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Posts Tagged ‘Jerry Krause’

Musings On The Chicago Bulls and the NBA

Posted by sportsmaven on April 21, 2008

The NBA playoffs started this weekend and noticeably absent are the Chicago Bulls. While the best teams in the NBA begin the “money” season, teams like the Milwaukee Bucks hire disciplinarian coaches like Scott Skiles. Other teams like the Chicago Bulls are holding their off season team meetings and wondering what to make of the mess of a wrecked season.

In the NBA, like other major professional sports leagues, teams win with a combination of athleticism/talent and desire. With talent and desire, you are the San Antonio Spurs or the Boston Celtics. With lack of athleticism/talent, but an abundance of desire, you can be teams like this year’s Philadelphia 76ers and in the past, teams like the Chicago Bulls. Teams with neither talent or desire become the Memphis Grizzlies or the New York Knicks.

What exactly happened with the Chicago Bulls this season? The Bulls were a team with little talent but with great desire. They worked, hustled, played defense according to the gospel of John Paxson and Scott Skiles. It brought the Bulls 49 wins last season, a playoff series win against the rapidly aging Miami Heat, and a heated playoff series loss to the Detroit Pistons. Entering this season, the Chicago Bulls had a high draft pick, compliments of the New York Knicks and all their starters returning from last season’s successful run. Many picked the Bulls to win the Eastern Conference and advance to the NBA Finals for the first time since the Michael Jordan era.

Then, two things happened that led to the downfall of this year’s team. First, Bulls GM John Paxson knew that he needed a superstar talent to lead this team. Every successful team in the NBA, short of the Detroit Pistons, have a superstar player, a team leader, the guy that will take over in crunch time of a game and impose the will to win on his teammates. Paxson missed badly on acquiring C Kevin Garnett from the Minnesota Timberwolves and whiffed a couple of times on trades for C Pau Gasol. Paxson had drafted some very nice complementary players from solid, winning college programs after cleaning up the mess left by previous Bulls GM Jerry Krause, but none had proven to be the superstar, athletic talent that teams require to compete in the upper echelon of NBA championship contenders. Paxson correctly determined that he needed to acquire that superstar player, and as timing would have it, during the NBA pre-season, Kobe Bryant, arguably the best player in the NBA was vocally unhappy with his situation and publicly stated he desire to get out of Los Angeles. To his credit, Paxson inquired about the availability of Kobe Bryant and rumors ran rampant over the airwaves. Bryant was sure to be traded, as there has been no love lost between Bryant and Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson, supposedly Jackson had enough with his moody star player. The table was set for a blockbuster deal with prime players identified from the Bulls being some combination of Luol Deng, Ben Gordon, Tyrus Thomas, Joakim Noah, Kirk Hinrich, and Ben Wallace. Luol Deng and Ben Gordon were also offered what each player considered lowball contract offers going into the preseason, but combined with the trade talks, led to a bad taste in every player’s mouths. In the end, the teams never came to terms on players and the deal fell through as the season began.

The second thing that happened was most likely residual from the events above, for some reason, most every player on the Bulls had stopped responding to the playing and coaching style that brought great success to the Bulls. The Bulls stopped hustling for loose balls, stopped playing hard nosed defense, lacked hustle, with team play virtually non-existent. Both Deng and Gordon admitted that the Kobe Bryant trade rumors plus the perceived lowball contract offers affected their play. Each played as through they had to individually prove they were worth not only bigger contracts, but to justify not being traded for Bryant. Their play dropped off dramatically, along with the other potential players in the trade, Kirk Hinrich, Ben Wallace, and Tyrus Thomas and the fate of Coach Scott Skiles and the Chicago Bulls was sealed.

So where does that leave the Bulls now? John Paxson had two of the most difficult tasks to complete in last year’s off-season. He needed to find a superstar, talented player and needed to move Ben Wallace and his albatross contract. Paxson was successful in unloading Wallace to the Cleveland Cavaliers after this season was lost, but has been glaringly unsuccessful in getting that superstar athletic stud talent, and without the high draft picks that can yield that player in the NBA draft. If the Bulls get lucky to land one of the top 2 picks and be in a position to get C Michael Beasley or G Derrick Rose, they can still leverage a combination of Larry Hughes, Kirk Hinrich, Ben Gordon, Luol Deng, or Drew Gooden to land a second superstar type player to fuel their rebuilding process. The Bulls need athletic, talented players that have the desire to compete and win every night and need to complement those players with a supporting cast of complimentary players. Right now, they have the complimentary players, but they still lack the superstar.

