By Robert Weihofen
As a kid, I used to rush to the TV for Bulls home games, just to make sure I could watch the iconic introduction with the booming PA Announcer reading off names. “From Kansas Kirk Hinrich”, “The man in the middle from Florida Joakim Noah”, “And from Chicago, Derrick Rose”. Now, I find myself mindlessly flipping through TV as a Bulls game approaches and wondering if I will even watch it.
The Bulls weren’t always a bottom of the league organization, but what went wrong to get us to this point?
The fault it not with just one person, or one era of the Bulls franchise, but it can be boiled down from a very complex web. Most fans are quick to jump and blame the Gar/Pax combo, as the hashtag is always popping up on Bulls Twitter. Yes, they are every bit of the problem as the next person, but equal blame comes in the form of their boss, Jerry Reinsdorf. Jerry’s inability to look past his friendship with both Forman and Paxson, along with what can only be assumed is her personal greed from the cash cow that is the Chicago Bulls, has lead his franchise down a path to where they are now.
Since taking over the team in 1985, he has turned the team into the cash cow it is now, and continues to live off the success of the 90’s era dynasty that was built with Michael Jordan. Now, we finally have a starting point for how it went downhill. Reinsdorf was a key player is breaking up the dynasty when he refused to bring back head coach Phil Jackson and star Michael Jordan. This is one if his earliest, and possibly most, controversial move as an owner. After the post Jordan era, we saw a team that stumbled through the early 2000’s with head coaching changes, questionable trades, and a lack of direction until they finally found some footing with Scott Skiles in the mid 2000’s, and then fell off once again.
Now, Paxson and Forman have had their hands all over this era as well, with Paxson serving as GM from 2003-2009, until he was promoted to his current role as President of Basketball Operations. As for Forman, he was a scout in the organization for many years until taking over as GM when Paxson was promoted in 2009. With both of them putting their heads together, they’ve made many questionable moves, such as trading LaMarcus Aldridge to the Trail Blazers after selecting him with the second overall pick in the 2006 NBA draft. They did however, with some sheer luck, land the first overall pick in the 2008 draft and take Chicago’s own Derrick Rose. This lead them to building one of the best teams since the Jordan era, and getting a head coach in Tom Thibodeau who looked like he could lead the team back to the promise land. Sadly, due to many injuries, and the duo of Gar/Pax striking again, the Bulls faded away into the background of the NBA once again.
This leads us up to the present day, where the Bulls said they had found “Their Guy” in Fred Hoiberg, but never built a roster to fit his style. And then fired him before he even got a chance to coach a healthy roster of players who fit his system. Now, they promote a guy without an interim title, see the team drop is almost every statistical category under the new coach, and reward him with a raise through next season. Yes, Boylen is a head coach and should be paid as one this year, no matter how bad he is, but guaranteeing him anything beyond this year is pure laughable. He has a much healthier roster than Hoiberg ever did with these current players, and is having them perform worse than Hoiberg ever did.
So, what went wrong? Well, a team that is owned by a man who has shown throughout his career he doesn’t care about results as long as you do as he says, you keep brining in the money, and he likes you, you keep your job is what went wrong. Until the Bulls find new ownership that will challenge the current status quo, and bring a winning culture to the city, the Bulls we continue to go down the path of becoming the worst run team in the NBA, if they aren’t there already.