Bulls

Hoiberg shows Bulls difference in energy, pace in film session

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Hoiberg shows Bulls difference in energy, pace in film session

The difference in energy for the Chicago Bulls from the first quarter to the fourth on Saturday was as easily identifiable for Fred Hoiberg as it was the United Center crowd who witnessed the Bulls receive their wake-up call in the nick of time in their 98-94 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

He made sure to show the contrast in Sunday’s film session, hoping the message would translate to the starters.

“It was good. We showed some examples of some really good plays, some really good ball movement, some really good pace,” Hoiberg said. “And we also showed when it wasn’t so pretty, especially in that first half and beginning of the third. Hopefully we learn from that. It was a good session.”

[MORE: Noah's, Brooks' energy spark Bulls in come-from-behind win]

Joakim Noah’s ability to push the ball up the floor, set screens and initiate dribble handoffs as well as his overall relentless activity was a huge key to the Bulls’ fourth-quarter intensity.

Hoiberg is resisting the urge of re-inserting Noah back into the starting lineup, although many will remember Noah was slated to start in Philadelphia on Nov. 9 before his knee began acting up, resulting in his only missed game so far this season.

“We always talk about those things. But again, with that second group, he’s really developed a nice chemistry with those guys,” Hoiberg said. “I’ve liked the dynamic of that second group. I’m getting JO in there pretty early. I think it was the 6 or 7 minute mark yesterday. And that picks up our energy.”

What Hoiberg couldn’t explain is the standing around done by the first unit, the group that doesn’t seem to fully believe in Hoiberg’s system. Yes, Derrick Rose gets the ball up the court in three seconds per Hoiberg’s request but everything else is a struggle.

“That’s a good question. The big thing is just continue to put them in those situations,” Hoiberg said. “That’s what we worked on in practice today. You just hope it carries over. That second group is seeing the success they’ve had because of those situations and now they’re doing it more often because they trust it.

“We gotta get everybody out there doing that. And I’ll say this: Joakim has done a great job the last couple games going into dribble handoffs and flashing to the ball at the right time and getting some good action going on out there.”

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Hoiberg was practically giddy at the sight of the second unit putting it altogether, for one of the few times he could see his vision come to fruition. Aaron Brooks scored 15 of his 17 in the fourth, and chalks it up to familiarity.

“We know each other. It’s good to have Niko back, he spaces it out a little bit,” Brooks said. “We just come in and play hard, and guys are hungry and fighting for backup minutes so it brings an extra intensity.

“You wanna come in and be a spark off the bench. Sometimes the starters got it going and the bench doesn’t. I don’t think it’s anything, you just wanna change the rhythm of the game. Just go out there and play your game, I don’t know. I don’t think it’s anything in particular, as far as seeing something different.”

Jordan gets emotional at opening of 'The Novant Health Michael Jordan Family Medical Clinic'

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USA TODAY

Jordan gets emotional at opening of 'The Novant Health Michael Jordan Family Medical Clinic'

Michael Jordan is by no means new to philanthropic work, as the NBA Hall of Famer and owner of the Charlotte Hornets has long donated to many different causes, including rather recently, a $1 million donation to the relief efforts for Hurricane Dorian. In a new charitable effort, Jordan has gone and made a huge difference in the Charlotte community, helping to open up a  brand new Novant Health Medical Clinic.

“It’s not the financials but ... from the heart — a passion from what this city, this state has given back to me ... I can never repay what you have given to me. But this is a start.”

Jordan donated $7.2 million in order to help open up the two new Novant Health Clinics in Charlotte. He acknowledged that while he will always have his connections to "Illinois and other places", he knows "where it all begins", referring to North Carolina, as MJ grew up Wilmington. 

The Novant Health Michael Jordan Family Clinic features aluminum strips on the outside of the building that form an image of Jordan slam-dunking but despite the Jordan branding on the building, he made it clear that the great day was not about him. 

“You see my name, but yet you see a lot of people behind me and the commitment, especially from my mom, about caring for other people and being a part of a community that matters.”

We saw the oft-reserved MJ start to tear up while discussing how important the cause was to him, “I can only give in gratitude for what I can never repay.”

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2-time All-Star Luol Deng signs 1-day contract to retire as a Bull

2-time All-Star Luol Deng signs 1-day contract to retire as a Bull

Luol Deng experienced plenty of highs and lows throughout his nine-plus seasons with the Bulls.

But his love for the organization that acquired him in a 2004 draft-day trade never wavered, even after it traded him to the Cavaliers in January 2014 in a move to exit the luxury tax.

That’s why Deng signed a ceremonial, one-day contract Thursday so that he could retire as a Bull.

“From the moment we made Luol Deng the seventh overall pick of the 2004 NBA Draft, the Chicago Bulls became a better team,” Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson said. “Luol carried himself with first-class professionalism and leadership, helping lead his Bulls team to eight playoff appearances during his time in Chicago. We’ll always remember his All-Star career and the fierce competitiveness he brought to both ends of the floor every night.”

“We’re very fortunate and humbled that Luol has chosen to retire as a Chicago Bull,” Bulls COO Michael Reinsdorf said. “He was a role model on and off the court during his nine-plus years in Chicago, and he gave everything he had to help us win. I want to thank Luol for not only what he accomplished on the court for the team, but also for the leadership he demonstrated through his philanthropic efforts.”

Deng, a two-time All-Star, is all over the franchise leaderboard. He’s tied for fourth by playing in parts of 10 seasons with the Bulls. He’s sixth in games played, fifth in minutes, fourth in points, fifth in field goals, ninth in rebounds, fifth in steals, seventh in 3-pointers and eighth in free throws.

But Deng’s impact with the Bulls moved past numbers. When he arrived with Ben Gordon, one season after the Bulls drafted Kirk Hinrich, Deng helped pull the Bulls from their post-dynasty funk and transform them into a perennial playoff team. He chose to play through a torn wrist ligament so that he could represent his adopted homeland of Great Britain at the 2014 Summer Olympics.

He became a two-time All-Star as Tom Thibodeau’s indispensable, two-way forward, consistently ranking near the top of the NBA in minutes played. And his community service through his Luol Deng Foundation featured Chicago and global reach.

The day after the trade to the Cavaliers, Deng talked to this author at length while standing inside the Cavaliers practice facility.

"I had an opportunity to play for a great organization. I've been very lucky to play 10 years for the only team that I ever knew as a kid," Deng said that January 2014 day. "I only knew Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and the Bulls when I was 7 years old and in Egypt. For me to be the fourth-leading scorer on that team, did I ever think a refugee kid in Egypt would even play for the Bulls? There's a lot of amazing things that have happened."

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