Wearing a grey suit with a light grey vest and dark red tie—a tie that could be described as Arkansas red as much as Bulls red, Bobby Portis brought donuts to the media contingent upon introduction to his newly adopted city.
But the Bulls first-round draft pick made sure to let everyone know the flash and snazzy dressing was only in the presentation and not in the attitude.
“Low maintenance, high-character,” Portis described himself, in between bouts of speaking of himself in the third person, the 22nd pick in last week’s draft that wasn’t supposed to be available.
The Bulls hadn’t zeroed in on him before the draft, choosing a strict adherence to their draft board, and hadn’t even brought him to the Advocate Center for a workout—his agents wouldn’t allow it, seeing no need for Portis to fall anywhere near the 20s.
“Once it got past 19, the (Washington) Wizards were the last team I worked out for. I didn’t know where it would fall,” said Portis before adding, “I’m very grateful for this opportunity.”
[RELATED: Bobby Portis is a very frugal spender]
Perhaps it was a lack of defined position that scared other teams away in the draft, as the versatile Portis can play anything from small forward to center in a changing league.
“I feel like I don’t have a position,” Portis said. “I do a lot of different things. I’m a combo power-forward center.”
But the Bulls did get a chance to view him work out at famed trainer Tim Grover’s gym on the west side some time ago, which only confirmed what they saw on the game film: a top-15 talent with a motor unlike many others in college basketball.
The SEC Player of the Year as a sophomore, a “self-made McDonald’s All-American” as described by Mike Anderson, his college coach in attendance Monday, let his game grow organically in two years at Arkansas.
Still, Portis proudly says he has a chip on his shoulder—but his disposition is one of a man eager to learn and work his way up the ladder.
“As a kid I wasn’t the most talented,” Portis said. “I didn’t have the skills a lot of the other kids have. My passion uplifts my teammates. I make them play hard like I do. I got that from my mom. Be a garbage man. Get it off the glass.”
His mom, a basketball player in her own right, sat quietly to the side while her eldest son addressed the media. Portis’ energy and passion derived from wanting to be the next guy out of Little Rock, Arkansas to make it. Brooklyn’s Joe Johnson and New York Knicks coach (former Lakers guard) Derek Fisher were the only two to make big names of themselves from Bill Clinton’s hometown, Portis said.
“I wanted to be that guy my brothers and other kids can look up to,” Portis said. “Now I have to make myself that better basketball player.”
He wants to add his name to the ledger, and proclaimed the city of the Chicago will be happy to see him for the next “12, 13 years.” Playing behind proven veterans Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol and Taj Gibson, it’ll be hard, if not impossible to guarantee playing time but Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg isn’t coming in with preconceived notions.
“Summer League is great opportunity to come in,” Hoiberg said. “Once camp starts in the fall, the way I operate is going into camp with an open mind. It’s the way I worked as a player and the way I’ll work as a coach. He’s got great vets to learn from.”
The next task isn’t too daunting for Portis, who seems to fit the blueprint of many players the Bulls have brought in during recent years.
“If I come in and do the things I do well, I’ll get the minutes I deserve,” Portis said. “I’ve always outworked everybody. It’s what got me here.”