Thad Young - The Soul of Carpe Diem

With Thad back in Indiana for the First Time as a Bull, Sam Smith Looks At the Impact He's Having on the Team
by Sam Smith

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Thad Young's role with helping the Bulls become a winning team is an important one, both for his impact on and off of the court. It's a role that he succeeded in in Indiana and a role that he enjoys.

Thaddeus Young wasn't a soldier, but he brings the spirit of a Marine to the game.

It's the soul of carpe diem, a sentiment you'll hear in the military. Seize the Day!

Never regret a day in your life; Good days give happiness; Bad days give experience; Worst days give lessons; Best days give memories.

It's how Young as a basketball player embodies the ethic of the soldier, like the Marines' motto of Semper Fi, always faithful, always loyal.

No one, least of all Young, is suggesting what he does in the NBA rivals the work of those in the military. But there are standards and models from military service that can resonate in all professions, including sports.

Thad vs Raptors

Which is why the 6-8 forward who has spent most of his career as a starter is not only coming off the bench for the Bulls, but exulting in his role. He is embracing the moments, seizing the day as he so often suggests.

"You just have to be ready," said Young, who Friday made two crucial fourth quarter three pointers to help hold off the Detroit Pistons. "Being ready when my name is called, going out and executing and making sure the unit I am out on the floor with is taking care of business. It's the hand you are dealt. You may not like it sometimes, but you have to take advantage of the opportunities you are given. Just being ready to seize the moment. It's what I'm trying to teach these young guys: When you get an opportunity you have to seize the moment."

Chuck Swirsky talks with Thad Young after a win over the Detroit Pistons

Young has been doing that in an itinerant NBA career, the Bulls his fifth team out of Georgia Tech. He mostly came off the bench in seven seasons with the 76ers before starting for Minnesota, Brooklyn and Indiana. Young spent three seasons with the Pacers, starting all but the 10 games he missed in three years in becoming the rarest of latter day NBA ironmen and two-way players.

Not so much the traditional offense/defense two-way player, though 13-year veteran Young is a career double figure scorer and reliable defender. But as a player who inspired teammates and a citizen who delighted the community. It's not going to be quite like Derrick Rose back to Chicago or Russell Westbrook to Oklahoma City, Kawhi Leonard to Toronto or Kyrie Irving to Boston. Even Reggie Miller back in the city as a broadcaster. But it will be special Sunday when the Bulls play the Pacers in Indianapolis (4 p.m. Central) with the return of Young.

"Thad will be greeted warmly because of the type of person he is and the type of player he is," said longtime Pacers media executive David Benner. "From the first game he played for us, you could tell he was different. Not from the star player thing, but being a great teammate, the guy who does all the other stuff. He was the guy who'd reach out to his teammates if they were going through tough times, was always upbeat even in a losing streak. The one thing you knew every night, you didn't see numbers all the time, but you saw the effort. He always had a passion to play every game.

Thad smiling during a preseason workout

"I believe we have the longest running Thanksgiving effort for shelters, and he and his wife helped sponsor that," said Benner. "He was part of our program honoring the military. He was from the team standpoint on or off the court, ‘Thad, can you do this?' He was that guy who never said no. Definitely one of my all-time favorite people."

Yet, when Young signed with the Bulls as a free agent last summer, it seemed clear he wouldn't start with Lauri Markkanen, Otto Porter Jr. and Wendell Carter Jr. aligned in the front court. Young just asked what he could do.

"It's about understanding what you are asked," Young said. "The team has been straight forward to tell me what they expect of me and this is what's going to happen. It's up to me to be able to go out there and do my job to the best of my abilities. Whoever has it shaking and moving at that time, that's who we have to go with. You just have to be ready to seize the moment, seize the opportunity."

Thad boarding a plane to Indiana

In the last two games with Markkanen sputtering and suffering a side injury against the Pistons, Young was with the closing group. And shooting threes, which hasn't been his leitmotif.

Young, 31, coming off the bench is averaging 11 points in 22.7 minutes per game. Plus, with the Bulls emphasizing long distance shooting he is recording a career best 40.7 percent on threes despite 33 percent for his career

"You have to be able to adjust with the game; that's what I'm doing," said Young. "I haven't been known as a three-point shooter, but that's not to say I cannot shoot them. I've had ups and downs in my career where I've made and haven't. Just adjusting with the personnel, the coach and the system.

"They said. ‘We know you can battle and make hook shots. Go shoot with the guards.' I'm shooting with the guards to be comfortable around the three-part line," Young said. "I'm prepared for whatever is asked of me. That's how it's been my whole career and will continue to be that way."

Carpe diem, seize the day: To enjoy the present and not worry about the future; to live for the moment. To make the most of today by achieving fulfillment in a philosophical or spiritual sense.

A basketball sense, too.

Never acting too old to be Young.

Got a question for Sam?

Submit your question to Sam at asksam@bulls.com

The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or its Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

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