Bobby Portis said he couldn’t sleep, not last night, not today. No nap, just this giddy feeling of relief. Finally, mercifully, three weeks late, three weeks from the day of the fateful punch that resulted in the injuries to teammate Nikola Mirotic and an eight-game suspension, Bobby Portis gets to play his first game of the 2017-18 NBA season Tuesday against the Toronto Raptors.
“I’m just ready to go out and play my first NBA game this year,” Portis told reporters about one hour before game time. “Just been sitting down, been anxious, been real anxious, real giddy all day. Didn’t sleep last night, didn’t sleep today; couldn’t get a nap, just ready to go out there and play ball.”
Not much is settled with Mirotic still out injured, though Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said he received some encouraging news today on Mirotic.
“Did not talk to him, but I got a really good report,” Hoiberg said about Mirotic. “He had his best day in the weight room and he is feeling better moving better on the floor. Still not doing any jogging, but he is upping his activity every day. That’s a great sign. Had good conversation with him. He’s continuing to ramp up his physical activity.
Mirotic’s return remains uncertain.
Hoiberg added that rehabilitating Zach LaVine continues to progress.
“He has not had any setbacks,” Hoiberg said. “Had a really good workout after the shootaround today and he stayed for 45 minutes. He feels great. Has been going thru all of our five on zero stuff, has been doing everything in practice with the exception of contact. That’s the last hurdle. We’ll need a good couple of weeks to get him ready. We won’t throw him out for an hour scrimmage the first day he gets cleared for contact. It will be a gradual process. But he’s doing great, doing everying he’s supposed to do.”
So while LaVine looks ahead, Portis tries not to look behind.
He says he still has not spoken with Mirotic since an earlier effort proved unavailing. Portis said, as he did in an earlier interview with media last month, his intimates know this was uncharacteristic and he has to move forward beyond the condemnation or analysis of others.
“It was tough, sitting at home, having to watch from afar,” Portis confirmed. “But at the same time it gave me an outlook on things that happened. I made a decision and it happened. The situation I got put in was kind of crazy, but that was that. My friends, my teammates, everybody who knows me knows who I am. I’m not worried about anybody that I don’t know who doesn’t know me, what they think of me. Of course, everybody is entitled to their own opinion. I can’t change anybody’s opinion of me. At the same time I know who I am as a guy and that’s all I can control.
“I’m here to play basketball,” Portis said when asked about reports of a ‘him or me ultimatum’ to remain with the organization. “I can’t control who goes. He goes, I go, I can’t control that. All I can control is me coming in to work every day, working hard, being the same kid that I’ve always been. If I can continue to do that then that’s really all I can control. I’m just here to play basketball, get my season started the right way. I’ve sat down for three weeks and I haven’t played ball, organized basketball in a real game in three weeks, so I’m just anxious to play basketball now, try and put that behind me, and try and help my team win.
“I want to rekindle our relationship, try as best as possible, but I don’t control that right now,” Portis added of he and Mirotic. “The only thing I control is me trying to help my team win basketball games, and try and get better every day, just trying to be the best teammate, be the best Bobby Portis possible. That’s got me this far, and hopefully I can keep going.”
Portis said he is grateful for the support he’s received from teammates.
“They check on me every day,” Portis said. “Even sometimes when I don’t look like I’m the same, they try and cheer me back up and get me to be the same person I always am. It’s always been a great thing to have my brothers behind my back because that shows our strong relationship that some of the guys have. I’m going to be my same (way). I’m not going to change who I am. I have to play that way because if I don’t I’m doing myself a dishonest, I’m doing my family a dishonest, I’m doing my teammates a dishonest. That’s who I am as a player, that’s who I’m always going to be. If I don’t go out there and play as hard as I can no matter where it is, if I have 30 percent if I don’t give the whole 30 percent I have, then I’m not being true to myself.”
Portis said he’s excused himself from social and concerns about the views of others.
“I can’t control what people think about me,” he said. “The only thing I can control is being the best basketball player possible at this point and try and get better each and every day. (My mom told me) just to be myself, to not let people get down on me, the social media thing. ‘Turn off social media, don’t look at it. People are going to say what they want to say. They are going to try to fire you, try to get you fired. Everyone wants something to say back to them so they can say something else and start it up again.’ I had to turn my mentions off. It was going crazy. Probably got 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 tweets, people going at me. But at the same time it’s kind of hopeful at the same time. I got to see both sides of it. I’m just ready for tonight, man.”