Sometimes, emotions can get the best of us. It is important to use those moments to reflect on what one could have done differently. For Chicago Bulls center, Nikola Vucevic, there was a little extra motivation for his outburst.
During the Bulls’ 115-111 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, Vucevic was caught on camera flipping a middle finger after being whistled for a traveling violation.
“Obviously, not my proudest moment,” said a humbled Vucevic via NBC Sports Chicago’s Rob Schaefer.” I wish I hadn’t done it. But I knew as soon as I did it, there was a good chance somebody caught it. Obviously, I have to do better and make sure I don’t do that again. Just not a great moment. I apologize to the fans and everybody for it. I’ll learn from it.”
Despite his contriteness, the NBA levied a $15,000 fine against Vucevic.
Vucevic Explains His Side
“I figured I would,” Vucevic said of getting fined. “It was just in the moment. I got called for a travel. I heard somebody in the stands say something. It wasn’t really towards anybody. It was just frustration.”
Vucevic said that he has had people tease him after video footage of the incident made the rounds on social media.
He reiterated that it is not representative of who he is but doesn’t expect it to go away.
“I’m expecting it to be a thing here and there,” Vucevic said, “people reminding me of it and have fun with it. It is what it is.”
The Bulls were up by double digits when Vucevic was called for the infraction and let the moment get the best of him.
They would go on to be outscored 109-95 from that point on.
“They made shots, we didn’t,” Vucevic said via Schaefer after the game. “They executed on the offensive end. [Brandon Ingram] made a couple tough shots where I thought we did a pretty good job defensively…Obviously, it was a close game, but a lot of things happened that we could have done better that would have helped us.”
Vucevic Getting Better
Vucevic had gotten off to a strong start to the season averaging 17.4 points and 11.8 rebounds over the Bulls’ first five games of the season. Much of his progress was credited with rededication to the post and working inside out.
Former dynasty Bulls member-turned-announcer Stacey King said on his “Gimme The Hot Sauce” podcast that he felt the big man had gotten away from that a bit lately.
Interestingly, Vucevic has been even better lately than he was at the beginning of the campaign.
He has averaged a similar 17.8 points and 11.4 boards over the last five games. But his efficiency has taken a sharp uptick with the 11-year veteran knocking down 45.8% of his threes – a massive improvement from his 28.6% from that earlier stretch and the 31% he shot last season.
And, despite the valid concern from King, Vucevic has seen his three-point attempts rise only slightly from 4.2 to 4.8 – he is simply knocking them down far more effectively.
That is huge for a Bulls team that is still lacking in perimeter shooting.
It is also no small development for Vucevic who is currently playing out the final year of his four-year, $100 million contract with hopes of agreeing to another pact with the Bulls.