NEW YORK—If you ask most people to work on Christmas Day, they’d probably object, but for the Bulls, playing on the holiday is something to be proud of.
“I think it’s great. I think it’s an honor and privilege to play on that day. I think a lot of teams want to play on that day. It’s a great day to be playing. We’re thrilled that they asked us,” Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau explained. “The one thing, you are away from your family. That makes it a little different. But I think we’re fortunate. We’re going to have an opportunity to get back home. Whatever the circumstances are, I think the league does a great job with it. We’re excited about it.”
Third-year swing-man Jimmy Butler concurred: “It’s an honor because for one, I get to be around guys that I really care about, my teammates. My family’s going to be watching on TV and this is what I love to do. This is what I asked for since I was little.”
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Kirk Hinrich chimed in: “It’s one of those things where there are, what, four or five games? So we’re excited to be doing it. The good side of it for me as well is it’s a noon game. I get to come home and still see the fam on Christmas. It’s a win-win.”
For All-Star center Joakim Noah, it’s even better, as the New York native will be able to be in direct contact with many of his loved ones.
“Just to be able to go home, play on Christmas Day, play in front of family and friends, it’s cool,” he said. “Big game, Christmas Day, everybody’s going to be watching, home.”
When asked if he had any Christmas wishes, Thibodeau said, “Nah, just be ready. We’re excited about the opportunity to play on Christmas Day. It’s great for our team and organization. We’re looking forward to it. “
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Butler took it a step further: “I just want a win. That’s what I think we all want. We just want a win and our gift to our fans is to bring a smile to their faces.”
There is one issue with the game, which has a noon Eastern Time start, Hinrich explained.
“I think we’re going to do them [exchange Christmas gifts] when we get back [Wednesday] night. I don’t know how my wife is going to explain that one,” he joked. “But I think she’s going to try. Chicago’s one of his [Santa Claus] last stops.