The Bulls’ Nikola Mirotic Apologizes For Destroying The Serbian Flag

Chicago’s European import — Nikola Mirotic — is playing for Spain at EuroBasket this year even though he was born in Montenegro. Mirotic surprised some by cracking the rotation for Tom Thibodeau last season, despite Thibodeau’s angst at playing inexperienced players. He’s a long, 3-point shooting menace, and the Bulls are lucky to have him. However, his adopted country of Spain, isn’t looking too good in EuroBasket play right now, going 1-2 in their first three games.

Their opening day loss to Serbia was exacerbated by Mirotic’s angry ripping of a Serbian flag that fell into his face as he tried to exit the court.

Since then, Mirotic has apologized, saying he’s “deeply sorry,” but he didn’t know it was the flag and he was frustrated after the loss.

He does look like he’s got his head down as he’s exiting, and we hope he would not have overtly torn the flag, no matter how upset he was about the loss. But it’s also worth noting the fan dangles the flag right on his head at a really tense time, almost baiting him into the reaction.

This reminds us of Cavs fans purportedly messing with Taj Gibson during last season’s Conference Semifinal series between Chicago and Cleveland. A towel was thrown and Taj called Cavs fans classless, fortuitously providing an easy alliteration in the headline.

That fan-player interaction came years after an obnoxious Celtics fan poured a beer on LeBron after a particularly hard-fought Celtics-Heat playoff battle in almost the exact same area where Mirotic lost his cool and tore the Serbian flag.

As fans, we should back off in situations like that. Getting drunk as you watch your team has the tendency to put people in the wrong frame of mind to “back off,” and small bits of loutish behavior are part of going to any sporting event (where bros will roam). Athletes have to control their emotions in instances like that, too.

But everyone — athletes and fans — should try and be better.

Serbia leads Group B at EuroBasket with a 4-0 record. Spain is stuck at 1-2 with a game against Germany today.

(Via EuroBasket 2015)