By Tim Baffoe–
(CBS) They know you’ll keep showing up. You’ll keep buying merchandise. They don’t really seem to care that their TV numbers have dipped considerably. At least some people are still watching and mimicking Stacey King’s catchphrases.
Plus, now that the Super Bowl is through, if you’re not a Chicago Blackhawks fan, what are your local sporting options? Exactly. They know that you know that they’ve got you by the shorts.
This is because the Chicago Bulls don’t respect you, the Chicago Bulls consumer. Never has this been more clearly evident than the organization’s annual firm desire to keep its massively underperforming front office intact. This despite cries from the vast majority of Bulls fans for years that some combination of executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman be sent packing.
Nope. If it’s one thing Jerry Reinsdorf teams do really fantastically, it’s get blinded by loyalty. Just mention Robin Ventura’s name to a White Sox fan (but duck immediately).
But clinging to old players and former players and comfortable names isn’t necessarily a lack-of-respect-for-fans thing. But what the Tribune’s K.C. Johnson reported Tuesday evening is:
Despite some outside perception to the contrary, the jobs of executive vice president John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman are safe, sources familiar with ownership’s thinking told the Tribune. In fact, ownership’s trust in Paxson and Forman remains so intact that they would be retained even if the Bulls miss the postseason for a second straight season, one source said.
That right there is the kick between your Bulls fan legs by the organization. It’s February, the Bulls are currently a seventh seed in a trash Eastern Conference and they still aren’t safely making the postseason by any means. And yet even if they were to miss the playoffs, the organization believes that Paxson and Forman are the future.
This cow patty of a team put it out there that nothing is changing months before it even needed to. Just because the Bulls can. I wish I could include a drawing I made of their collective middle finger up your butt, but CBS Chicago said no.
But that’s what the situation is basically. What you know to be the root of the problems with this Bulls team over the last few years isn’t going anywhere anytime soon for no valid reason.
Oh, the team will claim one. The Tribune reporte noted that chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and president Michael Reinsdorf trust the roster-building process in place. The @#$% how? This dead horse hasn’t been beaten enough — Forman said last summer that the plan was to get younger and more athletic, which is a euphemism for rebuilding, and that would have been fine. Then shortly afterward, the Bulls signed Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo. Such youth. They drafted Denzel Valentine. His athleticism has been valued on the bench and in the D-League. It’s Kellyanne Conway levels of disconcern for your intelligence.
The Rondo/Wade moves were destined to cause drama, and the Bulls became a national embarrassment of a soap opera in January. Meanwhile, Forman’s hand-picked coach, Fred Hoiberg, appeared neutered for the second year in a row by his own players.
“A natural leader and great communicator,” Forman said upon Hoiberg’s hiring in June 2015 after the Bulls buss tossed Tom Thibodeau in a press release that bemoaned communication issues.
If he gets the ax at season’s end, Forman will have fired three head coaches. Paxson hired Vinny Del @#$%ing Negro after he hired Jim @#$%ing Boylan after he fired Scott Skiles. @#$%.
I keep asking aloud into the ether, “What do Paxson and Forman do well?” What merits them keeping their jobs other than a 3-pointer hit 24 years ago and a friendship between the wives of Forman and Michael Reinsdorf?
It ain’t drafting. Marquis Teague was out of the league only two-and-a-half years after he was drafted by the Bulls in 2012 and not due to injury. Tony Snell, drafted in 2013, is mediocre on a good day in Milwaukee now. In 2014, the Bulls parted with two first-round picks and three second-rounders to acquire Doug McDermott with the 11th pick. He’s like Herschel Walker except not good at what he’s supposed to do. Bobby Portis’s greatest skill is looking like Wedge from Class Act, and then there’s Valentine.
What players have the Bulls developed in the GarPax era? Taj Gibson is one — and he should arguably be traded if this is a rebuild. Taking Jimmy Butler with the last pick in the first round in 2011 is clearly their best work. Depending on the week now, Butler’s temperature fluctuates regarding whether he even wants to be here.
Paxson and Forman genuinely think they can rebuild while remaining competitive, hence signings like Wade and Rondo, but that isn’t how it works. Rondo remains an awkward presence at best, and Wade isn’t really loved by fans the way management probably assumed the hometown guy would be.
The front office’s relationship with injured players is infamously trash, and you can consult Luol Deng’s spine and the saga of Derrick Rose about all that. Their love of conveying dislike for players and coaches after they’ve left has always been petty.
But that’s all business as usual with the Chicago Bulls, because the misery that’s involved in consuming this team doesn’t register with the organization. If they respected people who don’t get a paycheck from them but who really care, significant changes might be taking place.
But they don’t, so there aren’t. And there’s nothing you can do about it because collectively pleading with the Bulls to make front office changes falls on deaf ears.
Sit on their middle finger in the meantime.
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.