Coby White obviously has a special relationship with Roy Williams, his former coach at North Carolina, to the point where Williams blew off his weekly radio show to attend a Bulls game when White was slumping as a rookie in 2019.
White set a franchise record with seven three-pointers in the fourth quarter of that November game, finishing with 27 points.
So the news that Williams, 70, was retiring this week after 33 seasons and more than 900 career victories left White in shock.
“It was a surprise,” White said Friday. “I’m happy for him and kind of sad at the same time because he will forever be my coach and forever be that role model, that guy, that figure I can go to in my life. But I’m happy for him — he’s done this a long time, and he’s one of the best ever. So now he gets to enjoy time. He gets to enjoy his family.”
White only played one season at UNC before leaving for the NBA — after Williams encouraged him to — but it was long enough to build a lasting bond.
“I got a chance to talk to him [Thursday],” White said. “What’s crazy is, he called me because he didn’t see me in the box score, so he was making sure that I was OK. He didn’t even call to talk about everything that had happened [with his retirement]. He called to see what was wrong with me.”
The schedule hasn’t been kind to the Bulls since their roster facelift at the trade deadline, but that changes a bit next week when they play a stretch of largely Eastern Conference teams. Some of the games look very winnable.
“Obviously, when the schedule shakes out, we all think we’ll be a little bit better,” forward Thad Young said. “So it’s just a matter of going out there and getting acclimated with each other and making sure that we are doing the right things.
“The schedule is what it is. At the end of the day, we all are men. We all have to step on the court. And we all lace our shoes up and pull our pants up the same way. It’s just a matter of going out there and fighting and seeing who’s a better team at the end.”
After a home game Sunday against the Nets, the Bulls face the Pacers, Raptors, Hawks, Timberwolves and Grizzlies on the road, then host the Magic, Grizzlies and Cavaliers.
The Theis Effect
Big man Daniel Theis already has seen enough in a few games with the Bulls to call on the team to be more physical, both on the perimeter and in the paint. He’s also taking on the responsibility of making it happen.
“Me, Thad [and center Nikola Vucevic], we’re experienced enough — like, we can guide those guys and just tell them we’ve got to be more physical,” Theis said. “As a five, you see the whole court basically the whole time. You’re back there [and] you can talk to everybody, tell them where to go. That was my mindset with the Celtics, too: just be a defensive anchor, be vocal and just talk to everybody. And I think that’s a thing we’ve got to change or just adjust to.”