In an exciting turn of events, Belmont University is once again set to play host to an NBA team for their training camp. This marks the second time in just three years that the university has opened its doors to the Chicago Bulls.
The Bulls are scheduled to arrive in Nashville on Tuesday to kickstart their training camp at Belmont's Crockett Center. The decision to hold their training camp at Belmont stems from a positive experience shared by the New Orleans Pelicans when they sought refuge at Belmont following Hurricane Ida's devastation along the Louisiana coastline in August 2021.
Scott Corley, the athletic director at Belmont, noted, "Adam Barnes, who used to play for us, works for the Pelicans and we ended up hosting them for a week of practice in the Crockett Center. 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."
Bulls Choose Belmont for Camp
The Bulls' interest in Belmont was sparked during the summer when a team executive reached out to Kerron Johnson, Belmont's director of player development, and coach Casey Alexander, inquiring about the possibility of hosting their training camp.
While they also considered Vanderbilt, Belmont's top-notch facilities and the allure of Nashville made the decision easy. The Chicago Bulls are expected to practice at the Crockett Center for five days, offering a fresh change of scenery from their usual training camp location in Illinois.
After concluding their camp in Nashville, the Bulls will head straight to Milwaukee for a preseason game against the Bucks on October 8, with their regular-season opener scheduled for October 25. Although the Bulls' practices in Nashville will not be open to the public, Corley anticipates that Belmont's own players will have opportunities to interact with the NBA players and staff, and possibly even observe some of their drills, creating a unique and inspiring experience for the college athletes.
The move to hold training camp in Nashville, and specifically at Belmont, was prompted by Bulls' head coach Billy Donovan's desire to break away from the routine and foster team cohesion. Chip Schaefer, the Bulls' director of performance health, explained on Stacey King's podcast "Give Me The Hot Sauce," "It's just something Coach Donovan thought would be a nice way to kind of bond and bring people together for a few days." Moreover, Nashville's cosmopolitan vibe and array of restaurants were additional factors that made it an attractive location for the Bulls.
Steve Pankow, the team's equipment manager, commented, "Nashville's a city that is cosmopolitan enough and has some restaurants people can go and enjoy after practice, but it's close enough and it's not going to be a huge trip." This exciting development also has local ties, with two players on the Bulls' roster having connections to Tennessee.
Julian Phillips, a 6-foot-8 rookie, played at Tennessee and is set to compete for playing time at wing this season for the Bulls. Terry Taylor, on the other hand, played at Austin Peay and signed a two-way contract with Chicago in February 2023.
This won't be the first time the Chicago Bulls have visited Nashville. In 1990, they played an exhibition game against Utah at Vanderbilt's Memorial Gym, drawing a capacity crowd and leaving lasting memories for basketball fans in the Music City. With the return of the Bulls to Nashville, basketball enthusiasts are eagerly awaiting more exciting moments ahead.