Bernstein: Bulls Above The Thugs

By Dan Bernstein–

CHICAGO (WSCR) Stacey King called for retaliation. Pacers hoodlum Jeff Foster had just knocked Derrick Rose to the floor, inciting another heated exchange of words between the teams, and King had some words of his own.

“I tell you what, “King said on Comcast SportsNet, sounding eerily like Norm Van Lier. “Any time Foster gets that ball around the basket, he’s gonna get it. The Bulls need to do that, too.”

He had more to say minutes later, after Foster delivered a direct elbow to the head of Luol Deng that was something less than inadvertent.

“I’m gonna tell you right now, he gotta pay,” King insisted. “Somebody gotta hard-foul him.”

I’m glad the Bulls were listening to their coach instead of watching the TV broadcast.

Payback came in the form of another loss, with the Bulls now poised to move past this first-round irritant. No pro-wrestling response was necessary.

After Rose was clobbered by flailing weirdo Tyler Hansbrough on Saturday, Deng was widely praised for his decision to confront Rose’s assailant – a move that drew a technical foul. The rare show of emotion from Deng was seen as a positive.

By everyone not named Tom Thibodeau.

“What I don’t want are fourth-quarter technicals, I can tell you that,” he said. “We have to be smart. Teams that are smart ultimately win. You have to find that balance of playing aggressively but very smart.”

It may feel good to react as King did in the heat of the moment. It’s a natural response to basketball goonery. It’s also detrimental to the goal of winning the game, the series, and ultimately, the championship.

The Bulls, thankfully, are coached to channel that anger into defense and rebounding.

Frank Vogel has instructed his team to clutch, shove, bump, and rake at the ball. That’s what an underdog can do to even things out – deny layups, take away drives, make them hit their free-throws. Test their focus.

It’s reassuring to see that the Bulls are content to play around it. In Rose’s case, around it, over it, around it again, and through it.

“This is the playoffs,” Thibodeau said after the first game, clearly aware of Indiana’s plan for the series. “There are going to be fouls like that. This is ordinary. This is no big deal. Just play.”


A hard foul on Foster may provide cheap, short-lived satisfaction for King and those who agree with him, but it would have done nothing to make the Bulls more likely to win. Foster has been in the NBA for twelve years, playing the same way, and no forearm from Kurt Thomas or undercut by Taj Gibson is going to change anything.

Thibodeau, himself, has no problem with Foster. He went so far as to laud him even after the fouls last night, saying “I have a lot of respect for Foster. He’s tough.”

The Thibs doctrine, we are learning, does not include lowering oneself to an opponent trying to muck things up, abandoning core principles in the process. In fact, it’s the opposite – such tactics are reason for his team to redouble its commitment to them.

“All that other stuff is nonsense,” he said of the post-whistle posturing. “You have to concentrate, execute, do your job, play hard, play defense, set screens. That’s toughness.”

Foster, Hansbrough and Josh McRoberts should enjoy their horseplay while they can, since they’ll be home soon, watching the Bulls on TV with everybody else.

Retaliation accomplished.

bernstein 90x130 Bernstein: Bulls Above The Thugs

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. Read more of Bernstein’s blogs here. Follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.
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  • Chico Chris

    Obviously first inclination when watching Foster lay those two hard fouls on Rose and Deng….you want the “FIRE AND THE PASSION!.” All was needed was what Rose did…stood up to him, said a few words, and then moved on…We all knew that Game 3 was the only one the Pacers had to win to even make it an entertaining series. Well…as my friend Jay-Z would say…”On to the Next One…”

    • Beverly Brewmaster

      The Bulls need to dress John Scott!

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Best revenge is to sweep.

    • Chet Coppock

      A horse is a horse, of course, of course, And no one can drop in CAPTAIN OBVIOUS, Of course, like Larry Horse.

  • Mr. Pouty Pants

    I’m guessing this going to be the smallest average margin of victory in a sweep. I’m also not concerned about the Bulls, Indian is going all-out and still losing while the Bulls are playing poorly.

  • AT3374

    Good blog Bernsie . Did your Gay help you write this ?

  • Beard Man

    Amen Dan. The days of Van Gundy’s Knicks and the Bad Boy Pistons are gone, Vogel is only coaching these guys to play like this cause he knows you can’t win a series by playing clean with all these goofy white guys. They’d get balled right out of the gym. A sweep will be much more embarrassing. But, I’d be lying if I said that watching our own white monster, Omer Asik, shoving Hansbrough out of his way for a monster dunk wouldn’t be enormously satisfying for my meatball side. Daaa Bullss!

