C.J. Watson makes return to Chicago

December, 15, 2012
12/15/12
8:57
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- C.J. Watson, Tom Thibodeau and everyone else associated with the Chicago Bulls over the past two years shares the same feeling regarding the Bench Mob -- they miss it. Badly.

Watson, who signed with the Brooklyn Nets last summer after the Bulls declined to pick up his option admitted as much before Saturday night's game.

"It was fun," Watson said of the Bench Mob. "Because we all knew our role, we knew what to do. We knew who was going to get the ball, who was going to score, who was going to play defense and all that kind of stuff. So we just fit into our roles, everyone played their roles to the best of their ability."

Thibodeau agreed. That's why he admitted that it was nice to see former players like Watson, Ronnie Brewer and Omer Asik over the last few weeks.

"They did a great job for us, so I have great respect for what they did for us," Thibodeau said. "I always look forward to seeing them ... after the game. But before they're like everybody else."

Why does he think Watson and company were so successful during their stint over the past two seasons?

"I think they're the right type of guys," he said. "They're the type of guys that, they're going to improve wherever they are because of their makeup. They're team-first guys, hard-working, smart, and those guys always improve. It's always the same type of guys that when you study the league and look at the guys that have improved, they all have similar makeup. The skill sets might be different, but the makeup is usually the same."

That's why it's bittersweet for Watson to return to Chicago. The soft-spoken point guard didn't always say much, but it's clear reading between the lines that he wished he could have stayed in Chicago.

"I haven't been really keeping up with them that much," Watson said. "But if we had the same team you never know what could have happened."

Watson was asked if he ever thought about coming back to the Bulls for a price less than the $3.2 million option the team declined.

"My agent said something about that, but I never thought about coming back," Watson said.

Between the fact that his option was declined and the response he received from fans after passing to Asik in the final seconds of Game 6 against the Philadelphia 76ers, Watson obviously harbors some negativity as to how his tenure with the Bulls ended.

"I thought I kind of got mistreated," Watson said. "But it is what it is."

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
Derrick Rose
PTS AST STL MIN
15.9 4.3 0.5 31.1
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Noah 11.3
AssistsJ. Noah 5.4
StealsJ. Butler 1.9
BlocksJ. Noah 1.5