Bulls excited to welcome Abdul-Jabbar

March, 17, 2012
3/17/12
11:48
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Usually taking pictures in the Chicago Bulls locker room is frowned upon by the media relations staff, but when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar shows up, exceptions are made.

Joakim Noah is glad that's the case. The Bulls center happily posed for a picture with the NBA Hall of Famer after Saturday night's win.

"I have unbelievable respect for Kareem," Noah said. "Somebody that I love following; my father followed him. And somebody who was not just a great ambassador on the basketball court, but off the basketball court as well. Did a lot of things for native Indians. He just came out with a documentary on the Harlem Rens. He's a historian and he's also a great friend of Arthur Ashe, who was a guy who found my father. So I have great respect for Kareem."


Abdul-Jabbar is in town for the weekend, in part, for an event at King High School alongside Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, and to promote his new children's book, "What Color is My World?"

[+] EnlargeLuol Deng
AP Photo/Brian KerseyBulls forward Luol Deng continues to fight through the pain in his injured wrist.
Deng says wrist is improving: As usual, the big ice pack wrapped around Luol Deng's left wrist was in place after Saturday's game. He only scored six points, but he says the wrist, in which he tore a ligament in late in January, is starting to feel better. Having said that, he knows the scouting report is out on him: Take away his right hand and try to force him to use the left one.

"Trust me, I'm seeing [it]," he said. "That right is taken away, man. It's right there [pointing towards the hand]. But I was expecting that ... we still have around 20 games. I think [I need to] just keep working in practice and keep seeing how people are playing me. It's fine. I really believe that ... it's going to come. Just keep working, finding ways to change my game a little bit. But I'm real positive. I think I could do enough, even with this, for us to be a good team."

Deng says it's a credit to the entire organization, including vice president of basketball operations John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman, that he and his teammates continue to succeed despite all the injuries.

"I think it's everyone," he said. "It's a credit to Pax and Gar. It's a credit to the coaching staff. The guys that we have; the mindset. One guy goes down, we still believe in each other that we have enough. Since last year, it's just something that we've built. I think we all believe in each other. When one guy's down, we know we're missing a key player, but we still believe that we're going to win the game."

Bulls' guard Ronnie Brewer echoed those sentiments.

"It gets you wondering how this team is going to be when everybody's healthy," Brewer said. "But night in and night out we have to have guys step up and bring energy and lots of spark, and that is what you need from a good team."

The last word: Noah, on the fact that the Bulls haven't lost two straight regular season games in over a year.

"It just shows the character of this team," Noah said. "We take losses personal. A lot of people always have things to say, but at the end of the day, we take losing real bad and that shows great character."

Nick Friedell | email

Chicago Bulls beat reporter
Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jimmy Butler
PTS AST STL MIN
20.4 3.5 1.5 38.7
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsP. Gasol 10.6
AssistsD. Rose 5.4
StealsJ. Butler 1.5
BlocksP. Gasol 2.5