise, LaVine reminded all that he had tried to recruit Beverley in 2019 free agency. And DeRozan followed suit on Thursday by smiling when reminded that Beverley fired some trash-talking barbs at DeRozan last season when Beverley played for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

“We’ve always had a relationship for a long time. He knows me. I know him,” DeRozan said. “When we played him last year, I don’t get caught in the rah-rah with him. I was just laughing the whole time. I know him. I love players like that. I’m not affected by that at all. I love his energy. I love what he brings. I love everything about it. I’m glad he’s on our team.


“You understand how much of a competitor he is. And I love that. I want to compete versus people who are going to bring the best out of you. It’s not going to make me mad. It’s ‘Alright, I’m going to match you with my way.’ I’m going to have fun with it because it’s exciting.”

DeRozan said Beverley’s presence already has been felt over his first two practices and that, as a veteran, he’s picking things up quickly. And as far as Beverley publicly saying he plans to get on LaVine to score more, DeRozan knows such stances come from a well-intentioned place.

“He's not coming at it in a malicious way or harmful, negative way. He’s pushing you to want to be great,” DeRozan said. “He’s a veteran guy and he does a lot of talking like the old-school days. And I love that.

“I would love to play with any type of player like that any type of day. I’m glad he’s on our team.”

Following Beverley’s first practice on Wednesday, the veteran guard raved about coach Billy Donovan and the two detailed the genesis of their relationship. One of Donovan’s assistant coaches at Florida coached Beverley at Arkansas. Then came a Western Conference first-round playoff series in 2017 between Donovan’s Oklahoma City Thunder and Beverley’s Houston Rockets.

But Donovan said an off-court relationship can be different than an on-court working one. So when Donovan cited Beverley’s first two practices as “highly competitive” and filled with “great energy, great motor and a really good voice,” it’s significant.

“I think guys’ personalities are different off the court than on the court. And I think that that’s a good thing,” Donovan said. “He’s incredibly bright. He’s incredibly articulate and smart. And across the lines, when guys are competing, there can be a difference.

“I’ve never been in a timeout or a halftime or a pregame with him. And that’s fine. But I think to sit there and say, ‘OK, I had these interactions with him off the court and this is who he is on the court.’ I don’t think that’s necessarily true.”

In fact, Beverley may trash talk opponents. But in Donovan’s words---and multiple former teammates have given voice to a similar dynamic---Beverley’s in-practice demeanor is about inspiring teammates and challenging them to raise their intensity.

“I’ve always admired him as a player,” Donovan said.

Donovan flew to Los Angeles last offseason to visit LaVine and Lonzo Ball following their respective knee surgeries. He ran into Beverley, who was working out at the same facility.

“I spent some time talking with him there,” Donovan said. “We would see each other in the (Orlando) bubble and we’d catch up and talk. There were mutual things. But I’ve always respected how he has thrown his heart and soul into competition.”


That’s what it always comes back to with Beverley---competition. Same with Rodman, for all his outlandish public stunts. When the ball was tipped, Rodman was ready.

Here’s one way you can compare Beverley and Rodman: Both have been described as players you hate to compete against but love to have as a teammate.

That’s why LaVine tried to recruit him in free agency and why DeRozan smiled at Beverley’s competitiveness as an opponent.

Now, Beverley’s a Bull. The playoff chase is on.

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