The Bulls were supposed to be good this year, right? Hell, they knocked off the defending champion Miami Heat in the 1st round of the ’07 playoffs and put up a valiant effort in the 2nd round against the Pistons before ultimately bowing out in 6 games. Maybe it’s just me, but I really thought the Bulls had arrived after being able to put up a fight against an opponent whose leading scorer, Richard Hamilton, is known to wear a headband and mask at all times; even during casual sex and funeral parties
Their core of young talent was returning. Luol Deng had seemingly emerged as one of the elite players in the league. Hinrich, Gordan, and Nocioni all understood their rolls and were playing very well together. Ben Wallace was back to run around with a ridiculous fro and $14 million he didn’t deserve, but hey, he had dealt with his headband separation anxiety and occasionally grabbed rebounds, so no problems there. Scott Skiles had found a way to make all of the parts fit even though the Bullies lacked a dominating big man and a true “big time” scorer. He was praised for his game and bench management skills. People, including myself, were saying the Bulls would be one of the elite teams in the East.
Now, February is approaching and the Bulls are 14-22, with almost half of the season completed. They are 3.5 games behind the New Jersey Nets for the 8 seed in the East. Skiles is gone, and they just got crushed again last night by the Magic. Luol Deng isn’t quite living up to preseason expectations, and reports out of Chicago suggest that Benny the Bull, the team mascot, is a “big player” in meth trafficking on the city’s south side. Ok, the last part was a joke…..I think; nonetheless, I am confused and hurt by the Bulls’ ’08 campaign up to this point. A team that was supposed to be pretty good, or at least pretty decent, sucks pretty, pretty, pretty bad. The assholes who are a lot smarter than me haven’t given me answers about the Bulls current quandary. More importantly, trailing anything/anyone from New Jersey (in this case the Nets), regardless of situation or circumstance, is unacceptable and should automatically result in death, so I’m going to do some investigating and try to figure out where it all went wrong.
Here are some possibilities.
5. Some would argue that it hasn’t gone wrong. The Bulls have been notoriously slow starters the last few years and have always rebounded to make it into the playoffs. Moreover, the Eastern Conference is getting stronger. The Celtics and Pistons playing as well as anyone other team in the league and Orlando, Washington, Atlanta, and Toronto are decent. This combination could have created the problem, but that’s no fun, and I want to write a little more, so I’m going to dismiss this as improbable. (100-1)
4. The Bull’s lack of an inside presence and having to play 4 vs. 5 on offense (anytime Ben Wallace is on the court) might be the reason for their struggles. Relying on perimeter jump shooting can be devastating for an NBA team, and the Bull’s aren’t left with many options when you look at their roster. Deng has never been a post player, and Ben Wallace averages 4.4 pts and 2apg, so they aren’t getting anything on the block from those folks. Nocioni, well, I’m not sure what in the hell type of player he is, but I do know he’s not a big man. He just runs around the court cussing out refs in Argentinean and makes close to 8$ million dollars a year doing it. I always dreamed of being a big, Argentinean man as a young boy, but after watching him I realized I was just being young and naïve. (I have no idea what that means.)
Their backups in the front court are washed up or too young to make meaning contributions. This means they have to rely on ball movement, perimeter spacing, and a lot of motion to get good looks for their guards/small forwards. They can’t dump it down low to a big man who demands a double team and opens up better scoring opportunities. (75-1)
3. Skiles/Paxson could have been/might be the problem as well. Maybe Skiles’ coaching style was good in theory, but ultimately something that can’t be successful long term in the NBA. Playing so many players and relying on too much perimeter play is usually a disaster unless you have an extremely talented squad. (See Phoenix) Paxson, who everyone thought was bulletproof a couple years ago, has made some very questionable decisions recently, and I’m beginning to think he might not know what he’s doing. I guess I really only have the Wallace and Nocioni signings to make my case, but those might be enough.
Paxson’s firing of Skiles on Christmas Eve was pretty cold hearted, but I do understand where he’s coming from. It’s always better to get out of relationship with someone you know you’re done with before you have to buy them a gift. I dumped a girl the day before Valentine ’s Day in 7th grade, and nothing I’ve done since has matched the experience. I imagine Paxson was nervous and felt a little bad about doing it just as I had back in 7th grade. I also imagine Skiles also did some crying like the girl whose heart I broke. (50/1)
2. Scottie Pippen. I won’t bash on Scottie too much because I used to cry when the Bulls won championships. However, currently he seems to mess up anything he does, talks about, is associated with, has been associated with, thinks about, dreams about, touches, breathes on, farts on, walks past, or sleeps with. Hmm, I think I bashed Scottie a little too much. Anyway, he’s been making some asinine comments lately about coaching the Bulls, so he might be the reason for their problems. Oh, he also plays basketball in Finland, and comes out to the Bull’s intro music while little Finnish people stand up and clap from him like he’s the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ (or Michael Jordan.) I’d post the video, but I’m sure most of you have already seen it on Deadspin. If you haven’t, you’re a big loser and your parents told me they think you’re gay. (25/1)
1. Joakim Noah. All of the other possible reasons for the Bulls’ struggles are decent, but this is the betting favorite. It all started when David Stern announced Chicago had drafted Noah. He was wearing a fucking bow-tie. He looked like the tool who decides to be all random and go as Tucker Carlson to a Halloween party. Pulling a move like that is never acceptable. Seriously, I knew it was over when I saw him standing on the stage in that ridiculous tie.
I hate him with a passion. I find no one on this earth more annoying, and his teammates must feel the same way. They, not the Bulls coaching staff or management, unanimously voted to suspend Noah for an additional game for “conduct detrimental to the team” this past week. What in the hell must he have done/said to have a group of NBA players, who obviously don’t give a shit about anything, hold a private meeting and unanimously vote to suspend him? Maybe it wasn’t something as bad as I think. The team could have just decided he was annoying as hell and suspended him for that reason alone.
Billy Donovan chimed in on the issues and said he knows “Jo would never be selfish” and that his suspension was related to his frustration with losing. He went on to say that Jo has to realize that “he’s now a professional and that things are different at that level.”
Ok, so let me get this straight; this is from the guy who backed out of a signed deal with the Orlando Magic this summer in one of the most unprofessional moves I’ve seen in a long time? Yea, I think that’s the Billy Donovan I’m thinking of. Of course he’s the human being vouching for Noah, as they’re both at the top of any “Biggest Jackasses of ‘07” list.
So ya, I think Jo’ is the problem.. Once the Bulls cut Noah, they will start winning a bunch of games. (1/1000)