Bulls plan to get healthier, see some sights during trip to Paris

The Bulls' flight to Paris departed at midnight Chicago time. After arriving in France on Monday morning, they went straight to the gym for practice.

Coach Billy Donovan said he was looking forward to the long flight, in an odd, coaching-centric sort of way.

"I don't mind this actually," he said after the Bulls beat Golden State on Sunday afternoon. "For me personally I kind of like it because your cellphone doesn't work, there's nothing to see. You can just kind of focus and watch a lot of film and get ready for practice and how we can get better and improve."

The Bulls will see the sights in Paris for a few days, leading up to a game against the Detroit Pistons on Thursday afternoon. This trip represents a break in the schedule, since they'll play just one game in a span of seven days.

DeMar DeRozan told reporters in France he plans to play Thursday after missing the previous three games with a right quad strain.

The Bulls have three European players on the roster - Goran Dragic from Slovenia, along with Nikola Vucevic and Marko Simonovic, both from Montenegro. Vucevic lived for several years as a kid in Brussels, Belgium, where his father played professional basketball.

One player who knows his way around the world is Malcolm Hill. The former Illini star played in Germany, Philippines, Israel and Kazakhstan before landing a two-way deal with the Bulls.

"This is like my second, third time in Paris," Hill said Sunday. "It's fun."

Hill's enthusiasm was dampened slightly when told the top of the Eiffel Tower is closed for maintenance during the month of January. So unless the Bulls can pull some strings, they'll have to stay on the lower levels, which are also impressive.

"There's still plenty of things to do," Hill said. "My mom went to the Louvre, I didn't go. I'd just say explore, you know what I mean? If anybody gets the opportunity, walk the streets, listen to what the people have to say. Get your face drawn on the sidewalk.

"I'm excited to get some of that cologne that's out there. They say they've got some of the best cologne ever over there, that's what I'm excited about. Plenty of things to do."

Zach LaVine had a different French product on his mind.

"Drink a lot of wine and sleep, that's what I'm looking forward to, drinking some of their wine," LaVine said. "I'm a red (wine) person. Drink some burgundy."

Chicago native Ayo Dosunmu had been to Italy, but not France until arriving with the Bulls.

"I'm blessed to be able to take this trip with teammates, family," he said. "This is something a lot of people dream about their entire life and being able to do it at 22 years old, that's a blessing for sure. I'm going to soak it all in as much as I can."

FLASHBACK TO OCT. 17, 1997: Michael Jordan dribbles past PSG Racing's Stephane Risacher during an exhibition game at the Paris Bercy stadium. The Bulls won 89-82. Associated Press file photo

The Bulls made a memorable trek to Paris back in 1997, before their sixth championship season. They played two exhibition games, beating PSG Racing 89-82 and Olympiakos 104-78.

The leading scorer for Olympiakos in that game was current Bulls head of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas, with 19 points. At the time, most of the local attention was on Karnisovas' teammate Dragan Tarlac, a second-round pick of the Bulls in 1995, who made no impact when he finally joined the team in 2000.

Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman were both out with injuries, so those games in Paris featured plenty of playing time for guys like Scott Burrell, Jason Caffey and Randy Brown, while Michael Jordan scored 28 and 27 points in the two games.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr reminisced about the 1997 Paris trip before facing his former team Sunday.

"It was fantastic, so much fun," Kerr said. "It was Michael and a bunch of scrubs. The game was packed, huge crowd.

"Just being in Paris for five days (was the highlight). Everybody brought a wife or significant other. Just a pretty unique experience to go to Paris at the height of the Bulls heyday, it was pretty fun."

Based on that trip and Jordan's massive influence, the Bulls should have a nice following in France. But as LaVine pointed out, that's the case in a lot of places.

"There's Michael Jordan and Chicago Bulls fans everywhere, we've noticed that with some road games that were home games for us the last couple of years," LaVine said. "What he's done for the game is incredible, even still to this day. You'll never understand the full impact, but we appreciate it."

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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