Bulls big man Nikola Vucevic glad to be back after missing seven gamesJoe Cowleyon November 24, 2021 at 8:07 pm

The Bulls’ Nikola Vucevic was cleared to play on Wednesday after being in the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols. | Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

The All-Star center tested positive for the coronavirus just before the Bulls were set to head out for a five-game West Coast trip. He finally was cleared to play on Wednesday, and was looking forward to keeping things rolling for his team.

HOUSTON — The possibility crossed the mind of Nikola Vucevic, but he was also betting on the science.

The Bulls big man lost.

When Vucevic heard that Philadelphia standout Joel Embiid had tested positive for the coronavirus after battling in the paint with him in back-to-back games three weeks ago, he knew the protocols would move him into daily testing.

He didn’t know he would be missing seven games because of it.

“There have been other people throughout this whole pandemic that I’ve known that were positive and I was around them and I didn’t get it, so I just don’t think there’s any rules on how you can get it or how it works,” Vucevic said. “[Embiid] got it and obviously I was hoping I didn’t get it, but we knew it was a possibility because I was getting tested every day for it since he got it, and one of my tests showed up positive. That’s the assumption, that I got it from him, but we don’t know for sure.”

What Vucevic did know for sure was he missed a lot of key basketball moments with his Bulls teammates, and was glad to be back in the mix against the Rockets for the Wednesday showdown in Houston.

The plan was to start Vucevic, get him some minutes early on, and monitor how he feels.

He’s worked out the last few days since being cleared, so he has worked on his conditioning somewhat, and it helped that his symptoms were very mild, almost cold-like.

The Bulls did go 4-3 in his absence in a very difficult part of the schedule, and it was admittedly difficult for Vucevic to be sitting in isolation back in Chicago, especially in games in which the smaller Bulls lineup was dominated on the boards, like they were in the Monday loss to Indiana.

“You never want to miss time as a player, especially for us in this situation — this new team and we’ve started off well, and then we go on a West Coast trip, that’s a big trip for us,” Vucevic said. “You want to continue to build the chemistry, continue to improve as a team, and you want to be a part of it. And for me to miss it and stay home in Chicago, it really sucked, but it’s just part of it.

“Unfortunately, that’s the world we’re living in right now, so you have to accept it and move on. They did a great job and played really well in my absence, and hopefully I can get back to playing well soon and help the team win.”

Before testing positive for the virus, Vucevic was struggling with his shooting consistency, especially from beyond the three-point line, but he was a force on the boards, as well as playing some solid defense at the rim.

Read More

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *