Plans for new practice facility please Bulls

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Plans for new practice facility please Bulls

LOS ANGELES In a long-rumored move, the Bulls, in conjunction with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuels office, officially announced plans to build a new practice facility in the city. The facility will be built on a parking lot adjacent to the United Center -- Parking Lot J, which sits east of the United Center across South Wood Street between Monroe and Madison Streets -- and the organization will move in prior to the 2014-15 season.

"I am pleased that the Bulls are moving their practice facilities into the City of Chicago and continuing the great work revitalizing the entire neighborhood around the United Center," said Mayor Emanuel. "The Bulls are an iconic championship team and a source of pride for our city. Their future, and the future of the West Side, is bright."

Added Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf: "Todays announcement is the latest example of our longstanding commitment to the City of Chicago and to our fans.

Investing in a modern facility for our players and coaches will help us to achieve our teams number one goal winning championships while also playing an important role in the citys ongoing redevelopment efforts in our West Side neighborhood," he continued. Mayor Emanuel has done a tremendous job promoting investment in the City of Chicago. The Mayor stressed that the Bulls brand is important to the city, nationally and internationally, and that the Bulls represent the spirit and competitive grit of Chicago. He thought centralizing our team assets inside the city limits would be a demonstration of our ongoing commitment to Chicago. We had been contemplating how to address the growing demands on our current practice facility for awhile, so the Mayors timing and ours made sense.

Chimed in Bulls, COO Michael Reinsdorf: We share Mayor Emanuels vision for the West Side and are proud that this new facility will be a major part of that vision, said President and COO Michael Reinsdorf. Our current practice facility presented some limitations for us and as we looked to invest in the teams future, we recognized the importance of also investing in our community.

Meanwhile, before the Bulls practiced in advance of Saturday night's game against the Clippers, the team expressed excitement about the news. Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau referenced the issue of Chicagos notorious traffic being a positive benefit of having a practice facility in the city, as players will likely opt to live in the city, instead of the north suburbs, which is convenient to Deerfields Berto Center, built in 1992 and named after team chairman Jerry Reinsdorfs late assistant, Sheri L. Berto.

Were excited about it. I think its going to be a state-of-the-art facility. I think it gives our players the best chance at improvement, he said prior to the teams practice on the campus of UCLA. Obviously we love the United Center and now we think the practice facility will be second to none.

The Bertos been great and its served us well for a long time, and we all enjoy living out there. The big issue is basically the traffic on gameday, so its become more problematic for us. The Blackhawks moved down there, it seemed to work well for them. I think at this point, when you take everything into consideration, it makes the most sense to be downtown and were excited about it, continued the coach, who will face a team coached by his predecessor, Vinny Del Negro. The Berto Center, at the time when they built that, I think it was the first one and it still, in many ways, serves us well now. The court area is fantastic, but I think as the staffs have grown and things have changed, youd like a little more space. But its a great facility and for us, the main thing has been the traffic and were looking forward to being downtown having a great facility. Weve put a lot of research into it, so we think its going to be an incredible facility.

Added Taj Gibson: "Its going to be great.

"Get more sleep on game days instead of going through all that traffic. Hopefully Ill be able to move downtown. I think its going to be a better environment," he continued. "That traffic kills you every day. When youre coming to the game, youre in traffic for like two hours every time."

Jimmy Butler acknowledges 'huge accomplishment' but stays nonchalant about All-Star starter nod

Jimmy Butler acknowledges 'huge accomplishment' but stays nonchalant about All-Star starter nod

ATLANTA — Jimmy Butler insisted being a starter in the All-Star Game means next to nothing, but it seems to go against his never-ending battle for credibility and validation as a legit superstar.

Moments after it was revealed he would be an All-Star starter for the first time and make his third overall trip to All-Star weekend, he sang the same nonchalant tune.

"It hasn't changed at all," Butler said on a conference call Thursday evening. "Obviously, it's a huge accomplishment and honor to be named a starter. But it's All-Star weekend. There are going to be a lot of good players there. I guess it's just another name thrown in with some decent players."

The NBA's format for selecting the All-Star starters changed this season, with fans no longer being the sole group that gets to vote for starters. If it was still a fans-only vote, Philadelphia's Joel Embiid would've started in Butler's place.

But with the new formula that allows the media and the players to take part in the vote, the fan vote accounts for just 50 percent of the formula. So Butler joined Cleveland's LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, Milwaukee's Giannis Antekounmpo and Toronto's DeMar DeRozan in the starting five for the Eastern Conference.

Butler's is averaging 24.8 points with 6.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists, career-highs across the board, and had he not been selected as a starter, the Bulls' 20-21 record would not have prevented coaches from selecting him as a reserve as they had the last two seasons.

[SHOP BULLS: Get a Jimmy Butler jersey right here]

He won't be joined in the starting lineup by Dwyane Wade, who finished second in backcourt voting behind Irving, but cast his vote for his teammate anyway and hopes Wade will be selected as a reserve.

"Of course. He's been a huge part of what we're doing here, and I think he has played extremely well the first part of the season," Butler said. "He got my vote. I will tell you that."

Golden State's Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant will start for the West, along with Houston's James Harden, San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard and New Orleans' Anthony Davis, a Chicago native.

The fun-filled and busy weekend in New Orleans begins Feb. 17, from the league events to the parties to the festivities and then finally the All-Star Game on Sunday night.

Butler likely views it as more of an accomplishment for his team of trainers and confidants then himself.

"It's fun, man. You get to know the other really good players in the league, and you get to know a little bit about them," Butler said. "And the experience that you get to be a part of, whether it be the Jordan party or taking your guys with you everywhere. That's the most fun part for me, my trainers, my brothers, everybody that's behind the scenes helping me gets to experience it too."

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should the Bulls build around All-Star Jimmy Butler?

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should the Bulls build around All-Star Jimmy Butler?

David Haugh (Chicago Tribune) and Ben Finfer (ESPN 1000) join Kap on the panel. Jimmy Butler is an All-Star starter. Is he a superstar now meaning the Bulls have to build around him? The guys pose that question to Bulls great Horace Grant.

The Raiders want to move to Las Vegas. If your NFL team moved, should you keep rooting for them? Plus should the Cubs help Sammy Sosa out as his Hall of Fame chances get smaller?

Check out the SportsTalk Live Podcast below.