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updated: 2/18/2012 2:42 PM

You don't mess with the Bulls' Mike James

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  • Mike James, right, who has played for 10 different NBA teamsD etroit Pistons forward Ben Wallace (3) battles Boston Celtics guard Mike James for the ball in the second half of the Pistons 96-88 win Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2003, in Auburn Hills, Mich.

      Mike James, right, who has played for 10 different NBA teamsD etroit Pistons forward Ben Wallace (3) battles Boston Celtics guard Mike James for the ball in the second half of the Pistons 96-88 win Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2003, in Auburn Hills, Mich.
    Associated Press file photo, Nov. 2003

  • The Bulls' Derrick Rose, left, talks with Mike James during a celebrity basketball game in November. Rose and James are now teammates.

      The Bulls' Derrick Rose, left, talks with Mike James during a celebrity basketball game in November. Rose and James are now teammates.
    Associated Press

 
 

After Mike James played the majority of the fourth quarter at point guard on Thursday night, he was naturally a topic of conversation in the locker room following the Bulls' 89-80 victory over Boston.

Joakim Noah called James a "jailhouse player," then happily explained the comment after Friday's practice at the Berto Center.

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"If you had a movie in a jail, wouldn't you want to have a guy like Mike James having a role in your movie?" Noah said with a smile. "He looks the part."

Well, now that he mentions it, James does sort of have the look of a guy who would take your head off for no good reason. Not that it's a bad thing when the Bulls were trying to find someone to slow down Celtics guard and United Center arch enemy Rajon Rondo in a close game.

Asked about Noah's nickname, James laughed and refused to be insulted. In fact, he told the story of when his New Orleans Hornets teammates bought him an orange jumpsuit and handcuffs to wear as a Halloween costume.

"I've been called that my whole career," he said. "I guess I take it as a person who doesn't take a lot of stuff, doesn't back down from no one. I know how to adjust and conform to any situation I'm in."

That, in a nutshell, might be why coach Tom Thibodeau brought back James for a second time and didn't hesitate to use him in a clutch situation. James was at the point when the Bulls used a 12-0 run to break a 69-69 tie.

"He's played on a number of very good teams," Thibodeau said. "You know he'll be ready when called upon."

When he joined the Bulls in January, James, 36, was playing for his 10th different NBA team. He won a championship in Detroit in 2004 and averaged 20.3 points for the Toronto Raptors in 2005-06.

Noah revealed another secret about James -- he's an author, whose autobiography, "Fight For Your Dreams," is on the reading list at Amityville (N.Y.) High School, his alma mater, and a couple other schools on Long Island.

It's all about the struggles he endured while becoming a basketball star and reaching the NBA. One story is how his college coach at Duquesne, John Carroll, told James he was the worst basketball player he's ever seen and would never start for him.

That was when James was a freshman. Carroll left at the end of that season and several years later, became interim head coach of the Celtics after Jim O'Brien resigned midway through the 2003-04 season. His starting point guard was none other than James.

"I just found that out yesterday that he wrote a book," Noah said. "I'll have to check it out. I can't wait to read it."

Wait until Noah finds out James' family was once featured on the show "Supernanny."

With the Bulls trying to hang onto the NBA's best record while Derrick Rose is sidelined by back spasms, a guy like James has been through just about everything. He didn't play in the NBA last season, went to the D-League to try to get a look, then returned to the Erie (Pa.) Bayhawks after getting cut by the Bulls on Jan. 28.

"I went from Ritz-Carltons to Howard Johnsons, but that didn't bother me at all," he said. "Living in motels didn't bother me at all. I was thankful to have a bed, cable television and be able to get breakfast, lunch and dinner. I'm good. I've always learned how to be grateful in whatever lifestyle I'm living in."

After the way he stepped in and helped subdue Rondo and the Celtics, maybe James' book should be required reading for the Bulls.

• mmcgraw@dailyherald.com. Get the latest Bulls news via Twitter by following McGrawDHBulls.

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