Bulls basketball suddenly fun again, and Ryan Arcidiacono is a big reason why
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The All-Star break couldn’t have come at a better time for Ryan Arcidiacono.
Six days off allowed for a Zen-like trip to the Bahamas to be one with the universe as well as an opportunity to really refine his moves.
There’s the fake-step-back, stay-on-the-pivot-foot duck-under layup. There’s the left-handed hook, which is preceded by a right-handed swipe of the arm bar. Then there’s the piece de resistance at the free-throw line — the fixing of the hair.
Arcidiacono almost has the entire arsenal mastered.
The artist has found his perfect muse.
“He’s got a distinct routine,’’ Bulls center Robin Lopez said. “He’s dedicated to his craft. He’s dedicated on the floor and off the floor, and that’s what we love about Arch.’’
Why is Bulls basketball fun again after months of floundering as the league’s punch line? Small forward Otto Porter Jr.’s addition has helped, and coach Jim Boylen taking the shackles off the offense has been a key. But look toward the bench during a game; that’s where the real entertainment begins.
With each Lopez basket or significant play, Arcidiacono quickly jumps to his feet from the bench and imitates the move to perfection. His fellow benchmates and other Bulls personnel watch in amazement, stunned by the accuracy of the imitation.
“It’s Arch being Arch, and we love it,’’ reserve guard Shaq Harrison said. “It’s absolutely been embraced by our bench because you’ve got to bring that energy from the bench and stay involved in the game even if you’re not out there so you don’t get lost.
“It keeps you focused.’’
Too college-like? A distraction? Not even close. The way Arcidiacono sees it, the ever-changing bench needed an identity, and what better one to have than a group that is so into the game and energized by its teammates that it replays their moves.
“It’s something that galvanizes a team,’’ Arcidiacono said. “I think the bench guys are always ready to go, but any type of energy or way to make us feel loose over there is great. . . . I mean, we’re all NBA players and have to be held accountable. We know the bench has to play better, and anything we can do on the bench to help us be more prepared for when we get on the floor, I think we’re all for that.’’
But why Lopez? Easy. Why not?
“RoLo is the greatest teammate,’’ Arcidiacono said. “We all hold up the threes for Lauri [Markkanen], but RoLo, what he means to this team — he’s been the best mentor any of us could have asked for.
“Plus, most of RoLo’s moves are simple to duplicate. He’s very simple with his moves, but he’s very efficient. These other guys, I can’t dunk or do anything Zach [LaVine] does from the bench, so RoLo and all his crazy footwork just brings the energy.’’
As for Lopez’s take on all of it, there’s little he doesn’t embrace as fun.
As a matter of fact, Lopez’s biggest concern is making sure he doesn’t get caught up in staring at the bench to watch his Mini-Me perform after he makes a basket, especially if it can lead to his man beating him back down the floor.
“I think Arch has got a future in improv or prop comedy,’’ Lopez said. “I’m not sure how it started. I think it’s something that just developed organically, as most wonderful things do. I will say this, he’s quite good at it.
“And, hey, it’s fun.’’
Something the Bulls desperately needed.