The Chicago Bulls are like.........
We watch sports to escape reality. Sports are simple. That is what drawn us in as kids, and why we follow as adults to escape the reality of finances, office politics, and coldness and heartlessness of those in power. Somewhere along the way, we learn that sports is a business filled with the same politics, b.s., horrible bosses like the rest of our world. And sometimes, accidents, injuries, and bad things happen to humble and honest people.
The Bulls are reality.
Reality is when you have a boss who pushes you too hard, have unrealistic expectations and no perspective about how to keep employers happy and healthy long term. This is Tom Thibodeau's management of his starting players' minutes. In the past, players such as Luol Deng and Joakim Noah broke down or played through excessive pain by the time the Playoffs roll around. Do not be surprised if Pau Gasol cannot sustain his early season consistency or if Pau's body just gives out by the time Spring starts. We do not even need to discuss Derrick Rose, but it seemed like he wised up.
Reality is when the company does not care about you or your health, only in what you can produce for them. The Bulls' medical staff thought that Luol Deng was a game time decision on the day he underwent a spinal tap procedure during the 2013 Playoffs. The Bulls also allowed Mike James to play on a sprained MCL, cleared Omer Asik to play with a broken fibula in the 2011 playoffs, and always (until this season) pushed for Joakim Noah to play Thibodeau style minutes even with plantar fasciitis. After seeing all of this, I do not blame Derrick Rose for sitting out games because he is concerned about his health for his life after basketball. If the coaches and medical staff who cleared him to return to action in 2013 before he was ready, does not care, it is pretty damn smart for Rose to stand up for himself.
Reality is not being appreciated by your boss or employer. Jerry Reinsdorf, the Bulls and White Sox owner, stated that the White Sox's World Series win meant more to him than the Bulls' six championships. Baseball is Reinsdorf's first love and passion, but he should not have said that considering how much money the Bulls have made for him through the years.
And yes, Kanye is sometimes right.
One cannot discuss the Bulls without discussing at least one of the Jerrys. Today, we shall focus on former Bulls general manager Jerry Krause, who never got the credit he deserved for building two different back to back to back NBA Champions.
There is a Chris Rock bit, in which Rock is stating that white people have it so good in America that they would never trade places with him, even though he is rich. His punchline was that even a one legged busboy will keep trying to "ride out this white thing" a little bit longer than switch lives with Rock. I'm not a one legged busboy. I'm not a Caucasian, but there is no way I would trade places with Jerry Krause, and I am sure that he has quite a bit more money than me. I never make fun of people's age or looks because all of us will get old one day, and none of us can control the genetics of how we look. But let's just say that Jerry Krause is about as sexy as listening to an Air Supply album and drinking Pabst with John Goodman and Steve Buscemi. And I like Air Supply. Krause is short and portly with a chunky face, and as one politically incorrect P.E. teacher said to us in Junior High School in Illinois, has more chins than a Chinese phonebook.
In the post 1980s NBA, where even the coaches and general managers who never played in the NBA have that macho or semi-sexy corporate look, Krause never fit in. He was the overweight and unpopular interloper among jocks and cool kids, who undermined, ridiculed and humiliated him starting with Michael Jordan and that liberal, fair minded, Native American expert, new age modern man, Phil Jackson. Krause never got the recognition or appreciation from fans, media, or even with his own players and coaches. Players win championships, but it takes a very shrewd and smart GM to put all the right players together. The Bulls were better off with Horace Grant than Charles Oakley in the first three championship seasons. The Bulls would not win their last three championships without Toni Kukoc. (They may have won one or maybe two, but not three.) Michael Jordan opposed both moves.
Random Access Memory (RAM)
I was at a nightclub in the Addams Morgan area in Washington, D.C. with my basketball nerd friend and his girlfriend. We are the type of basketball nerds who have discussions on which players will make the Hall of Fame, and nerdy enough to recognize Reggie Theus in street clothes in the year 2000. My friend was excited that he saw Theus in a suit. I went to the restroom and missed the former Bull, Hawk, King, Magic, and Nets. I was a bit annoyed at missing Reggie Theus, but it has not stopped me from using the restroom at a club if I really have to go.
Favorite Obscure Player (FOP)
The Bulls' 1980s and 1990s history is rich with obscure contributors. Jason Caffey was prolific off the court and appeared on Dr. Phil. Bill Wennington loved 12 to 15 foot jumpers, and made the game winning dunk in MJ's famous 55 point game at Madison Square Garden. Dickey Simpkins is special because he looked like he was 50 years old, and his name is Dickey Simpkins.
But I will dig a little deeper and go with Brad Sellers. He was ahead of his time, and unfortunately unlike Panasonic, he wasn't just slightly ahead of his time, he was 15 to 20 years ahead of his time. Sellers was a 7 footer who was drafted in 1986. But Sellers did not play like other 7 footers of the mid-1980s. The Ohio State product preferred to stay around the perimeter. He loved his mid-range jump shots, could handle the ball and make entry passes, when the team allow the 7 footer to play on the perimeter. If he would have came into the league 15 years later and extended his range, Sellers would have been the ideal stretch four. He was also athletic enough to guard small forwards. Sellers probably would not have been a perennial all-star, but he probably would have had a long and rewarding career like Donyell Marshall, an early pre-historic stretch 4, who came along in 1994, but started shooting a lot of threes ten years later. Timing was not kind to Sellers. This was the 1980s and 1990s: post-ups, isolations, Bad Boys, Jordan Rules, Pat Riley's Knicks. Even the Showtime Lakers and Bird's Celtics did not shoot many threes. Brad Sellers was ridiculed by Michael Jordan for being soft and the Bulls did not know what to do with him. He was traded to the Sonics and was out of the NBA by 1993.
Bulls' Watchability Essay
As a native Midwesterner, I am a former die hard Bulls fan. However, my more casual fandom is dying a slow death simply because they are just not that fun to watch, even with Derrick Rose. Their offense is bland and relies heavily on the drive and kick game of Rose and sometimes, Joakim Noah. The Bulls are an excellent defensive team, but they do not have that one perimeter defensive psycho like Tony Allen or Bruce Bowen that you would tuned in for. Noah is entertaining, but his play is muted when Rose is back and dominating the ball. Taj Gibson and his dunks are underrated. However, I think the only reason I watch the Bulls is the inevitable wait for one of the Bulls player to literally collapse from Coach Thibs running them into the ground with excessive and unnecessary minutes.
Paul Tee's Prognosis
Cautiously optimistic or unjust pessimism. Many experts have picked a healthy Derrick Rose led Bulls team to reach the NBA Finals. While this team looks incredible on paper and some of the parts do fit, there is something unsettling about this team. Maybe it is the nagging injuries to Noah, or that we are talking about the 2014 version of Pau Gasol, which is closer to his production from last two years rather than the 2009 and 2010 Championship version. I don't like the fact that there are only two legitimate shot creators/scorers (players who can create shots for themselves and others AND score 20 plus points if needed) and on this team, Gasol and Rose. (Noah can create and dish, but nobody is scared of him scoring 20 plus points.) In comparison, the Clippers have three legitimate shot creators/scorers, the Cavaliers have three, possibly four, depending on how you feel about Dion Waiters, and the Spurs have at least six legitimate shot creators/scorers. If Rose is having a below average game, and Gasol plays just average basketball, the Bulls are an upset waiting to happen in the Playoffs.