Raptors' Thad Young praises Bulls' Coby White after tormenting former team

Raptors' Thad Young praises Bulls' Coby White after tormenting former team originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

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When the final buzzer sounded on the Chicago Bulls’ disappointing home loss to the Toronto Raptors, Thad Young found Coby White.

“I just told him I’m proud of him,” Young said. “When Zach (LaVine) went down, he kind of stepped in and took over that role scoring and playing at a good flow, a good pace. His development over the last four, five years is showing. He’s doing a great job.

“I’m just very happy for him because it was tough for him his first couple years with the change in the coaching staffs and the front office changing. When you don’t have that stability behind you, it’s a little hard. But now they have that stability and the development system for him and he’s done a helluva job of being receptive to that.”

Young spent two seasons with the Bulls from 2019-2021, White’s first two seasons in the NBA. Young served as a veteran mentor then and his impact in those lean years resonated both on and off the court. NBC Sports Chicago broadcaster Stacey King nicknamed him “Thadgic” for his point-forward passing ability.

King might have to call Young “Thaq” for his performance Tuesday night at the United Center. Not only did Young stuff the box score with 16 points, six assists and six rebounds with his typically crafty play, he started at center for the undermanned and undersized Raptors, battling Nikola Vucevic and Andre Drummond.

In Year 17.

“They’re two big guys who know how to rebound, very physical. Takes a toll on you. But one thing I’m willing to do is fight with them and do the job that’s willing to be done,” Young said. “For me, it’s always about the battle. I enjoy the competition level. So for me, I’m willing to take whatever challenge there is, whether it’s me guarding guards, guarding my position or playing center.

I don’t pay too much attention to that. Yeah, I’m 35 years old. But that’s young in regular life. When you play over 1,000 basketball games, that’s old to everybody else. But I just continue to play and show that I can play at a high level. As long as I’m able to do that, I’ll continue to play.”

Both Bulls coach Billy Donovan and Raptors first-year coach Darko Rajakovic praised Young for his professionalism and leadership qualities. Young spent several minutes pregame catching up with Donovan.

And Young brought up another Bulls head coach when asked where his leadership style comes from after sticking it to his former team.

“I’m just a laid-back guy by nature. But I would probably say it came from Doug Collins. He gave me an opportunity to be a leader of a team with the 76ers. And he would always tell me, ‘Keep your personality but still be a leader.’ Because your presence and your voice will be louder than what you think,” Young said. “For me, I try to speak when it’s needed. I’m trying to deliver the knowledge in a way where they’re very receptive to it as opposed to fighting back.

“And I’m really good at evaluating my teammates and understanding how I can talk to them in certain game situations. That’s worked out for me my whole career, just being able to kind of be that arm between the coaches and the front office and the team.”

Two years ago, Young sat down with NBC Sports Chicago in a nearly empty practice gym in San Antonio and fielded the question of how long he plans to play. Tuesday night, after helping the Raptors to an unlikely victory, he answered it again.

“For me, it’s always going to be about my family,” Young said. “I have two sons who are getting up in age. TJ is 13. Taylor is 10. TJ is seventh grade now and as the years go by, I definitely want to put a lot of time and work into him and make sure I give him the same opportunities I had.

“They’ve been saying go to Year 20. Physically, I’m fine. I can continue to go. God has blessed with my health.”

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