Bulls' Vucevic hasn't forgotten college gift from Taj Gibson

Just like New York forward Taj Gibson provided veteran guidance when he played for the Bulls, Nikola Vucevic got a much-needed helping hand from Gibson as a freshman at USC.

Vucevic arrived at USC in 2008, the same year as DeMar DeRozan, while Gibson was in his third and final season on campus.

"He was kind of like my 'veteran' in college," Vucevic said. "He really helped me a lot, took me under his wing, off the court, on the court. Actually when I first came to USC, I didn't know I had to bring all my stuff. In Europe, when you go to a club, they kind of give you a place, they give you everything you need."

Vucevic was born in Switzerland, then grew up mostly in Belgium while his dad played professional basketball. So he was used to the European model of club basketball.

"I got to USC, I only had my clothes. I didn't know I had to bring bedsheets," Vucevic said. "Nobody told me. So I go there and they give me my room, my bed and I'm like, 'Anybody have like bedsheets?' So Taj actually gave me an extra set that he had that I could use until I got some.

"He was helping me a lot, even with my English, my game, getting adjusted and everything. So he was a great guy to have around. We still have a great connection."

Neither Vucevic nor Gibson played in Sunday's Bulls-Knicks game. Gibson was out with a groin strain, while Vucevic is still working his way back from a positive COVID test.

Vuc passes test:

Vucevic is closer to returning to game action. He's been out since testing positive for COVID on Nov. 11.

"He is out of isolation, and now he's going to start the cardiovascular protocols," coach Billy Donovan said before Sunday's game. "He'll be cleared when the doctors and the physicians feel comfortable that he's passed everything. So he's obviously out tonight, but he should be in the arena today. He can be around our team. He's out of all of that stuff. And now that next step is the cardiovascular testing."

Donovan didn't want to comment on the chance of Vucevic playing Monday against Indiana, but it appears doubtful.

"It's all up to the doctors and them being satisfied with whatever they're putting him into in terms of the testing part of it," Donovan said. "They may want him to work out a few more days before he plays."

Noah back for more:

Sunday's game was Part 2 of Joakim Noah's appreciation, which was held formally on Oct. 28, the last time the Knicks were in town. Noah was at Sunday's game and there were long lines of fans waiting to get into the United Center before the gates opened at 5:30 p.m., hoping to land the giveaway draft-night Noah bobblehead.

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