Bulls forward Otto Porter takes a trip down memory lane, reminisces about family pickup games

Some of Bulls forward Otto Porter Jr.’s fondest childhood memories were pickup games at family reunions.

SHARE Bulls forward Otto Porter takes a trip down memory lane, reminisces about family pickup games

Some of Bulls forward Otto Porter Jr.’s fondest childhood memories were pick-up games at family reunions.

AP Photos

Some of Bulls forward Otto Porter Jr.’s fondest childhood memories were pickup games at family reunions.

The games were competitive and worthy of being sanctioned considering almost everyone in his family went on to have successful playing careers.

Porter’s mother, Elnora Timmons, won a high school state title, as did his father, Otto Sr., who was one of the most prolific scorers in Southeast Missouri State history.

His uncles played, and they passed their love of the game down to their children. Many in the family have gone on to help Scott County Central High School in Sikeston, Missouri, capture state titles, including Porter, who led the team to three consecutive championships.

For years, the family pickup teams remained the same. But the results flip-flopped, with Porter’s team winning five straight one day and his cousin’s giving a six-game beatdown the next.

“I remember those days,” Porter said with a smile. “They were the best times.”

Fists were thrown and bruises were given. But at the end of the day, they were still family.

“They turned out to be very intense,” Porter said. “It was always competitive because any team could win, so it was all about playing hard and playing the right way.

“It was all love afterward. When we were playing the game, we were hitting each other because we all wanted to win bad. But after my grandmother called us in to eat, it was all love again. We were just having fun.”

Those games during his formative years helped Porter develop into the player he is today.

Embarking on his seventh NBA season, Porter took a few trips down memory lane during a visit to the Sun-Times’ Chat Room.

What feels different about the Bulls now compared to last season?

Otto Porter Jr.: “Just a fresh start, new vibes, a lot of great, high-character guys on the team with the same goal in mind. And I think setting goals and being around each other early in the year in September really helped this team develop.”

Who do you project will have a breakout season on the Bulls?

OP: “I would probably say our rookie Coby White. Very talented, very smart individual, he’s letting the game come to him. He’s transitioning to the speed and physicality very quick, so he’s definitely impressed me so far.”

What are some personal expectations you have for this season?

OP: “Playoffs. I think that’s a big expectation for myself, and to stay healthy. I want to play 82 games if I can. That’s one of my goals. But just to stay as healthy as possible.”

Since you’re from Morley, Missouri, you didn’t have an in-state NBA team to pledge your allegiance to. So who did you watch growing up?

OP: “The closest team to me was the Memphis Grizzlies. I went to so many games when I was a young kid. Just to be around and to see that making it to the NBA is possible, that was pretty cool.”

Who was a player you looked up to on that team?

OP: “Rudy Gay. He was still with the Memphis Grizzlies, younger days. That team was really good.”

During your rookie season, what was it like playing in Memphis for the first time?

OP: “It was so surreal. And I found the seats that I was sitting at when I was a little kid, like way in the rafters. So just to be up there watching down and then now being on the court and looking up, it was so surreal.”

This will be your seventh NBA season. Is there any one moment of your career that sticks out?

OP: “There’s so many. ... I would probably say my first basket. It was actually against the Atlanta Hawks. I remember that like it was yesterday.”

Scrolling through your Instagram, you seem pretty fashionable.

OP: “I like different stuff. I’m into fashion a little bit. I’m starting to like pick up little pieces and stuff like that, traveling a lot more, going to fashion shows, stuff like that just here and there.”

How would you describe your style?

OP: “My style is more hip but very conservative. I have a lot of pieces in my wardrobe that are very conservative, versatile, interchangeable pieces.”

In your opinion, what part of an outfit can make a statement?

OP: “To me, I feel like shoes do make statements or accessories.”

How many shoes do you have?

OP: “[Laughs] A lot, I guess.”

You can’t put a number on it?

OP: “Yeah, I’m a Jordan-brand athlete, so I got a lot of sneakers, a lot of Nikes, stuff like that.”

After you were traded to the Bulls in February, what was the first touristy thing you did in Chicago?

OP: “I haven’t been to a museum, but I went to The Bean. That was probably my first, besides coming here to see the United Center. How massive it is is pretty cool.”

Did it live up to its hype?

OP: “I think it was pretty neat. People that live here, they see it all the time, but for people who don’t see it every day, it’s something.”

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