In addition to Ronnie Brewer, another familiar face was wearing a Knicks jersey Saturday night during the Bulls' 93-85 win at the United Center. Kurt Thomas (the NBA's oldest active player) started for New York, the league's oldest team--in fact, the oldest team in modern NBA history--with superstar Carmelo Anthony out due to a lacerated middle finger and starting power forward Amar'e Stoudemire still yet to make his season debut with a more long-term knee ailment.
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Thomas was a fan favorite during his lone year in Chicago, the 2010-11 season, in which the Bulls advanced to the Eastern Conference finals. He started in place of center Joakim Noah and the Bulls didn't miss a beat en route to the first of two campaigns with the league's top regular-season record.
However, following the end of the NBA lockout, the organization didn't re-sign him and he ended up in Portland, where he missed the playoffs last season. Still, he's paid attention to the Bulls from a distance.
"Well, you know one thing when it comes to a Thibodeau-coached team, guys are going to come out, they're going to play hard, they're going to compete on the defensive end of the floor," he told CSNChicago.com. "It's hard to replace a Derrick Rose, but they've got a lot of talent in that locker room and they're going to compete every night, so there's no doubt in my mind that Thibodeau's going to make sure those guys are prepared, night in and night out."
This is Thomas' second stint in New York, as he was a member of the Knicks team that advanced to the NBA Finals back in 1999, a squad that had current Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau as an assistant on Jeff Van Gundy's staff. It was clear from Thomas' trips to Madison Square Garden with the Bulls that he relished the "Big Apple" atmosphere and the feeling from the city was mutual.
"Oh, I love it. I love being back. It's like my second home. Just enjoying the ride," he said. "When I left, I didn't think I'd ever be coming back. I also didn't think I'd be playing this long in my career, but I'm just enjoying every opportunity I get out there on the floor."