Bobby Portis received hands-on training in trash talk from the best in the business
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There are growing pains surrounding rookie Bobby Portis.
The difference is it’s the opposition that has been feeling most of that pain, as the Bulls first-round pick has made preseason play his personal showcase.
Through five exhibition games, Portis was averaging 12.2 points and 10.4 rebounds per game, has become a United Center favorite because of his high-energy intensity, and maybe his biggest highlight, got some hands-on training in trash talking from his idol Kevin Garnett.
Not a bad first month on the job.
The 22nd overall pick finally offered up some details of last week’s clash with Minnesota and Garnett. Well, at least the PG-version of those details.
“Yeah, we were going back and forth,’’ Portis said of the meeting with KG. “Talking a little trash. I can’t really say, it’s too explicit.
“I loved it. That kind of taught me some good things I can do. I might put that in my game and talk a little trash. I like that. I think he kind of did that just to fire himself up and get his teammates going off. I felt like when they did that, they went on a 10-2 run.’’
Portis wasn’t the first Bulls player to grow up idolizing Garnett, only to then get into a verbal showdown with him in their first meeting on the court. Joakim Noah went through it, and took a much angrier approach to Garnett from then on.
“He’s the best one I’ve seen in a long time,’’ Portis said of Garnett’s trash-talking. “He didn’t make me laugh. You know how I do on the court, I just had my eyes bugged and stuff. That’s just who I am. He can’t make me smile on the court.
“He was talking about, “Grown man business right here, boy. I’m 40 and you’re 20.’ I said a little bit back. But he’s a great. He’s one of the all-time greats. He’s one of my favorite players. So it was cool to be on the court with him and play against him.’’
Portis won’t have to wait long for Round 2, as the Timberwolves and Garnett are scheduled for a regular-season game at the United Center on Nov. 7.
The Bulls defense has been less than stellar so far this preseason, but Noah wasn’t that concerned. At least not yet.
Blame it on a short-handed roster, a new system, and even life after defensive-minded coach Tom Thibodeau. Either way, it has to improve.
“I think we just have to keep working, stay in the lab, stay in the gym,’’ Noah said. “Keep practicing and just build our philosophies. Right now I think we have a lot of moving parts. We just have to all know what we are all doing defensively and build a structure.’’