Bernstein: With Bulls On The Rise, Pax Lying Low

By Dan Bernstein–

When John Paxson kicked himself upstairs in May of 2009, he expressed a desire to spend less time in the limelight. He became the Bulls’ VP of Basketball Operations, and installed Gar Forman to be his proxy as GM.

His subsequent public appearances have been rare, limited to the bizarre scene surrounding the altercation with Vinny Del Negro, the hiring of a new coach, and the summer’s free-agent scramble.

Even when answering questions, he has tried to position himself as a delegator who allows the executives under him full autonomy. He even went so far as to say “I don’t have the ability to override Gar, or anything like that.”

Paxson certainly has that ability, despite his attempts at modesty, and he is still running the Bulls. Forman is a dutiful functionary with a significant amount of influence, but it’s still Pax’s show.

His team is at a high-water mark. The Bulls are 33-14 after a 12-4 January, Tom Thibodeau was named the NBA’s Eastern Conference Coach of the Month, Derrick Rose is a starting All-Star, and they have routed their meek divisional competition.

Others in his position would be fluttering back to the spotlight like moths, reminding everyone just who put this all together. Even a hushed exclusive with a favored writer would do the trick – a couple well-chosen quotes to put his stamp on the success and remind fans who’s in charge.

So far, though, nothing. He wanted a lower profile and he’s keeping it, to this point.

He and Forman really do deserve some credit for this. The Thibodeau hire was just right, and it makes NBA teams look stupid for relegating him to the longtime-assistant track as long as they did.

The roster was gutted for the LeBron courtship, with two thirds of it empty after the South Beach Talents Relocation Project was announced. They landed Boozer quickly, and made savvy strikes with Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver and Kurt Thomas. They envisioned the small roles for C.J. Watson and Omer Asik.

Not long ago, the contract given to Luol Deng was an albatross for Paxson. Under a real coach, now, Deng is playing the best basketball of his career on both ends of the floor, and his positional versatility has helped them weather the kind of major injuries to key players that cause other teams to pack it in. He is earning every penny, while the lamented departure of Ben Gordon is an afterthought. Gordon had to go so Rose could have the ball, and Paxson knew it.

Rose himself may account for two reasons Paxson is reluctant to put himself out there.

First, he’s aware how damn lucky he is to have him in the first place. The odds of getting that top pick were minimal, and it’s humbling for an executive to know that random chance was the primary determining factor in his team’s resurgence.

Second, he’s trying to build a championship team around a point guard. The most powerful, athletic one any of us has seen in some time, but still an NBA little guy. Predecessor Jerry Krause is proud to this day of his achievement in constructing a dynasty around a two-guard, and Paxson understands the difficulty facing him.

Most importantly, they haven’t won anything yet. A hot month against bum teams has powered the rise to tie Miami for the East’s second spot, but tough road games loom with heavy minutes already logged by Rose and Deng.

Paxson’s reticence to take credit may speak to heightened expectations, now, too. For that to have occurred so quickly is further evidence of a job well done.

bernstein 90x130 Bernstein: With Bulls On The Rise, Pax Lying Low

Dan Bernstein

Dan Bernstein has been the co-host of “Boers and Bernstein” since 1999. He joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995. The Boers and Bernstein Show airs every weekday from 1PM to 6PM on The Score, 670AM.
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  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Good blog Bernsie.
    Pax has good character.
    The “N” in NBA could stand for Narcissism.
    Thankfully, that is NOT a problem for Pax.

  • Scoopie

    Glad to see Bernstein made it to blogging this morning. For doing his job in these dire conditions, he is CHICAGO TOUGH.

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      I wonder how the hotel was for Bernsie with the S&M Convention???
      I assume that Uncle Terry is broadcasting from Mokena again.

    • Chris in Scottsdale

      LoL @Scoopie! Milk just shot out my nose… and I’m drinking coffee.

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        And Chris, for drinking coffee yet having milk shoot out of your nose while LOL, you are CHICAGO TOUGH!

  • Chris in Scottsdale

    Anyone else keep having the Gibby Haynes/B-Hole Surfers song “Pepper” go through their heads this week as they watch Super Bowl coverage?

    “Then there was the ever-present
    Football player rapist,
    They were all in love with dyin’
    They were doin’ it in Texas”.

    • Bob Loblaw

      Now THAT is spot-on! Bravo!

      • Bob Loblaw

        The Butte-hole Surfers reverence, that is…

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      I still can’t even figure out the ZZ Top song that Danny referenced with regard to Sarah Palin.

      • Bob Loblaw

        Pearl Necklace….”She want a pearl necklace”

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        Thank you Bob…makes sense now.

  • Lee

    Dan that was a good article.

  • Jaimie in Hoffman Estates

    The other burning question besides the S&M convenstion, is whos room, Zampilo crash in?

    • Chris in Scottsdale


  • Josh

    Oh no, what am i going to do? Spiegs, has canceled the Tributeasauras show tonite.

