The Chicago Bulls offered support to victims of the Highland Park shooting and called for change after a gunman killed seven people and wounded more than 30 others during a Fourth of July parade.
The Bulls hold close ties to the Highland Park community. They practiced for more than 20 years in Deerfield, less than 10 minutes from the site of the shooting, and Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen were among many Bulls players and coaches to live in Highland Park during their tenure with the team.
“Over the years, Highland Park has been home to many members of Bulls nation, including a number of Bulls players and staff,” a team statement read. “Our connection with the community is personal, and it holds a particularly special place in our hearts. We are grieving with the community and everyone affected, and we support them as we all mourn this tragedy.”
News of the shooting broke near the end of Bulls practice at the Advocate Center on Monday, prompting summer league coach John Bryant to cut the training session short.
Bryant said the team spent the opening minutes of Tuesday’s practice reflecting on the tragedy.
“It’s hard because it’s in your backyard,” Bryant said. “I told the team just to reflect on their lives. How fortunate we are to wake up today. How fortunate we are to come in and play a game and get paid and really to think about the people who didn’t get that opportunity.
“I think that put in perspective because we play a game, we kind of lose sight of that as young people. We think we’re invincible. And it’s hard because real life happens all the time outside of our bubble of basketball.”
In its statement the team called for increased action to combat gun violence. The Bulls previously partnered with other city teams to form the Chicago Sports Alliance, which directs grants to organizations such as the Chicago Crime Lab.
“Gun violence inflicts pain on our friends, neighbors, families, businesses and communities,” the statement concluded. “This situation is one that we’ve been in too many times, saying what feels like the same words and expressing the same sentiments. The Chicago Bulls are committed to change and using the resources in our power to make a difference and help solve this epidemic of gun violence.”