At 33-years-old and about to play in his 12th NBA season, Chicago Bulls veteran Kirk Hinrich is still lacing up the sneakers and leaving everything out there on the court every night. He’s still having fun – most of the time, but he also knows this isn’t going to last forever and perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a point guard is doing it for teammates.
Over the summer Hinrich re-upped for two more years and $5.6 million and his reasons for signing with the Bulls as a free agent two years ago are just as valid today. Pro Bball Report gained some insight into the Bulls reliable veteran after the All-Star break in February in this exclusive interview.
“It is fun,” Hinrich admitted. “The games and being around the guys, I think that’s what when you look back on it you are really going to miss – the camaraderie, the competing with a group of guys you respect. Some things are not as fun as they used to be. We joke sometimes about shoot-arounds. I don’t know how many more shoot-arounds I have in me, but anytime I feel like I don’t want to do it or I don’t want to be here today, I just go back to the thing that the guys, we all depend on each other and we need to be into it.”
The Bulls are a veteran team. A team that was built to win last year and now and except for the injuries, Chicago was going to be a contender. It was the possibility of winning at the end of his career that drew Hinrich back to Chicago in 2012 and that is still true now.
“Coming back and signing here, I thought we had a really good chance to win and that was the sole reason,” Hinrich said. “Obviously I had been here before, I was familiar with a lot of things, my home was in Chicago, but the main reason I came back was because I thought we had a really good chance to win.”
However, without Derrick Rose, the opportunity to compete for a championship was lost, but that didn’t mean Hinrich and the other veterans on the Bulls were not going to try. There is still a lot of fight and pride in this group.
“We’ve had some injuries, but that doesn’t mean we are going to throw the season away,” Hinrich said. “For me, late in my career I feel like I want to keep it going. I love this game I have played for so long, I want to continue to be part of something I can be proud of when I look back on it.
“The character of our guys, there is a lot of pride in our locker room. Guys want to do well, they want the team to do well and we try to do the things we have to do to do that.”
It is a testament to the character of the players and coaches in Chicago that the Bulls were a second round playoff team in 2013 and were in the playoffs last year.
“It’s just taking it upon themselves to do what they have to do – doing their job,” Hinrich explained. “It takes 5 guys. We know we have to compete at a very high level – defend very well, win the rebounding battle, play low turnover basketball and share the ball. Outside of game-planning for teams, that’s our solution.”
Hinrich is playing for pride as much as anything else these days. He doesn’t want to look back at his career with regrets. No one can know how many shoot-arounds they have left in them.
“When I am not feeling it so much, that is what I rely on, this thing isn’t going to be forever,” Hinrich said. “I want to give it all I have. That is what I fall back on individually to keep it going.”
Beware of the old bull. They can always put up one last good fight. It doesn’t sound like Hinrich has run out of shoot-arounds just yet.