Last night, I wrote an article about the events that I have seen over the last week or so about the direction of the Chicago Bulls. Even though the Bulls are riding a five game winning streak. Bulls management is in rebuilding mode. The reasons that they are giving remind me of another management regime. You see back in the 90′s, the Bulls did the same thing only the cast of characters were different. If you need me to be more specific, anyone remember the Bulls dynasty? I know there are so many Bulls fans that asked… “How in the world could management break up one of the greatest dynasties in NBA history? Well let’s take a look back shall we?
Let’s start at the top. Jerry Reinsdorf was the Chairman back then. That has not changed, but the General Manager that worked under him was Jerry Krause. Back then they were known as the “Jerrys”. Reinsdorf was known as one of the toughest negotiating owners of ALL sports (More on that later.) Jerry Krause was his right hand man. Even though the Bulls were winning their two three-peats in eight years during the 90′s, it was not all rosy in the United Center. (See any similarities?) Phil Jackson and Jerry Krause carried on a contentious relationship throughout the decade to the point that Phil Jackson would ban Krause from the locker room after games until he was finished talking with the players. After winning an all-time record 72 wins, Bulls management (aka Krause) decided to reward Phil Jackson with one year deals over the last two championship seasons. He did this all while trying to groom Tim Floyd as Phil Jackson’s replacement. Never mind the fact the Bulls were winning championships. Never mind that Tim Floyd had never coached a NBA game. I don’t think that went over very well in the Bulls locker room with veteran players. There was an obvious divide in philosophies on what made a winning team in the Bulls organization. Krause really endeared himself to the coaching staff and players with his infamous phrase “Organizations win championships.” Michael Jordan took that dig all the way to the Hall of Fame blasting Jerry Krause in his speech. After the Bulls won their sixth title, Phil was fed up (almost like a certain coach for the Bulls now) and rode off into the sunset on his Harley Davidson.
Hey Pippen Peoples, if you thought Joakim Noah was upset over the Deng trade, let me tell you about the Charles Oakley trade back in 1988. Oakley was Michael Jordan’s best friend on the team as well as his protector on the court. Well, he was traded to the New York Knicks for Bill Cartwright. Instead of being told about it they heard about it in the media. (Does any of this sound familiar?) After that trade, even though it did help the Bulls win their first three-peat, the distrust and hatred (this is not an exaggeration) Jordan had for Krause was palpable. Michael Jordan does have a small circle of people he trusts and he is fiercely loyal to them. Do you really think Noah, who took over a week to even discuss the trade is less loyal to Deng who he calls his brother? After the Bobcats game tonight Noah is quoted in saying “The game is more than business to him”. Think management feels the same?
Remember I stated that it seemed every player was rumored to be going somewhere else either by trade, amnesty or otherwise. Let’s see how the Bulls tore down the championship squad to clear cap space. Scottie Pippen who battled tooth and nail over his contract that he wanted renegotiated for years, but was ignored by Chairman Reinsdorf was gone via a sign and trade with the Houston Rockets. Luc Longley was traded to the Phoenix Suns. Michael Jordan retired when it was clear that Phil Jackson was not coming back to a “rebuilding” situation. Furthermore, he was surely not going to play for Tim Floyd, a coach that was hand-picked by Krause. Dennis Rodman was allowed to walk as a free agent. So with the big three gone along with Phil Jackson, the Bulls had plenty on cap space to go after free agents.
Part three of this series will go into what the Bulls did with all that cap space after breaking up the championship team and how things turned out.