Congratulations to the Chicago Bulls. They made a meaningless playoff run, were squashed under the considerable foot of LeBron James and his band of merry men, lost a chance, no matter how small, at Evan Turner, and now have to switch draft picks with Milwaukee.
Wear The Horns!
On a serious note, the ax that all Bulls fans were waiting for, and had predicted virtually from the day the man was hired, fell with a resounding crash yesterday. The biggest anchor in the development path of franchise PG Derrick Rose was tossed overboard.
Vinny Del Negro was canned painfully, and with extreme prejudice, by John "The Boxer" Paxson.
Bulls fans had repeatedly railed against Del Negro, the media, and everyone in between.
Vinny was a bad head coach.
It's not something that people say very often, because almost every coach has something to fall back on, such as Tex Winter and his Triangle offense. Del Negro, however, was just awful which, if you think about it, makes his selection, after the firing of Scott Skiles and the no-chance interim job of Jim Boylan, even more egregious.
Ironically, one of the gentlemen being considered for the Bulls job, former Nets coach Lawrence "Don't call me Larry" Frank, was in the exact same situation.
Frank, who had never been a head coach anywhere, made history as the Nets coach by winning 13 games in a row back in 2004.
But he actually knew what he was doing.
Hard to believe, I know. But before we put New Jersey's former coach in the Red Auerbach/Phil Jackson stratosphere, let it be known that Frank had problems once Vince Carter revealed himself to be a villain and Jason Kidd went away. Frank was fired earlier this season after an 0-16 start but, really, his destiny was sealed once Devin Harris made the idiotic "we knew we were going to be a playoff team" prediction.
Del Negro and the Bulls only reached the playoffs this season because Toronto fell on their face, no pun or insult to Chris Bosh intended. Free agent pick up Hedo Turkoglu was horrendous, Andrea Bargnani continued to underachieve and the rest of the Raptors played the role of Phil Selway. Look up Phil Selway, and you'll get my meaning.
Had Toronto made the post-season, the Bulls might have avoided handing their pick to Milwaukee, which will probably be in the mid-20's (Milwaukee's, not Chicago's). Del Negro would still have been fired, as nothing short of an act of God, Buddha or whoever you believe in would have saved his job. After that Sacramento game, he was fired harder than Nicolette Sheridan.
Why Paxson let Vinny keep his job directly following that debacle will be debated among academics until the end of time. Wait, no it won't.
What will be discussed, however, is why Paxson hired him in the first place.
Paxson's anger over playing Joakim Noah is well understood, regardless of how you look at it. Whether you take the cynical view, that Paxson was protecting Jerry Reinsdorf's investment, or the humane view, that Paxson was genuinely concerned about Noah's well-being, the facts remain. Vinny was overplaying a big man, one of the only big men the Bulls have, who had planter fasciitis.
This decision angered Paxson, so he and Vinny threw fisticuffs. After that, Vinny had no chance regardless of what happened.
As Dan Bernstein said repeatedly, the Bulls could have won the championship and Vinny would have been fired during the parade to Grant Park.
And let's not talk about Del Negro's treatment of James Johnson. A FIRST-ROUND PICK SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO PLAY. Let's see what he's got. Not these 1 and 2 minute stints. The last thing a first round pick should do is record trillons (in the newspaper column, a minute stat followed by a line of zeros.)
Vinny had no idea how to develop talent. None. So, I'm hoping the Bulls hire Avery Johnson. I think that would be wonderful, as he got trashed in Dallas for doing the exact same thing Rick Carlisle just did. I'm a fan of redemption stories, and what better story than Avery Johnson leading the Bulls back into the the NBA elite?
Personally, the news isn't so much anti-climatic as it is well past due. As an example, I give you the Randy Orton/Priceless situation.
In that situation, Randy Orton capped off a heel beatdown by hitting Dusty Rhodes with an RKO. Some time later, Priceless turned on Orton, way too little and way too late. That's what this is like: It happened long after it would have mattered.
Much like the firing of Vinny Del Negro.
Worse, this playoff run meant precisely nothing. Not one damned thing. Last year the Bulls were fighting the evil empire known as the Boston Celtics and took them to seven games, which was an accomplishment and was rightfully talked about.
This year, without Ben Gordon, there was no chance this would happen. That the Bulls took a vastly more talented Cleveland team to five games without a real head coach, both their big men playing in pain and Derrick Rose going up against James at times isn't an accomplishment, it's a joke.
This team didn't belong in the post season to begin with. They should have taken a shot at the lottery, found a taker for Luol Deng, and gotten a big guy. But it won't happen because of this idiotic playoff run that did nothing, was nothing, and will be quickly forgotten except as an epitaph for one of the worst coaches the Chicago Bulls, and the NBA in general, will ever see.
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