Chicago Sun-Times

February 2009 Archives

Obama to attend Bulls game tonight

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If I had any lingering doubt that President Obama would attend tonight's Bulls game in Washington, it was quickly eliminated when I tried to enter the Verizon Center for the Bulls' morning shootaround.

Normally, I just breeze into the building for a shootaround by showing my media pass to the one or two guards working roughly eight hours before game time. Friday at the Verizon Center, a team of about 20 police officers and at least two bomb sniffing dogs already were in place at the building's loading dock entrance.

I had to go through a metal detector and an officer opened my bag, looked through everything and even opened my laptop. It was roughly the same security procedure I went through on Thursday to enter the White House. The security to enter the Verizon Center right before a game isn't usually that tight, let alone a morning shootaround.

Just to make it official, A Wizards official confirmed once I entered the building that Obama would attend the game.

One more thing: In a shameless attempt to get myself invited to the White House, Obama should have members of the Bulls traveling media back for pickup games, not the players. The media members are closer to his age and he stands a good chance of beating us.

Just a thought, Mr. President.

Bulls visit "First Fan"

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Usually, teams visit the White House after winning a championship, but the Bulls made the trip Thursday less than 24 hours after one of their worst losses of the season in New Jersey.

Of course, it helps when the President is a big fan.

Players, coaches broadcasters and front office personnel for the Bulls met with and posed for photos with President Obama this afternoon for about 10 to 15 minutes in the Blue Room of the White House.

The Bulls presented the President, a long-time Bulls fan, with a Bulls jersey with "Obama" and No. 44 on the back.

"The President chatted with the players and said he was converting the tennis court out back here into a basketball court and invited them to come and play pick up with him," said David Axelrod, the senior adviser to President Obama. "They had a good visit."

The Bulls also received a tour of the White House after visiting with the President.

Deng has bruised right wrist, will get X-ray

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Luol Deng did not practice Monday due to a bruised right wrist. Coach Vinny Del Negro said Deng was scheduled for an X-ray, which was ``precautionary.''
``There was some swelling, so you're always concerned,'' Del Negro said.
According to the team's training staff, Deng is probable to play Tuesday when the Bulls host Orlando.
Del Negro said Deng was hurt in the first quarter of the Bulls' loss at Indiana Sunday.

Tyrus, new guys to play

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Tyrus Thomas injured a hamstring during Friday's win against Denver, but will start today against the Indiana Pacers.

"He had a good warmup and we'll get him out there are see how he feels," coach Vinny Del Negro. "Hamstrings can be a little difficult, so we'll see how everything goes. If he's having problems with it, then I'll get him out of there."

Del Negro also plans to play the new guys -- center Brad Miller, guard John Salmons and forward Tim Thomas -- in the game.

"We'll see how the flow of the game goes and we'll see what foul trouble there is and what matchups we can take advantage of," Del Negro said. "But they basically had a walkthrough, they haven't had a practice. We've gone over terminology, but I want them just playing and not thinking too much. Whatever they can do to help us, they're gonna do."

Miller, Salmons won't play tonight

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Coach Vinny Del Negro hoped to play center Brad Miller and swingman John Salmons against the Denver Nuggets Friday. The two new Bulls passed their physicals and were ready to go. But the Sacramento Kings did not complete their physicals for Drew Gooden and Andres Nocioni in time for the league to finalize the trade before the game. The Bulls had eight players available to play vs. the Nuggets.
Tim Thomas is due to arrive at the Berto Center in time for practice Saturday morning. It likley will be some time before Jerome James, who has been out with a ruptured Achilles, joins the team.

Paxson: I'm not resigning

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John Paxson began his press conference Thursday refuting reports that he will be stepping aside as general manager.
``I want to make one statement about the story that was out a week ago: I have no control over stories and rumors that are printed at all. I don't feel an obligation to have to respond everytime something comes up about me or a trade or anything like that. So I left it alone. I'm the GM of the Bulls. I'm not resigning. I'm here. I'm going to here. So that puts an end to it.''
The reports, including in the Sun-Times, indicated Paxson would leave his current job likely at the end of this season, yet remain in the organization. So Paxson will be GM next season?
``I'm not going to answer any questions about that. It's over with. I'm the GM of the Bulls. That's final. That takes care of that.''

Miller arrives at Berto Center

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Brad Miller arrived at the Berto Center about 5:30 p.m. Thursday. He is set to begin his second stint with the Bulls after being traded with John Salmons from Sacramento Wednesday for Drew Gooden and and Andres Nocioni.
``I was pretty excited to come closer to home,'' Miller, an Indiana native, said. ``And to come back to a place I've played before. Everything's real familiar and the comfort level's good. An opportunity to make the playoffs is one of the biggest things when I talked to my agent about getting traded. Winning is really what matters at this stage of my career. I'm definitely excited.

``Just bring some experience. [Joakim] Noah and [Tyrus] Thomas are playing real good lately. I don't play the same game as them. I'm just going to try and mix in. My only goal is winning. I want to help these young guys. I've been working with Spencer Hawes for a year and a half. So I understand these young, big guys think. Not necessarily what goes through their head but what they think go through their head.''

Staying with the Suns; that's Amare

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Word out of Phoenix Tuesday morning is Amare Stoudemire is no longer on the trading block. The Suns will revisit possible deals for their all-star forward this summer. The Bulls were among the teams talking trade for Stoudemire as the league's Thursday trade deadline nears. The Bulls are back at practice today at 1:45 p.m. for their first post all-star break workout. They play at Milwaukee Wednesday.

