Except for the short stint with Derrick Rose before his injuries, can you name a Chicago Bulls team or era that was great that doesn’t involve Michael Jordan? The Bulls are the 4th most valuable team in the NBA – Forbes estimates the value at 3.2 billion. They are in a large market, but the reason their arena is sold out, tv rights are valuable, and their merchandise always sells the same – Michael Jordan.
The shine Jordan’s Bulls have is still so intense that most of us don’t consider the dirty little secret that the Bulls were rarely a leading organization. They lucked into Michael Jordan in 1984. The dynasty was set with one excellent Draft year – GM Jerry Krause made tremendous moves in 1987 by selecting Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant. From that point on, it was just not messing up around MJ.
They again lucked into Derrick Rose – the Bulls had a 1.7% chance of getting the no.1 pick that year, and they landed it in a year when the consensus best player was from Chicago. Unfortunately, Rose spent more time rehabbing than playing. Suppose you want to count the Jimmy Butler moment; why the hell not. Even with all of that, the Bulls have been a below-average organization for a majority of the time. Kevin Garnett described it best when explaining why he never considered the Bulls as a player.
“I don’t really have a why. There was never an opportunity to, and I saw how Jerry (Reinsdorf), how they did Mike, you know, keeping it 100 (% truthful). And all players keep that in the back of their minds. If you treat the greatest like this … the greatest didn’t even have a chance to come back and have ownership. What he invested to build the Bulls, he didn’t even get a chance to come back and reap the benefits of that, so … players see that and remember that or put that in the back of their minds. At least I did.”
Kevin Garnett, The Chicago Tribune
Garnett said that’s a significant part of why the Bulls can’t sign star free agents. Today more than ever, players are taking everything into account and value good leadership and management. They need to trust the owner, GM, and the coach. On top of that, the best want every stop in their career to work towards their post-basketball plan. When fans buy a #fireGarPax billboard during All-Star weekend in your city, that’s all you need to know. Luckily for the fans, there were significant changes in their management after last season to bring back the old fame to once a storied franchise.