Bulls

Sam: Bulls praise Rodman's legacy

Sam: Bulls praise Rodman's legacy

Friday, April 1, 2011
Posted: 6:20 p.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com
AUBURN HILLS, MICH.As a player, Dennis Rodman was reviled by most opposing fans and loved by the faithful in the cities where he was employed. No better example of that is Chicago, where The Worm was hated by Bulls fansand playersduring the Bad Boy Pistons era, during which he was at the forefront of Chicago fans misery, before relocating to the Windy City and playing a major role in three Bulls championships.

When asked about the legendary rebounder and defender, however, the current Bulls are nothing but complimentary about the man whose jersey will be retired at a halftime ceremony of tonights game against the Pistons.

Bulls veteran Kurt Thomas, like Rodman, a native of Dallas, competed against Rodman in the NBA, but he looked up to him from a unique perspective long before he made it to the pros.

As a player, Ive been watching him my whole life growing up in Dallas. I followed his career, thought he was an unbelievable player. To lead the league in reboundingI think it was for six years straightthats an unbelievable feat. The number of championships that hes won in this league, just a tremendous player, Thomas, who grew up in the same gritty neighborhood of Dallas as Rodman, told CSNChicago.com. Just the fact that hes from Oak Cliff, Im from Oak Cliff. Growing up in that area and to see a guy like that make it to the highest level, playing in the NBA. Then, the way he played.

Off the courtI know the real Dennis Rodmanhes an unbelievable person. He has a great heart, hell give you the shirt off his back. Hes a great guy. Hes just an amazing person, he continued. Throughout his career, hes always giving back to the poor. Hes always done amazing things in Dallas, in the area where he grew up. Everywhere hes played, hes done an amazing job of giving back, second to none.

Now 38, Thomas also received on-court advice from Rodman as a young player.

He told me, Hey, young fella, just keep working hard. Never give up and never settle.

Its great to actually be here, to know that all the fans are going to come out, support him because he gave a lot this league and its definitely an honor for me to be here to witness and be in the building, said Thomas. He definitely should be a Hall of Famer, without a doubt.

Joakim Noah, perhaps the Bulls player that most embodies Rodmans on-court spirit (and free-spirited nature away from the game), also gushed about Rodmans influence.

Dennis has always been a hero of mine and Im just really excited for him and its very well-deserved, said Noah, who slyly confirmed hes partied with Rodman a few times and the experience was very fun, before the teams Tuesday morning shootaround. Hell yeah, hes a Hall of Famer. People always talk about his antics and all the other stuff, but I think people forget he was a hell of a basketball player.

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau offered yet another perspective on Rodman.

I coached him two years in San Antonio. Real smart player, very unselfish player, team player and more of a complete player than hes given credit for. Everyone knows about the defense and the rebounding, but he was a great screener, great passer and he could score when he needed to, praised Thibodeau. Fierce competitor. I have a lot of respect for him. He had a great career.

What I remember about him is just how hard he played, added Thibodeau, who said hed try to greet Rodmantime-permittingduring Fridays game. I really like him. Hes a good guy, really good guy.

When asked about Rodmans Hall of Fame worthinesshes been nominated for the upcoming class; many observers feel his off-court antics will prevent him from ever being enshrinedThibodeau was adamant that Rodman is deserving.

I think so. And those things sometimes, you can never tell why. But I think hes deserving. When you look at what he did over his career, he maintained a high level of excellence for a long period of time. Hes one of the all-time great rebounders in the history of the league. He helped you execute, he played tough, he played big in big moments, so you have to give him a lot of respect for that, said the coach. Statistically, its still pretty amazing numbers when you look at what he did, but he wasnt a big-time scorer, so sometimes that goes against you. But hes a big-time winner.

Rodman was one of them best defender Thibodeau ever coached. He could defend multiple positions. Great rebounder, great multiple-effort guy, too. I often think about his rebounding, where he tipped the ball two, three, four times. Hed just keep going until he got it. He was always in great shape and again, hes looked at sometimes in a negative way for the stuff off the court, but on the court, he was fabulous, terrific.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Bulls defense costs them late but showing 'competitive spirit' a step in right direction

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USA TODAY

Bulls defense costs them late but showing 'competitive spirit' a step in right direction

The Bulls defense is nowhere near where it needs to be, and it cost them dearly on Saturday night. But in a season that’s still about seeing progression both individually and collectively, the Bulls took a step in the right direction with their effort and what Fred Hoiberg called “competitive spirit.”

That won’t change the standings when they wake up Sunday morning, now facing an 0-2 hole in the early season. And while better effort and tougher defense helped them stage a second-half comeback they weren’t able to manage on Thursday, it was a defensive miscue that cost them the game.

Ish Smith split a double screen at the top of the key and sliced his way past Jabari Parker for a wide open go-ahead layup with 5.4 seconds left. Zach LaVine, who 20 seconds earlier had tied the game with the last of his 33 points, was unable to get a shot off after a timeout. Better than Thursday for 47 minutes and 50 seconds. But still costing them when it mattered most.

