- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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CHICAGO -- During Ben Gordon's five-year tenure with the Chicago Bulls, he always was one of the most polarizing athletes in town. People either loved him, and his ability to make clutch shots, or they couldn't stand him because of his shot selection and periodic defense.
So it's no surprise that Gordon himself isn't sure whether he will be cheered or booed tonight in his first game back at the United Center, this time as a member of the Pistons.
"I don't know," he said after Wednesday morning's shootaround, when asked if he thought he would be cheered. "I would hope so, but I wouldn't be surprised if there were some boos. But, we'll see what happens."
Derrick Rose is looking forward to the atmosphere that his former teammates arrival will bring, but he has the same mindset that Gordon appears to have when it comes to fans' possible reactions.
"It's going to be crazy," Rose said after Tuesday's practice. "It's going to be kind of weird playing against him [Wednesday], but our fans are die-hard Bulls fans, so I don't think it's going to be a cheerful crowd [Wednesday] for Ben Gordon."
Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro is hoping for the best when it comes to how his former player is received.
"I think the fans will treat Ben well," Del Negro said Tuesday. "He's our rival now but he put in a lot of strong years here for the Bulls, and I know the fans appreciate that. But our focus is not Ben, it's the Pistons in general, as a team."
Joakim Noah isn't really sure which way the reaction toward Gordon will go.
"I have no idea how they're going to treat him," he said. "It's an exciting game, it's a must-win. It feels good to be back at home. We haven't won in a while so we just got to go in and give it everything we got."
But Noah did admit a few moments later that he hops Gordon gets to feel some love.
"I think he deserves all the respect in the world," the Bulls center said. "He obviously did a lot for the Bulls. He competed every night. He was one of the best scorers that ever wore the jersey.I think we wouldn't have been in the situation we were in last year if it wasn't for that guy hitting big shot after big shot.
"Just an unbelievable talent. He's somebody who put in a lot of time. In the summertime, I've never seen a guy work out the way he worked out," Noah said. "He'd be in here like three to four times a day in the Berto Center shooting jump shots. Having a guy work out with him. I've never seen somebody with such a work ethic. So, I think when somebody works that hard he deserves all the credit in the world."
No matter what happens, Gordon is looking forward to playing in the building he used to call home, and seeing some of his former teammates.
"It will be good to see them," Gordon said. "I'm looking forward to it."
So are the fans. For one reason or another.
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