Hinrich’s return to the United Center ‘a little weird’


Oct 8

Given he spent his first seven professional seasons with the Bulls, you can excuse for Kirk Hinrich for being a tad bit uncomfortable in his return to the United Center on Friday.

“A little weird,” said Hinrich of being back as a member of the Washington Wizards. “It was weird the first time I put on this uniform too, but I got over that. It’s been good. The organization has been great to me. We’re young, but we have a lot of enthusiasm and guys are trying to do the right things.”

For Hinrich, who played in 514 regular season games and 34 postseason matchups with the Bulls, his trip to the visiting locker room on Friday was his first. But he’s taking it all in stride.

Hinrich’s departure unofficially came on the night of the 2010 NBA Draft when the Bulls agreed to tentatively trade Hinrich and No. 17 pick, which ultimately ended up being Kevin Seraphin, to Washington. The move became formal on July 8 once the free agency period opened and league cap space had been determined.

“I was a little bit shocked,” Hinrich recalled. “I don’t know why, but for whatever reason it caught me a little off guard. Initially, you have mixed emotions and everything like that, but I was able to get over them fairly easily and realize that I had an opportunity to have a fresh start in Washington. It’s been really good so far.”

Part of the Wizards’ appeal for obtaining Hinrich was for him to mentor the draft’s No. 1 overall pick, point guard John Wall. Given that Hinrich had helped bring Derrick Rose along—another top selection and point guard who played for John Calipari collegiately—he’s taken on the role of being a mentor for the young star.

“I think he has the ability to be a great player in this league,” Hinrich said of Wall. “He’s already proven that he’s going to be pretty darn good right off the bat. He’s got that special type of athleticism you don’t see very often at the point guard position.”

As for comparisons between Rose and Wall, Hinrich shied away from making any judgment at this point in time.

“It’s still so early, it’s hard to tell,” said Hinrich. “Everybody asks me to compare the two, but it’s so early.”

As for his former team and teammates, Hinrich has kept tabs on the Bulls and expects them to have a successful season.

“I have a lot of respect for a lot of those guys and I believe they’re going to have a great year,” said Hinrich, who left the Bulls ranking first in team history in three-point field goals made (812).

Even though he’s now a member of the Wizards, Hinrich will continue to have Chicago ties. He has kept his home in the north suburbs and plans to live there in the offseason.

“We like it here and we’re comfortable here,” said Hinrich. “We’re enjoying trying to adjust and looking at it as a new chapter in our lives. The moving part isn’t so fun, but I guess I’ve been really lucky. A lot of guys bounce around a lot.”

Audio—Hinrich meets the Chicago media (10.08.10):

Audio—Head Coach Tom Thibodeau’s pregame comments (10.08.10):

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