Justin Holiday and his Bulls teammates are ‘here to win games’

SHARE Justin Holiday and his Bulls teammates are ‘here to win games’

The Bulls are almost a week into training camp, and their players still haven’t received the memo.

Or maybe they’re just doing a good job of ignoring it.

‘‘We’re here to win,’’ swingman Justin Holiday said Saturday. ‘‘Regardless of what people might think or say, we’re here to win. We’re not on this NBA team just to be here, just to hang out. We’re here to win games.

‘‘That’s what we’re trying to get to. That’s the process we’re building, however long that takes or whichever way it takes for us to get there. That’s what our plan is, and that’s what we’re going for.’’

It’s the kind of talk the front office loves to hear, but general manager Gar Forman and vice president John Paxson know it’s more a player mentality than reality.

There’s no gray area in the NBA. Participation medals aren’t handed out at the end of the season. It’s about which teams have talent and which ones don’t.

So while Holiday was excited about the hard work he and his young teammates have been putting in, the standings don’t care about hard work.

‘‘I’ll say this: I’ve never met a coach or a player that steps foot on the floor to lose a game,’’ Paxson said. ‘‘They don’t, and they shouldn’t. Yes, we are rebuilding. We understand and acknowledge that there are going to be some tough times.

‘‘This culture and environment of working hard, putting the time in, that’s what is sustainable. We’re not here to create a culture of losing. We’re here to build a culture of things that are sustainable.’’

A lot of losing, however, is likely this season. It’s all but inevitable.

What will be interesting is how coach Fred Hoiberg handles it. He knows the Bulls are expected to lose, but he is more competitive than many think.

‘‘I think the big thing that we’re going to be worried about on a day-to-day basis is getting our guys to go out and compete at a high level,’’ Hoiberg said. ‘‘If you go out there and you have the message of playing with great effort, playing with great pace, playing with movement, playing with unselfishness, that’s all we can ask of these guys.

‘‘Our mindset going into a game is never that we’re the less talented team or that we’re not going to win. We need to get these guys believing in themselves and believing in each other.’’

Hoiberg used 76ers coach Brett Brown as an example. The 76ers have been ‘‘trusting the process’’ for four seasons under Brown, and while his coaching record is 75-253, the team’s effort level each game is usually high.

‘‘I don’t think teams enjoyed playing against Philly because they’ll battle, because of the effort that they’re going to bring,’’ Hoiberg said. ‘‘I think Brett Brown did an unbelievable job of getting his guys to go out there and play every game.’’

That’s not only Hoiberg’s hope for the Bulls, it’s Holiday’s, too.

‘‘It might not be the roster with all the stars or anything like that, but you can make something happen when you come with a certain attitude,’’ Holiday said. ‘‘These guys have attitude here.’’

Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com


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