Jerry Reinsdorf doesn’t do very many interviews. Not with the Chicago White Sox, certainly not with the Chicago Bulls. Jerry Reinsdorf woke up early this morning and gave Mike North and Dan Jiggets an interview on their Comcast Sports “Monsters In The Morning” TV show. It seems to have been a bit of a disaster, at least for Bulls head coach Vinny Del Negro.
Chicago Bulls head coach Vinny Del Negro wipes his face as he watches his team play. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
In the interview, North gets into the meat of the conversation with Reinsdorf
Mike North: Where would you rate this season?
Jerry Reinsdorf: You want the grade up till today? What’s the lowest grade you can give? This has been a disaster. It’s embarrassing. But it will get better.
Nearly 200 miles away, the Bulls were getting ready for their matchup against the Sacramento Kings. After their shoot around, Del Negro was asked about Reinsdorf’s assessment. Chicago Sun-Times staff reporter John Jackson writes in his article in today’s Sun-Times:
“That’s just Jerry trying to motivate and trying to get guys going,” Del Negro said. “Jerry wants to win just like every owner, every coach. It’s not easy. Managing expectations and developing and all those things are very easy to talk about, but they’re hard to do and they take time. Some people are more patient than others.”
I think Vinny got about three quarters of that comment correct. It is very difficult to manage expectations. Yes, Jerry Reinsdorf does want to win, and yes, some people are more patient than others. The motivation part of the statement I absolutely don’t buy one bit. Honesty is what it is. Motivation is definitely what it’s not. It certainly isn’t easy to manage the average ego of an NBA player. It definitely isn’t easy to manage that ego if you’re a rookie head coach who supposedly carries the label of a “players coach”. Jerry isn’t the guy that is going to motivate players. DelNegro is that guy and if he needs Reinsdorf to motivate, that’s an indictment of Del Negro not getting the job done. It isn’t an easy job, ask Scott Skiles.
The next part of the conversation is what really disturbed me. Jackson’s transcript of the interview continues with this exchange:
Dan Jiggetts: How comfortable are you with John at the helm?
Jerry Reinsdorf: When you have a team that’s not performing it’s an organization failure. You win and you lose as an organization. But if there’s one person that is not responsible for what’s going on right now, it’s John Paxson. I have tremendous confidence in John Paxson. He’s really one of the best people that I know. He’s a great general manager and a great judge of talent. I just worry that he not be too hard on himself. He takes all of this very, very seriously.
Mike North: To say that he’s not at all responsible … he brought in the players. So are the players not being coached up?
Jerry Reinsdorf: I have a lot of thoughts about that but they’re not thoughts that I really can say publicly. All I know is what we have right now is not good and we have to get it better. They are playing hard in the last half-dozen or so games. We had some games where…
Mike North: You knew they were mailing it in.
Jerry Reinsdorf: They were mailing it in and I felt like standing up and booing along with everybody else. They’re not mailing it in anymore.
This exchange to me, shows how ridiculous Reinsdorf can be sometimes. The organizations win and lose mantra starts from the top on down. I didn’t hear Reinsdorf say it starts with him. He definitely doesn’t hold Bulls GM John Paxson accountable. It all ends right there with Del Negro holding the bag of stink. North tried to take it right back at Reinsdorf, suggesting that it might be coaching and Reinsdorf, with the eloquent defense for his general manager, offered no such grace for his head coach.
This whole exchange reminds me of the end of the movie, Titanic. The ship has hit the iceberg and everyone in charge realizes the ship will eventually sink. The ship’s captain (Del Negro), doing the honorable thing, locks himself in the bridge, planning to go down with his ship. The ship’s archtect (Paxson) is last seen standing on the slanted deck of the first class lounge adjusting a clock that stopped, his fate sealed by the iceberg. It is implied that he too, goes down with the ship. The ship’s owner (Reinsdorf), who gave the order to speed through the oceans dotted with the icebergs, sheepishly jumps in a lifeboat and saves his life as the ship goes under. See the parallels? Accountability starts at the top. Reinsdorf hired Paxson. Paxson hired Del Negro. Reinsdorf signed off on Del Negro. Reinsdorf is as much a cause of the “disaster” as Paxson and Del Negro. If he says that instead of that jibberish he said this morning, I would have more faith in his management skills, but alas, it’s yet another example of a lack of leadership and accountability at the top of organizations. By the way, Bulls analysts Norm Van Lier and Kendall Gill both agree with me. They said it themselves on tonight’s Bulls Postgame show.
Finally, do you think for a single moment that anyone wearing a red and black uniform really gives a damn about what Jerry Reinsdorf says? Do you think that Ben Gordon read that interview and suddenly got motivated to drop 50 on the Kings, or to play a little defense? Do you think Tyrus Thomas or Joakim Noah, or Derrick Rose watched that interview and felt the need to break down the doors to the hotel to sprint to the ARCO Arena to pound the Kings into submission tonight? Only in your sweetest of dreams.
P.S. The Chicago Bulls pounded the Sacramento Kings 109-88. Maybe the Bulls were listening a little bit to Reinsdorf….nah, I don’t think so.