Nikola Mirotic says he accepts Bulls teammate Bobby Portis' apology

ByNick Friedell ESPN logo
Thursday, November 30, 2017

CHICAGO -- Nikola Mirotic says he has accepted Bobby Portis' apology and is hoping both he and the Bulls can move forward after a practice altercation between the pair last month. Speaking for the first time since an Oct. 17 fight with Portis that left Mirotic with multiple facial fractures and a concussion, the veteran forward made it clear that he feels he can coexist with Portis again in the future.

"We are teammates," Mirotic said after Wednesday's practice. "We are on the same team. Obviously we are fighting for this team. We both are going to do what we need to do to make it work. Yeah, I did accept his apology."

Mirotic said he did not want to address events in the past and did not directly answer a question regarding whether the pair has actually sat down and spoken. When asked if Portis knew that he had accepted his apology, Mirotic responded that he would eventually.

"I guess he will know now," Mirotic said.

Mirotic appeared to be in good spirits as he continues working his way back from the injuries. The Bulls are relieved Mirotic finally publicly addressed the incident and are hoping all parties involved can move on from it now.

"I'm comfortable being with the team," Mirotic said. "I had a lot of support from my teammates, from everybody. Right now it's on me to relax and enjoy playing basketball again, to get my strength back. It's been a long time since I didn't play. ... When I stepped into the United Center [Tuesday] it was a huge feeling for me, really excited just to be on the bench, so yeah, I'm excited."

Mirotic did not directly answer whether he or his representatives made any trade requests to the Bulls in the wake of the incident with Portis.

"That's something my agent can tell you," Mirotic said. "I'm happy to be back."

Mirotic said his facial fractures have fully healed but it remains unclear exactly when he will be playing in games again. Neither he nor Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg would commit to a specific return date.

"I know he's excited to get back out there on the floor," Hoiberg said. "That's the final hurdle here, getting him back on the court, in uniform, in a game setting. Hopefully he responds well here to these next three days and then we'll make a determination from there as far as getting him back out on the floor. But he's been in really good spirits. He's been really good with the guys. Now it's about getting in the best shape possible and getting ready to play."

Mirotic noted that he felt he had the support of the organization and was looking forward to helping the Bulls again. He made it clear that while he and Portis may not be exchanging many words, he would still support Portis as a fellow teammate.

"I've been playing this game nine years professionally," Mirotic said. "I was always a good teammate, always professional with everybody and I'm going to continue to do that. If I'm here it's because I want to continue to support the team. He's a part of the team. I'm going to support him too. Obviously, I'm going to give him [fist bumps], like he would give me [fist bumps] too."

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