Bulls

President Obama expected in attendance at Bulls-Cavs opener

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President Obama expected in attendance at Bulls-Cavs opener

The extra Secret Service members are in full attendance at the United Center, in anticipation of President Barack Obama’s attendance at the NBA’s season opener between the Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers.

No president in recent memory has attended the NBA’s tipoff game, but considering Obama’s diehard allegiance to his hometown Bulls and his being in town, it’s an easy hike to get down to the United Center tonight.

“He loves the game of basketball,” Cavs forward LeBron James said. “I think we all know that. It's an honor for me to be a part of a venue and a spectacle where the president would like to come and watch.”

It’s not James’ first time playing in front of the President, a huge NBA fan in general, but it’s the first time President Obama will see James play in Chicago. It hasn’t been revealed where President Obama will be sitting but while in Washington D.C., he usually has sat courtside as opposed to a suite.

“I played in front of him in DC, on the Olympic team we played Brazil here in America (in 2012) and he was able to grace that game,” James said. “He came into the locker room and things of that nature. It's great to represent the country and play the game that I love.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

Cavaliers coach David Blatt said he can’t remember if he’s coached in front of President Obama before but considering he coached in Israel for a number of years, he felt it necessary to say this isn’t the first time he’s been in front of heads of state before.

“I've been in front of presidents in other parts of the world,” said Blatt, while acknowledging how ‘cool’ it is. “But of the United States, yes.”

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg was a little more excited about the possibility, with his mind being squarely on his first official game as an NBA coach.

“Yes, very honored to see him. That’ll be cool,” Hoiberg said. “It’ll be great for our guys to see the President in the building.”

When someone mentioned to Hoiberg there would be a President, a “King” (James’ nickname) and a “Mayor” (Hoiberg’s nickname), he replied with an easygoing quip.

“I’m pretty low on the totem pole on that one,” he said.

Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career

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AP

Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career

Don't tell Wendell Carter Jr. the center position is a dying breed.

The 19-year-old rookie hasn't exactly been able to ease into the NBA, finding himself up against a handful of All-Stars and powerful frontcourts just five days into his career.

It culminated Monday night with a date against Mavericks center DeAndre Jordan, and once again the seventh overall pick held his own. It was much of the same as it was against Philadelphia's Joel Embiid and Detroit's Andre Drummond last week (and Nikola Jokic in the preseason finale): some good, some bad, plenty of poise and zero backing down. The NBA is unforgiving, but this could very well be the toughest stretch Carter faces all season.

"He’s playing against top level centers now," Fred Hoiberg said before Monday's game. "It’s a great experience for him. He’s going to learn and get better and he plays within himself, we will continue to look for him to be more aggressive."

He was as aggressive as the Bulls have seen him against Jordan and the Mavericks. He blew by the 20 and 18 minutes he played in the first two games of the year, totalling 32 minutes. His final line won't tell the story - 4 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and a block - of a Carter who defended well at the rim, picking and choosing his spots on when to attack shots and when to simply use his verticality.

He wasn't credited for a block but he contested a Jordan dunk that turned into a Bobby Portis dunk on the other end. Plus-minus isn't always a good indicator of a player's worth, but Carter was a +5 in a 14-point Bulls loss. He even attempted a corner 3-pointer early in the shot clock, showing no hesitation. Carter's had his moments, but it's also apparent he's got a 19-year-old body going up against veterans each night. That'll come with time in the weight room. For now the experience is 

"I appreciate the fact I’m able to play against these very talented bigs early in my career," Carter said after the loss to the Pistons. "What I need to work on is I have to get stronger; that’s the first thing I recognize; just being up against the best. I love the competition. It’s always a great feeling going against the best."

What the Bulls are finding out is they have a player mature beyond his years. As he progresses he'll continue to get more difficult assignments. He had his rookie moment late in Monday's loss, committing a turnover in the backcourt after the Bulls had cut the deficit to five with 35 seconds left. The fouls are also an issue, as Carter has committed 10 in three games (after committing 17 in five preseason games).

That doesn't necessarily seem important for a Lottery-bound team, but considering the continued struggles of Robin Lopez (and Cristiano Felicio is entirely out of the rotation) it is. Lopez had 2 points and 1 rebound in 10 minutes while committing five personal fouls. In three games he has 11 personal fouls and 11 points, and also has more turnovers (five) than rebounds (four). If the Bulls are going to compete until Lauri Markkanen returns, Carter will need to hover around the 32 minutes he played Monday.

He'll get a much easier test on Wednesday when the Charlotte Hornets arrive in town. Cody Zeller doesn't exactly have the credentials of a Jokic or Embiid, meaning Carter may have a little more room to work. 

The Bulls know they have something in Carter. It'll be abother month until they can deploy him alongside Markkanen, but if the first three games are any indication, Carter won't have any problems matching up with some of the league's best.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Moral victory for the Bears?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Moral victory for the Bears?

David Schuster, Adam Jahns and Patrick Finley join Kap on the panel.

0:00- Dave Wannstedt joins the panel to discuss the Bears 38-31 loss to the Patriots? Was it a moral victory? Is Matt Nagy crazy to say Mitch Trubisky didn’t play that bad?

13:00- Joe Girardi pulls his name out of the Reds managerial search and Jon Heyman reports that industry sources believe he might wait to see if there’s an opening in Chicago. What are the chances that he replaces Joe Maddon?

14:30- Adam Amin joins Kap to preview the Bulls/Mavericks game and discuss the lack of defense in the NBA.