It was media day at the Berto Center for the Chicago Bulls on Sunday, and I was fortunate enough to attend. Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng, Coach Tom Thibodeau and GM Gar Forman addressed the media in a joint session.
I also had a chance to go one-on-one with Kyle Korver.
I asked questions about what happened last year against Miami, and what the Bulls need to do to get past them this year.
Here are the results. Enjoy.
DH: Derrick, you went really far last year, and I know you want to go farther this year, but one of the things you have said is that you don't want to recruit anyone to come to Chicago. I know you really want to win a championship. Is there any reason why if you think there is a guy out there who can come here and help you win that championship ring you don't do that?
Derrick Rose: It's just me. Being younger, I remember just doing stuff because I wanted to do it. That's like the same thing here. If it's not coming from the front office, you're not going to hear me say anything about recruiting anyone. I think the city speaks for itself. It's a great marketing place. If you want to come here and do whatever you want to do here you can. Opportunities are here. The front office is great. Our fans are the best in the world. Like I said, I think Chicago speaks for itself, especially with basketball.
DH; Miami really shut your game down last year in the playoffs. You said you worked hard on your game this summer. Do you think with what you have done, they're not going to be able to slow you down in the future?
DR: The reason why we lost last year like I said, I'll put it all on me. Me not making the right decisions certain times, me not knowing the clock, and turnovers. It really got to me and it hurt the team. When I looked at film, there were a lot of plays where I could have made the extra pass. I know my basketball IQ got higher. I think if it happens again where they open up like that, I think we'll have something for it.
DH: Joakim, what were your thoughts last year right after that Miami series, and what were you thinking you and the team need to do moving forward to take that next step?
Joakim Noah: Last year was definitely an unbelievable experience. There were a lot of highs and lows. I think being able to play in those games against Miami was great, but it was hard to lose the way that we did. It took me a while to get over it. I watched the games a lot over the summer and it was very disappointing. At the same time, it definitely makes you hungry, and it definitely makes you work hard every day in the gym to get the opportunity to play basketball again and get over the hump. Even though the series went just five games, it was very close.
DH: You said you worked on a hook shot over the summer. Is that a Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sky-hook, or a baby hook?
JN: (chuckles) It's just a normal hook.
DH: Luol, What part of your game do you still have to work on and want to improve on?
Luol Deng: Every part, every part. I've got to improve on every single thing. I could always get better. There's a lot of things I can work on. I really think that every part of my game can get better.
DH: Carlos, last year it seemed like you had a problem with your lift because of your turf toe injury. Do you feel better now, and think you're going to be more explosive like you were when you played for Utah?
Carlos Boozer: I feel great. I'm in great shape and my body feels completely healthy. I'm definitely excited about getting back to it.
DH: Kyle, why do you think you had such a tough time last year offensively against Miami?
Kyle Korver: I think they're a good defensive team and they create a lot of problems. The biggest learning curve for a lot of teams is learning how to finish off games. We just didn't get it done. I think a lot of times the extra pass was there and maybe we don't make it. Maybe we dribble a little too much and put too much emphasis on somebody. It's a lot of things.
DH: Do you think since you did experience it last year that it will help you if you meet Miami again this year in the playoffs?
KK: It will definitely help us, for sure. I don't know if we had anybody who had been in a conference finals before. I think Boozer might have once in Utah. It's a different kind of basketball that's played, and there's no way to prepare for it other than to be in it. It's a different set of circumstances and pressure, and hype and all that. It's fun...you know it's a great time, but it does change the game a little bit. I think having us gone through that once is going to do nothing but help us for sure.
DH: Is there anything you have to do this year to achieve the goals you want to perform on the court?
KK: I want to be a better all-around player. Looking back at the last couple of playoff series, a lot of times they were putting more size on Derrick and a smaller guy on me, so I worked on my post game. It's something I used to do in the past on other teams, but because of the teams I was on, it wasn't something that I really did a lot. I worked on that some. A lot of times last year when I was coming off screens, I was making really quick decisions, either shoot it really quick or pass it really quick. There are other plays I can make, and take my time a little bit. I watched some film and worked on that, and try to be a better all-around player, a better athlete, a better defender, all of those things.
DH: Are you trying to slow the game down a little bit instead of being so rushed all the time?
KK: A lot of times I come off screens. If I'm going to be able to shoot it, I don't have a lot of time to get it off. I kind of feel I was coming off and making that decision really quickly. There's more there, and I'm trying to work on those things.
DH: Coach, you had a great first year with the team and you made the Eastern Conference Finals. What do you think the team needs to do moving forward to get over that hump and get past Miami?
Tom Thibodeau: It's not only Miami. there are a lot of teams in the East that have gotten significantly better. The important thing is to understand how we're going to move forward and compete. You can't jump ahead and just look at one team. Each day you have to strive to improve and be ready for the start of the season, and just focus on what's in front of you. It's no good to look back to last year other than to use it to learn on how to move forward. Last year was last year, this is now, and we have to be ready for the start of this season.
DH: With this being the holiday season, what would you be looking at for stocking stuffers? Are you looking for some more shooters, or what do you think you need to make this team better?
TT: I don't ever think you can have enough shooters. I think you have to put a premium on that. I think we have more than enough here. We have to keep growing, and getting better each day. We have to focus on the things that are important for us.
DH: Gar, when considering making moves for your team moving forward, are you thinking of who is going to get us by Miami when it comes to players you are thinking of picking up?
Gar Forman: I think it's two-fold. I think in one sense, if there are moves that we can make that are available to us, and we're exploring those moves to improve our team in general, we'll make those moves. At the same time, Miami's the Eastern Conference champion, and we certainly look at having to go through them to ultimately get to where we want to get. That's not to single out Miami. There's a lot of good teams in the Eastern Conference, and there's some teams that have made moves and gotten better. That's one thing that we do look at when we're looking at some of the moves we can possibly make.
DH: The Bulls had tough series against Indiana and Atlanta last year in the playoffs, and you lost to Miami. Is it that teams just step it up in the playoffs, or do you think those teams found your weaknesses and exploited them against you?
GF: I think anytime you get in the playoffs, matchups is a big part of it. We obviously look at different teams, and how we match up with different teams. You asked the question earlier in regards to Miami. That's one of the factors that we look at as we try to build our team, but it's not the only factor. The biggest point of emphasis for us is if we can make definite improvement somewhere, we will.