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Upbeat Kris Dunn eager to return to Bulls

K.C. Johnson, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Basketball

CHICAGO -- Several times, Kris Dunn's father made him watch the replay of Dunn's scary fall that concussed him, dislocated two of his teeth and took a chunk out of the United Center floor.

"It was definitely a scary fall," Dunn said Wednesday in his first public comments since the Jan. 17 incident. "But as long as I had my teeth in there, I was fine. I played football, so as long as those were in there, I'm good."

The fact Dunn could chuckle about the scary situation is when he knew he was better.

"Last week, I just felt fine," Dunn said. "I wasn't doing the things I was doing before. I wasn't sleeping during the day. I wasn't getting the headaches during the day or at night.

"I'm a high-energy guy. I like to laugh and all that. And I had that bounce to me. Everybody started to see me getting better. It was just a process of trying to maintain and keeping that energy."

That process is ongoing, and there's no timetable for Dunn's return. He has not officially exited the league's concussion protocol despite taking part in non-contact portions of Tuesday's Windy City Bulls practice and Wednesday's NBA Bulls practice.

But the fact he's up and about and has, in coach Fred Hoiberg's words, "one more step" to pass is a good sign. The Bulls are 1-7 since Dunn went down.

"People thought I almost broke my neck, so the fact I have my teeth is definitely a blessing," said Dunn, who admitted dentists had to make sure the nerves to his teeth's roots weren't dead. "The concussion protocol was a pain. It kept coming back. When I thought I felt good, it just kept rising some days. I'd go outside, try to take walks and clear my head and it wasn't doing well. It took a while, but now I'm doing good."

Well, except for that running thing. Conditioning and taking contact are Dunn's remaining hurdles.

"I can tell you one thing, my legs are dead," he said. "When you have certain injuries like a sprained ankle ... you can do (physical) activities. But with a concussion you can't. So (Tuesday) was kind of like my first time actually touching the floor."

Dunn will wear a mouthpiece upon his return and said he won't make a decision on whether to play in the Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star weekend until how he sees the next few days develop. The former high school football star suffered his first concussion in the 2016 NBA summer league with the Timberwolves.

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"I knew what to expect, a lot of headaches," Dunn said. "You're going to feel fog some days, low energy, fatigue. I never slept so much. In the daytime, you'll just go to sleep out of nowhere. And then at night, you'll be up all night. It was tough to get through. I'm just happy to be back."

Just as when he suffered a gruesome open dislocation of his left index finger that sidelined him for this season's first four games, Dunn vowed not to change his aggressive approach.

"I'm going to go dunk it for sure," he said. "You can't be scared when things like this happen. You just have to keep doing what you do. But it's tough.

"I tell people all the time that I got hurt more in basketball than I did in football. It's kind of weird to me. All of them have been freak accidents. So I'm not too worried about it. If they were all minor injuries, then I'd have to look at my body. But they've all been freak accidents. You just have to get through it."

And Hoiberg is happy that Dunn almost has.

"He's a ways away," Hoiberg said. "He hasn't done anything for three weeks. His inactivity will prevent him from playing anytime soon. But the important thing is he was able to do some non-contact drills. It's great to see him."

(c)2018 Chicago Tribune

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