"With the first pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, The Chicago Bulls select...Derrick Rose! Point Guard, from the University of Memphis!"
I was just one of many Bulls fans who questioned this pick, wanting the Bulls to take Michael Beasley.
The Bulls had a point guard. His name was Kirk Hinrich, and while he wasn't a great PG by any stretch, he was serviceable, especially since Ben Gordon and Lol—I'm sorry, I mean Luol—Deng were the team's designated scorers, especially Gordon.
Beasley was a once in a lifetime talent. The sky was the limit, because Beasley was and is special. He could rebound, score, and his defense was minimal, like nearly all great potential scorers (I don't like Kobe Bryant, but he's a prime example of this. He made himself, through sheer force of will, into one of the NBA's most dominant players, and went from not knowing what defense was into one of the NBA's best defenders).
Why would we need Rose? Simple. John Paxson decided this for us when he signed Luol to a six-year, $71 million deal.
This was mind-boggling, and it was a stupid decision with Ben Gordon heading for free agency.
With the selection of Rose, it may have meant the backcourt was undersized and, as a result, would be dominated by Kobe Bryant and other big guards. But it also meant that Rose wouldn't have to score in his rookie year, he could simply play the Steve Nash game, pass the ball a bunch, and it would be a cakewalk to the Rookie of the Year award.
However, a worse signing would pretty much derrick (no pun intended) the Bulls' chances of truly competing in the Central Division, never mind the Eastern Conference.
On Jul. 19th, 2008, Vinnie Del Negro was introduced as the coach of the Chicago Bulls. I said at the time that while I hoped he would be good, I figured he'd be awful because most coaches who get their first coaching job suck at it, but especially those whose first coaching jobs are in the NBA.
Phil Jackson's first coaching job wasn't in the NBA. But before he made it big as the coach of the Chicago Bulls (and not of the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers, as some people would have you believe), Phil was the championship winning coach of the Albany Patroons of the CBA (which, by the way, no longer exists thanks to a certain idiot coaching down in Florida) and other jobs that he doesn't talk much about, but that's because no one asks him.
Del Negro figured to have it easy in his first season. After all, all NBA fans that have watched a game over the past four years know that LeBron James, Dwight Howard, and Dwyane Wade dominate the Eastern Conference with iron fists, but the rest of the conference sucks (No offense, Atlanta and Boston, but I'm talking about individual players).
So not only did he not have it easy, but he basically screwed up the Chicago Bulls. Of course, they didn't win the year before under the hard-nosed Scott Skiles, and Skiles is notoriously tough to get along with, but people WIN with him (Well, not the Bucks, but that's what happens when you commit to that paean of durability, Michael Redd, and not TJ Ford. Or later, Brandon Jennings).
Skiles was fired on Christmas Eve, 2007, in a stunning display of disrespect with the team 9-16 in the Eastern Conference. Thus, still in the playoff race.
Personally, after Jim Boylen was canned, I wanted Avery Johnson. But apparently no one listens to the fans, which is not a complete surprise as Jerry Reinsdorf has made a character trait of doing exactly what he wants to do, and all it's ever gotten him is seven championships.
So when Vinnie was hired, I sighed, put my head in my hands, and said, "Boy, this was a bad decision."
Michael Jordan has always seemed to me to be the Terminator. Not the one from the last few movies, but the invincible one from the first movie. But, much like when Linda Hamilton operates the crusher on him, he went away. Without a franchise player, or a team that's all on the same page like the 2004 Pistons, you don't have a chance.
That's what Rose was drafted to be. A franchise player. The kind we all thought Beasley could be.
But you can't be a franchise player if the blanking coach either isn't any good or doesn't know what the hell he's doing and thus, is standing directly in your way. Del Negro qualifies on both counts. He is routinely out-coached, his team looks like they don't give a crap, and last weekend, with LeBron James thinking he was on Soul Train and Jarret Jack tying his shoe while the frigging clock ran out, was the last straw.
But no, it gets worse. Del Negro's biggest sin is that he doesn't win. Does. Not. Win.
Byron Scott was fired because his team screwed him over. But he won. Last year, though, the Denver Nuggets backhanded them, and the embarrassment carried over into this season for some reason. So when Scott started 3-6, he was canned. Am I the only one who sees how ridiculous that firing truly was?
Speaking of the Hornets, what the hell right does Rajon Rondo have talking trash to CP3? Hell, if I played with KG, PP34, and Ray-Ray, I'd get a $55 million contract, too. The thing is, they'll be gone in a few years...what do I do then?
Also, Chris Paul plays with David West, Emeka Okafor—who really isn't that good—an old Peja Stojakovic, and journeymen. Rondo plays with Rasheed Wallace, Glen Davis, Eddie House, and others coming off the bench. How do you think he'd play with The Big Three?
Oh, right...they'd probably challenge the Bulls' 72-10 record. As The Rock said, "know your role and shut your mouth."
Getting back to the Bulls, let's ask a question.
Do the positives about Del Negro outweigh the negatives? My belief has always been that if the negatives outweigh the positives, you need a new coach, pronto. So, what are the positives about Del Negro? Anything? Anything at all?
Nothing? Well, you know what has to be done. The question is, can it be done? And if so, is it too late to save the career of James Johnson before this jerk destroys it? Can Derrick Rose become the player he was meant to be, and can we get rid of Tyrus Thomas? Can winning become a luxury, and not a struggle?
As long as this man is the coach of the Chicago Bulls, that answer will be no.