Thursday, July 7, 2016

Huh?

When it's not baseball season, the Chicago Bulls are my favorite team. I have lived and died with them repeatedly. The way all fans do.

Dating back to the days of Walker, Boerwinkle, Love, Van Lier and Sloan, I have relished their traditional emphasis on defense, and was thrilled to see it resurrected twenty years later, headed by some kid from North Carolina whose name escapes me at present.

Another twenty years later, hope again spiraled out of control when a young nucleus of Luol Deng, Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah produced the NBA's best record over the course of the 2010/11 season. 

It was hard to believe the glory days weren't back.

Of course, the season's first three and four-game losing streaks in the midst of the Eastern Conference Finals put an end to that. Add a career-altering knee injury to Rose one year later, and the glory days were something for other people to enjoy.

In other words, the ephemeral and capricious nature of championships had become startlingly and painfully clear.

With that team now scattered to the four winds, the rebuilding has begun anew—kind of.

With a stated goal of becoming younger and more athletic, the Bulls used this year's first-round draft pick on Denzel Valentine, a talented and promising guard from Michigan State.

Check.

Then free-agency opened. You should know the Bulls have done notoriously poorly for a team of their renown, with just Carlos Boozer and Pau Gasol to show for their extracurricular wooing.

Until this year.

The Bulls have evidently changed course, and decided they're a team on the cusp of a championship. In one week, they have successfully pursued (and signed) thirty-year-old Rajon Rondo and thirty-four year-old Dwyane Wade.

Now, Mr. Wade is a player as talented as his name is misspelled. A sure-fire Hall of Famer. The winner of three NBA championships. The lineage is faultless.

Mr. Rondo is also highly regarded, named to numerous all-star teams and the winner of an NBA championship with the vaunted Boston Celtics. He is a triple-double waiting to happen.

Either could be the tipping point that pushes a team on the verge into serious contention.

But the Bulls aren't. In the words of GM Gar Forman, they're retooling. Getting younger. More athletic. Aren't they? 

It's hard to see how the additions of two guards in their thirties constitutes a youth movement, unless we're competing in an over-fifty league at the YMCA.

The glut at guard is unfathomable. Do the Bulls have a secret? Are they going to trade Jimmy Butler? Move him to small forward?

Who knows.

It's hard to admit The Man matters. But he does. Look at the Cubs under the custody of Tom Ricketts and Theo Epstein. I can only hope the Bulls' brain trust of John Paxson and Gar Forman knows what the hell they're doing.

Jerry Reinsdorf obviously does.

But as the folk who let Deng, Gasol and Noah walk away virtually scot-free, and who replaced one of the league's premier coaches with an untested—but servile—lapcat, you have ample reason to wonder.

And I do.


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