  • Murph

    hey! can anybody get my a hair dryer to thaw out my frozen mustache?

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      By cracky!

    • Jaimie in Hoffman Estates

      In other news, Alofonzo Soriano booted the pieces of roof, that blew of Wrigley Field

      • Larry Horse's Arse


        Did he also miss the cut-off man?

  • Bruce Weber

    Who cares?

  • Likquid Swordz

    Any comments from the Mountain of Salt?

    • Jaimie in Hoffman Estates

      I havent heard any yet, but Rick Telander, want you to know that he is spending more time with his kids.


    What is amazing about the Bulls is that they haven’t had a fully healthy team all that much all season, and that they haven’t skipped a beat for as long as Carlos Boozer & Joakim Noah have respectively missed a lot of games due to injury between them. First year head coach Tom Thibodeau deserves a lot of credit making the most of what he has to this point. I still worry to a certain extent about the heavy minutes Derrick Rose & Luol Deng have logged since the preseason.

    That being said, the 5 game road trip starts in Los Angeles tonight vs. ex-coach Vinny Del Negro and a Clippers’ team that beat the Bulls in Chicago earlier this season. The Clips have won 9 straight home games for the first time since relocating from San Diego in 1984. The 5 game trip is spread out with NO BACK-TO-BACK GAMES during the next 2 weeks. I think the Bulls can win 3 of the games on this trip.


    How about some love for the ‘hawks? I’m going to watch some of that on the rebroadcast.

    Actually, got my two-year old out in the snow for the first time (not affected by the cold, at all). I had to drag her back in.

    Tried to print a picture, but the printer defaulted to the 8×11. I hope, I didn’t just waste brand new ink. I hate printers.

    • Jaimie in Hoffman Estates

      Whats your secret? i try to get my 5 year old outside, and he looks at me like, eff you, im not going out there. Luckily im not going anywhere today, tomorrow i will be back at it, though.

      • SPAULDING!

        It wasn’t easy. There was a lot of build up to it. Much like the Sweet 16 after your bracket has already been busted by Nevada. And, a couple of false starts.
        Kept laying out the snow pants and boots, and suggesting it.
        It is a hard sell. Finally, once she said “okay,” I had to move quick.

        The snow man is about as small as it gets (’cause it’s not sticky snow)

        Oh, and, yes, Dan did write a good article.

  • Bob Loblaw

    Does anyone know is Terry’s coming in today?

    • Bob Loblaw

      Me fail English? That’s unpossible!

  • Randor Bierd

    Josh, if you were Chicago Tough, like Scoopie mentioned, you can make it to that terrible music show.

    Kudos to Bernstein (Is this the Penguin?), for recognizing Pax for a job well done. I can’t wait to hear about the hotel he stayed at…I wonder if there was sausage, beef, deep dish pizza, or did he have one of those days of the mass exodus of McDoubles, Filet O fishes, and fries?

    • Jaimie in Hoffman Estates


  • Scorehead

    Doews Terry still live in Mokena?

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Yes, I believe that Terry still lives in Mokena…at least he and Dan speak of that.
    My understanding is that he has an ISDN line to the Score and can broadcast from home (and often does). I don’t remember where I picked up that tidbit, I think it was part of contract renegotiations somewhere along the way.
    SHARK any more info on that???

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    I hope that Bernsie continues to pass along weather reports (“uneventful”) from Jack Swarbrick at Notre Dame. It is a lot more helpful for dumb@ss Hoosiers like me to know that the weather in South Bend is uneventful rather than to hear of the eventfulness of Lake Shore Drive.

    Also, Notre Dame is losing to graduation some slow, white guys in their defensive secondary. With today as National Letter of Intent Signing Day, I hope that the Domers can sign some young, slow, white guys as replacements.

  • Jaimie in Hoffman Estates

    Thanks for the info, LHA. I have found myself from time to time wondering, if Terry was brodcasting from a remote place, other than next to Dan at the Score studios.

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      You might think back to when Dan was talking about the hotel and what Mitch said regarding the S&A conventioneers in costume in the gym etc. etc. Terry was totally silent…not his issue.
      Then again, with his added responsibility to help care for his three grandkids whose mother died, I don’t begrudge the guy one bit. It is a win-win.

  • Gentleman RaRa

    Did anyone read about the NBA All Stars being allowed the option of wearing skin tight uniforms? The NBA is one step closer to becoming professional wrestling.

  • meesohawnee

    Dan seems pretty refreshed after an all night hotel spankovision extravaganza!

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      Maybe Danny found some people in the S&M crowd who were into verbal abuse.
      Talk about a win-win.

  • Jon, Montgomery

    this ‘bad guys in sports list’ Dan is reading right now off of deadspin is incredible, good stuff.

    btw, don’t know how you all did this morning, but It took me 2 hours to dig out. probably not as bad as most people had it because all of the snow out here, (because there are alot of open fields), blows into giant piles. thankfully I didn’t have get one :)

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