    • Mr. Pouty Pants

      BY CRACKY!

  • Beverly Brewmaster

    How ’bout them Blackhawks???!!! I told a buddy of mine as the Bulls game was wrapping up last night that if the Hawks could put up four against Luongo I’d put even money on them winning the series. Never would’ve thought they’d put up FIVE and chase Bobby Lu before even getting halfway through the second. I’ll never feel totally comfortable with this team given their inconsistency all season, but I truly believe the talent is there to win the next two games, especially if Seabrook can come back.


      There’s been more open ice in these last two games.
      I was on the edge of my seat for break aways coming from the Whal-er Canucks.

      I like seeing Vancouver sitting on their own side.

      Hey. Hockey stupid here:
      Why is it a disadvantage to make line changes in your own zone for two periods? the Offense starts out in your ice, doesn’t it?

      • Beverly Brewmaster

        The disadvantage comes in the second period, when your bench is in your offensive zone. Yes, having a line change in your own zone is advantageous to your offense, but the bigger concern is defense. In the first and third periods, you can dump the puck when you get to center ice and turn around and make your line change. While the other team has to skate all the way down, get the puck and skate back up, your guys can jump on the ice and wait for them to get back… You don’t have to go to them; they come to you.

        During the second period, once you dump the puck you have to keep skating forward to get to your bench. That means that when the new guys come on the ice they have to skate all the way back to be in a good position to defend the oncoming rush. Since the vast majority of line changes are the dump-the-puck variety, the first and third period is a “short change” because the players are already by their own blue line when they step on the ice, whereas the second period is the “long change” because they have to skate halfway down the ice to get back to their blue line and defend the play. Does that make sense? It’s one of those things that’s easy to show but hard to explain in words.

  • Steve from Bolingbrook

    Nice blog Dan! Oh, Beard man, BI CRACKY

  • hammer

    Dan, You are a lazy sport writer. You are the same guy that called for the Blackhawks to do at least if not worse than what the Pacers are doing. You are feeding into the ‘meatballism’ that you constantly complain about. Shoe fits, I guess. It’s also pretty unprofessional to call a guy like Hansborouogh weird, just because he plays hard. I never thought he would be an NBA’er, who cares, he is and works hard at it. Should be commended instead of ridiculed. Makes sport less fun your way.

    • Chris in Scottsdale

      Uh… at what point did he call for the B’Hawks to do what the Pacers are doing? Have you not heard his disdain for John Scott and for thuggish hockey in general?

      I didn’t realize “imaginary radio” was today’s Friday Fung.

      • hammer

        A week or so ago he was on the radio openly asking if the Blackhawks should try to hurt/take out some guy from the other team. I don’t remember the guys names. I thought it was senseless radio, but he was going with the point regardless. He has brought it up a couple of times since.

      • Spoon

        Breaking news; hockey basketball

      • Mr. Pouty Pants

        I have to defend Dan here, his logic was that the Blackhawks had nothing else going for them and he supported the idea of playing physical and hard against Luongo to get in his head and turn him into the fragile (must be Italian) little girl that he has shown to be against the Hawks. In the case of da Bulls, they are the superior team and Indy is just trying to get them off their game.

        It’s different sports, with different rules and therefore different mentalities. You can support hitting someone hard in sports like hokey and football while agreeing with showing restraint in basketball.

      • hammer

        @chris he wasn’t saying get tough. He actually asked the question if they should hurt somebody bad enough to take them out of the game. I don’t know when he said it, but he did, I remember that. Not being tough, but injuring someone. Nobody defended him on the radio, but he brought it up none the less, and they talked about it again a couple of days later.

        He is a hypocrite without a real thought, and just looks for the lazy angle of starting an argument. Meatball, meet meatball.

      • nick boynton's fire and passion

        He did and he didn’t. Dan said that someone should just crash into Luongo and try to shake him up. I don’t remember saying to intentionially injuring someone. Either way you didn’t need to crash into him just Brouwer in front of him and the same results seem to ensue. Either way, I still think the Canucks are a better team but the Hawks definitly seem to have gotten to them and it’s anyones series now.

