In 1991 when the Philadelphia 76ers were vainly chasing the Bulls and headed for a second round playoff series, Charles Barkley knew his team needed help. “Get me Shaq!” Barkley was believed to have said about the college superstar center. It was about that time, the 76ers signed former North Carolina State center Charles “Shack” Shackleford to a long term deal. “No, not that one!” Barkley was said to exclaim.
The Bulls Sunday added Shaq to their roster. No, not that one.
Though for 2018, the one the Bulls signed definitely is better.
“It’s a great opportunity,” point guard Shaquille Harrison told reporters Sunday in the Advocate Center before the team departed for Monday’s game in Dallas. “When I found out, I was extremely excited and ready to get down here and get to work. It was an unfortunate situation in Phoenix, but I’m going to take full advantage of it here in Chicago.”
So within about a week, the Bulls continued to stock up on former Phoenix Suns backup point guards after signing onetime Marian Catholic High School star Tyler Ulis. Kris Dunn is expected to return from paternity leave Monday, though the Bulls now have at least four reserve point guards on the roster with Cameron Payne, Ryan Arcidiacono, Ulis and now Harrison. It also suggests the competition at point guard is only beginning.
Hoiberg declined to get into where he’ll play and for whom and when. But there still is much to be sorted out with the Bulls 0-2 start, Lauri Markkanen and Denzel Valentine still out and Dunn just returning.
And while Payne had his career game with 17 points and four assists and one turnover in the last seconds loss to the Pistons Saturday night, the Bulls reserve guard staffing still seems uncertain. It will begin to clear more when the Windy City Bulls season begins early next month with two-way contracts going into effect. Your future NBAers go to Hoffman Estates.
So the Bulls take a look now at Harrison—Shaquille O’Neal’s father’s surname also was Harrison—who had a curious plummet from apparent Suns starting point guard last month to being released with the firing of general manager Ryan McDonough.
The Suns, curiously, then started onetime Bull Isaiah Canaan, still not fully recovered from a serious ankle injury earlier this year.
“I didn’t see it coming at all,” Harrison admitted. “But it’s the NBA for you. You never know what’s going to happen. Ultimately, that was their decision. I can’t really focus on that anymore. Now I’m in Chicago. I’m just happy to be here. Good luck to the Suns.”
It’s also the fate of players like Harrison, a four-year starter who wasn’t drafted in 2016. His brother is a major league baseball player and he could have been a scholarship football player at Kansas. He went on to play most of two seasons with the Suns G-league team and then seemed set for this season when Brandon Knight was traded. Harrison performed well for the Suns last season, averaging 6.6 points in 23 games playing about 16 minutes and became the first NBA player in a decade to start his career with multiple games of at least four steals.
Harrison is a wiry 6-4 guard who shoots left handed. He’s regarded as a bright (top collegiate scholar/athlete), defensive oriented player who is not a good shooter. In many ways, he resembles Dunn with long arms, more of an interior game and hustle on the perimeter. And with also an unlikely route to the NBA, though not as a top lottery draft pick.
Harrison is from Kansas City and more about hope than destiny growing up. He couldn’t make his AAU team as a starter.
“I was embarrassed,” Harrison told the Tulsa World newspaper. “I didn’t want to tell people I was on the B team. That’s when I told myself, ‘I’ve got to work harder. I’ve got to change something.’ I’m always going to have to prove myself. There’s not anything set in stone for me. I try to not get in that mindset of settling because that’s what hurts people in this league. They get comfortable and they fall out. I’m not trying to do that.
“This is honestly my first time in Chicago,” said Harrison. “I planned trips to come here a lot of times, but they ended up falling through. I’m excited to get here and experience the city. I’ve always wanted to experience it. I’ll just be myself. What I do is good enough; not try to be somebody I’m not.”
Just being Shaq Harrison.