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Bulls: Jerry Reinsdorf humble in response to Hall of Fame inclusion

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Bulls: Jerry Reinsdorf humble in response to Hall of Fame inclusion

Humbled and a bit surprised, Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf took his induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in stride when news was announced Monday afternoon in Houston, the site of the Final Four.

Ranking it as “just a personal accomplishment” when asked where the highest honor the sport of basketball can bestow upon an individual, the owner of the Chicago Bulls took more pride in the championships he helped steward and the way the franchise has become a national brand in the past 20 years.

“On an individual level, this would be the highest,” Reinsdorf said in a television interview. “But the important thing about being in sports is to win championships. So I’d say the World Series (with the White Sox in 2005) and six championships would be tied for number one and this would come behind it because it’s just a personal accomplishment.”

Being inducted along with larger than life personalities such as Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson and Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo, along with one of the greatest female basketball players of all time, Sheryl Swoopes, and former NBA player Yao Ming, Reinsdorf’s inclusion into basketball mortality will likely take a backseat in September as the focus will be on the aforementioned.

[MORE: Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf named to basketball Hall of Fame]

But his importance to Chicago and the Bulls franchise hasn’t gone unnoticed by the decision makers, as Reinsdorf has seen more NBA titles since taking ownership of the Bulls in 1985 than any NBA owner not named Dr. Jerry Buss, who oversaw the Lakers win eight NBA championships.

“I was able to put together a great organization with great people. Jerry Krause (former Bulls GM) is really the architect of the championships, Phil (Jackson) and Michael (Jordan) and Scottie (Pippen),” Reinsdorf said. “Then turning everything over to my son Michael to run in the last couple years. Then John Paxson and Gar Forman, wonderful people, really talented. I’m just proud of the people I have with the Bulls.”

Since the NBA/ABA merger, only the late William Davidson (Pistons), Jerry Colangelo (Suns) and Buss have been let into the Basketball Hall of Fame as owners. Reinsdorf makes no bones about it, that taking over in Chicago at the same time a kid from North Carolina was in a star-studded rookie year had plenty of do with his success.

“Well having Michael Jordan was having Babe Ruth, I mean, the greatest player of all time in his sport and it was something I tried to appreciate and enjoy all of those years,” Reinsdorf said. “That was just luck. I can’t take any credit for acquiring Michael Jordan. He just fell into our laps. It was an incredible experience.”

An experience Reinsdorf helped foster and turn into six NBA titles in an eight year span by hiring Krause, whom he’ll likely mention at his induction speech months from now as someone who deserves the honor as much.

He hired Krause and allowed his basketball executives make the decisions, including the one that enabled Krause to hire Phil Jackson in 1989 after firing Doug Collins. The trio of Krause, Jackson and Jordan helped the Bulls elevate themselves to the NBA mountaintop, enduring controversy, retirement and attrition at a time when the NBA’s popularity was exploding across the world.

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Reinsdorf was low-key, preferring to let those outstretched personalities have the glory.

“I don’t know if I’m impressed but I’m proud,” said Reinsdorf of building the Bulls brand. “Proud of the fact the Bulls are a worldwide brand and wherever you go around the world, you see Bulls merchandise. It used to be, you traveled abroad, you say you were from Chicago, they’d say Al Capone. Now they say Chicago Bulls. I am proud of that.”

Come September, for as long as he so chooses while on that stage, Reinsdorf will have the stage all to himself.

'Underdog' Tyler Ulis will fit in just fine with these Bulls

'Underdog' Tyler Ulis will fit in just fine with these Bulls

It's been a whirlwind of a summer for point guard Tyler Ulis, but he finally feels like he's found a home. Literally.

The 5-foot-9 point guard was cut by the Suns in late June, latched on with a training camp invite by the Warriors and was subsequently waived on Friday. It was then that Ulis, working out in California, received a call from his agent. He had been claimed on waivers by the Chicago Bulls. His hometown Bulls.

"I grew up watching (the Bulls)," he said after his first practice on Tuesday. "Growing up in this city, you always want to be a Bull and you’re always willing and hoping that you’ll be here one day...I'm home now. It's a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to it."

Ulis is back in Chicago for the first time since he was breaking records for Marian Catholic High School. Ulis became a five-star recruit for the Spartans and in 2014 signed on as the next point guard in the long line of successful floor generals under John Calipari and Kentucky.

Ulis backed up the Harrison twins, Andrew and Aaron, as a freshman but saw his role increase as a sophomore. He blossomed, earning Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors in the SEC. Only Anthony Davis had ever earned both honors in a single season.

He declared for the 2016 NBA Draft with hopes of becoming a first-round pick. But unlike the Calipari point guards before him, Ulis slipped all the way down to the second round before the Phoenix Suns scooped him up with the 34th pick.

"Honestly I really did think (the Bulls) were going to draft me," Ulis said on Tuesday when recalling the 2016 NBA Draft. The Bulls took Denzel Valentine with the 14th pick. "But I'm here now so that's all that matters."