    • hammer

      Mr. Pouty pants. I don’t care how you justify it. I’m just saying that he actually said it, and to that you seem to agree. thanks.

      • Chris in Scottsdale

        Bernstein is calling the Pacers “thugs” here. You said that Bernstein advocated “at least if not worse” behavior. I just don’t recall him talking about the Hawks resorting to cheap shots. It’s one thing to say they should nut up and get tough- that’s something the Hawks have admittedly been lacking is all-around physical play. It’s another thing to say that they should be thugs. Maybe it’s a gray area, but I feel there is a difference between playing a sport hard/tough (CHICAGO TOUGH!) versus thuggish/dirty.

  • Asik's Used Bandaid

    Flailing Weirdo? …………….awesome

  • JAWS

    Problem is, what are the Bulls going to do if they have to see Dwight Howard in the next round? You think Foster is dishing out hard fouls? Howard has knocked Rose out of a game before. The NBA is letting a journeyman like Foster get away with it, do you think they’re going to do anything about a star like Howard?

    • Chris in Scottsdale

      The difference there is that Howard is the star of the team, whereas Jeff Foster is just a banger bench body. Howard’s propensity for committing fouls is actually something he needs to keep in check, while half of Foster’s existance in a Pacers uniform is the fact that he has six fouls to give.

      Howard commits foul #4 early in the third? Magic be in trouble.
      Foster commits foul #4 early in the third? He’s earning his paycheck.

      BTW- Anyone else get a “Silver Surfer/Galactus” thing in their head when thinking about D. Rose driving on Dwight Howard?

      • Mr. Pouty Pants

        Maybe Lo-Ho does

  • mad as hell fan...

    Did Dan completely ignore that scottie was calling for the same thing before king was? Bulls maybe shouldn’t retaliate against the 8th seed but they absolutely should if the goonnery continues down the line.

    • pulseczar

      Yeah, Pip was talking just as much as King about retaliating.

  • meesohawnee

    Amazing what any team in any sport can do when you have a sense of urgency.

  • ac086896

    I totally agree with Dan. The pacers play that way because they know they are out matched. Turning this into a wrestling match would be an advantage to the pacers. Stacy and Scottie did bring one good point up…foul hard to prevent layups; not to retaliate. Make them earn it from the line and prevent and 1’s. Don’t play dirty and stupid…just play tough and make the pacer’s work for everything they get.

  • pulseczar

    Tibs can say what he wants but his old Celtics team wouldn’t have stood for getting clobbered like the Bulls are. Can you imagine KG just shrugging off those kinds of fouls on himself or his team mates?

    Whether that’s good or bad is up for debate, sure. Yes, Tibs wasn’t the head coach of those Celtics teams.

    It does get old watching the Bulls get assaulted repeatedly.

    • Mark, Sterling

      Thats because those Boston teams (and the current one) are a pretty dirty and slimy team too. They get away with a lot of BS also.

  • RealRIck

    The NBA is going to allow this thuggish buffoonery until someone gets really hurt.

    And then over-react to the point where the game is watered down.

    Just like the NFL.


    Players, across the board, are better now than they use to be.
    It’d be hard to find an out-of-shape basketball or hockey player, but not a slow one.

    Better teams, now, stick to their conditioning and let the other team get tired and make bad fouls. Now, there are exceptions, right here in River City.

    And, that was a close game last night. Fourth Quarter technicals could have cut the margin dramatically.
    Hockey fans: Imagine those mid-nineties games. Bunch of mugging, dumping, and chasing. Goalies getting bored.

  • Huh, What, Huh?

    I wonder how is opinion would change if Rose got seriously injured from one of these “Hard Fouls?” That Championship chase would come to a screeching halt! Then the Bulls better act like it’s hockey and throw down!

  • Jake from da burbs

    I dont wan’t retaliation to satisfy the inner meatball. I want retaliation to keep the Pacers desire to up the cheapshots in game 4 in check. Its nice to be “above it all” and “retaliate with winning” but with a desperate Pacer team not wanting to get swept and embarrassed at home, it is very likely the Pacers will up the thuggery and physical play.

    One thug play by Foster or McRoberts that sends DRose to the floor that tweaks, turns, breaks, tears any sort of arm, leg, knee, ankle etc and all the “above it all” will go out the window and so will all the championship aspirations..

