The tweet above was from media day leading into the 2017-2018 Chicago Bulls season. Gar/Pax routinely spoke about building a culture in Chicago, but what kind of culture were they trying to build? The Bulls traded Jimmy Butler, their then 3-time All-Star, to Minnesota for the potential of Zach LaVine – regarded as a volume scorer and great athlete – Kris Dunn, and the 7th pick which became Lauri Markkanen. This happened June 22nd, 2017. I remember sitting with friends watching the draft and finding out about it on Twitter before it was announced. I went silent.
“See Red” Fred Pfeiffer, recently declared Tom Thibodeau second on his seven most overrated Chicago Bulls of all-time. Fred, who is sometimes delusional in his Chicago Bulls optimism, has been on the attack for several years in regards to Thibs’ time with the Bulls. Was Thibodeau really overrated? Did Thibs run his players into the ground? Was Thibs unwilling to shift into the modern era? Let’s answer each question individually.
When the Bulls traded Derrick Rose last year, I wasn’t exactly heartbroken. Some fans were and they proclaimed that he was their guy and they would keep supporting him. Forgive me, but I’d rather eat a roach infested cake out of a dumpster than cheer for the New York Knicks in any fashion (except for the movie “Eddie”). Rose was gone, the Rose-era was dead, and the Bulls were moving on.
I know, I know. This argument has been beaten to death. I’ve written about it twice myself: First, back in 2011 after LeBron melted down against the Mavericks, again in 2012 after LeBron won his first championship, again after LeBron said there was a ghost in Chicago he was chasing, and then after the 2016 Finals, in which LeBron’s last three games cemented his legacy as at least a top 10 player of all-time. But factors such as LeBron’s longevity, a growing generation of basketball fans that never experienced watching Michael Jordan play or never experienced watching him play for the Bulls, the YouTube generation and countless talking heads coronating LeBron James as the king of the NBA all-time makes this argument worth revisiting.
Nick Anderson stole the ball from a rusty Michael Jordan wearing #45. Nick Anderson told reporters after the game: “No. 45 doesn’t explode like No. 23 used to. No. 45 is not No. 23. I couldn’t have done that to No. 23.” There was doubt that the Bulls could ever be those Bulls again, that Jordan’s time had passed, and the new generation was about to assert its place in NBA lore. However, Michael Jordan wasn’t ready to relinquish his throne just yet. Brandon re-lives the beginning of the second three-peat.