Boozer optimistic about Bulls' early success

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Boozer optimistic about Bulls' early success

Friday, Nov. 19, 2010
Updated 11:33 a.m.
By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

DALLASWith the third game of Chicagos seven-game November circus trip approaching Friday evening, the Bulls have had mixed results at 6-4 on the young season. One uniquely tuned-in observer, sidelined power forward Carlos Boozer, is optimistic about the teams progress.

Im not surprised. I know how hard these guys work, how hard we try to pay attention and get better every day. Im not surprised at how well weve done, said Boozer before Fridays team shootaround at the American Airlines Center. In my opinion, I thought that we could have a couple more wins under our belt. Im definitely impressed by my teammates, but Im not surprised. They work their butts off and theyre good.

Boozer, who is with the team throughout the arduous road trip, also discussed his own recovery from his broken right fifth metacarpal with reporters.

One day at a time. As long as it keeps improving, Ill be happy with that so, thats where Im going to leave it atI do a bunch of strengthening drills with some clay and then I do a couple of different exercises to get the muscles in between the fingers and then the hand to get stronger because my strength isnt there yet, explained Boozer, whose hard cast (It was on for four weeks, but it felt like forever, he quipped) was removed Nov. 2 and stitches were taken out Nov. 11. I ice it down, of course, so it doesnt flame up on me. And then I come out here and do dribbling, passing and shootingjust around the rim, like in the paint areaand ice it down again, let it keep healing.

Obviously where it came from, its a lot better than that. The splint is almost gone. Just try to get the pain out of it, he continued. It hadnt been moved in almost a month, so thats a reason there was a lot of pain there.

Boozer noted, in a silver-lining type of reasoning, that the injury hasnt affected his conditioning.

The great thing about my injury is Ive been able to run a lot and stay in shape as good as I can, so when I get back out there to practicehopefully very soon; maybe in a week, week and a half, Ill be able to practice sometime this week Im hopingI wont be too far behind, said the two-time All-Star power forward, who expects to have a specially-designed protective fitting for his right hand when the team arrives in Los Angeles this weekend. I know my body. Its a good mix. Im getting the doctors advice and he wants me to wait until the eight-week mark. Im trying to listen to him and at the same time, listen to my body. Im trying to wait to the eight-week mark to get out and practice and have full-contact practice, but Im starting to get a little anxious.

Often the first player on the court to encourage his teammates after timeouts, Boozer believes hell seamlessly fit into the Bulls lineup upon his return because of the chemistry hes developed with his new teammates, although his on-court time with them has been limited to the first week of training camp.

Itll be a little bit of an adjustment because we havent been out there together in a game, but itll be smooth. Itll be an easy transition. Its not going to be a tough transition, predicted Boozer. His role will be the same one when I signed on to come. Just being there, being a presence, bringing my leadership and help us win, whatever that means.

Boozer has also been a mentor of sorts to younger players on the squad, such as power forward understudy Taj Gibson, whos struggled through a miserable 1-for-16 shooting stretch over Chicagos past two games after starting out the season with remarkably high shooting numbers from the floor.

Every player goes through that. I just told him to hang in there and keep playing. I think every great player, every good player, everybody thats played basketball has had a slump at some point, so I told him to just keep his head up, dont keep your head down and just keep playing. The only way you get back on track is to keep fighting through moments like that, recounted Boozer. I really didnt know that much about Taj until I got here, to be honest. But when I got here, he was very talented, very skilled, way more athletic than I thoughthes super athleticgreat attitude and got a high motor, so Im looking forward to playing with him.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.coms Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Kendall Gill, Ice Cube give their predictions for Mayweather-McGregor

Kendall Gill, Ice Cube give their predictions for Mayweather-McGregor

This story originally appeared on Big3.com. Hear from Kendall and Ice Cube as they give their opinions on the Aug. 26 fight in the video above.

Timing really is everything.

When I went to Las Vegas for the BIG3 combine and draft back in April, I liked my chances. Sure, I was one of the oldest guys there, but my training as a boxer (I fought professionally after my NBA days) keeps me in great shape.

So I was pretty shocked when I didn’t get drafted.

I tried to be positive about it. I figured maybe the man upstairs was saying, “Just sit tight. I gotta put you on the right team.”

So there I was, sparring in the gym the other day. I get out of the ring and there’s a text waiting for me from Corey Maggette, asking me if I want to play for Power.

He didn’t have to ask twice!

Next thing I know, I’m getting a call from Power’s coach, Hall of Famer Clyde Drexler. I looked up to Clyde my whole career, looked at him as a big brother. To play for him in the BIG3 is the perfect scenario.

