- Nick Friedell, Chicago Bulls beat reporter
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CHICAGO -- After seven productive seasons in Chicago, it was understandably strange for Kirk Hinrich to walk into the visitor's locker room at the United Center.
"[I've] not ever seen it before," he said as his Wizards got ready to face the Bulls. "This is the first time. [It's] a little weird, but it was weird to put on this uniform the first time too, but I got over that. We're young, but we've got a lot of enthusiasm and guys are trying to do the right things."
Hinrich, who was traded earlier in the summer so that the Bulls could clear enough cap space to go after LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, has to be pleased with at least one aspect of playing with the Wizards -- the team's head coach, Flip Saunders, is actually saying his first name correctly. Former Bulls head coach Vinny Del Negro repeatedly called the veteran guard, "Kurt" during press conferences.
"Some people just can't say it correctly, I guess," Hinrich joked.
Aside from the pronunciation change, Hinrich seems to be doing fine in his new role with the Wizards. He definitely misses Chicago, (in fact he still plans to live in the area during the offseason) but he has accepted the fact that the United Center is no longer his home.
Here are a few more of his thoughts prior to the game.
On being traded by the Bulls: "I was a little bit shocked. A little bit shocked. I don't know why, but for whatever reason it caught me off guard. Obviously, initially, you have mixed emotions and everything like that, but I was able to get over it fairly easily and realize I had an opportunity in front of me to have a fresh start out in Washington and it's been really good so far."
On Wizards rookie point guard, and number one pick, John Wall: "I think he has the ability to be a great player in this league. Already, he's proven that he's going to be pretty dang good right off the bat, and he's got that special type of athleticism you don't see very often at the point guard position."
On the similarities between Rose and Wall: "They're both a special type of athletes. Obviously, they're different, personalities and things like that, but it's still so early, it's hard to tell. Everybody asks me, ‘Compare the two, compare the two,’ but it's so early right now. John has the ability to definitely be a great player in this league."
Wall vs. Rose, part I: Speaking of Wall, he seemed excited about the chance to square off against Rose in a professional game.
"He's an All-Star-type player," Wall said of Rose, "So all I can do is try to hold my own against him and just keep getting better every game and prepare myself to get to the level he's at."
Like Rose did for the past two seasons, Wall said he has gotten a lot of advice from Hinrich over the past few weeks.
"They help me a whole lot," Wall said of Hinrich and fellow Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas. "Especially with my confidence, if I miss a couple shots they're telling me to keep it going. I'm learning as much as I can from Kirk, especially on the defensive end, he's a great guard, and how they guard the pick and roll very well."
Thibs isn't pleased with the rebounding: Coming into Friday's contest, the Bulls had been outrebounded 96-62 over the past two games. It's a number that new head coach Tom Thibodeau obviously isn't happy with and is trying to correct. When asked the reason the Bulls have been so bad, after the led the league in rebounding last season, he had this to say:
"Probably reaction to the ball, fight," he said. "When you look at the rebounding, I thought Joakim for his minutes rebounded extremely well. I thought Kurt [Thomas] did a really solid job on the boards, and [Omer] Asik was very good in short minutes. So, it's the same story, the more you go the more you get, right now we're standing and watching, not reacting. And the other problem [on Thursday], I thought as the game went on we started leaking out. We can't do that. We're small. We've got to be a gang rebounding team. If we don't rebound with all five, we'll have problems."
Kirk Hinrich returned to the United Center with the Wizards on Friday.