You see that picture? Those were the good ol' days. Back when high-flying Mike orchestrated the Bulls and turned them into a dynasty. Back when everyone took notice of the Bulls, even David Stern.
Mike was happy, Stern was happy, and of course Jerry was. The money was coming in and everyone was feeling good. The NBA was profiting and the Bulls were not only turning into a franchise powerhouse but a profitable one also, as one of the most bankable franchises along with Los Angeles and New York. However, things have changed now.
Now everyone takes notice of the Bulls, albeit for all of the wrong reasons.
This is what happens when money and bad decisions take precedence over winning. We are all seeing what happens when the big heads get big-headed, and turn a franchise into a laughing stock.
From Jerry Krause to Jerry Reinsdorf, from Tim Floyd to Jim Boylan and now to My Cousin Vinny—bad decision after bad decision and now the reality becomes apparent. It isn't the players or the coaches who have mishandled the team; it's management. We've been down this road before haven't we? Let's take a not so good ride down memory lane.
Remember that 1999-2000 Bulls team that won 17 games? The starting lineup looked something like this: Elton Brand, Dickey Simpkins, Ron Artest, Hersey Hawkins, and Randy Brown. It was supposed to be a rebuilding period, post-Jordan, with Jerry Krause at the helm. Elton Brand was on his way to becoming co-rookie of the year with Steve Francis. All eyes were supposed to be on the big summer free agency of 2000; things looked bad, but promising.
Instead, the big heads screwed it up again. Failing to use all of the so-called cap space cleared out to land anybody significant and instead coming up with the likes of Ron Mercer and Marcus Fizer. In 2000-2001 the Chicago Bulls starting lineup looked like this: Elton Brand, Brad Miller, Ron Artest, Fred Hoiberg, and Bryce Drew. The result? A 15-67 record.
Finally in 2001-2002 Jerry about had enough with the team and decided to start over...again. This time by trading a sure thing in Elton Brand to the Clippers for a project in Tyson Chandler.
These are moves that get you fired, moves that get you hate mail from fans, moves that any competent GM would not make on a bad day. As a result Mr. Krause stepped down at the end of the season.
So here we are in 2009 embarking on 2010 and, eerily, in the same position. We have oddly the same kind of GM that screwed up the Bulls' chances nine years ago. It's funny how things come full circle, isn't it?
What happened to this franchise?
We're in an era in Bulls history now where cutting cost seems to be the norm and winning now seems to be the afterthought. If this season implodes for the Chicago Bulls, as it appears that it might, everything will be tied back to Jerry Reindsdorf, in the same way it was with Jerry Krause.
Krause wanted the flexibility, he wanted the cap space, and he was willing to do anything to get it.
He wanted the adoration of Bulls fans for finally making a good decision, even if it meant following his own instincts instead of listening to the people that kept his pockets fat. Even if it meant trading half your team to get it, even if it meant trading your sure-thing No. 1 pick, Elton Brand.
Still, many will look back and say that it was the Bulls players in those seasons as well as now, who give half an effort, and it is why the losing continues. It is those fans who also see the glass as half-full instead of half-empty.
Here is the reality: Reindsdorf hired a rookie coach on a rookie salary for a reason other than basketball, because you can't expect a rookie coach to come in and coach with the emphasis on getting something out of the season on his first go-around. You see where that has gotten the team.
We know that attendance is not Jerry's main concern as an effect of losing because Chicago has always ranked in the top percentage in average attendance, according to Street & Smiths business daily article.
If attendance is steady, and money is steady, where is the urgency to change anything major? If it's not broke don't fix it, right? Well, you're wrong, Jerry. You're very, very wrong. It's definitely broken, and it's been broken for quite some time now.
In any case, it's clear to see that something isn't right at the top. Basketball is just as much entertainment as it is a business and it's not a stretch for anyone to see that the moves this GM makes stinks of greed.
Trading away your star shooter in Ben Gordon and hiring Vinny seem to be ways to save money, but is this really the best option? Is the gamble really going to pay off? Reinsdorf should hope so, or he could end up like that other Jerry guy, and a rotation full of Marcus Fizers and Ron Mercers instead of future Hall of Famers and All-Stars.
For Bulls fans, it's a tough time but here's a trick you can try at home: Just pretend the guy in the picture to Phil Jackson's immediate right along with the six trophies never happened.