Originally posted: April 14, 2009
An apology (of sorts) to the Bulls (thank goodness none of you are Allen Iverson)
I’m here for the fun . . .
For all the critical things I’ve said about the Bulls’ play, their attitudes, and their coaching, I offer some sort of apology borne of perspective courtesy of the Detroit Pistons:
Vinny, Luol, Ben, Kirk, Tyrus, Joakim, Pax, I’m sorry I didn’t consider that none of you, not even combined, could be as toxic as the insidious Allen Iverson alone.
The guy who was traded for the classy and productive Chauncey Billups pretty much quit on his team as it was fighting for the best possible playoff spot. He got hurt, he acted like he derserved to play when and where he wanted to, treating coaches and team goals like toilet paper, and his team confined him to house arrest.
I’ve accused many Bulls of playing and acting like typical NBA players — out for their own good, reading from My Turn playbook, more ego than heart and brains. It’s a coach-killing mentality, and many of these Bulls players have those notches on their belts. But none of them bring the selfish stench of Iverson.
Ben Gordon jacks up a lot of shots that appear to be more part of a contract drive than an offensive set, but nothing like Iverson. Luol Deng looked and sounded emotionally and mentally soft when Derrick Rose showed up, but he didn’t up and quit on his teammates to the point that he was told to stay home the way Iverson was.
The difference showed in the Bulls’ overcoming an 11-point deficit on the Pistons’ floor Monday night to win a game that vaulted them into the sixth playoff spot for now but for sure guaranteed they won’t have to play LeBron.
The Bulls were smarter and tougher, and, yes, better coached on defense. I still don’t think Vinny Del Negro can do this on a regular basis, but he did it in a critical game and gets credit for that. The game was turning into a “Be Like Rip Hamilton’’ DVD, but after a big first half, he was slowed to six points when it mattered.
The combination of Bulls defense and Pistons uncaring and/or unfocused offense led to some unnecessarily hurried and unbelievably stupid shots down the stretch. The Bulls wouldn’t have won this game earlier in the season — if Billups was still there instead of the mess that is Iverson and if the Bulls hadn’t made that deal with Sacramento.
And when you see the way the Bulls played, the way they came back, the way they are such a different team with Brad Miller and John Salmons and without Deng, and then you consider how Orlando has stunk down the stretch and can’t get its starting forwards healthy or find a quality point guard — goodness, I can’t believe I’m making a case for the Bulls’ advancing to the second round.
I think I need to sit down and drink a big glass of bile.
Drink some bile? Will that give us all a break as you stay home in the toilet. Or should we just throw this column there? Your arrogance belies your position. We don’t mind sarcastic comments and points you can back up. But Vinnie and the Bulls deserve more than an apology from you. At least they are trying to do their best, considering three of their starting five are barely beyond college age and have a whopping five full seasons experience in them, including this one. Most players in the NBA don’t become starters, let alone stars, in their first or second years. Just because you want superstars at every position. you must understand that superstars get that way by working hard for 3-4 years to learn their trade. But you must know that if you are in the position you are. right?