CHICAGO — As the Bulls get ready for the 2023-2024 season, they took a different path to get things going than in previous years.
In fact, they did so a few hundred miles away in Chicago, with the hopes of building a little team chemistry before their 82-game campaign.
Before embarking on a five-game preseason, which began with a loss to the Bucks on Sunday at Fiserv Forum, the team decided to take their training camp to Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.
It’s a dramatic departure in Bulls’ history as the team has called Chicago home for their preseason workouts for nearly the last four decades. Per NBC Sports Chicago, it’s the first training camp for the team away from the city since they staged training camp at Beloit College in Wisconsin in 1985.
That was prior to Michael Jordan’s second season with the franchise.
This year the trip to Nashville was all about team unity, something that head coach Billy Donovan believed could use just a little strengthening, especially with the majority of the team returning from last year.
“These guys have got really good relationships, but I think there is a deeper connection that you’ve really got to have an establish, and I think in today’s society, where everything’s done with your phone, like Facebook or all these types of different social media platforms, they don’t really connect, in my opinion, like you think they’d connect,” said Donovan. “The connection part is the communication piece, and I felt like this was an opportunity for us to get away and basically really connect on things in terms of the communication piece, because I think in a lot of ways, we don’t have to communicate as much as we did in the past because everything can be done through phone or email or texting or things like that.
“In talking to those guys, I think the players really felt like it would be a great idea to go somewhere.”
In total, the Bulls had five straight practices at Belmont University’s Crockett Center before heading to Milwaukee for the preseason opener against the Bucks. It’s a little early for the team to know the true impact of a training camp on the road, but at least one member of the Bulls could see the benefit.
“I think we definitely got a lot closer,” said guard Coby White, who is in competition for the starting point guard spot this preseason. “We were with each other more than we were by ourselves in Nashville. It was a good trip for us, we got to know each other a lot more, especially the new guys.
“It gave us a chance to just hang out.”
Along with a little twist to a unique preseason ahead of the opener on October 25 against the Thunder at the United Center.