    I want retaliation that says…. there’s no open season for taking a run at our MVP. Its not retaliation for retaliation or machismo sake. Its a sort of a retribution to keep things in line and not allowing your opponent to take further liberties.

    In a boxing match, if the guy you’re pummeling takes a couple of shots near the belt area, you might want to send a reminder shot that says… hey you better watch it.

  • RealRick

    The NBA must have read my previous post.

    An NBA League Spokesman confirms that they are reviewing Foster’s two fouls on Rose and Deng.

    With that being the case, I can’t see how Foster’s playing on Saturday.

    • Larry

      Is anybody going to revie the referee crew. They let the Bulls get mugged repeatedly without blowing their whistles.


    Does anyone think, maybe, 16 games is too much in the NFL?

    Do you, really, want to see Oakland come to town? How about Carolina?
    How about TWO holidays with division opponents this year?
    Odds are, weather will have a decisive factor in those two games.
    Did Minnesota fix the HHH Dome?
    Oh, and we, also get:
    The NFC West! Fresh off the 7-9 division champ season.

  • Cliff

    Well I see your quoting the “Great” Tom Thibodeau, but let me remind you he’s still a rookie head coach! Stacey King and Scottie Pippen, both agreed on what needed to happen and they have championship rings to back up their statements.
    So ask yourself the following question, have the recent championship teams and their coaches agreed with this stance….HELL NO!!!! Think Doc Rivers and KG would stay for this, or Phil and Kobe, Artest, & Odom, or how about the Pistons with Rasheed & Ben Wallace…If anyone team would know the proper way to respond to this punishment it would be a Chicago Bull player who had to overcome the Piston’s back in the 90’s, and if you hadn’t heard the broadcast, both Scottie Pippen and Stacy King were in agreement. That a hard foul on the other end was due…..So I’d rather go with their opinions. over Thibodeau’s or yours.

    • Chris in Scottsdale

      That sort of makes the point. The Bulls in the 90’s didn’t respond to the Pistons by resorting to their level. They responded by getting better and whipping them on the court DESPITE the best efforts of the Bad Boy Pistons to turn it into a fight.

      Besides, if the Bulls can’t get past an 8-seed without getting baited into giving away technicals and losing composure, how much worse will it be once they face teams that are not only roughing them up, but can play some ball as well?

    • Ken

      That’s disappointing If Pip was agreeing with King. Aside from the cute catchphrases, I really dislike hearing Stacey say this guy has to hustle or this guy should play better defense when he rarely did that as a Bull himself.

  • Chris in Scottsdale

    Anyone else catch the Tyler Hansborough “Special Olympics” quip yesterday? I was kind of floored that it came from Bernstein to denigrate the Special Olympics like that. Just wondering if it perked anyone else’s ears up as well.

    • Murphfan1138

      What hour was this in yesterday? I’d like to listen, as I have a nephew taking part in Special Olympics

    • Trig Palin

      I was not funny at all!

  • idicula1979

    Lay off the white basketball line for awhile the thing is that they play a good defense, they have a lot of tall guys and for the first time in a long time the physical basketball is back the kind that has not been played since the early 90’s Knicks team.
    And about the Bulls they play a great basketball and most of the time (especially if you forget this series) very effeicaintly it’s enough to make any Bulls fan proud. But the refs have to start calling more technicals I have never seen something like this were a star player in Rose consistantly does not get the calls and were a league leading team is practically geting beat up on the basketball court.


    I heard during the Comcast SportsNet broadcast of last night’s Game 3 that the Pacers’ Jeff Foster should’ve been ejected for that forearm cheap shot to the head of the Bulls’ Luol Deng during the 3rd quarter that had Deng briefly down on the Conseco Fieldhouse floor. Thankfully for Deng, Derrick Rose and company, they were able to maintain their composure and hit their free throws in last night’s 88-84 hard-fought win to take a commanding 3-0 series lead. After all the cheapshots & physical play the Pacers gave the Bulls last night in Game 3, here’s hoping that D.Rose and company send the knockout punch and FINALLY blow Indiana out of the NBA Playoffs in Game 4 Saturday afternoon in Indianapolis. The sooner the Bulls finish off the Pacers, the more they can watch the Magic & Hawks knock the snot out of each other in the other series.

  • Flailing weirdo's friend

    Back off of my friend, Tyler, Bernsie.

    • Jake from da burbs

      Yeah Bernstine… leave my big brother alone!!!


      Ben Hansbrough

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