An inside look at Bulls/76ers pregame


Feb 1

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Here’s a look at what some of the pregame was like before the Bulls faced the 76ers:

My favorite was reason No. 676 why Derrick Rose is not your ordinary star. Before the game, legendary 76ers statistician Harvey Pollack stopped by to give Rose one of Pollack’s annual stat reviews, one of the more fun looks at NBA stats. Pollack explained to Rose that he had been in the NBA since its start in 1946. So Derrick asked Pollack if Pollack would sign the stat book for him. Yes, Derrick Rose asked Harvey Pollack for his autograph.

Rose had a bit of a cold, but he seemed fine and we had a nice discussion about horror movies. He says they’re his favorite these days and loves to be scared. Rose said he’s been watching some of the vampire TV shows and movies as well, though they are more favorites of his brothers. I mentioned liking time travel movies and brought up something about Star Trek. He looked at me a bit quizzically and said his mom liked Star Trek. I get that a lot.

I had a trivia question for Carlos Boozer. Anderson Varejao had a 20/20 game for the Cavs against the Celtics Tuesday. I asked Boozer who was the last Cav to have a 20/20 game. Boozer guessed, “Big Z?” No, it was Carlos Boozer in 2004, I told him. He seemed to like that.

Luol Deng continued to progress and work out hard before the game from his wrist injury, which he said remains sore and will be so without surgery. Deng didn’t say when he’d play, but it seems the team is leaning more toward Saturday in Milwaukee.

Coach Tom Thobodeau received the NBA East Coach of the Month for January and said during his regular pregame meeting with reporters: “That’s a byproduct of the winning. Fortunate to be here with a great organization, a great coaching staff and a great group of players. It’s all a byproduct of winning. It’s more a testament to the group of players we have, the organization and I have a great staff.”

Thibodeau said Kyle Korver, who was drafted by the 76ers, would start again for Richard Hamilton, whom Thibodeau said the team will keep out for a while now until his groin and thigh injuries heal. Hamilton went into the 76ers locker room before the game to chat with his former coach, Doug Collins, who recalled similar groin issues with Hamilton even back in Washington.

Thibodeau said one issue with Hamilton is he can’t practice with the injury and Hamilton doesn’t play well when he doesn’t practice. “We’re going to be real patient with him and make sure he can play both sides of the ball. I think that’s the smart thing to do right now,” said Thibodeau.

I ran into Korver and his wife when I got into the hotel Tuesday afternoon and they were headed out to the charitable organization Korver worked with and helped start when Korver played with the 76ers.

The 76ers are again without starting center Spencer Hawes and perhaps backup Nikola Vucevic. They were figuring again to start veteran Tony Battie. They recently added veteran Francisco Elson.

I ran into old buddy Andres Nocioni, who said he’s doing well. Yes, he’d like to play more, or at all. But Nocioni is keeping positive as there are rumors he could be part of a deal for a big man like Chris Kaman, though the 76ers are pooh poohing that for now.

Thibodeau said he was pleased to see Keith Bogans signed by the Nets: “I’m happy for him. Consummate pro. Did a great job for us. Obviously very happy for him.”

Collins said he was worried about “us manufacturing offense” without Hawes and “You’ve got to stop that human dynamo, Derrick Rose. He’s got an incredible will. He’s an amazing player. I have so much respect for him. He’s such a competitor.”

Collins said he may put Andre Iguodala, his best defender, on Rose, but only sporadically and likely late.

Collins said one thing overlooked with the Bulls is how good their interior players are: “They’re plus 5.5 rebounding. They have great size and depth. It’s a nice four-man rotation. Asik and Noah give them size and shotblocking and they’re No. 1 rebound differential and one of the best second chance teams in the league. Sometimes just (Rose) getting a shot up at the rim gives you a chance with the way those guys are opportunistic. They’re one of the reasons why the Bulls have a chance to win a championship.”

Collins grew emotional when talking about not rushing players back to play. He said he was accused as a player of having a low threshold of pain. “I went out and played with two broken feet and it ended my career,” he said. “I’m incredibly sensitive to that. When somebody tells you (that) you can be playing it’s not your leg.”

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