Bulls Honor B.J. Armstrong
CHICAGO (AP) _ The chants from the stands were almost deafening in the fourth quarter.
``B.J.! B.J.! B.J.!″ the fans yelled as B.J. Armstrong sat on the bench, smiling. In his last home game, he would have loved to have gone back out there one more time. But the knees that are forcing him to retire wouldn’t let him.
``It was a very nice, very special for me,″ he said after the Bulls’ 93-89 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night. ``These fans are special. I can only say again I appreciate them.
``I heard every one of them.″
After 11 years, four teams and three championship rings, Armstrong’s career is almost over. The Bulls finish tonight in Detroit, his home town, and he’ll try to play despite swelling in his left knee.
``I’ve got some family coming, so I want to play for them,″ said Armstrong, fifth on the NBA’s career 3-point shooting list. ``I just have to see how I feel.″
If Tuesday night was his last time on the court, though, it was a great goodbye. The Bulls honored him in a pregame ceremony. His wife, Jennifer, and his parents watched from half-court as a five-minute video tribute played on the Jumbotron above the floor.
The Bulls also presented a $10,000 check to the Infant Welfare Society of Chicago in his name.
``It’s sad in a way, but I’m happy, too,″ he said. ``I’ve been able to last this long and experience the experiences I’ve had. I’ve lived the dream.″
His teammates had some parting gifts for him, too. When he walked into the locker room before the game, there was a carved wooden rocking chair by his locker surrounded by an electronic stimulus machine, pain reliever lotion and some bandages.
Armstrong laughed when he saw it. Though he’s only 32, his body can’t take the physical demands of the NBA anymore. He had two surgeries on his left knee this year, and missed 54 games because of knee injuries.
His wife is also expecting their first child this fall, and Armstrong said he wants to be able to spend time with his family.
``For whatever reason, I’ve just always wanted to be a dad, just wanted to be a parent,″ he said. ``I didn’t want to be anything else to my kids.″
Armstrong was Chicago’s first-round choice in the 1989 NBA draft out of Iowa, and was on the 1991, `92 and `93 NBA title teams. He was left unprotected in the 1995 expansion draft and was selected by the Toronto Raptors, who traded him to the Golden State Warriors. He was an All-Star in 1996, when he averaged 12.3 points on 47 percent shooting.
He also played for Charlotte and Orlando before signing a one-year free-agent contract with the Bulls last summer.
``I never would have imagined I’d be playing for 11 years, let alone achieve the things I’ve achieved,″ he said. ``This is every kid’s dream. It’s been far beyond my wildest dreams.
``This has been a terrific ride, one I’ll always cherish.″