Bulls Insider

DeRozan says Bulls ready for Irving, big stage


If Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving follows through on his pledge to navigate the sprained left ankle that has him listed as questionable for Wednesday's high-profile matchup versus the Chicago Bulls, his vaccination status and stance is a moot point.

Non-resident professional athletes are exempt from the city of Chicago's vaccine mandate, which covers fans attending Bulls games at the United Center. And what a big one is on tap Wednesday night.

The Bulls, all dressed up and ready to appear on ESPN's national broadcast, are 2-0 against the Nets this season. Both victories have featured the Nets playing without Irving.

"To be the best in this league, you gotta compete against the best," said DeMar DeRozan. "(Wednesday) is going to be one of those fun games. I'm pretty sure they're going to come in here for some type of revenge, especially having Kyrie back. It's going to be a challenge. It's one of those games you look forward to."

Irving has created headlines this season by choosing not to receive the vaccine for COVID-19, thus preventing him from playing in Nets home games because of New York City's vaccine mandate. He made his season debut on Jan. 5. He has scored 22 points with four assists in each of his two games, which the Nets have split.

"Complete dynamic three-headed monster team that they are," DeRozan said when asked what Irving playing alongside James Harden and Kevin Durant does for the Nets. "Having those guys, having Kyrie, one of the most dominant point guards in this league coming back, it's good for the game. I'm pretty sure it's great for Brooklyn. We love to see them full strength. Hopefully, (Wednesday) we get that opportunity."

Harden also is listed as questionable with a hyperextended left knee. The Bulls lead the Nets atop the Eastern Conference by 2.5 games. This is a rare national TV appearance for the Bulls.

"If you do your job right, you get a raise," DeRozan cracked. "You just gotta take that approach, man. You go compete, put yourself in position to want to be seen, be respected and want to be watched. I just feel like that's where we're at."

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