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CHICAGO — Chicago Bulls stretch forward Nikola Mirotic made his first public comments to reporters today since suffering multiple facial fractures from the punch he took from teammate Bobby Portis and the Spaniard says he accepts Portis’ apology and wants to move on from the incident.
Portis texted Mirotic a few days after the practice fight occurred saying he was sorry, but never heard back from Mirotic. The two have been practicing together at the Advocate Center and interacted a few times last night on the bench during the Bulls’ 104-99 home loss to the Phoenix Suns.
“I’ve been playing this game nine years professionally,” Mirotic said after Wednesday’s practice. “I was always a good teammate, always professional to everybody and I’m going to continue to do that. If I’m here, it’s because I want to support the team. He’s [Portis] a part of the team. I’m going to support him too. Obviously, I’m going to give him hands like he’s going to give me hands too. Bobby and me and all the team is doing what we’re supposed to do, being professional. I think so far we’re doing good. We’re in a good way.’’
Mirotic is not cleared to return to game action and won’t travel with the team on its upcoming road trip. Head coach Fred Hoiberg said on Tuesday Mirotic will train with the Bulls’ G-League affiliate until he gets into game shape.
The 26-year-old Mirotic appreciates the support he received from the organization while he was in the hospital, but wouldn’t comment on the rumor that he wants to be traded as long as Portis is on the squad.
“They [Bulls] were just worried about me and my health, that’s all,” Mirotic said. “We didn’t talk about any details. They just had that support to see if my family or me needs anything. After what happened, Fred came to the hospital. Gar was calling. Everybody was worried about me. So I did feel support and I appreciated that from the front office. Now their goal is to make me get back in the game. I’m working on that.
“I don’t know about it [the report going around that he wants out of Chicago if Portis is still here]. I just know that right now the only goal — Bulls’ goal and my goal — is to make me get back with the team and practice together and get my strength back and as soon as I can, play with the team,” he said. “I’m really excited to be back … and everybody is trying to help me feel comfortable.”
The Bulls enter today with the worst record in the Eastern Conference at 3-16.