On October 17, Chicago Bulls’ power forward Bobby Portis punched starter Nikola Mirotic during a skirmish at practice, giving him a concussion and multiple facial fractures. Mirotic would require surgery and was expected to be out for 4-6 weeks to begin the season and Portis would have to carry out an eight-game suspension handed down by Bulls management.
What made matters worse was the fact that Mirotic initially refused to respond to Portis’ apology and gave the team an ultimatum between the two power forwards.
“I texted Niko. I called him. He didn’t respond,” Portis said four days following the incident.
The Bulls entered the season as the third youngest team in the league, and losing both veterans made the situation even worse. At 3-16 the Bulls are currently the worst team in the league record-wise, dead last in terms of offensive efficiency, and are an abysmal 28th in defensive efficiency. The Bulls are currently stuck in a six-game losing streak and have lost nine of their last ten.
During this Tuesday’s home loss against the Phoenix Suns, however, sentiments seem to have changed. Mirotic was shown clapping, fist bumping, and showing support for Portis.
“We are teammates. We’re fighting for this team. We’re going to do what we need to do to make it work,” Portis said while addressing the media for the first time since the altercation.
The one silver lining this season has been Bulls rookie Lauri Markkanen, who has thrived while thrust into the starting role. Averaging 14.3 PPG and a team-leading 8.2 RPG, Markkanen has been one of the more reliable rookies this year and has shown he will be apart of Chicago’s future for the long haul, regardless of whether Portis and Mirotic play nice during practice.
By: Adam Tayabali