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From MJ to KD, Here Are Who Bulls Players Admired as Kids – NBC Chicago

From MJ to KD, here’s who Bulls admired as kids originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Becoming an NBA player takes skill, relentless dedication to craft and some combination of fortune and opportunity.

It also takes dreams.

Long before anybody on the Chicago Bulls played in the NBA, they were fans. They placed posters on their walls and highlights in their minds.

But what if they didn’t make the league? What was their backup plan? Some Bulls had one. Others didn’t.

NBC Sports Chicago talked to several Bulls about players who influenced them as kids and what they might be doing if they weren’t in the NBA. Here are their responses:

Zach LaVine

His backup plan: Professional baseball player. Automatically. Probably centerfield for the Angels. Ah, no, Mike Trout is there. Left field for the Angels. (I was a) five-tool player. Power. Speed. Great glove. Good arm strength. Not the most accurate arm. That’s why they moved me to center field. I was at third base. Little bit too inaccurate for them. Had good pop.

His early fandom: Too many. The main ones I had that I specifically remember was a Michael Jordan poster, him palming the ball, dunking from the side with the Space Jams on and Scottie (Pippen) in the background. I had a lifesized Shaquille O’Neal poster. My Dad used to work for Amway, and it was the Amway Center. So I had an Orlando Magic Shaq picture. I had AI (Allen Iverson). I had Gilbert (Arenas). I had my whole wall look like wallpaper with NBA players. So it was destiny.

Nikola Vucevic

His backup plan: Honestly, I have no idea because my Dad played basketball growing up and I wanted to be like him. And I got lucky enough to be talented from a young age. All the right steps happened. I never had the need to think of anything else. For me, it was always basketball.

His early fandom: I was a huge (Michael) Jordan fan when I was younger. A guy I looked up most to was probably Dirk (Nowitzki), huge Dirk fan. Had his jersey growing up. Wanted to shoot the fader like he does and just never got there. I tried a lot. It’s unique so I never got there. Dirk was probably my favorite player. When I got to the NBA, I ask him for his jersey signed. And he gave me one. I’m very lucky to have that.

Alex Caruso

His backup plan: I’d probably be coaching basketball at some Texas high school. I got a sports management degree. But I wasn’t planning on using my degree in college. I was trying to play basketball.

His early fandom: I would always get the Sports Illustrateds where you could get the full page cutouts and tear those out. Dirk. DWade (Dwyane). LeBron (James). MJ. Kobe (Bryant). Shaq. I had a lot. Probably Dirk or LeBron (was my favorite). I had Dirk’s jersey because I was growing up in the era where the Texas teams were really good. Rockets had TMac (Tracy McGrady) and Yao (Ming). Spurs were the Spurs. The Spurs were hard for me to fall in love with because I didn’t have an appreciation for basketball at that level yet. I was a kid, so I liked highlights and I liked fadeaways and dunks. Now I love that stuff. Back then I was like, ‘Yeah, they’re good. They win games.’ But I couldn’t appreciate it like I do now.

Patrick Williams

His backup plan: My grades were always good. I was never a liability in the classroom. But all my eggs were in one basket in terms of NBA and making this work. I didn’t know how it was going to work. I just knew I put the work in and I felt I had the talent, the skill and the size. I always kind of felt like it was going to work. But if it didn’t, I wasn’t a liability in the classroom. I don’t see myself as naïve or can’t hold conversations or meet people. So who knows?

His early fandom: I had a couple posters on my walls. Paul George was definitely one of them. Tracy McGrady. Penny Hardaway. As I started to grow, I fell in love with point guards that were my height. I think I started high school at 5-11. When I started to grow, I was always worried about being a (center). So I fell in love with bigger guards. Later on, junior and senior year of high school, I started watching Kawhi (Leonard) a lot more. I definitely had a Kawhi poster my junior year.

Coby White

His backup plan: An entrepreneur. I’d own my own business. Probably a training facility. Run my own building.

His early fandom: Kevin Durant. Chris Paul. LeBron James. Chris was from North Carolina, so I looked up to him. Growing up, my favorite team was the Oklahoma City Thunder when they had Russ (Westbrook), KD and they were making those runs in the playoffs. And then LeBron is LeBron.

Andre Drummond

His backup plan: I’d probably be in acting. Anything entertaining. Sports analyst. Or a basketball coach. Anything that involves helping children. I take a lot of acting classes. I take them in the summertime. I’ve been in movies, TV shows. I did something for (Jimmy Kimmel) in 2014. We just loved each other and our connection. They loved the work I did, so they always bring me back.

His early fandom: I had NBA players I looked up to. I just never had any posters. I loved Kobe, Michael Jordan, Shaq. Shawn Kemp was one of my favorite players. Dwight Howard. Hakeem Olajuwon. You want to list the great bigs, the guys I wanted to emulate my game after. Patrick Ewing.

Ayo Dosunmu

His backup plan: I would probably be an analyst for the game. (I was a ) Communications (major). I want to do less writing and less reporting and more on camera. I think I’m an on-camera guy.

His early fandom: It had to probably be either Derrick Rose or Kobe Bryant. I was a very big DRose fan. He was from Chicago and knowing him from Chicago and then him turning up the NBA and being so good and one of the faces at a young age, all the hoopers from Chicago always rooted for him.

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