Bulls

Hamilton keeps emotions in check during return to Detroit

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Hamilton keeps emotions in check during return to Detroit

AUBURN HILLS, MICH. Ive never been in here, Rip Hamilton said of the visitors locker room at the Palace at Auburn Hills, the arena where he plied his trade for so many years. When I first came in here, I was like, All right, wheres the showers? It felt real crazy.

Thats why I said, Hurry up and let the ball get thrown up, he continued. Once the ball was thrown up, I said, You know what? Do what youve always been doing and thats play basketball.

All the build-up, coming to the arena, going out there and shooting, it was crazy. Im looking on the other side, seeing Tayshaun Prince, seeing Ben Wallace, seeing Rodney Stuckey and I was like, Man, this feels awkward in a way, when youve been here for so long, but once the ball is thrown up, its time to go to battle.

Hamilton scored a modest 14 points and dished out five assists in his dual return to both Detroit and the Bulls lineup, from which he had been absent from for two consecutive games due to a groin injury but even though the crowd to welcome back the ex-Piston was sparse, he appreciated its support.

It was great, man. The fans appreciate what I did here and theyve always been supportive of me, he said. Even when stuff wasnt going so good, theyd always chant my name and stuff like that, so Ive got a lot of love for them. Theyve been by my side since I got here.

Still, he couldnt help but notice the dwindling number of filled seats at an arena thats used to supporting championship teams and contenders in the last few decades, dating back to the Bad Boy Pistons and most recently, Hamiltons 2004 title-winning squad.

Crazy. It looks unbelievable. When I was here and Chauncey Billups and Rasheed Wallace and everybody, I think we had like seven years of straight sellouts, so it was always great. It was always awesome, the fans were always great and to come in here and sto ee it halfway empty, its tough, but a lot of things have changed, said Hamilton. The economys messed up with the car industry going down and things like that. The team that we had is no longer there anymore, so its different.

When he first arrived at the arena with his new team, Hamilton was overcome by feelings of emotion and had to work hard not to let them out until the games final buzzer.

It was fun, man. Couldnt wait for the ball to be thrown up. A lot of emotion early in the game, being on the visitors side. Im not accustomed to it in this building, so it was difficult. I was like, Please, man, dont start crying or anything crazy like that. Just hurry up and let the ball get thrown up, so I can go out there and play, he said. Happy. I was so hyped, I was so excited. I didnt want to cry. I was like, Man, lets hurry up and get this game going on. Stay focused, stay on the prize, do your same routine. Then, you see everybody. You see so many people, like longtime Pistons announcer George Blaha, thats been supportive of me. Arena PA announcer Mason, Al, the picture guy, Arnie Kander, the teams strength and conditioning coach. You see all the guys that have so much love for you and it kind of gets emotional, but you know youve got to go out and try to get the win.

I didnt want to do anything when the Bulls arrived in Detroit. I said, You know what, Rip? Youve got a game. Stay in your room. Dont go anywhere. Kept all the lights off, didnt turn the TV on. I was like, Man, dont get caught up in being back in Detroit and getting so emotional and tied in. I said, Man, youve got all summer to do that. Just stay focused on the prize and try to get a win.

As far as his actual play, the veteran shooting guard was active his trademark perpetual-motion style of moving without the ball was in effect, as was his deadly shooting stroke, but he also continually set up his teammates, particularly big men Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah, with easy opportunities around the rim though he was in his first game back from a groin injury.

First quarter was good; I think just adrenaline. Second quarter, I felt a little pull, but there was no way that I was getting off the court. So Ive just got to ice it down, get treatment, stim electronic stimulation, said Hamilton, who described his groin as sore after the game.

Said Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau: I thought he handled the whole situation really well. Got himself ready to play, was focused and to start the game, he came out and he was playmaking. He wasnt trying to do too much and I think that speaks to his experience. He plays to win and I thought that he was terrific.

Boozer added: It was good to be here for Rip. We knew he had an emotional comeback, but at the same time, I thought he played very well, especially being out a couple games with his injury.

Hamilton said he had no regrets about his tenure in Detroit, but admitted he initially wished it ended differently.

When the lockout ended, I thought I was coming here. I was here for the first day of training camp, but the buyout came, he explained. It was a mutual thing. The direction that they were going and change is good for me. Get an opportunity now to try to get another ring. Its just another chapter in the book, so Im excited about being part of the Chicago Bulls."

Me and Chauncey, both, we always talked about that when we first got here. That was our main goal. OK, lets go out together. When the whole extension came up, that was the whole thing, continued Hamilton, who was portrayed as a key part of dismal Pistons season a year ago, particularly behind the scenes, leading to the ouster of former head coach John Kuester. When youre the highest-paid player on the team and youre the leader, and youre team captain, youve got to take the good and the bad. I always say, You can ask the guys in the locker room. Theyll tell you. Theyll tell you who I am. Ask the coaching staff. Theyll tell you who I am. So, all the sources and the allegations they put out, it hurt me. Because I thought, as long as I lay it all on the line for an organization, regardless, theyll always have your back and I see that wasnt the case.

I had a beautiful time here.

Bulls crack the top 20 of Forbes' most valuable sports franchises

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USA TODAY

Bulls crack the top 20 of Forbes' most valuable sports franchises

The Bulls' franchise is heading in the right direction on the court, and it's doing pretty great off it, too.

Forbes released its annual ranking of the top 50 most valuable sports franchises, and the Bulls are back in the top 20 with a valuation of $2.9 billion.

The Bulls are up from 23rd a year ago, when they were valued at $2.6 billion. They were 22nd in 2017 with a $2.5 billion valuation, and 18th in 2016 with a $2.3 billion valuation.

The Bulls were one of nine NBA franchises in the top 50. That number was one more than last year.

Here's a list of all nine NBA teams that made the cut:

1. New York Knicks ($4 billion)
2. Los Angeles Lakers ($3.7 billion)
3. Golden State Warriors ($3.5 billion)
4. Chicago Bulls ($2.9 billion)
5. Boston Celtics ($2.8 billion)
6. Brooklyn Nets ($2.35 billion)
7. Houston Rockets ($2.3 billion)
8. Dallas Mavericks ($2.25 billion)
9. Los Angeles Clippers ($2.2 billion)

As Forbes noted in the piece, "NBA teams have made the most dramatic moves this decade." Just seven years ago, the Lakers were valued at $900 million and were one of just two NBA teams (the Knicks were the other) in the top 50.

Among Chicago teams, the Bulls ranked second behind the Cubs ($3.1 billion) and tied with the Bears ($2.9 billion). Neither the Blackhawks nor the White Sox made the list.

Bulls will host Giannis Antetokounmpo, Zion Williamson as part of five-game preseason schedule

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USA TODAY

Bulls will host Giannis Antetokounmpo, Zion Williamson as part of five-game preseason schedule

The Bulls announced their 2019 preseason schedule on Tuesday, and they'll begin their five-game slate by hosting two of the most exciting players in the game.

They'll kick off their campaign on Monday, Oct. 7 with a matchup against reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. Milwaukee was the No. 1 seed in the East last year and signed Robin Lopez in the offseason.

Two days later, No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson comes to the United Center as the Bulls host the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Bulls then hit the road with contests against the Indiana Pacers (Oct. 11) and the Toronto Raptors (Oct. 13). They close their preseason slate at home against Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks on Oct. 17.

All five preseason games will air live on NBC Sports Chicago and the NBC Sports Chicago MyTeams app.