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CHICAGO — Jabari Parker has been waiting for this day his entire life, the day he can finally call himself a member of the Chicago Bulls.
On Wednesday, the Bulls introduced Parker to the Chicago media and the former Simeon star was all smiles, calling it a dream come true to play for his hometown Bulls.
“The stars aligned,” Parker said. “It just fit perfectly.”
Parker signed a two-year, $40 million deal with the Bulls. The second year of the contract is a team-option, essentially giving Parker a one-year tryout with Chicago to prove he can stay healthy and be productive at the small forward position.
In 31 games in 2017-18 with the Milwaukee Bucks, Parker averaged 12.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists while shooting 48.2 percent from the field and 38.3 percent from three. He missed most of the season recovering from his second ACL tear.
The Bucks selected Parker with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2014 draft. At the time, the franchise envisioned Parker as being the face of the organization for years to come. His injuries, however, coupled with the emergence of Giannis Antetokounmpo, changed Parker’s role and relationship with management.
Parker says he’s excited to be joining a young, athletic core in Chicago.
“Being a part of this team and this new unit is something I admire,” Parker said. “We’re on the same page. We’re going to build friendships on and off the court. That’s what it’s about. Once we grow closer, we get better as a team. We can build memories. And that’s what I’m looking forward to.”
One of the highlights of Parker’s press conference was his passionate defense of former Bull Derrick Rose. Rose won Rookie of the Year and MVP with the Bulls. He’s still the youngest player ever to win the award at 22-years-old.
Rose is a hero to many players who come out of Chicago. He had a decorated career at Simeon, has donated millions of dollars to the city and paid for multiple funerals.
That’s why Parker was offended when a reporter asked him if Rose’s tenure with the Bulls ended in a bad way.
“Derrick had no lows,” Parker said. “He didn’t. Because he still maintained. Derrick is a legend, no matter what. I don’t like how you explained that. Injuries are a part of life. Everybody has an injury, either athletics or normal life. Derrick is one of the best players to ever play the game and one of the best icons of Chicago. He accomplished his duty already.”