Chicago Bulls

Bulls, United Center fans show Javonte Green some love

Veteran wing impacted victory over Pacers in first significant minutes since January 2023 surgery

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Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

A funny moment occurred in the postgame locker room following the Chicago Bulls’ 125-99 victory over the Indiana Pacers Wednesday night.

Javonte Green entered the locker room from the players-only room that’s behind a door and off limits to the media and heard Alex Caruso talking to reporters about him. Green, with a mischievous look on his face, immediately started walking backwards back into the players-only lounge, fading away a la Homer Simpson into the shrubbery.

The problem is that Green, as humble as they come, had the kind of night that demanded attention.

Thrust into action when Torrey Craig drew three fouls in eight minutes, Green immediately found himself matched up against All-Star forward Pascal Siakam, to whom he cedes at least four inches. But Green, as is his nature, never backed down from the challenge and finished his first rotational turn in his second stint with the Bulls an impressive plus-15 in 9 minutes.

“That’s the Javonte we’ve known and loved for a long time,” Caruso said. “He does all those things that we need---hard defense, protecting the rim, rebound, play with energy, catch-and-shoot. And he did those well.”

Indeed, while Green only scored five points with four rebounds in 19 minutes, he finished a game-high 26 points. He injected energy and small hustle and winning plays into his minutes.

“I was really happy for him personally because he’s a great guy,” coach Billy Donovan said. “He’s the same. You know what you’re getting every single time you put him on the court, a bunch of energy. I felt like it may be a game because of Siakam and (Tyrese) Haliburton and Ayo (Dosunmu) not feeling well that we’d need an energy body on one of those two guys.

“I’m happy for him because to go through what he went through with the knee injury and having to go to the G League was probably pretty humbling. Especially for his time here, he performed so well. He moved into the starting lineup and was a guy who really complemented the starters. And then for him to go down like he did and almost start over again, for me personally with the journey he has had to go through I’m really happy for him.”

That’s why the United Center crowd greeted Green with a solid ovation when he first checked into the game. Always a fan favorite, they recognized not only his contributions from the past few seasons but also the difficult journey that Donovan described when knee surgery left him without an NBA job until the Bulls signed him to a 10-day contract.

“I had butterflies,” Green said. “And then I just knew I had to go in there and do what they came to see.”

Green credited the way he was raised, singling out his Mom and her resilience, for the perseverance needed to get to his spotlight moment on Wednesday night.

“She always had a smile on her face,” he said.

So did Green late Wednesday, particularly when asked about the ovation he received.

“It means a lot. Especially coming from this city, the city that really gave me an opportunity to showcase my talent during the game,” he said. “I know the type of city Chicago is and the type of players that they like. The love they showed was a great feeling.”

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