Coby White

Bulls' Coby White set to return from 3-game absence

Guard makes first public comments since suffering hip strain on painful-looking play

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Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

Yes, Coby White has seen the replay.

“To me, the replay is bad,” White said following Wednesday’s practice at the Advocate Center. “But I don’t think it’s that bad to where everybody was making it seem. It was just an awkward landing and he fell on me.”

He, of course, is Pascal Siakam, who sprinted downcourt to block White’s shot in the final 10 seconds of regulation in a March 13 road game that the Chicago Bulls would eventually win in overtime. After Siakam indeed landed on White, the guard writhed on the floor in obvious pain before limping to the locker room.

White then missed the next three games---his first absences of the season---with a strained right hip. But he practiced fully Wednesday and is on track to make his return on Thursday in Houston against the Rockets.

“Overall, I’m feeling pretty good,” White said in his first public comments since the injury. “We’ll see how (Thursday) goes. When I wake up, see if anything is sore or if I feel anything. Then we’ll go from there.”

White, who led the NBA in minutes played before the injury, knows, in many ways, he got lucky.

“They say I dodged a bullet. It could’ve been a lot worse. They said I’m pretty flexible and that’s what helped me in that scenario,” White said. “I’m just glad. I think God was with me at that point and I’m just glad it was nothing serious, nothing more than a strain.

“I was in pain. But I didn’t feel anything pop.”

White has since dropped to third in the NBA in minutes played behind teammate DeMar DeRozan and Brooklyn Nets forward Mikal Bridges. And in the midst of this breakout season, one which has prominently placed him in consideration for the Most Improved Player award, White tried to use the absence positively.

“It was good for me,” he said. “Obviously, I don’t want to miss games. But since it did happen and I was hurt, I wanted to take advantage of this time I had off and recover mentally, physically, emotionally spiritually. To me, I just tried to turn it into a positive.

“It sucks that I was so close (to playing all 82 games) and it happened. But my teammates held it down. They played really well. And I wanted to keep the spirits high. I was trying to still be a part of the team, be vocal. I’m pretty close and tight-knit with everyone. And I talk a lot.”

Some of that talking came with White light-heartedly declaring that he’s president of the Ayo Dosunmu Fan Club. Dosunmu scored a career-high 34 points and posted a game of 23 points and 10 assists in White’s absence. It’s the first time Dosunmu has posted back-to-back 20-point games in his three-year career.

“Ayo played amazing,” White said. “He’s been playing well all season. It’s not a surprise to me. He works hard at his game every day. He wants to be really good. It’s nothing I haven’t seen before.”

This season has featured a sea change for White, who would typically use off days to work on his game and get up hundreds of shots. But with his minutes and usage rate climbing, he has devoted off days to recovery and maintenance.

That said, it’s his offseason workout regimen---and some luck---that allowed him to escape serious injury.

“I was blessed that nothing major happened,” he said. “I work hard on my body in the summertime---yoga and everything.”

And now White is prepared to return to the court.

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