So it was great to be in Philadelphia last Sunday and help Power defeat the Ghost Ballers in my BIG3 debut. I thoroughly enjoyed playing with Cuttino Mobley, DeShawn Stevenson, Jerome “Junkyard Dog” Williams and Paul McPherson.

I was a bit rusty on the offensive side, but my defense -- which has been a staple for me throughout my career -- my rebounding, passing, that was all on point. I found Cuttino and DeShawn for a couple of shots when we forced them to double-team down on me. I had Mike Bibby on me in the post, and they knew that he probably couldn’t guard me down there.

So it was a pretty good first day. Now that I’ve got that under my belt, here comes the fun part. Everybody was excited when I was finally added to a team, and when they found out we were playing in Chicago they got twice as excited. When I got off the plane from Philadelphia on Monday, I had about 50 messages waiting for me – friends and family asking for tickets to the UIC Pavilion for Sunday’s games.

And since I work Chicago Bulls games for CSN Chicago, the network is excited, too. They want to mic me up and follow me around for the day, go behind the scenes. Radio stations have been calling me for interviews about the BIG3 coming to Chicago. It’s exciting. But when it comes time to play, I’ve got to forget about all that and go out there and play.

A lot of people think I’m biased because I was born and raised here, and still live in Chicago, but if you look at the number of pro players that we’ve produced, there’s really nowhere else that can compare to Chicago as a basketball town. You look at all the number one picks in the draft. Look at the top five picks in the NBA Draft throughout history. I think you’d have to say Chicago is probably the number one producer of NBA players – and college basketball players for that matter.

Only a few fortunate kids make it up the ranks to college and the pros. For most kids growing up in Chicago, at least basketball can be an important recreational activity that helps keep them off the streets and out of trouble. But there’s so much more we can do. When I was preparing for the BIG3 draft, I was practicing with Arne Duncan, President Obama’s Secretary of Education. Duncan, who has played competitive 3-on-3 with USA Basketball, is doing some great work with underprivileged kids in Chicago.

For my part, I donated a home in Champaign-Urbana (home of my alma mater, the University of Illinois). It’s the Cunningham Children’s Home and it helps disadvantaged kids in the region. We just had our annual golf tournament last week. We’ve been doing it for 28 years and have raised more than $1 million for the home.

While Arne Duncan is doing great work with Chicago youth, I’m grateful for the work he put in with me on the basketball court. He showed me a lot about how to cut, do a lot of pick and rolls away from the ball. In 3-on-3, those aspects of the game are very undervalued. Some guys have a tendency to play too much one-on-one, which I saw in some of the other games I was watching Sunday. The 3-on-3 game is very easy if you do it right, like we did. I think that’s why we won that game. We did a lot of cuts, and it worked well for us.

So after the disappointment of not being drafted, I’m thrilled to be where I am now – playing for a Power squad that is 3-1 and looking good for the playoffs. Which got me to thinking…

I really love boxing – not just training and sparring myself, but watching it. Boxing is the sweet science.

If we are fortunate enough to make it to Las Vegas for the BIG3 championship game on August 26, there just happens to be a pretty big boxing match taking place that night, right down the road. You may have heard:  Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor.

Personally, I don’t think McGregor has a chance. I’ve seen Floyd train in person and I’ve seen all his fights at least 10 times. He’s one of the greatest fighters to ever live. Now a guy who has no boxing experience whatsoever is going to get into the ring with him? Not happening.

But it’s gonna be an event. Believe me, I’m planning to buy the Pay-Per-View.

Unless I’m in Vegas that day and get to see it in person. You know, right after we win the BIG3 title.

Wake-up Call: Rose returning to Chicago?; Willson Contreras takes over; State of Cubs-Cards

Wake-up Call: Rose returning to Chicago?; Willson Contreras takes over; State of Cubs-Cards

Here are the top Chicago sports stories from Thursday: 

Is #TheReturn getting a reboot? Report says there's a possibility Derrick Rose comes back to Bulls

This is becoming Willson Contreras' team, whether or not Cubs add Alex Avila or another veteran catcher

Bears training camp preview: 3 burning questions for tight ends

Why Blackhawks fans might want to tap the brakes on Alex DeBrincat

That escalated quickly: Cubs just a game back of Brewers, could be in first place as soon as this weekend

Ping-pong balls everywhere: Where do the Bulls rank among projected lottery teams?

Joe Maddon's prime-time message: 'Help or die'

Report: Derrick Rose is considering teaming up with LeBron James, Cavs

Cubs Talk Podcast: State of Cubs-Cardinals rivalry and what lies ahead

Why Adam Engel came up with his unique batting stance, and how he's tweaked it since