Baffoe: Bulls Are Chaos — Sweet, Sweet Chaos

By Tim Baffoe–

(CBS) If the team you root for isn’t going to be good, root for chaos. It’s about as entertaining, and it greatly mitigates the self-loathing.

The Chicago Bulls are now officially in the throes of chaos, and it’s wonderful. This is what I was excited for in July after executives Gar Forman and John Paxson inexplicably signed Rajon Rondo and then Dwyane Wade after claiming the plan was to get younger and more athletic. We as Bulls observers had been had by a front office that consistently makes no sense. So rather than be disappointed, I saw the direction the team chose as one headed for total One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest stuff.

The Bulls started the season off hot, which was pretty cool and stuff made me forget the time bomb potential for a while. But then they regressed to what we figured they’d be when the front office chose to plug a hole in the swimming pool with its own dumb faces instead of tearing out the pool and getting a new one.

Meanwhile, watching the Bulls was like being held underwater. Save for the occasional “Jimmy Butler puts team on back” win and watching Cristiano Felicio blossom into a fantastic big man who GarPax will probably let walk away in the offseason, little about this team was enjoyable to watch.

Then little by little, the walls of the pool began to swell with sewage because the filter had been neglected. Rondo was benched and was allowed to belittle Fred Hoiberg in the process, which was cute. One embarrassing loss after another began to wear on Wade until he went Roger Murtaugh at the end of last week. After last Friday’s thumping by the Atlanta Hawks, Wade apologized to fans on Twitter for the “AWFUL!!!” performance, and Butler had similar sentiments in postgame interviews.

I laughed. Not as loudly, though, as when Wade attempted a dunk temporarily without a central nervous system Saturday night but benefited from an awful foul call in the Bulls’ close win against the Kings.

Then a few days later the future Hall of Famer Wade existentially questioned his position in the Bulls’ contractual cosmos. I chuckled some more at how the two big offseason signings were growing gangrenous. We were close. So close to chaos.

And along comes Wednesday’s blown game of 2016-’17 blown games, a second loss to the Hawks in six days in which the Bulls led by 10 points with less than three minutes left but lost 119-114. Wade calmly let loose to reporters at his locker, followed by Butler echoing him.

“I don’t know if they care enough,” Wade said about his younger teammates. “I wish I could say that everyone in here is going to go home and not eat tonight. I can’t say that. I wish I could, but I don’t know that they care enough. Games are supposed to hurt. You’re not supposed to sleep, you’re not supposed to want to talk to anybody. These games are supposed to hurt. I don’t know if that is in guys in this locker room. Hopefully they can prove me wrong.”

Wade also criticized late-game shot selection. My eyes widened. Butler, noting that he’d heard what Wade said, piled on with “Mother ******* just got to care if we win or lose.”

Butler also made it clear that he was upset that he wasn’t given an opportunity to hit a big shot late in favor of Nikola Mirotic and Paul Zipser. Jerian Grant, nephew of former Bulls great Horace, took to Twitter to rep the kids on the other side of the line in the sand that’s been drawn.




And I made erotic noises.

Finally, I had my soap opera. This diseased first -round exit of a team become very entertaining for deliciously wrong reasons in one set of locker interviews. But my suffering during most of the rest of the season was even further rewarded.

While the words of Wade and Butler were being parsed and Hoiberg’s warm milk response accomplishing nothing as usual, people starting noticing video evidence of Butler straight up dissing Hoiberg during Wednesday’s game:

When asked about this, Hoiberg offered an alternative fact:



And so the coach who was doomed to fail when his bosses brought in veterans who wouldn’t listen to him after his star player made it clear last season he wasn’t going to listen to the coach was now totally emasculated. I love this kind of dysfunction. And maybe that’s crappy of me to take pleasure in the compromising of other people’s livelihoods. Or maybe this organization needs to be mocked up and down endlessly because it’s rotten.

From the owner who’s loyal to a fault to the front office that drafted Marquis Teague and Tony Snell and traded up to get Doug McDermott to the overmatched un-Thibodeau coach on a five-year deal to the pissy stars to the clueless youngsters to all of us who keep watching and packing the United Center — all deserve this hell.

But the chemical fire at the Advocate Center still wasn’t hot enough. Rondo sure fixed that on Thursday afternoon, though.

Before that, Stephen Noh of The Athletic rightly noted the hypocrisy in Wade’s words besides that Wade dogged it on defense leading to Atlanta points late in Wednesday’s game. Wrote Noh on Wade saying Bulls teammates need to choose better shots:

Wade has connected on just 31.7 percent of his shots in the clutch as defined by NBA Stats. He isn’t the same player he was in his prime, and he’s nowhere close to efficient as a late-game option any more. The shots that the Bulls missed were good, clean looks, and they were much better than what Wade has generally produced at the end of games.

And Noh on Wade’s claim of Bulls teammates not caring enough:

He’s still a valuable player, but his defense is nowhere close to what it once was. Wade’s whining at officials has been well-documented by national writers for years. He won’t get back on transition defense, choosing to concede points in favor of complaining about calls. Even when he has nothing to argue about, his effort is abysmal on defense.

Maybe Rondo, not friend of Wade’s, smelled a Who Ya Crappin’ on Wade’s words when he posted the following on Instagram on Thursday afternoon along with a pic of him on the Boston Celtics with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce:

My vets would never go to the media. They would come to the team. My vets didn't pick and choose when they wanted to bring it. They brought it every time they stepped in the gym whether it was practice or a game. They didn't take days off. My vets didn't care about their numbers. My vets played for the team. When we lost, they wouldn't blame us. They took responsibility and got in the gym. They showed the young guys what it meant to work. Even in Boston when we had the best record in the league, if we lost a game, you could hear a pin drop on the bus. They showed us the seriousness of the game. My vets didn't have an influence on the coaching staff. They couldn't change the plan because it didn't work for them. I played under one of the greatest coaches, and he held everyone accountable. It takes 1-15 to win. When you isolate everyone, you can't win consistently. I may be a lot of things, but I'm not a bad teammate. My goal is to pass what I learned along. The young guys work. They show up. They don't deserve blame. If anything is questionable, it's the leadership.

A post shared by Rajon Rondo (@rajonrondo) on

Calling out Wade and Butler for airing grievances in the press instead of the locker room? Check. Calling out Wade for taking plays and games off while Rondo works with the young players and shows up to D-League games during his benching? Check. Calling out team leadership? Check. Adding phosphorous to the organizational fire when Rondo knows his days here are numbered anyway? Big damn check.

Then came the weaponizing of the Instagram likes.


The Bulls are a national freak show now. Deadspin noticed they’re melting down. Garnett and Rasheed Wallace waxed on them on national TV. Other players in the league are stoking it.




And as of early Friday morning, we hadn’t heard from Hoiberg, Forman or Paxson. Maybe someone gets fired soon. Maybe a trade actually happens. Rondo is gone soon and will have more fun stuff to say when that happens. In the meantime,
all are punished and deservedly so.

Except those of us who relish chaos over the slog of a .500-ish Eastern Conference team. We win.

Tim Baffoe is a columnist for CBSChicago.com. Follow Tim on Twitter @TimBaffoe. The views expressed on this page are those of the author, not CBS Local Chicago or our affiliated television and radio stations.

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