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Jevon Carter grew up as a diehard Chicago Bulls fan before attending Proviso East High School, which is why the veteran guard paused for a brief moment on Thursday when asked what it means to him to sign with his hometown team.
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“I can’t even really put it in words, to be honest. Anytime I dreamed about going to the NBA as a kid, it was always in a Chicago Bulls uniform,” Carter said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. “So getting that call and hearing, ‘Congratulations, you’re going to be a Chicago Bull,’ like, I don’t even know what to say. My feelings are all over the place.
“I used to watch every game as a kid. Every single game. My whole life growing up, all I could think about was, ‘I’m going to be a Chicago Bull.’”
Carter, who left the Milwaukee Bucks to sign a three-year deal in free agency, doesn’t just plan to make an on-court impact. Through his new foundation, Treadmill Mentality, he also is committed to making an impact in the community.
That mission begins on Saturday when Carter hosts the inaugural Treadmill Mentality Academy Giveback at Proviso West High School in Hillside. Roughly 125 participants ages 6-17 will receive basketball tips, sportsmanship lessons and learn about the “treadmill mentality” that has defined Carter’s rise from second-round pick to coveted free agent.
“Everything about it,” Carter said, when asked what’s important to him about giving back. “Just to be able to go back and show my face and show kids that I’ve grown up in this area and how much people love me out here and now I’m blessed enough to be in a position to help others.
“The day is really more so just to come out and have fun. Can’t wait to see the smiles on kids’ faces. We’re doing a book backpack giveaway at the end of the camp. It’s going to be packed with school supplies. It’s about helping families out for the upcoming school year and giving the kids a day to interact with other kids and other NBA players who are going to be there.”
Indeed, Carter said he’s expecting five players with NBA ties to be helping him out on Saturday but he didn’t want to reveal their identities. And the location isn’t a typo: Proviso West may have been his rival in high school, but the facilities and logistics worked for this weekend.
Not that Carter plans his community efforts to be a one-time thing.
“We wanted to make the mission of Treadmill Mentality foundation to help and support children and family through community initiatives. We wanted to keep our mission broad because we don’t want there to only be one specific thing where we can help,” Carter said. “Throughout the year, things change. Feelings change. And I want to be able to help whoever I see need it. I want to be a helping hand to almost anybody and everybody.”
As for his fit with the Bulls, Carter had a ready---and succinct----answer when asked what he thinks he can bring to the team.
“Whatever they need,” he said.
Carter played for the Bucks as the Bulls enjoyed some regular-season success against them but also lost to Giannis Antetokounmpo and company in five games in a 2022 first-round playoff matchup. His view of those Bulls teams?
“Competitive,” Carter said. “They got a chance to win every night. And I feel like me coming here, I’m just adding another piece to the puzzle.”
Carter said he has spoken with coach Billy Donovan but they haven’t gotten into specifics about Carter’s role or expectations. Speaking on an ESPN2 broadcast during NBA Summer League action, executive vice president Arturas Karnisovas said Carter is “going to fit in well” and cited his and fellow free-agent signee Torrey Craig’s toughness, shooting and defensive ability and high motor as attractive attributes.
Carter was born in 1995, so the Bulls’ dynasty ended in his infant years. But he was a teenager when Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng and those Tom Thibodeau-led teams captivated the city.
“Prime DRose was full in effect when I was on my dreams to basketball,” Carter said. “Seeing him come from Chicago and go to the NBA, win MVP his third season, the way the city of Chicago was at that time, I can only imagine what it was like when Michael Jordan was around and they were winning championships.”
Now Carter gets an opportunity to impact his hometown franchise himself, both on and off the court.