Grim? There is always hope
Q. With Joakim Noah likely to miss Game 4 with a sprained ankle, things don't look promising for the Bulls. Do you see any signs of hope?
A. With Joakim Noah likely to miss Game 4 with a badly sprained ankle, one may look at the Bulls' chances of winning this series as grim. That is not why these players put on their uniforms every night. For 66 games during the regular season and now for three games in the playoffs, this Bulls team has laced up its sneakers with the thought that they can win the game. That is part of what being a champion is.
Hope you ask? Yes there is always hope; again the starting lineup will have to change. One would think that Omir Asik or Taj Gibson will be put into a starting role. They will both need to play well now. Carlos Boozer stepped up his game in Game 3 and needs to continue to do that. Rip Hamilton has been great in the playoffs and his role becomes even more important. Where things can get better for the Bulls is the play of Luol Deng and the guards in the backcourt. If you had been watching those first 66 games you know that is very possible.
Q. Can you relate to Noah asking to go back in during the fourth quarter of Game 3 (he played two minutes, but was clearly not able to run)?
A. I can definitely relate to Joakim Noah wanting to go back out and play in Game 3 after he sprained his ankle. He is a warrior and wanted to help his team win a very important game. The adrenaline rushes that you get in big moments in big games are part of the reason athletes play the game. The problem is that at times they can mask the symptoms of an injury, and it makes it difficult to know exactly how bad it is. Joakim clearly was not at full strength when he got back out there but had to try to do his best, as he always does.
There have been several times throughout my basketball career that I have been injured and wanted to get back out there and play. In college at St. John's University I had sprained my ankle, left to get it retaped and came back into the game. I was not at full strength but was able to compete. I ended up finishing the game and helping my team to a win at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse in front of 33,000 people. If I did not go back and try, I would never have known. I am not comparing injuries here, but as a competitor you want to try. Joakim Noah is a true competitor at the highest level.
Q. What's your take on the point guard situation? C.J. Watson struggled in Game 3, John Lucas had his moments and Mike James has yet to play in the series.
A. The guard situation has not been consistent here in the playoffs. I know as well as everyone watching that CJ Watson can play better, he has to find that place in his mind where he can let go of the past few games and move on to where he can succeed. I know that sounds very Zen-like and it can be very difficult. There are a lot of distractions for players during the game and one of the most difficult to overcome is your own play. No one wants to go out there and look bad, but if you are worried about making mistakes then most likely you will.
John Lucas III has played well in spurts. If he can be more consistent that will definitely help. Although Mike James has been untried here in the playoffs, I think he can help.
Q. How do you like to spend your free time at those nice hotels the Bulls frequent?
A. Being on the road sometimes affords you the opportunity to get out and see the cities you are staying in. This time I did not get out and do a lot. I did stay in and catch up with some of the media hounds from Chicago as they waited for the Bulls team meeting and film session to end. During the Bulls' last stay here in Philadelphia, Bulls PR representative Matt Yob and I did get out and tour the City of Brotherly Love. I do try to get out of the room several times a day either to walk or work out. As luxurious as these hotels are, it is great to get out and get some fresh air; hopefully as Game 4 will be for our Bulls.
• Bill Wennington provides color commentary for all Chicago Bulls broadcasts on WMVP 1000-AM. Wennington is in his ninth year as a Bulls broadcaster, partnered with Chuck Swirsky. Before that he played in the NBA for 13 years and with the Bulls for six years. He owns three championship rings from his Bulls' playing time. He has been inducted into the Quebec and Canadian basketball halls of fame.