Bulls Buyout Big Man Shines with Double-Figure Night in Debut

Tristan Thompson

Getty Tristan Thompson hangs from the rim after dunking in his Chicago Bulls debut on February 24.

Aside from Tristan Thompson‘s debut, the Chicago Bulls win over the Atlanta Hawks was anything but a game of firsts.

Rookie guard Ayo Dosunmu shined on both ends of the floor, but especially when matched up with Trae Young.

And the team’s MVP candidate, DeMar DeRozan, scored five points in the final 46 seconds to seal Chicago’s 39th win.

But as Bulls fans, you’ve seen this multiple times before this season.

What you haven’t seen, is Tristan Thompson, sporting a #3 jersey, hyping up the United Center crowd in black, red, and white with his competitive energy.

In only 13 minutes, Thompson scored 11 points, grabbed six rebounds, and collected an assist and a steal to boot.

His debut performance for the Chicago Bulls showed just why the front office brass vyed so hard for Tristan Thompson’s services on a barren buyout market.

And more importantly, it showed, that in doing so, they’ve upgraded a roster (they hope is) headed for a deep playoff run.

Thompson Over Bradley?

When the Chicago Bulls brought in 30-year old Tristan Thompson, there was a question as to whether or not he’d be an upgrade over big man Tony Bradley.

The backup center is averaging just 3.1 points and 3.7 rebounds but has made a commendable effort on the defensive end.

It took just one game to do away with all of that, and firmly, given his aggression and effectiveness at the rim.

In addition to his 11 points and six rebounds, Thompson finished the night with eight attempts at the free-throw line.

Bradley, on the other hand, has attempted 21 free throws all season.

Not to discredit his efforts, but Thompson got both a resume and the experience Chicago needs in the post when Vucevic is off the floor. It was on full display Thursday against the Atlanta Hawks.

This move against reserve guard Delon Wright comes to mind.

Bradley’s role will be diminished behind Thompson’s arrival, especially after this debut performance.

But honestly, this makes any original debate of who could offer more look downright foolish.

And unlike Tony Bradley, Tristan Thompson’s already working hard on earning himself the elusive “fan favorite” status.

Thompson: ‘I Idolized Rodman’

Following his team debut, Tristan Thompson campaigned for more respect to be given to two Chicago Bulls; one of the past, and one of the present.

On teammate DeMar DeRozan’s eight-straight performance with 35 or more points, the newcomer (via NBC Sports) had high praise:

I’ve played with some big-time players. And when it’s money time, you give them the ball and they make something happen…He’s been doing it night in and night out…That’s greatness right there…We gotta appreciate that and enjoy watching it.

But looking to the past, in order to relay an appreciation for his new team, Thompson referenced franchise great Dennis Rodman, who he “idolized” and to this day tries to emulate:

(I) idolized Dennis Rodman…Idolized ‘The Worm…He was the first player I believe in this league, in NBA history, to be a star in their role…I remember saying that exact quote — saying ‘be a star in your role’ — when we were on those runs in Cleveland, making those championship runs. He (Rodman) was the definition of being a star in your role, and that was something I wanted to embody in myself and my game.

Rodman, of course, spent three seasons with the franchise from 1995 to 1999, all ending them hoist the Larry O’ Brien at the end of the year.

Thompson argues that his contributions should be enough to have his jersey hanging in the rafters of the United Center:

They need to retire that 91…Come on, now. Let’s get to it.

It’s unlikely that someone who’s played one game in a Chicago Bulls uniform will have an impact on jersey retirement plans. But he’s certainly bending ears in his first days in the Windy City.

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