“We can’t give up a layup for the last play,” said LaVine, who was guarding Smith. “We just got to get our defense right. That’s why it’s really upsetting because we played so well, we came back but we can’t give up a layup. We at least have to make him take a tough one. That was as easy a layup as you can get. It’s really upsetting.”

Fred Hoiberg defended his decision to leave Parker in the game instead of inserting rookie Wendell Carter Jr. He opted to ride the group that helped the Bulls erase a fourth-quarter deficit when it appeared the Bulls were spiraling toward another double-digit loss.

But the Pistons were ready to find the weak link in the Bulls defense and expose it, like they did much of the fourth quarter while attacking Parker with Blake Griffin. As the screen was set Parker jumped outside to cut off Smith, who then made a cut inward and made a dash to the rim. Parker was a couple steps late, allowing the 5-foot-9 Smith to score with ease to give the Pistons their lead and the eventual game-winner.

Bobby Portis, whose shot wasn’t falling but played admirable defense against a talent like Griffin, was on the other side of the double screen and didn’t have a great view of the play. But he said allowing a layup with the game on the line is inexcusable.

“It’s a tough play but at the same time you don’t want to give up a layup at the end of the game,” he said. “You want to make him take a tough shot. That’s something we’ve got to work on, is late game execution on defense.”

But again, it’s about baby steps. The Bulls will want that final possession back, and Hoiberg might also want it back after leaving Parker in the game over Carter. But from where the Bulls were on Thursday, this was better. Granted, allowing 118 points and 18 3-pointers to the Pistons isn’t a recipe for success, it’s improvement nonetheless. Detroit got a career-high five triples from Griffin, four from Reggie Jackson (a career 32 percent 3-point shooter) and a pair from Stnaley Johnson (a career 29 percent 3-point shooter). The Bulls will be able to live with some of those makes.

On Thursday the Bulls trailed by just six early in the third quarter before the Sixers ripped off a 19-3 run to put the game out of reach. On Saturday the Pistons got out to a six-point lead on two different occasions, and then a seven-point lead with just 2:01 to play. All three times the Bulls came roaring back, using timely spots and clutch baskets from LaVine, Park and even Cameron Payne, who tied a career-high with 17 points.

Ultimately it wasn’t enough, but it’s a positive sign that they were able to battle back and show some fight defensively. They’ll certainly need that when they travel to Dallas to take on a Mavericks team that scored 140 points on the Jimmy Butler-less Timberwolves on Saturday. They should get Dunn back, which will help,  and now have a close contest under their belt on which to build. It didn’t result in a win, and the late-game cross-up was the cause, but the Bulls finished Saturday in a much better place than they were in on Thursday.

“Yeah but obviously we want to get the win. I feel like we fought hard,” Portis said. “Even when adversity hit everybody stuck together. We did our thing tonight. You want to win the game but I felt like we did our job tonight. We just gave up a bad play at the end of the game.”

Denzel Valentine suffers setback on injured left ankle, will be reevaluated in 2 weeks

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USA TODAY

Denzel Valentine suffers setback on injured left ankle, will be reevaluated in 2 weeks

Denzel Valentine’s troublesome left ankle is going to keep him on the sideline for at least the next two weeks. Fred Hoiberg said Saturday before the Bulls’ home opener against the Detroit Pistons that Valentine is suffering from a bone bruise in the ankle he sprained on the second day of training camp. Valentine will be evaluated in two weeks.

“It sucks because of all the work I put in this summer and being around the guys you want to be out there so bad,” he said. “Things happen for a reason, and now that we know what’s going on I at least have a time frame and be patient with it; it’s bad news but good news at the same time as it gives me time to get ready.”

Valentine had been practicing earlier in the week and appeared close to a return after spraining the ankle on Sept. 25. But the third year wing complained of discomfort in the ankle and missed practice on Friday. A scan of the left ankle revealed the bone bruise, and Hoiberg wouldn’t speculate on when exactly Valentine might return.

It’s the same ankle Valentine had surgery on in May 2017. Valentine also missed the last two weeks of last season after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery. The injury couldn’t come at a worse time for Valentine or the Bulls, who are in desparate need of help both in the backcourt and on the wing.

Though Valentine isn’t a true point guard, he averaged 3.2 assists per game off the bench last season. The Bulls could use that kind of production when Kris Dunn returns on Monday, as Cameron Payne and Ryan Arcidiacono haven’t exactly showed promise in the early going.

Instead, Valentine is on the mend and it’s unclear when he might return. Given he’s had surgery on the same ankle before, the Bulls will be cautious upon his return.

“I’m a fighter, I’m not going to quit; just deal with the hand dealt," Valentine said. "I can’t sit here and be negative, I just got to fight, stay mentally strong and this will be bittersweet when I come back and have a great year.”