Justin Holiday: Next Man Up

Justin Holiday

The Chicago Bulls new addition, Justin Holiday,


By Sherron Shabazz

Justin Holiday is already an NBA Champion, but believe it or not, he wants more. As a member of the 2015 NBA champion Golden State Warriors, Holiday played in 59 games and averaged 4.3 points per contest. Despite playing behind the likes of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Shaun Livingston, and Leandro Barbosa, Holiday caught the attention of teams around the league which led to him signing a 2-year contract with the Atlanta Hawks following the Warriors championship run.

The 6-foot-6-inch Holiday is a rangy defender that Hawks brass thought would be the third guard in the rotation for their squad. Holiday struggled to find his way in Atlanta, posting career lows in almost every major statistical category.

Mere minutes before the end of the trade deadline Holiday was dealt to the Chicago Bulls in a three team trade that saw Kirk Hinrich end up in Atlanta, and Shelvin Mack in Utah. Needless to say, Holiday was in shock to learn he’d been traded.

“I was surprised,” Justin Holiday told Bulls on Parade. “I had no clue about it before. The next thing was worrying about getting out of my house, figuring out how I was going to deal with that and move everything [laughs]. Once I got past all of that I was excited to be a part of this team.”

Holiday is no stranger to changing addresses. The Los Angeles native played his college ball at Washington while each of his younger siblings; Jrue, Lauren, and Aaron stayed local and played for UCLA. Holiday honed his craft in Europe and the D-League before making it to the big league in 2013 with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Making the transition in Chicago will be a piece of cake for the former Washington Huskie.

“It’s different scenery, but everybody’s been treating me well around here,” Holiday said of his short time in Chicago. “They’ve welcomed me in. It’s good to be in an organization that wants to win and wants to compete. That’s what these guys want to do every night. I’m excited to be here.”

Justin Holiday

Justin Holiday talks shop with Bulls play by play announcer, Chuck Swirsky.

With Jimmy Butler sidelined with a left knee strain and Derrick Rose in and out of the lineup with right hamstring tendinitis, Holiday’s number was called almost immediately. In six games as a Bull, Holiday is averaging 15.3 minutes of playing time and is shooting 36.4 percent from behind the three-point line.

Holiday getting a few buckets is just gravy. His money will be made on the defensive end. A 2011 Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year and a 2013 D-League All-Defensive Second Team selection as a member of the Idaho Stampede, Justin Holiday does the dirty work, and that’s perfectly fine with him.

“I do a little bit of everything” Holiday explained. “One thing that’s always going to be there is my effort. I’m a guy that’s going to play hard and give you everything that I have every night. I’m able to defend well, knock down open shots, and help score. I’m a guy that’s going to help the team in any way possible. If the team needs me to help to do little things I’ll be able to do that.”

Holiday joined the Bulls at an inopportune time. The team has struggled with injuries and adjusting to rookie head coach Fred Hoiberg’s system. As a result, a question mark has hung over the team’s chances of even making the Playoffs (they’re currently holding onto the eighth seed with a 31-30 record).

The newest Bull is optimistic about his teams’ chances down the stretch.

“We have to fight every night and compete every night,” said Holiday. “At the end of the day you can’t always control the mistakes that you make but you have to make the least amount of mistakes possible on the floor. That’s doing things defensively, offensively, and making sure we’re playing as a team. As long as we’re playing together I think we’re going to be fine.”

Like the Gasol’s, Plumlee’s, Curry’s, Lopez’s, Zeller’s, and Morris’ Justin and Jrue Holiday have the fortune of playing in the league with their sibling. Despite being the older brother, Justin has taken advice from his younger brother Jrue of the New Orleans Pelicans about taking his game to the next level in the NBA.

“The one thing he always told me was to play my game. He said to play my game, not try to be anybody I’m not and I should be fine.”


Images courtesy of photographer Alan Pan. For more outstanding Bulls photography, follow him on instagram and twitter.

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