Bulls forward Mike Dunleavy has been all around the NBA. (Chris Sweda / Chicago Tribune )
As the son of a former player and coach in the NBA, Mike Dunleavy Jr. has been around basketball his entire life. Entering his 12th season, the swingman came to Chicago as a free agent last summer to help the Bulls reach their goal of an NBA title.
He might be waiting awhile. Although Dunleavy averages a respectable 11.0 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.0 assists this season, the Bulls are just 17-19 entering Tuesday's home game against Phoenix. More important, who knows when Derrick Rose comes back and how effective he'll be?
"This isn't what any of us envisioned at the start of the season," said the 33-year-old Dunleavy, who recently cracked the starting lineup. "But starting doesn't change my approach. Generally, starting I play a little more. But my body feels good so if that's what it calls for, I'm ready."
For now, all Dunleavy can do is draw on his extensive experience to help his team reach the playoffs.
Dunleavy's dad, Mike Dunleavy Sr., played 11 seasons in the NBA and spent 17 more years as head coach of the L.A. Lakers, Milwaukee, Portland and the L.A. Clippers.
"I've wanted to be a basketball player for as long as I could remember," Dunleavy Jr. said. "Going to games, going to practices and seeing these guys was cool. That was my dad's job and I didn't think about doing anything else."
When Dunleavy Jr. was 10, his father took the head coaching job with the Lakers, featuring Magic Johnson and James Worthy. That squad made it to the 1991 NBA Finals before losing to Michael Jordan and the Bulls.
Dunleavy has fond memories of Johnson and the Lakers.
"Magic Johnson is one of the great athletes, leaders and winners of all time," he said. "To be around somebody like that was great. I really enjoyed watching him play and work."
By the time the younger Dunleavy was ready for high school, his dad had become Portland's head coach. That was the first time Dunleavy Jr. had an opportunity to test his skills against NBA athletes.
"I would play some pickup or hop into practice here and there, so that was cool on that end," he said. "During that time in Portland, they had guys who played my position like Steve Smith and Bonzi Wells. So those are the guys that I would match up against."
And how did he do?
"Hey, I was a 16-year-old kid playing against pros," he said, laughing. "So, it was certainly a challenge, but it definitely made me better."
Over the years, Dunleavy says he's taken a lot of advice from his dad, but the most important lesson he says he learned was not anything he was told, but what he saw.
"Preparation was my dad's biggest thing," he said. "I remember him being up late at night, all night, watching film and getting prepared for the next opponent. That's something I've applied to my craft in the years I've been playing. … I'll keep applying that work ethic to whatever I do."
Chicago Tribune contributed to this report.
Bryan Crawford is a RedEye special contributor.
BAD LUCK CHARM?
Despite putting up solid numbers in all four NBA cities he's played (11.9 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists in his career), Mike Dunleavy Jr. has not played on a winning team since his college days at Duke.
2013-14 Bulls: 17-19
2012-13 Milwaukee: 38-44
2011-12 Milwaukee: 31-35
2010-11 Indiana: 37-45
2009-10 Indiana: 32-50
2008-09 Indiana: 36-46
2007-08 Indiana: 36-46
2006-07 Indiana: 35-47
2005-06 Golden State: 34-48
2004-05 Golden State: 34-48
2003-04 Golden State: 37-45
2002-03 Golden State: 38-44
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