CHICAGO — From day one of the Chicago Bulls‘ rebuild, management has pushed a new and improved culture as a central selling point.
Really, it’s all they can sell.
Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade are out of the picture, and questions surround many of their young players. There isn’t enough talent on the roster to expect anything more than 30 wins. Even hope isn’t marketable yet.
So that leaves culture. Coaches, players and management have repeated the talking points ad nauseum since the start of training camp—they may not win a lot, but everyone plays hard and everyone is unselfish. Or so it goes.
But just two days before Chicago opens its season Thursday in Toronto, that new Bulls culture is being tested in a way that nobody wanted or anticipated. The first of potentially many rebuilding seasons was derailed Tuesday by an incident during practice between power forwards Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic.
By all accounts, what started as a normal, high-intensity practice escalated into words and shoving between the two big men. Portis threw a punch at Mirotic, and it landed. Mirotic is in the hospital, out at least four to six weeks with a concussion and maxillary fractures, while Portis has been suspended for the Bulls’ first eight games.