Paxson's future

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Nothing's official and a final decision hasn't been made from what I understand.

But sometime in the near future look for John Paxson to become president of the Bulls and hand over much of the day-to-day operations to Gar Forman, who will be elevated to the level of general manager.

The move makes too much sense not to happen. Although I haven't agreed with some of his moves, Paxson's body of work is solid and he deserves to remain with the Bulls in a high profile position. Considering the emotion he brings to the job, a president's position makes more sense for Paxson and should enable him to be a long-term member of the front office.

Forman, whose current title is director of player personnel, already handles some duties that traditionally fall to the general manager. Last summer, he handled many of the face-to-face negotiations with representatives for restricted free agents Ben Gordon and Luol Deng.

Bulls will red Tuesday to honor Kerr

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Bulls longtime team broadcaster Johnny "Red" Kerr will be honored for his career achievements and 35 years of service to the Bulls organization during a halftime ceremony at the Bulls' game against the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday, February 10 at the United Center.

In tribute to Kerr, the team will wear their red road uniforms and celebrate his life during a number of timeouts. Additionally, while supplies last, fans entering the arena that evening will receive Johnny "Red" Kerr posters which feature a collection of photos and memorabilia from Kerr's career with the Bulls.

"Johnny Kerr is a Chicago Bulls icon," said Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. "It is only fitting that we salute Johnny and thank him for the many contributions he has made to the Chicago Bulls organization over these past decades. We are pleased to have the opportunity along with 20,000 of our fans to tell Johnny how much we love and appreciate him."

Kerr, a native of Chicago, has been a part of the Bulls organization in various capacities for 35 of the franchise's 43 seasons, most notably as a team broadcaster for more than 30 years. He also served as the team's first head coach in 1966 and earned NBA Coach of the Year honors for the 1966-67 season, when he directed the first-year Bulls to a playoff appearance. Kerr is the only head coach in NBA history to lead an expansion team to the playoffs during its inaugural season. Additionally, he was the franchise's business manager for two seasons.

As part of the halftime salute, Bulls television play-by-play announcer Neil Funk will emcee the ceremony which will include a video tribute, speeches and appearances from notables such as Jerry Reinsdorf, Jerry Colangelo, Dolph Schayes, Al Bianchi, Jim Durham, Ron Guenther as well as David Stern who will appear via a taped message. The Bulls' John Paxson and Bob Love will also be in attendance. Others expected to attend include former Bulls' Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen.

"I very much appreciate the Bulls hosting a night in my honor," Kerr said. "Other than my wife and my family, the Chicago Bulls have been the great love of my life. I'm looking forward to having the opportunity to thank everyone."

Kerr starred as a prep at Tilden Tech, collegiately at the University of Illinois and played 12 seasons in the NBA for Syracuse, Philadelphia and Baltimore. The three-time NBA All-Star played in 905 games and averaged 13.8 ppg, 11.2 rpg and 2.2 apg in 30.7 mpg during an illustrious career that included an NBA Championship with the Syracuse Nationals during his rookie season. Most remarkable, however, is the fact that Kerr played in 844 consecutive games from 1954 to 1965, setting an NBA record that would stand until Randy Smith broke it in 1983. He is also one of the select NBA players who totaled more than 10,000 points and 10,000 rebounds during his career. Other career achievements include coaching the Phoenix Suns and also holding several administrative positions in both the NBA and ABA.

The Bulls will put Larry Hughes on the inactive list beginning with the game tonight at Houston. The Bulls have been trying to trade Hughes, who has not played over the last 10 games, since Kirk Hinrich returned to the lineup Jan. 14. Hughes has said he would welcome a trade. His current contract runs through next season. He makes $12.8 million this season and $13.65 million next season. Players can be moved on and off the inactive list on a game-to-game basis. But barring injury, it is unlikely Hughes would be activated before the Feb. 19 trade deadline, if at all this season.

Rose OK, Gooden shoots for Saturday

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Derrick Rose, who sat out the final six minutes of Saturday's game at Phoenix with a strained foot, participated in the entire shootaround this morning and should be good to go tonight against the Houston Rockets.

Drew Gooden (strained groin) won't play tonight, but is getting closer to returning to action. He practiced some Monday and stayed after the shootaround this morning to shoot for another 45 minutes.

"I'm feeling better," he said. "I'm shooting for the Dallas game [Saturday]. I think that's the big picture right now.

"We'll have to see. I practiced and I felt OK. Coach [Vinny Del Negro] didn't want me to rush, so he kept me short in practice. I'm just gonna continue to do my exercises off the court to help me get back."

The Bulls play in New Orleans on Wednesday, but the plan now is to give Gooden a few more days to make sure he's ready to go.

"The one thing I don't want to do is hurt myself, but also not hurt the team," he said. "I'll be hurting my team more than helping them playing injured."

Rose practices, should play at Houston

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Derrick Rose was able to practice today after being treated Sunday for a sprained left foot. Rose, who missed the last 6:42 of the win at Phoenix due to the injury, is expected to start Tuesday when the Bulls continue their road trip at Houston. Drew Gooden, who has missed seven games with an abdominal/groin injury, was limited in practice and is not expected to play against the Rockets.
The Bulls are 3-1 on this seven-game trip through the Western Conference.

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This page is an archive of entries from February 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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