The Chicago Bulls are ready to kick off the 2019-20 season. They are expected to make headlines with their improved play on the court. Hopefully any off court news will only be positive.
The Chicago Bulls made headlines two years ago before the start of the 2017-18 season. Unfortunately it was not because of their success or for any reason they wished would become news. Rather, Bobby Portis punched Nicola Mirotic in the face, causing a concussion and multiple facial fractures. That became the talk of the air waves for months to come
Last year, the main topic going into training camp was how to repair the damage done in the aftermath of the Portis-Mirotic fiasco and the Jimmy Butler departure. In all, 2018-19 was a year to forget and begin healing from. That process started with the firing of coach Fred Hoiberg midway during the year.
This year, the Bulls are planning a peaceful and productive training camp. Hopefully, with a number of new key players added to the roster, there will be strong competition and a smooth transition.
However, there will be other stories that have no direct connection to the team’s play on the court. Some will be human interest stories that social media will tap into, just like I am right now. Here are the 3 off the court topics we can expect to hear a lot about during the course of the 2019-20 NBA season.
Coby White‘s Hair
When the Bulls took White with the 7th pick in last year’s NBA draft, besides his jump shot and speed, commentators could not stop speaking about his hair-do, a topic of conversation since his first year of high school.
While he was a freshman in college at North Carolina, the New York Post interviewed both White and his hairdresser, Teesha Young. “It’s just me, it fits me, it fits my personality,” White said. “I had it since I was a freshman in high school, and it just stuck.” Young said, when she sees him on TV her thoughts are “Wow, he has a lot of hair”.
And those were exactly the thoughts when White first put on a Chicago Bulls hat at the NBA Draft.
In his NBC Sports Chicago article informing fans of the Bulls pick, Dan Santaromita wasted no time telling us “When he walked up to the stage, big hair and all, and put on a Bulls hat, well, it was a moment.”
It was a moment? Not sure what kind of moment Dan is referring to other than a moment to remember. And certainly, nobody has forgotten.
Phil Thompson wrote an article for the Chicago Tribune recently discussing 10 things we learned about the Bulls rookie when he opened up to reporters. Again his hair was a topic worth discussing.
This time the news was White’s revelation that he will probably wear his hair up more. He said “I got a haircut recently; it’s down right now. It doesn’t look like a lot, but in about a month it’ll be real long again, so I’ll probably wear it up just so I won’t have to worry about it.”
Obviously, we all want Coby White to make headlines because of his play on the court, but his full head of hair will remain a story. Comparisons to former Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah and Chicago White Sox outfielder Oscar Gamble will not go away.
We can expect more hair updates throughout the season as the anticipation of his hair going up approaches. Vegas may even start giving odds.
Wendell Carter‘s Fashion
Like White, when the Chicago Bulls drafted Wendell Carter with the 7th pick in 2018, the media’s attention was immediately drawn to his physical appearance. But instead of it being a hair style, it was his fashion style.
When interviewed by Leila Rahimi of NBC Sports Chicago, Carter said he and his family got their fashion inspiration for the Draft from the Marvel film, Black Panther.
But Carter’s interest in fashion goes beyond the draft. In a piece written by Tzvi Twersky about a year ago, he quotes from an interview Wendell did with SLAM. When asked about his outfit back on draft day and whether he considers himself stylish, Carter responded “Oh, yeah, for sure. I’m definitely coming with the heat every single time, from pre-game on. I’m trying to show off my swag at all times.”
Then in February 2019 the Chicago Bulls ran a video on their Facebook page with the caption “Wendell Carter Jr.’s got some serious fashion game.”
Wendell Carter will be expected to limit his fouls, improve his outside shot and become a strong defensive presence in the paint while on the court. Off the court, especially if he plays well, expect the media to provide continuing coverage of Wendell’s latest outfits.
Jim Boylen‘s Soul and Spirit
If there is one thing that has defined Jim Boylen as a coach and human being, it’s that he cares. He cares about his players and about what it means to be part of the Bulls historic franchise.
A phrase that Boylen has repeatedly used in reference to his players is “soul and spirit”. He wants to develop that spirit in his team and channel it to victory.
Other coaches discuss the X and Os of the game, or a players physical attributes. Boylen is clearly focused on seeing the game more holistically and putting a great emphasis on the spiritual aspect of the game too. Players with a “soul and spirit” can win in Jim Boyeln’s mind. He immediately pointed out that White and Daniel Gafford have “spirit and soul” when discussing the Bulls 2019 draft picks.
In a piece Stephen Noh wrote for The Athletic, he included the following best Boylen quotes describing his players since he took over as head coach.
Otto Porter Jr.: “His approach already is respected. His spirit is acknowledged. He’s got a brightness about him and a care factor.”
Chandler Hutchison: “Hutch has got such a good spirit. I think to be a good NBA player, you’ve got to have a good spirit. His spirit is so positive. Shaq (Harrison) too is the same way. His spirit is so good.”
More Hutchison: “His heart’s here. His soul is awesome. It’s great.”
Lauri Markkanen: “His soul and spirit are big time.”
Robin Lopez: “When your heart is pure and you care, I just think (points) happen for you. The ball finds you.”
More Lopez (via Johnson): “He’s a giving, caring person who’s a tough son of a bitch.”
Zach LaVine: “Well, he’s, you know, he’s got a great spirit.”
Bobby Portis: “Got a great soul, a great spirit for the game.”
Shaq Harrison: “His spirit is so good.”
Jim Boylen has now put his stamp on this team. Media and fans will want to see his words put into action. The fans will want a team that plays Chicago Bulls basketball.
Jim Boylen may not be the “Zen Master” six-time champion coach Phil Jackson is. But if the team wins, fans will embrace his soulful message throughout the year.
A city with a soul and a spirit not found in any other sports town in America, Chicago is ready for some serious “shock and awe” from the 2019-20 Chicago Bulls.