Chicago Bulls' rookie and current starting small forward Patrick Williams showed the ultimate respect to his new teammate, Nikola Vucevic, not long after the team acquired the star center.
Yesterday marked the NBA Trade Deadline and the Bulls made a gigantic splash to hopefully change their trajectory this season.
Among a plethora of moves by Arturas Karnisovas and co., the most impactful one was trading for two-time NBA All-Star Nikola Vucevic. Vucevic, who was selected in the first round of the 2011 NBA Draft, began his career with the Philadelphia 76ers, where he wore jersey #8. He played one year in the "City of Brotherly Love" before a trade sent Vucevic to the Orlando Magic in a massive deal that also involved former Magic center Dwight Howard heading to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Vucevic wore #9 from his first contest in Orlando through his last game. Now, he will wear #9 here in Chicago with the Bulls as well. Patrick Williams, the Bulls' original #9 to begin the 2020-21 season, elected to change his jersey number out of respect for the two-time NBA All-Star. Williams will now be switching his number to 44. Williams wore #4 throughout high school and college, but that number is retired by the Chicago Bulls to honor Jerry Sloan.
As minuscule a detail it may seem, jersey numbers often hold deeper meanings for professional athletes. The practice of younger players allowing veterans to have first dibs happens quite frequently, but it isn't always a guarantee. Patrick Williams felt it was the right thing to do, however, and Nikola Vucevic is likely thankful for the rookie's thoughtful gesture.