Kevin Pritchard’s tweet landed shortly after Thaddeus Young verbally agreed to his three-year deal with the Bulls at the outset of this offseason’s free agency.
Surely, those are words and sentiments the Pacers’ president of basketball operations had said to Young privately. But for an executive to take the time to publicly acknowledge a player upon his leaving is the sign of something special.
“It was huge. It just says how much respect they have for me as a player and person,” Young told NBC Sports Chicago. “It says I did my job. My job was never to become the No. 1 scorer. It was to help build something special. I think that’s what we did there. Everybody played for one another.
“When you walk in (the locker room), we have (a sign with) ‘brotherhood’ on the wall. We have quotes from me and other guys. That’s what it was all about. We made sure when we lined up, each guy knew the guy next to him was going to be there for him. I’m glad I was able to make a great mark on that great franchise.”
Young and the Bulls face the Pacers Friday night in Indianapolis. The 13-year veteran said he “didn’t think too much of it” when the preseason schedule revealed he’d visit his former teammates so early. After all, Young has played for four teams.
But just like in his stints with the 76ers, Timberwolves and Nets, Young bolstered his reputation in Indiana as a durable professional, as solid off the court as on it.
Several teammates talked about his influence in helping the Pacers overcome the season-ending injury to Victor Oladipo to make the playoffs. And Young was one of 12 finalists for the Twyman-Stokes teammate of the year award.
“Obviously, those guys are still like my brothers. We still talk all the time. I talked to Vic the other day about how different it is for them and how much learning the guys have to do about incorporating their system,” Young said. “I have strong ties there. I’m proud of what we built from a culture standpoint.
“But I felt this was a better opportunity for me. Kev and them decided to make the decision to have Domas (Domantas Sabonis) and Myles (Turner) play together a little more and bring in guys who are younger, try to make that shift sooner rather than later. There’s no bad blood. We have great mutual respect for one another. We built culture together there. We helped kind of reshape the franchise. They’re a playoff contending team each year. Now the focus is on trying to do that here, focus on getting these guys better.”
Young already has drawn raves from everyone from Zach LaVine to Wendell Carter Jr. for his vocal leadership style. The fact that he takes charges and dives on the floor for loose balls doesn’t hurt either.
And who needs Zion Williamson when the 6-foot-8-inch Young snuck along the baseline for two slams in Wednesday’s preseason game against the Pelicans?
“I still got a little left in the tank,” Young said, smiling. “I’m trying to stay with the young guys. Everybody says I’m the old guy and I’m only 31. I’m blessed to be in my 13th season. I’m being smart and backdooring certain guys to help the team at all costs.”
Maybe Young can throw down one dunk for Pritchard on Friday.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.