In 132 games, Ulis averaged 7.6 points and 4.1 assists in 21.1 minutes. He started 58 of those games, and while his shooting left plenty to be desired he handled the offense well and brought that same pesky defense he showed off at Kentucky. It wasn't enough, even for the guard-deprived Suns. They released Ulis before free agency this summer - which ruffled the feathers of franchise guard Devin Booker - in a rather unexpected move.

"My Mom always taught me (to) never expect anything," Ulis said of his release from the Suns. "When you're on a losing team like that anything can happen. I feel like I showed I could play at this level but they went a different way."

The Suns' loss - they may resort to starting 38-year-old Jamal Crawford at point guard this year - could be the Bulls' gain. Expectations should be harnessed for Ulis, especially with him joining the roster this late in the preseason, but the Bulls, like Phoenix, have question marks at the point.

Kris Dunn is entrenched as the starter, but Cameron Payne struggled mightily in the preseason and Ryan Arcidiacono doesn't project as a contributor. That leaves an opening for Ulis to potentially fill on the second unit, and apparently he's making a statement early in practice.

"Tyler had a real good practice," Fred Hoiberg said. "I think I think he changes the pace when he’s out there on the floor. He picks up full-court, he gets up underneath you. He can make a shot. He’s got good vision and can make a play with the ball in his hand. So I was very impressed with his first workout."

Ulis is working on a 45-day two-way contract, so it's unknown how much he'll contribute. He could be shuttled back and forth between Chicago and the Windy City Bulls, but there's certainly an opportunity for him to stick. He'll be playing catch-up and learning on the go, but doing so in his hometown wth friends and family around him for support will work to his advantage.

"Being a smaller guard growing up in a big man’s sport, you get looked over. So I’m the underdog," he said. "And I feel like this team is an underdog, so we should all be excited to get the season started and prove people wrong."

Bulls, Bobby Portis value each other greatly despite no deal getting done

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Bulls, Bobby Portis value each other greatly despite no deal getting done

Monday's deadline came and went with expected results: Bobby Portis and the Bulls being unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension.

Some 19 hours later all parties involved said the right things, that they value one another and hope to be working together long-term.

But all that will be shelved until July 1, when Portis enters restricted free agency at this coming season's end. The two sides found themselves in position to wait out on an extension.

For Portis, he's improved his game each of his first three seasons in the league posted per-36 numbers on par with some of the game's best big men. Expected to start while Lauri Markkanen recovers from a sprained elbow - and then act as the team's Sixth Man after that - Portis is in line to post career numbers once again.

For the Bulls, nearly all their front office decisions the past three seasons have been with an eye toward the 2019 offseason and having as much cap space as possible. Waiting on a Portis contract allows them to see if any of the top free agents in the class are interested in Chicago, while also having the ability to match any deal Portis gets on the open market.

It's similar to how the Bulls played out the rookie scale contracts of both Jimmy Butler and Zach LaVine.

John Paxson spoke during Tuesday's practice at the Advocate Center and reiterated how much the Bulls value Portis and the work he's put in since they drafted him 22nd overall in 2015.

Portis also spoke with reporters after practice. And what would normally be considered posturing from any other player, Portis' blue-collar mentality was present in his comments.

"I couldn’t see myself in no other jersey. Obviously, I got Bulls DNA," he said. "Me and the city have a love connection somewhere. At the same time, I just enjoy playing for the Bulls.

"I play this game because I love it. Obviously, you want to make as much money as possible to help your family. But I started playing basketball because it’s fun to me and I loved it. I still have that same passion, that same heart every night I go out there."

Still, the opportunity will be there for Portis to make himself significant money in the coming six months. After averaging a modest 13.2 points and 6.8 rebounds in Year 3, Portis will be called upon to shoulder a scoring load in the absence of Markkanen. And with Jabari Parker's Bulls career off to a shaky start, Portis will be the go-to guy on the second unit once Markkanen is back in the lineup.

"Bobby is a guy that is very confident in himself. He’s confident in his ability. That’s what we love about him," Fred Hoiberg said. "And like I said, he’s going to go out there and play the same way every time he steps on the floor, whether it’s practice, whether it’s a pick-up game in the summer or once we get started on Thursday. He’s a warrior, and he’s just going to go out there and play the right way with great effort.’’

The Bulls will need that with the start of the regular season just two days away. They open on the road against the Philadelphia 76ers, a team that went 30-11 at home last season.

Portis will play a significant role in slowing down one of the NBA's best frontcourts. Whether or not this is his last season doing so in Chicago, he knows what the Bulls think of him and won't let the impending negotiations distract him.

"I know how much I’m valued. They tell me a lot. Give it all I got. Kind of the leader of the bunch. Blue-collar worker," he said. "Everybody respects me because I come in every day with a chip on my shoulder, try to push my guys to get better each day. That makes me go."