Has Bulls’ Coby White already scaled the so-called ‘rookie wall’? Hey, it’s possible

The 19-year-old guard believes he got over the wall on the team’s last road trip. He’d better hope he’s right, or else it’s going to be a heck of a long winter.

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Coby White says all is well in the energy department.

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

What did Bulls rookie Coby White do to ring in the new year?

He did what any pro athlete with first-round bank and a city like Chicago to play in would do.

“I ain’t gonna lie,” he said hours before Thursday’s first Bulls game of 2020, against the Jazz at the United Center. “I was chilling at home watching ‘Kim Possible,’ yo.”

Kim who, yo?

Turns out it’s an old cartoon. So old, it aired on the Disney Channel during a dark, distant decade known as the aughts. The aughts with a “20” before them, of course.

White kicked up his aching feet and watched old episodes even as the clock struck midnight. He kept up with the countdown on social media. Mostly, though, he rested.

“It’s kind of good, I think, just to sit back and take a deep breath sometimes,” he said.

For example, when you’ve just finished bashing full-on into a brick wall.

In NBA parlance, it’s known as the “rookie wall” — that time of the season when a first-year player eclipses the number of games he played in college and, well, all of a sudden finds himself moving around with the ease and alacrity of Al Bundy or Fred Sanford.

White believes he hit the rookie wall a tad prematurely, or right around the 30-game mark. He started all 35 games in his lone season at North Carolina. NBA game No. 35 was Thursday against the Jazz, which White entered coming off back-to-back 18-point outings.

“Right now, my body feels pretty good,” he said.

Yet, starting in mid-December, White had a miserable four-game stretch during which he scored a measly total of 10 points. That spilled into a road trip when he felt nothing like the energetic 19-year-old who’d averaged 13.1 points and 26.1 minutes off the bench in November.

“That December trip was hard for me,” he said. “It was something I wasn’t used to. It was just every day, my body was sore. I felt like I didn’t have any legs. It was hard. That was my first time experiencing this. Hopefully, that was my rookie wall and I don’t hit anything else the rest of the season.”

The Bulls have 17 games in January, a huge number. White — one of the few glimmers of hope on a team that knows a thing or two about failing to clear walls and other obstacles — goes into the month with confidence.

Call him Coby Possible.

But is he really right that he has cleared the rookie wall? He’d better hope so, or else it’s going to be a heck of a long winter.


Close your eyes, Cubs fans. Might as well cover your ears, too.

The White Sox are running circles around the other baseball team in town.

A year after signing Eloy Jimenez to a six-year, $43 million contract during spring training, they signed top prospect Luis Robert to a six-year, $50 million deal, with $20 million club options for 2026 and 2027.

No waiting, people. While the Cubs’ service-time squabble with veteran superstar Kris Bryant continues, Robert gets to look forward to an opportunity this spring to play himself into the starting lineup in center field for the March 26 season opener at Guaranteed Rate Field.

That’s what the beginning of a rookie year for a monster prospect is supposed to look like.

The whole offseason for the Sox has been what it’s supposed to look like.

Circles, I tell you.

• Said Robert, 22: “Hopefully, this year I will finally make my dream come true of playing in the big leagues. I risked everything when I left Cuba to pursue this dream, and now I know the whole process and all my sacrifices will be rewarded.”

Translation: A No. 88 jersey had better be hanging in the home clubhouse at G-Rate on Opening Day, or we’re going to have some serious problems.

• Don’t you just want to put the Big Ten in a headlock and give it a noogie sometimes?

Ohio State — the league’s best team in a long stretch — should be preparing for a national championship test against LSU. Instead, the Buckeyes gagged away a 16-0 lead in a semifinal loss to Clemson. Brutal.

And how about Wisconsin? There’s no truth to the rumor that the Badgers’ offense continued to turn the ball over even after time ran out in a one-point Rose Bowl loss to Oregon. As blown games go, this one belongs in a time capsule — call it the U-Dub Flub.

We could go on. OK, we will. Half the state of Alabama sat out the Citrus Bowl to enter the NFL draft, but the Crimson Tide still kicked sand in once-proud Michigan’s face.

And then there was California 35, Illinois 20 in the Redbox Bowl. Lovie Smith and the Illini managed to turn a feel-good 6-4 record into a 6-7 ending that only a sucker could love.

Other than that, great stuff.

• NFL Wild Card winners: Bills, Patriots, Saints and Eagles.

You’re welcome, America.

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