It wasn’t a short stroll down memory lane for former Bulls forward Luol Deng on Wednesday.
Fifteen years seldom is.
But Deng seemed to be at peace with all of them. There was some regret about coming up empty during the 2011 and 2012 playoff runs, but he also understood that it was a heck of a journey.
Deng, who came back and retired as a Bull last month, was honored throughout the game against the Pistons with a video tribute, and there were several former players in attendance to salute the two-time All-Star.
Aaron Gray, John Lucas III, Nazr Mohammed, Ben Gordon and Joakim Noah headlined the list, and with the Pistons in town, Derrick Rose also was able to play spectator.
The night meant a lot to Deng, who played at Duke and was the seventh overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft.
“It’s what makes sense,’’ Deng said of the decision to sign a one-day contract and retire a Bull.
“Chicago means a lot to me. When you look back, just my career as a basketball player, coming here as a young kid, a young man I should say, 19, it’s a lot of history here. I wanted it to end the right way, and the best way to do it is with familiar faces and with people who know me very well.’’
Deng recounted many of them, but he said his fondest memory was making his first All-Star Game, and he thanked the person he felt was most responsible: former coach Tom Thibodeau.
“For me, [my greatest achievement] was making the All-Star team,’’ Deng said. “You know, for a lot of players, making that All-Star team is something that at the time — it’s crazy because when it happened for me, it was like, ‘OK, I’m an All-Star, I’m going to the All-Star Game.’ I felt great about it; I loved it. It means a lot when you look back.
“I think with all the people who said Thibs played guys a lot of minutes, for me, I think when Thibs came to Chicago, it changed my career. As well as I had done in the past, I think it gave me almost, like, a label where people started believing in how hard I played. And because we were winning, everything I was doing was highlighted a lot more than it would be when we were losing.
“So I appreciated that, and those teams under Thibs, when I go back, all those minutes that I played, I’m so thankful for. Because not only did I play better and perform well, but also for the city, people appreciate night in and night out how hard I was playing with all those minutes.’’
The Bulls announced Wednesday afternoon that a second MRI exam on Otto Porter’s left foot showed bone bruising that didn’t appear in the original exam, which now clears up a cloudy timetable. Sort of.
Porter will continue his current treatment, then the organization will reassess where he’s at in two weeks. So a return is not imminent.
He last played Nov. 6 and was averaging 11.2 points.
Second-year forward Chandler Hutchison had been starting in his place, but he was hampered by shin soreness, so he also missed the game against the Pistons.
Shaquille Harrison got the start and had 15 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.