Downtown-living Bulls players excited about new practice center
BY JOE COWLEY email@example.com November 17, 2012 1:58AM
Chicago Bulls' Carlos Boozer, right, high-fives Richard Hamilton after a score during overtime of an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012, in Phoenix. The Bulls won 112-106. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Updated: December 19, 2012 1:29PM
LOS ANGELES — There was a lot of “awesome’’ and “it’s the Bulls, baby,’’ being thrown around by Carlos Boozer on Friday, when the power forward was asked about the Bulls’ new downtown practice facility now having an exact location and a blueprint.
It was early Friday morning that the organization announced the facility would be built in Parking Lot J, which sits east of the United Center across South Wood Street between Monroe and Madison Streets, and was scheduled to be complete in time for the 2014-2015 season.
Boozer is one of several Bulls players that has a residence downtown, so the transition for him will be seamless.
One problem: Boozer will be heading into the final year of his contract, and might be an amnestied free agent that offseason, never stepping a foot in the new downtown home. That didn’t squash his enthusiasm.
“I’m super excited, awesome,’’ Boozer said. “It makes more sense, obviously with our arena being right there, to practice downtown. A few of us already have homes downtown. And the bottom line is it’s the Bulls, baby. They’re going to make it the best practice facility on the planet, so it’s going to be awesome.’’
Tom Thibodeau’s hope is that it just makes the product better. While the head coach wasn’t dumping on the current practice facility in Deerfield, the Berto Center opened in 1992, and times have changed. So has the game.
“The Berto Center, at the time, when they built that, I think it was the first one,’’ Thibodeau said. “In many ways it still serves us well now. The court area is fantastic, but as the staffs have grown and things have changed, you know you would like a little more space.’’
According to Thibodeau, the Bulls took note when the Blackhawks moved their practices closer to the United Center, and with growing traffic problems in the commute, especially on game days when they have the shoot-around at the Berto Center and then have to head downtown for the game, it just made more sense.
“The main thing for us has been the traffic issue,’’ Thibodeau said. “We’ve put a lot of research into it and we think it’s going to be an incredible facility.
“We’re excited about it. I think it’s going to be a state of the art facility, I think it gives our players the best chance for improvement. Obviously, we love the United Center, and now we think the practice facility will be second to none.’’