When the video links come up of the press conference section, I'll be sure to post them. I want to see them as badly as most fans, because even though I was there, I didn't hear a word Vinny, Gar, Luol, or Derrick had to say.
You see, you're faced with a choice. Sit and listen to the big guns at the podium or walk around the Berto and talk to everyone else in a more private setting. I figured all the good quotes would be taken if I stayed with the masses, so I opted for the road less traveled.
Quite simply, there's too much for me to go over from all the interviews I had. I want to be able to deliver it all to you without having to leave anything out and that process would not be conducive to one article, so here, I'd just like to get out my initial thoughts on the day while breaking down specific things players said in future articles.
First, media day is a bit of a fish out of water experience. Imagine getting hired for a job at a location you've never been to, with no one there to show you the ropes, and no one to introduce you around. When you arrive, you realize that the world is a tight clique where everyone knows everyone from working the same grind. Everyone that is, except you. It was a little intimidating, okay, a lot intimidating. Thanks to K.C. Johnson, Chuck Swirsky, Joel Brigham, and Mike McGraw for making my day a quite a bit easier even if they didn't realize they were doing it.
I wasn't sure what I was expecting upon entering the Berto center, but it was quite a bit different than what I got. The gym is set up with various photo and TV stations. The players have only one goal, to get their picture/video done at each station while trying to avoid a sea of reporters who have the competing goal of stopping them on the way from station to station and chatting. For the record, I accomplished the goal of starting a media scrum on multiple occasions, not bad for a rookie.
Probably the best story of such a display is when Brad Miller was cornered outside the comcast booth talking to the media while waiting his turn as Kirk Hinrich slipped in behind him and jumped in line. Brad turned, tried to trip him, but was unable to stop Kirk from cutting in line. Let's face it, the guard will always outquick the center. Brad came back to the scrum with a look mocking defeat and anger at he media for allowing such a tragedy to happen.
It was interesting seeing the varying levels of joy vs professionalism throughout the different players, and when you listen to all the questions other reporters ask, you can see the angles on the stories that they want to write forming in front of your eyes. Joakim Noah was constantly asked about his image, then Brad Miller was constantly asked about Joakim's image. There were a whole group of people who didn't seem concerned with whether Joakim was a hard worker, but whether he was perceived as a hard worker.
For his part, Joakim answered the questions in the best way possible. When asked if he feels he needs to change his image to be that of a hard working basketball player he responded: "I've always been a hard working basketball player". Darn right. Why people think if a guy enjoys life off the court that he works less hard on it is beyond me. Is there some correlation between misery and work ethic that I'm unaware of? Must be.
While I'm not sure how many other people noticed, James Johnson lit up the day for me. He has such a youthful joy about him that I hope isn't crushed out by the grind. He's happy to be there, he's happy to talk to you. He goes the extra mile when asked to take the 100th photo in the row. He's the one guy who wanted to shake my hand both when I introduced myself and when I said goodbye.
The two themes that struck me the most throughout all the answers were the commitment to defense and the comradery of the group. Every player spoke of how the Bulls needed to play better defense. Now the mission has been established, but how they accomplish it will be another matter.
Everyone also seems to genuinely enjoy each other. Johnson discussed how much he's learned from Luol, Brad and Noah expressed mutual appreciation for each other. It may just be because it's early, but this team has a nice feel to it right now. No one is too old, the key pieces aren't too young. Everything is in place for this special year.
It wouldn't be media day if it weren't for fans analyzing pictures and deciding who bulked up and who grew another two inches this year. First, no one looks taller, so if there's any insane photos of guys next to each other suggesting that someone's now two inches taller don't believe it.
Next, Tyrus, Kirk, Deng, and Noah all looked bigger to me. I barely saw Derrick, so I have no comment there nor have I seen Salmons or Miller in a close up setting before. However, the weight program at the berto seems to be working well. Tyrus especially just looks much stronger than he did in the past, but I asked him his weight and he said about 235 which I thought was his playing weight last season.
That's it for the initial thoughts. I will be spending the next couple of days transcribing my interviews and pumping out content as well as linking to all of the other great content out there.