Bulls’ President John Paxson deemed this past week for the Bulls as ‘positive,’ but he is on a very lonely island in that regard. After a week that proved the Bulls to be the laughing stock of the league between record-setting losses, player mutiny and machismo from new Head Coach Jim Boylen, the Bulls are in one of their worst spirals as an organization in a decade.
“He’s pretty old school and rigid. Not really a players’ coach. He couldn’t really communicate with guys, especially younger guys. He’s stuck in one way when the league has changed.
– Former Chicago Bulls player talking about Jim Boylen to Amico Hoops
— Daniel Greenberg (@ChiSportUpdates) December 13, 2018
This vortex of doom does not look like it is ending anytime soon and that is an unfortunate reality for Bulls fans. The family-run organization is not changing their ways, and it seems as though John Paxson and Gar Forman will be Bulls employees for as long as Jerry Reinsdorf is the owner of the franchise.
However, the Bulls were not the only team in town with organizational stubbornness and loyalty to those who did not deserve it. No, I am not talking about the White Sox. I am talking about the Chicago Bears.
Starting in 2012, the Bears were also in a similar downward spiral, allowing wrong decision after wrong decision to ultimately leave them with Phil Emery, Marc Trestman and an over-involved President in Ted Phillips. But while Phillips has been President of the Bears since 1999, in 2015, under the leadership of favorite son George McCaskey, the Bears finally admitted they had been doing things all wrong.
After the 2014 season, ending with a pissed off Virginia McCaskey and a 5-11 record, the Bears finally admitted that their philosophy and direction were flawed. They needed help.
Isn’t that the first step? Admitting you have a problem?
The Bears did something the Bulls would have and never have been able to do. They hired an outside consultant in long-time football executive Ernie Accorsi and hired their new General Manager in Ryan Pace.
And while John Fox wasn’t exactly Pace’s first choice, now in season three of his tenure, he has his hand-picked coach in Matt Nagy and the Bears are in first place with a division crown in their sights.
The Bears finally realized that the way they ran their organization was wrong, and from a football perspective, stripped it down to the core, with Ryan Pace installing his methods and philosophy by taking complete ownership of football operations. There was a breath of fresh air in the organization.
The Bulls need to realize that they too need a fresh perspective in the organization and take a page out of the Bears playbook and start over.
However, I am afraid they never will.
John Paxson has been a Bulls front office employee since 2003, serving as President and an on again off again General Manager with the help of his surrogate Gar Forman, who plays the scapegoat every few years when the Bulls struggle.
How can an organization keep the same decision maker for 15 seasons, without one trip to the NBA Finals and also give him the ability to now have hired his 5th coach?
Most NBA General Managers rarely get a chance to hire a second coach. Bulls fans have seen Paxson hire Scott Skiles, Vinny Del Negro, Tom Thibodeau, his personal choice Fred Hoiberg, and now Jim Boylen.
The coaching carousel along with reports of a toxic culture lead many to understand how and why an incredible destination and global franchise like the Chicago Bulls, is simply passed over time and time again by marquee free agents. What’s left is an organization that has a couple of really nice pieces in Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn, Wendell Carter Jr. and Zach Lavine, but will continually be stuck with always signing the Carlos Boozer of a free agent class, should they keep their organizational structure with Forman and Paxson in place.
Lauri Markannen scores the game winner.
Chicago missed you, Lauri. pic.twitter.com/mwMNe1TVqW
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) December 8, 2018
Like the Bears and George McCaskey, Michael Reinsdorf currently runs the day-to-day operations for the Bulls and needs to be given the freedom and or permission from his father to make a change at General Manager as George had.
Michael Reinsdorf must have the ability to make sweeping changes for an organization that desperately needs it, and that comes with allowing the organization to be seen with a fresh set of eyes.
Each and every night Bulls fans can turn on a game and see just exactly what the Bulls are missing. In a league that is having a record-setting year in scoring and a spike in the ability for just about any player to score from behind the three-point line, the Bulls continue to lack scoring and shooting depth, and now have a coach who is more concerned with push-ups and toughness than effective offensive strategy.
But this talent gap is not something new for the Bulls. This has been going on since they thought Rip Hamilton was the answer at shooting guard.
John Paxson and Gar Forman cannot be given any more chances to try to turn this organization around. They have failed with almost every opportunity they have been given, yet never have faced consequences.
It’s time for them to face the harsh reality of being an executive on the hot seat in the NBA and for the sake of the Bulls, I hope they do. And while I never want to be someone who is rooting for someone’s firing, because at the end of the day, these men are hard-working people just like us, they are simply not the right fit anymore for the organization.
The Reinsdorfs owe it to Bulls fans to make this change. How long can the organization cling on to the Jordan era, that brought the last championship to Chicago 20 years ago?
The Bears finally woke up and realized that 1985 is an incredibly long time ago. The Bulls need to wake up and smell the coffee as well and understand that they desperately need a new vision for the organization.
But if Paxson and Forman were allowed to hire and then fire their hand-picked coach in Fred Hoiberg without repercussions from the Reinsdorfs, how can there ever be any accountability within the organization?
As Bulls fans, the only thing we can hope for is an epiphany come April and that the Reinsdorfs finally place a job listing for a new General Manager.
The Bulls are supposed to be a premier franchise in the NBA. It’s about time they started acting like one.