Bulls

Bulls' film study paying off in the form of strong defense

Bulls' film study paying off in the form of strong defense

PORTLAND—The buy-in from the Bulls is evident in the early stages of this season, with the remnants of the players buying into each other on display the last five games.

Whether it’s fighting over the top of screens on Portland’s Damian Lillard or keeping Atlanta’s Dwght Howard from unleashing holy terror on the interior by keeping him moving on defense, the Bulls are following their gameplans to the letter.

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg employs a different defensive system than his predecessor, Tom Thibodeau, and it was one that took major adjustments last season.

Going away from Thibodeau’s overloading style, where the Bulls would exhaust themselves bringing help to the strong side of the floor, took time to accept, let alone embrace.

“Big time,” said Bulls forward Taj Gibson on the notion there was resistance last season. “It was crazy, because at the same time, you've got guys who spent almost seven years with one style of defense, and then just changed it a little bit for different play calls, whatever you want to name it.

“But the main thing is, when you win games and it shows on film that what he's telling you to do actually works, you can't really question it. So right now, we can't question it.”

And it starts in film session, a daily ritual Hoiberg seems to swear by with this group. He bemoans not having ample practice time during the season to reinforce habits, and the difference is easy to see when the players are locked in.

Gibson said it starts with the veterans, or more specifically, Dwyane Wade.

“We pay attention to detail. D-Wade is a serious guy, he comes in with a serious mentality,” Gibson said following the Bulls' team practice at the University of Portland Wednesday. “He's always critiquing and giving his opinion on things. And I think guys tune in to that, the coaches, how we want to run certain plays. But we've got a great group of guys that want to win.”

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Gibson compared it favorably to Thibodeau’s days in one way: He said the vibe is like it was in 2010-11, Thibodeau’s first season with the Bulls. The Bulls won over 60 games, advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals and Derrick Rose won Most Valuable Player.

“Guys are willing to do whatever it takes to win, and they don't complain and understand that you've got to listen to the coaching staff and buy in,” Gibson said.

Hoiberg believes it’s about a mindset on a nightly basis. In the last four wins, the Bulls have just surrendered an average of 89.5 points per game, and Hoiberg is impressed with the commitment.

“I think the big thing with what our guys is the energy they put in the game,” Hoiberg said. “You can say all you want how you’re gonna play certain actions but it’s the energy, more than you do with your schemes, and the effort. Our guys have been really good with that. The last three games, Miami was really good as far as how we wanted to play. Washington, I thought we were a little tired but we executed.”

They executed supremely against the Blazers, jumping on them early and never looking back. It was clear attention was paid, something that wasn’t always the case last year.

“As a team, we want to do well, we're correcting ourselves,” Butler said. “We're buying into the process, everybody's working on their games. We're actually paying attention to the scouting reports and doing what we're supposed to do on the defensive end. When you guard, the game looks really easy.”

As for the first game of a long road trip being a tone setter and Wade’s assertion that the Bulls need to finish 3-3 on the six-game trip to make it a successful one, Hoiberg wouldn’t bite.

“To get better every game,” said Hoiberg about any benchmarks. “I know what he (Wade) said but for me it’s about the process, growing as a basketball team win or lose. And we took a big step in the right direction in the Portland game.”

Lincoln-Way HS hosts D-Wade's summer camp featuring Khalil Mack, others

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USA TODAY

Lincoln-Way HS hosts D-Wade's summer camp featuring Khalil Mack, others

On Saturday, day two of Dwyane Wade’s Celebrity Sports Academy took place in southwest suburbs of Chicago with some very special guests on-hand.

The event took place over four days in July. The first part of the camp took place in Miami on July 6 and 7, with the second part taking place in Chicago on July 19 and 20 at Lincoln-Way Central High School. 

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Over the two days Wade and co. worked with campers on a variety of athletics skills tied to basketball, soccer, football, and cheer. The camps primarily focused on the fundamentals and life lessons that can be learned through sports.

Wade always promises to come through with great guests for the youth during the Celebrity Sports Academy and he definitely produced this weekend.

Some of the great guests that came through over the two days in Chicago included (but weren’t limited to): Chicago Red Stars defender Arin Wright, Sky forward Cheyenne Parker and Bears linebacker Khalil Mack.

The Wade Sports Academy ultimately strives to “develop the physical side of our young athletes, but also that of their mental game and personal confidence.” They continued to do all they could to meet that goal this summer and you can ultimately call the first year of the program with post-NBA retirement D-Wade at the helm a success, with the help of some of Chicago’s top athletes.

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Wendell Carter Jr., NBA Cares host court restoration event that honors slain teenager Darius Brown

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USA TODAY

Wendell Carter Jr., NBA Cares host court restoration event that honors slain teenager Darius Brown

On Saturday NBA Cares, jr. NBA, EA Sports, Wendell Carter Jr., Complex and artist Hebru Brantley teamed up to renovate the  MetCalfePark basketball court in honor of slain teenager Darius Brown, who was fatally shot and killed on August 3, 2011. 

The court was re-designed with Brantley's FlyBoy character as the centerpiece.

The FlyBoy character represents “hope and optimism that makes people believe that no matter where they are from, no matter what their circumstances, anything is possible."

The event hosted by NBA Cares—and also a part of Complex Community Week—featured Wendell Carter Jr. conversing with the kids and helping "Slam Dunking Science Teacher "Jonathan Clark with an awesome dunking display for the kids. 

Metcalfe Park's (43rd State) new look is amazing and the FlyBoy image serves as the perfect image for the court.

As Hebru Brantley states, "FlyBoy is about taking flight and believing in yourself enough to reach your true potential."

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