Nikola Vucevic slander has to stop, Bulls’ Goran Dragic says

The veteran guard saw it with Chris Bosh in his Miami days and is now seeing Vucevic go through something similar with the Bulls. People on the outside are throwing an unfair narrative out there, not understanding what true sacrifice is about.

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Goran Dragic

Goran Dragic saw firsthand what Chris Bosh experienced when they became teammates in the 2014-15 season.

LeBron James had just left to return to the Cavaliers, and Bosh was being criticized with the Heat instead of being commended for the sacrifices he made for their two championships.

Dragic was bothered by that narrative then, and it bothers him to this day.

Different team, different teammates and no championship in sight for the Bulls, but Dragic is irked by what he perceives as an unfair narrative surrounding Nikola Vucevic.

“People don’t get it,’’ Dragic said. ‘‘They don’t. They only see the numbers. That’s not fair. I know CB [Bosh], and CB talked about that a lot. When he was in Toronto, he was averaging 22, 24 points a game. Getting touches. Then when he goes to Miami, he had seasons where he averaged 16, and then everybody, the media was bashing him, fans, too. But he was doing so many little things for the team so that [James and Dwyane Wade] could jell. Things you don’t see in the stats, things that people don’t understand.

“That’s why when I talk about sacrifice . . . it’s easy to talk about sacrifice if it’s not you. And if it’s not you, who’s doing the sacrificing? When your time comes to sacrifice, everyone can see what you’re really about.’’

Dragic said Vucevic has been sacrificing since being traded over from the Magic. But he has been criticized for his decreasing numbers and has been the focal point of trade speculation if the front office decides to sell at the trade deadline.

“When you have to do what Chris or ‘Vooch’ is doing, it’s not possible to live up to previous expectations,’’ Dragic said. “There’s only one ball, and three guys that can score. Each guy can score in different ways from a different position. At the end of the day, it should be just about winning. Miami conquered that.

“A guy like CB that sacrifices like that, that might be one of the biggest keys to them getting those championships.’’

Compared to last season, the good news for Vucevic is that while his scoring and rebounding might be a tick down, his shooting from the field and from three-point range have been much better.

Coach Billy Donovan sees a player who is in a much better place mentally.

“He was getting frustrated at times [last season],’’ Donovan said, ‘‘because I think he holds himself to such a high standard.

‘‘It was a little different: In three, four, five possessions, he doesn’t get a shot, then he’s open and misses one, then he presses on the next one, presses on the next one. . . . I think he’s done a really good job just staying focused on the next possession, the next play.’’

SEC for life

After 19 years as a Gator, Donovan, of course, has a certain disdain for SEC rival Georgia. But his allegiance to the SEC also remains strong. So it was a no-brainer when asked whom he was pulling for in the College Football Playoff.

“Probably lean on the SEC,’’ Donovan said. “Growing up in New York and being around the Giants, Jets, and then you get down there, and you have no idea about [the SEC]. I saw some unbelievable games with Florida State [and Florida], the Miami teams, Peyton Manning, just a lot. I was there for a long time, so I like to see the SEC do well.’’

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