Before the start of their preseason, the NBA’s Chicago Bulls made Belmont’s Crockett Center their home to kickstart training camp.
But why would a team from Chicago choose Nashville as its destination?
For Bulls head coach Billy Donovan, the decision was necessary to give the Bulls a refresh after a disappointing 40-42 record in the 2022-23 season.
"We have to do something different. You know you can't just do the same exact thing to be fine. The players really felt like it would be a great idea to go somewhere,” Donovan said in a team press conference on Tuesday. “This was convenient because Belmont's got a great facility. We appreciate them opening it up. It was a one-hour flight from Chicago, so the travel just made a lot sense."
This is the second time in three years that Belmont hosted an NBA training camp.
In 2021, the New Orleans Pelicans came to Belmont after New Orleans was affected by Hurricane Ida.
Belmont athletic director Scott Corley said he sees teams practicing outside of their home cities becoming a trend.
As soon as the Bulls showed interest, Corley said director of player development Kerron Johnson was in contact with the team.
"I think more of these NBA teams are looking to kind of break up the monotony of their camps and are looking to take the show on the road a little bit,” Corley said to Mike Organ of The Tennessean. "They saw pictures of our facility. I think Nashville is attractive for obvious reasons and it kind of grew from there. Kerron started having conversations and we started seeing if we could host them."
This is only the second time in Bulls history when the team isn’t practicing in the Windy City.
The first time was in 1985 when the team traveled to Beloit College in Beloit, Wisconsin.
For player Terry Taylor, who had heated battles with the Bruins as a player for Austin Peay University, the training camp felt weird but brought back memories.
"The first thing I said to our assistant coaches when they told us we were having camp at Belmont was that I remembered being there my junior and senior year and just battling," Taylor said in a team press conference on Tuesday. "It's a little weird coming in here because they were my rivals for four years."
But Bulls star player DeMar DeRozan said he sees the change as a positive.
“I always hated training camp in the city you played in. Sometimes just trying something new could be beneficial,” DeRozan said in a team press conference on Tuesday. “Nothing wrong with that at all. Just giving somebody a different scenery, getting them out of their comfort zone, could do a lot for camaraderie.”
DeRozan said the team would participate in various activities around Nashville including team dinners and an outing at Top Golf.
The team hopes to use this training camp to prepare for the challenges of the upcoming NBA season.
A trip to Milwaukee to face the newly retooled Milwaukee Bucks in the preseason opener awaits on Sunday.
This article was written by Ty Wellemeyer.