Chicago Bulls: Lucas steps into the spotlight

The 2011-2012 version of the Chicago Bulls certainly has it’s share of stars.

From reigning MVP Derrick Rose to the newest addition, three time All Star and one time NBA champion Richard Hamilton, the Bulls are for sure on e of the deepest teams in the league and seemed poised to make a big playoff run.

But every team has it’s bench players that can also not only serve as occasional role players or towel waving cheer leaders from the bench but can at times step up for their teams in ways that make them valuable signings rather then just another forgotten NBA practice player.

John Lucas III is rapidly becoming one such player for the Bulls, proving himself worthy of playing time after he scored twenty-eight points to go along with eight assists and eight rebounds in forty five minutes of action as the Bulls pushed past the Wizards 78-64 with starting point guard Derrick Rose and backup guard C.J. Watson both out for the game with injuries.

Although it was not the best shooting performance as Lucas made eleven shots out of Twenty-eight attempts, it does show that Lucas does indeed have real NBA level talent at the position.

Lucas has often been the butt of jokes for Bulls fans who have doubted his presence on the roster as anything more then a practice player. Most will forever recall the two missed free throws he put up in a close game with the Denver Nuggets during his first run with the Bulls in 2010. But he has begun to write the next chapter in a basketball career that has had both diversity and hardships.

John Lucas III is the son of former NBA player and coach John Lucas II, who battled through cocaine addiction and alcohol abuse during an NBA career that lasted more then a decade and a half. It is not hard to imagine that being the son of a man with such perseverance and a hard fought for positive legacy has helped shaped John Lucas III into a man who will not give up when the road gets bit bumpy.

Lucas III also had the misfortune of being closely tied to the Baylor University Scandal in 2003, in which one of Lucas’ former teammates, power forward Patrick Dennehy, was shot and killed by another Baylor basketball player, forward Carlton Dotson.

Despite a transfer to escape the fallout of the scandal, which included allegations of marijuana and alcohol abuse by the Baylor basketball team while the coaching staff looked the other way, even more challenges confronted Lucas after his college days were over.

After striking out on draft night in 2005, Lucas III was picked up by the Minnesota Timberwolves for their Summer league team and training camp roster but did not make the cut for the regular season, playing only two games that year for the Houston Rockets after being called up form the Tulsa 66ers of the Development League.

From there he played in Italy before returning to the Rockets on a three year contract, then again heading back to the Italian league in 2007. From there it was a road well traveled with appearances for the Oklahoma City Thunder, Miami Heat, the Spanish ACB League for TAU Ceramica as well as a stint in China in the CBA.

It was then that the Chicago Bulls began signing him and waiving him throughout 2010 and 2011.

As Lucas said his role in the world of pro basketball has always been ‘a fight’, but it appears that after a long hard road that has meant playing around the world as well as struggling to make an NBA roster, Lucas might have finally found a home as well as a team that has allowed him to get past his hardships and begin to live the dream of being a useful member of an NBA roster.

With Rose and C.J. Watson both being listed as day to day it would seem that this will not be the last we see of Lucas this season for the Bulls and if Wednesday night’s performance was anything to go by it may be awhile before he ever again is short of work or time on the floor, towel waving be damned.

Thomas Willam Spychalski is a freelance writer for hire who co-edits the UK cult website Cult and has been published at such sites as Kasterborous, Whotopia and is also working on breaking into fictional works as well as a long term non fiction book project on the Amityville Horror.