Nikola Vučević's NBA career winding through Chicago always felt meant to be.
And those are his words, not ours.
Long before Vučević was a two-time All-Star center, and the headliner of Thursday's blockbuster trade that will pair him with fellow 2021 All-Star Zach LaVine, he was an ardent Bulls supporter. The team's official Twitter account revealed as much with this snapshot of a five-year-old Vučević donned head-to-toe in Bulls apparel -- he said, during the portion of his childhood his family was living in Belgium:
The root of his fandom? Michael Jordan, of course. That photo would be from some time between 1995 and 1996 (Vučević was born in 1990), right in the thick of the Bulls' six-title dynasty. He was raised on Bulls games and Jordan highlights.
"Growing up, I think like many people, I was a big Bulls fan because of Jordan and the success the Bulls had at the time," Vučević said on a Zoom conference with reporters. "I was just obsessed with Jordan and Jordan gear and everything that came with it."
In fact, Vučević even remembered that he was sporting a pair of Jordan 9s for the photo.
"I was lucky that my dad (Borislav Vučević), he played professionally so he had access to a lot of the stuff," Vučević said. "Actually as soon as I got traded my family reached out to me and we talked about the picture... I guess it was meant to be in a way."
That will be a point of common interest for Vučević and executive vice president Artūras Karnišovas, who reflected fondly on his own early-life reverence for Jordan and the dynasty Bulls upon being hired, and has repeatedly pledged to bring the franchise back to relevancy.
With that dream realized, next up for Vučević is his Bulls debut -- Saturday, against the San Antonio Spurs.
And after that, perhaps a bit of housekeeping.
"I might still have that sweat suit somewhere," Vučević cracked. "I'll have to ask my mother."