Do You Remember? is a new series from PIPPEN AIN’T EASY that highlights former Chicago Bulls who didn’t ever make headlines or legendary stints with the Bulls, but nevertheless gave their sweat and blood to be a part of Bulls Nation.
Tyrus Thomas: Renegade Bull
Tyrus Thomas’s time as a Bull was limited, and that has its upsides and downsides. He was here a mere four years before getting shipped out to Charlotte, which both at the time and in hind sight, honestly felt like the right decision for the Bulls.
Was he a bad guy to have on your team? No. Was he going to be a center piece and be a major building block? Sadly, no.
He gave Bulls fans some memories to remember his time here. Who can forget the Slam Dunk contest where he leaped over teammate Ben Gordon? Afterall, he is technically on Derrick Rose status being he Thomas was the first Bull since one of the greats (in this case Scottie Pippen) to participate in the Slam Dunk Contest.
But also, who can forget his very un-Pippen like comments after said contest. The Bulls fined him $100,000 for saying he just did the contest for the cash.
That was the problem with Thomas, he wasn’t consistent and he was never really the lockerroom guy either. Like many guys drafted out of college, the potential is the selling point and there is no doubting that Thomas (taken 4th overall by Portland) had the potential to be something great. I wouldn’t personally say he wasn’t talented, but I would rather have kept LaMarcus Aldridge.
When Thomas came to Chicago, he was paired with Luol Deng, Ben Gordon, Ben Wallace and a talented Bulls team. He produced and his time spent in Chicago wasn’t by any means a wash. But he didn’t ever seem like a long term guy. When the Bulls drafted Taj Gibson out of USC, it was clear right away Thomas’ days in the Windy City were numbered. The move was a bit odd given Thomas was still young and bursting with potential, but it smoothed itself out; especially when Thomas got hurt at the wrong time and gave Gibson a chance to explode.
He has to be thanked for his time, as had he not played here who knows what the Bulls would look like now. He paved the way for Taj Gibson who is one of the best bench guys in the league and an ace alternative. He accomplished all he could in a Bulls uniform and proof of that was his performance when paired with what is now the solidified version of the Bulls lineup.
He played in a lineup with Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Luol Deng. The best that combo was capable of under Vinny Del Negro’s leadership was 41-41 and a second place finish in the division.
Had Thomas stayed in Chicago and operated under Tom Thibodeau’s system would he have flourished as the other members of the Bulls he played with have? Who’s to say he wouldn’t have? But Thomas isn’t a bench guy. He wouldn’t have fit the mantra of the Bench Mob in Chicago because he is capable of being a starter. That flame of talent isn’t extinguished yet and when the Bobcats paid him a fat contract, I knew it was justified. Thomas wasn’t going to be the face of Chicago; he wasn’t going to be leading Bulls Nation in a playoff rally cry.
He was never going to be numbero uno.
But in the right setting, like Charlotte, and with the right leadership and players around him, Tyrus Thomas can be a part of something special; part of a winning machine. He left Chicago injured, and that in addition to having Taj Gibson made the good-bye less painful, but it didn’t mean letting him go was easy. Whenever a team lets go of a potential stud it’s a tough decision.
He’s not a Bull now, but he always will be. Not in the sense of a Jordan or a Pippen or even a Purdue. But Tyrus Thomas wore Bulls colors and gave his soul to fighting for the squad. Life’s a funny thing and it doesn’t always work out the way you want.
But Tyrus Thomas is a stud the Bobcats need to become legitimate. Thomas is a key player that the Bobcats need to become what Michael Jordan wants them to be.
Tyrus Thomas is a renegade Bull, on the loose in the great state of North Carolina.