Chicago Bulls

McDermott visits patients at Advocate Children’s Hospital

By Adam Fluck | 03.03.2015

Bulls rookie forward Doug McDermott lives and breathes basketball.

With a coach for a father, he’s been around the game literally his entire life. But McDermott knows there is more to life than basketball.

So following practice on Monday afternoon, McDermott made his way to Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge where he and Benny the Bull visited patients and their families.

“It’s really cool being able to do something like this,” said McDermott. “It gives us basketball players more perspective on life. We’re around basketball so much and constantly in that grind. To be able to take a couple hours away from basketball and make these visits means a lot to the kids and their families.”

McDermott and Benny spent time with patients in their rooms, took photos, signed autographs and left behind a variety of basketballs, t-shirts and posters.

It was hardly the first time McDermott had been on such a visit, as during his four-year career at Creighton, such activities were also prioritized.

“It’s really important to connect with the fans,” noted McDermott. “If you make one person’s day, they might tell their friends and family. It can have an impact on more people than you think. At the time you may not realize it, but you can really be a difference maker by doing things like this.”

As he went from room to room and conversed with the young patients, some nearly jumped out of their beds as they recognized the Bulls player. For others who were shy or speechless given the unexpected surprise, Benny was there to break the ice.

Regardless of the situation, McDermott simply wanted to brighten their day and offer a few words of encouragement.

“The message was just to stay strong,” said McDermott. “Obviously it’s unfortunate they are in the hospital. Maybe some of the kids have seen us on TV or they’ve come to our games, but they may have felt like they could never personally connect with us. So when we walk into their room, it brings a smile to their face. You send a message just by coming. It shows we’re all human and we like to help out.”

That McDermott himself is in a position to do just that is something that is not lost on him. In fact, he’s still getting used to it. But it is a privilege that he doesn’t take for granted.

“It’s really cool being able to make an impact like that,” McDermott said. “Sometimes I’ve got to pinch myself when I think about it. It’s not always going to be like this. So while I have this moment and while I have this opportunity, I want to make the best of it whether that is visiting hospitals or doing something else for the community.”

As last June’s draft approached, McDermott and his family knew where they hoped he would go. Though Denver drafted him, he was subsequently traded to Chicago and a dream came true.

Now, three quarters through his first professional campaign, he continues to learn what it takes to succeed on and off the court. 

“It’s a first class organization,” McDermott said of the Bulls. “I knew that coming in, but now that I’m actually a part of it and I’ve been around it, I understand it a lot more. I think it all starts with the Reinsdorfs. Michael and Nancy do a great job. It starts with them and kind of trickles down. On top of that, we’ve got a great group of guys, great coaching staff and front office. With everyone who works for this organization, it feels like a family.”

Furthermore, McDermott understands that being a leader in the community often contributes to an overall winning mentality.

“Our goal, obviously, is to be a championship team on the floor,” stated McDermott. “I think we also want to be champions off the floor. There is so much more to life than just basketball. We get so caught up in basketball every single day and I love the game as much as anyone. But it’s so great to be able to step away from it and help others in the community.”