Jabari Parker's stint with the Bulls was an intriguing one, filled with some nice highlights but mostly drama once he was taken out of Jim Boylen's rotation. Of course, Parker started the 2018-19 season with Fred Hoiberg as his head coach. Once the Bulls fired Hoiberg and moved on to Boylen, it quickly became clear that Parker wasn't going to be in the long-term plans for the Bulls who, for better or worse, were going through a big-time culture change.
Parker—now an Atlanta Hawk—returned to Chicago to play the Bulls on Wednesday and in comments made to ESPN, he made it clear that while he (says he) holds no ill will towards the franchise, he feels the city of Chicago will always have his back.
"I just had to move on, but that never changed about how I feel about my city."
Indeed, Parker is known around Chicago for — outside of the obvious, like being a former No. 2 overall pick in the NBA Draft and one of the greatest high school basketball players in Simeon's and Illinois' illustrious hoops history — the many free basketball camps he holds around the city, which provide an opportunity for the Chicago youth to get some great basketball tutelage and stay out of trouble, all without placing further financial strain on families.
What has been impressive about Parker in regards to his philanthropic efforts throughout Chicago is the consistency. Parker has been active in the Chicago community since his time at Simeon, during his years with the Bucks, and has even stayed connected to the city during his stint with the Washington Wizards and his current time with the Hawks.
Parker surely wasn't pleased with how things ended in Chicago, stating in different interviews since then that all he ever wanted was an "opportunity to play". The situation worked out in the long run for both sides, as the Bulls trade that sent Parker to Washington netted them valuable 3-and-D wing Otto Porter Jr. and Parker got to play over 27 minutes a night with the Wizards, playing well enough to land a two-year, $13 million contract with the Hawks.
Atlanta is in the midst of their own rebuild, affording Parker just over 27.8 minutes per game, his highest average since the 2016-17 season. He wasn't able to get a "revenge victory" over the Bulls on Wednesday night, scoring 11 points on 5-for-10 shooting as the Bulls ran away with a 34-point win. But his comments before the game were heard loud and clear: Parker may feel that he has no connection at all to the franchise that he only played a mere 39 games for but like his father (Chicago hoops legend Sonny Parker) did before him, Parker will continue to do his best to bring positive change to Chicago communities, be it as a Chicago Bull or not.