So I was thinking about all the great and terrible moments post dynasty and being a man, that means lists were formed. I had my top moments post earlier, but I was thinking of my top five favorite and bottom five Bulls post dynasty. Given that the love for a player can rise and fall like the tide, I'm going to use my peak and valley feelings about a player to make the list.
Top 5 Favorites:
#5) Tyson Chandler - It was a toss up between Kirk Hinrich and Tyson Chandler, but I went Tyson, because in the 04/05 season he seemed to make every clutch defensive play, and it felt like he might finally live up to all that potential and go on to be a young, taller, Ben Wallace. Hinrich has always been a player I've steadily liked except perhaps the 07/08 season, but Chandler had the brighter peak of the two.
#4) Andres Nocioni - It's easy to forget how promising Nocioni felt as a player in his first two seasons. He exploded in the first game of the 2004/5 playoffs when Deng and Curry were out, and he carried the team into the 2005/6 playoffs through sheer will power when we won 13 of 14 (12 of 14?) games to close the season and finish .500. His exit interviews after he was traded to Sacramento made me want to cry. The guy seemed so genuinely sad to be leaving rather than most players who have the straight "it's a business give me my money" mentality.
#3) Derrick Rose - I suspect Derrick Rose will move up to the #1 slot for me within a year or two, and that most of you will ream me out for not having him there now. He's certainly my favorite player on the team at this exact moment, but my feelings about this team aren't at their highest peak yet. He has the highest ceiling of any player the Bulls have had since they dynasty, and the mere hope he brings for the future is enough to love the guy.
#2) Ben Gordon - Between all the big shots in 2004/05, his great play in 06/07, and his huge run in the playoffs last year, Ben Gordon has provided me with so many great memories. I've never gotten the chance to interview Ben, but I've always heard he's quiet and egotistical behind the scenes, yet works harder on his game than anyone else on the team. Even though he left, he's one Bull whom I really have no bad memories of, and outside of Derrick Rose, may be the only one I can say that about.
#1) Luol Deng - He's certainly not my favorite Bull at this exact moment in time. I've discussed his contract being so far above his value on this blog before and his recent injury history hasn't been pretty. However, I interviewed Deng at his peak, and he was such a great guy. He spent so much time talking to me despite my then nothing status (not that so much has changed there). He was also an instrumental player in our best seasons, and he was the guy I was rooting so hard to draft.
Top 5 most hated Bulls
#5) Andres Nocioni - How can a guy make both lists? By becoming a terrible contract and then constantly complaining to the media about how no one else on the team is sharing the ball or playing team basketball. Look in the mirror buddy. Nocioni would commonly play for 26 minutes and hoist up 16 shots while never letting the ball leave his hands.
He'd complain about defensive commitment when he played defense like a six year old girls soccer player, just chasing the ball all over the field regardless of who he's supposed to defend. The culmination of this was when he left Andrew Iguodala as he was cutting to the basket in order to double team someone beyond the 3 point line without their dribble. I wanted to smash my TV.
I feel bad for putting Nocoini here, because I choose to remember the good times now, but boy did he piss me off near the end.
#4) Jim Boylan - Okay, he was a coach and not a player. However, this guy could have made a statement of "I deserve this job because I can develop players" and instead made a statement of "I'm scared of Ben Wallace and will continue to play him 40 minutes a game no matter how badly his back up out plays him because if I don't play him I might lose him mentally forever".
In general I'm pretty lenient on coaches, because I think fans tend to pick on all of their flaws and give no credit to their strengths. We bitch about rotations no matter what they are, and pin much of the blame on the coach. He did come into a bad situation, but boy did he find a way to make teh worst of it. After claiming he'd start everything fresh, he took the Skiles route and just magnified it with his rotations.
Hey Jim, did you notice that you were coaching a lotto bound team, how about developing someone? I will give him credit for taking a team loaded with talent and helping it along to a record that allowed us to draft Derrick Rose.
#3) Eddie Robinson - I tried to be hopeful about the Robinson signing when it happened. His contract was ridiculous, but he'd come off a good playoff series with Charlotte, was young, athlete, and had at least a chance to improve.
It didn't take long for that optimism to go away. He never seemed to e able to tough out anything, improve, or play well when healthy enough to actually suit up. He strikes me as a player who clearly only played for the money and not the love of the game.
#2) Larry Hughes - The only thing stopping Larry Hughes from being #1 on the list was the fact that he was only here about a season and wasn't a major factor. Still, this guy was a complete jackass. When told of the site "heylarryhughesstoptakingsomanydumbshots.com", his response was "I get paid a lot of money to take those shots". No Larry, you get paid a lot of money because your contract is guaranteed, and at one point you actually scored efficiently. Someone thought you'd do it again. I've heard he was a big time locker room cancer in addition to being a terrible basketball player.
I will give him some credit though, when Hinrich was out at the beginning of the 08/09 season, Larry Hughes actually played solid efficient basketball for a few weeks, maybe a month, and I thought there was a chance he'd reformed. Then he completely fell off the wagon.
#1) Ben Wallace - It's tempting to put Hughes here, because Wallace actually had at least some good moments with the team. However, I was ready to trade this guy (and took great flack for it) a month into his first season. I posted on realgm how the Bulls should move him for Kwame Brown, Chris Mihm and a 1st from the Lakers. That ultimately may have been a poor decision depending on how much value you place on the 06/07 playoff run, but Wallace has hampered us since then as well.
I place a large a mount of blame on Wallace for destroying the college like mentality of always working hard and taking joy in the game. His mere presence seemed to deflate the team, and his contract quickly became an albatross that led to Larry Hughes, my second least favorite player on the team.
To see a player come here for so much money and then do so little while clearly wanting to be anywhere else was predictable and disappointing.