Robin Lopez is sitting out tonight
Seems like they still like me. How could they not? - Robin Lopez
It's no fun being benched, as Robin Lopez was Thursday against the 76ers, after being the only Bulls player to play in every game this season.
So Lopez did have some serious issues and he opened up to reporters pregame.
"I looked in my closet today and I thought I would have jackets to wear tonight," said Lopez of the NBA rule of wearing a sport coat on the bench. "I only found two. I didn't realize this was an issue until about five minutes until I had to leave, so I have kind of a rag tag outfit tonight. Hopefully, I'll be better prepared in the games to come.
"I'm not familiar with military artillery," Lopez added when asked about the aura of a team potentially tanking in not playing two starters along with Justin Holiday.
Lopez also said his All-Star break visiting with his brother at Disneyworld was a bit disappointing since he didn't get to meet any characters."I know he (brother Brook) met Tigger and Winnie the Pooh, Christine," Robin lamented. "I wanted to meet a few more, but that just didn't happen.
"Seems like they still like me," Robin did add about the Bulls despite the benching.
Then after a pause, he added with a smirk: "How could they not?"
How could anyone not like him?
The story for the Bulls Thursday is starting their irregulars in Cristiano Felicio and David Nwaba and Cameron Payne off the bench.
Lopez and Holiday were asked too sit out and not even wear their uniforms for the game. Bulls vice president John Paxson said the team needs to look at its young players who haven't played much this season. Kris Dunn, Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine, however, started and will not have playing time reduced.
Still, it's a difficult decision to ask a player like Lopez who rarely ever misses a game to sit out. Especially when he hasn't slumped and is averaging a career high in points. Lopez had missed just one game as a Bulls player, last season when he was suspended after a fight with Toronto's Serge Ibaka.
Lopez always has dedicated himself as a team first player, and that was his commendable and professional attitude Thursday before the game in a session with reporters.
"Everybody, my teammates, those who have been playing with me, those sitting on the bench who haven't been dressing out, they all supported me," Lopez noted. "So I don't think I'd be too good a person if I didn't do at least the bare minimum of the same.
"It was rough for me," Lopez admitted. "I get it. I understand it. I always want to be out there playing on the court. That's what I enjoy, especially playing with these guys. But I'm excited to watch these guys give it a go from the bench. It's nothing that I can control. I'm gonna support my teammates. I'm going to try to stay focused, stay connected with everybody. Stay connected with the squad.
"I was pulled aside," Lopez said. "They told me they wanted to evaluate a few other guys, a few of the young guys. So I get it."
No pouting, no fits and no trade demand. He must not watch much NBA on TV.
"I don't know about that," Lopez said with surprise when asked if he wanted to be traded. "That's hard for me to talk about because I don't know what situation I could have potentially been in once I had been traded. I want to be playing, obviously, but we've got a great group of guys right here. I'm healthy right now. And I think this squad has a bright future and I think I can be a part of that future."
Lopez said the team talked about "blocks of games" out and back playing again, so presumably Lopez will play some again this season. He said by being inactive Thursday it gives other young players a chance in case there are injuries.
"That's tough for me,' Lopez said when asked about his individual play this season. "I'm a team player, so I like to think my play kind of is tied to how the team plays. I think we had some really great stretches. The young guys, they really developed, they found a rhythm once we all got a decent number of the guys healthy, a decent number of the guys back, I think we played pretty well. It's been a great experience for me. My teammates developed a lot of faith in me, which I think made it a lot easier to go out there, produce, take my shot with confidence when I have it.
"Whatever that capacity is," Lopez said about remaining with the team, "I think I've got a great relationship with a lot of guys on the squad, both on and off the floor."
But Lopez said this also will mean some shopping since his other jacket is a tuxedo.
And the impact of being on the bench watching?
"Hopefully I won't get as many technicals."
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.