CHICAGO — Chicago Bulls forward Bobby Portis publicly apologized to Nikola Mirotic on Saturday, four days after he punched him in practice.

“I’m wrong for what I did,” Portis said prior to Saturday night’s game against the San Antonio Spurs. “I want to publicly apologize to Niko. I feel like I let my fans, the Bulls organization and, most importantly, my teammates down. This is not who Bobby Portis is.”

Portis’ punch, which came toward the end of a heated practice, knocked out Mirotic, giving him a concussion and several fractures in his face. He is expected to miss at least four to six weeks. The Bulls suspended Portis for eight games, a ban that began before Thursday’s season opener against the Toronto Raptors.

Portis said he has tried to talk to Mirotic but has not heard back from him.

“I texted Niko. I called him. He didn’t respond,” Portis said.

Portis said he is not concerned about any legal action Mirotic might take.

“I’m not concerned about that at this point,” he said. “I’m just trying to publicly apology to Niko and my teammates and [show] that I’m real sincere about the situation.

“Going forward, I want to make sure that me and Niko are cool and that we can be teammates again. And I’m pretty sure we can. We just have to repair this relationship.”

At some point, Portis believes he will sit down and speak to Mirotic.

“It hasn’t been arranged,” Portis said. “But I’m pretty sure we’ll have to talk it out. And I’m pretty sure it will be a gentle conversation. And I’m pretty sure that we can get past this.”

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg is hopeful the pair will be able to sit down and talk at some point in the near future, though both Hoiberg and Bulls players remain unsure if they will be able to clear the air after the fight.

“Hopefully, at some point those guys will get together,” Hoiberg said. “They’re going to have to in order to move past it. So hopefully that happens soon … We’ve had meetings about it obviously since it happened. Just keep working on bringing everyone together, going out competing, playing hard. Our guys have done that. They’ve had good practices.”

Portis said the message he tried to get across to the media on Saturday is the same one he gave his teammates in recent days.

“I’m just trying to be gentle and kind about the situation,” Portis said. “I never meant to hurt Niko. I’m just competing. Things got heated. That’s it.”

Portis admitted he was surprised that he hit Mirotic.

“Yes, I was surprised by my own reaction,” Portis said. “Because that’s not who I was, as I first stated. I’m a competitor at the end of the day, but I never meant to hurt my own teammates.”

As for the length of the suspension, Portis took ownership of the circumstances.

“I got suspended,” Portis said. “And it’s my fault. I take it as a man. I’m just trying to repair my relationship with everybody.”

Hoiberg believes it was a good step for Portis to publicly apologize Saturday.

“I think it’s good that he’s been back in our gym the last couple days,” Hoiberg said. “Try to start the healing process and be able to move past it. The opportunity to get up here and speak, I think, was important. So just continue to try to get everybody back together and hopefully move past it.”


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