The Bulls also need a coach that will bring the team spirit back, a coach that can get the players to buy into the team concept once again. Rick Carlisle is available, as is Larry Brown as well as a slew of other ex-NBA coaches that work for ESPN, TNT, or any other network that employs ex-basketball coaches. This offseason is mission critical for GM John Paxson. If he doesn’t get it right, his next moves will be as ex-GM of the Chicago Bulls.

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Sportsmaven Invades Cincinnati

Posted by sportsmaven on October 8, 2007

222The plans for a road trip to Cincinnati were in full force on Friday night, even though the Cubs clinched a playoff berth by the combination of beating the Cincinnati Reds and a loss by the Milwaukee Brewers to the San Diego Padres. Saturday morning we packed ourselves into the car at 6am and made the trek to The Queen City from our north suburban Chicago home. Along the way, we encountered tons of screaming Cubs fans, who apparently had the same idea we had. For 4 1/2 hours, we dodged through the traffic of crazies so we could get to Cincinnati before they did. We finally rolled into the city and parked our car right outside the stadium and made our way to the ticket window, asking for the best seats available. For $65 , we got tickets in their Scouts Alley section, about 10 rows behind home plate, very nice seats indeed.

After being in the new Busch Stadium in St. Louis 2 weeks prior, my first impressions of The Great American Ballpark was that is was not nearly as nice. The park is on the Ohio River, with the back facing the river, but the very first thing I noticed was that the back of the park was closed — no view of the river. The park also had a sterile, cold feeling about it. It didn’t feel like the warm, friendly, inviting Midwestern ballpark that Busch Stadium was in St. Louis. Needless to say, I was quite disappointed. We enjoyed the game, saw Jerry Krause scouting the Cubs for the New Your Mets, had a wonderful server named Bernie, who kept us refreshed with cool drinks and some good ballpark food, and Rich Hill took a no-hitter into the 6th inning and pitched well. The Cubs won, the Reds fans were friendly, and the weather was tremendous.

As we made our way back to Chicago that evening (yes, we did this trip in a single day), my thoughts drifted back to Wrigley Field, the start of the NLDS, and the fact that my urge to go to Cincinnati was finally filled. I don’t think I would go back to that park again, (or Cincinnati for that matter) as I just didn’t find it compelling enough to make a repeat visit. Let the playoffs begin, thankfully, not in Cincinnati.

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Chicago Bulls Welcome Chandler Back With Open (More Like Closed) Arms

Posted by sportsmaven on March 4, 2007

Last night was Tyson Chandler’s first game in Chicago since he was traded by the Bulls to the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets during the past offseason. Believe it or not, Tyson is actually giving Kevin Garnett a run for the NBA rebounding title this season averaging 12.2 rpg this season. He also entered last night’s game with 10 double doubles — not for the season, but in a row. That’s impressive production for a guy who couldn’t do a thing last season for the Bulls. Glad Tyson is finally thriving, now he just needs to learn to shut up and play basketball and he wouldn’t be so misunderstood or misquoted in his interviews. By the way, is it just me, or are the Hornets trying to rebuild with former Chicago Bulls during the Bill Cartwright/Jerry Krause heyday loaded their roster with ex-Bulls Jannero Pargo, Linton Johnson III, in addition to Chandler. This can’t be a good sign for the depth of the Hornets bench.

Tyson Chandler Returns to ChicagoChicago Bulls Kirk Hinrich Torches Hornets
(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Tyson did pretty well last night for Tyson, scoring 10 points and grabbing 13 rebounds, statistically outplaying Bulls C Ben Wallace. Tyson did get to watch his three former amigos, Ben Gordon, Kirk Hinrich, and Luol Deng put up 27, 22, and 24 points respectively in the Bulls 104-93 win. The other notable of the game was that F Tyrus Thomas of the Bulls logged his 4th start of the season and finished with a decent line of 10 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks and a not so good 7 turnovers. He did have the sequence of the game though with a second quarter shot block followed by a one handed flying jam on the other end. I like that the Bulls are giving Tyrus Thomas a chance to play more, even to start, looking more and more like F Michael Sweetney is a goner at the end of the season.

One final note, providing a little bit of reality as a reminder of the past, Tyson did attempt a one handed jam with 44.2 seconds left in the game — and whiffed. Now that’s the Tyson I know and remember. Thanks for the memories, big guy.

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