Chicago Bulls rifts seem legit but blown out of proportion

Joe Cowley wrote an interesting piece on the Chicago Bulls and Derrick Rose having a large rift to throw a bucket of cold water on all the good feelings flying around team USA camp and Derrick's recovery. It was poorly written in many areas where Cowley filled in a lot of grey area to add opinion to quotes that didn't support it, but ironically it ended on a positive note and wasn't intended to be a pure hit piece but how the Bulls were moving past problems.

Rose basically says he heard about a rift but didn't experience it. It bothered him that he heard about it. The quote about Gasol was shockingly bad journalism as he simply lifted a quote where Derrick said nice things about used it out of context to imply Rose preferred Gasol when that wasn't the question asked.

The rest of the story is sort of a hodge podge of mostly known events and rumors. I'm not sure why the Bulls would deny there being a rift between them and at least some members of Derrick Rose's camp. That rift has become obvious when Reggie Rose publicly blasted the front office when Rose was contemplating an ACL return and Reggie said the front office didn't put together a team worth him returning to.

More or less every comment Reggie has made makes fans want to smack him around. To the extent a rift exists, it doesn't seem like it's between Derrick and the Bulls (and Derrick said the same thing) but between Reggie and the Bulls. Such a rift may exist and may be vast. However, Reggie's just a guy who's only in the picture because Derrick has let him be there.

The only thing particularly interesting about the story (or perhaps most interesting thing) was that Jerry Reinsdorf actually responded.

I am confounded by the irresponsible report in the Chicago Sun-Times suggesting there is anything approaching discord or confusion between the Bulls executive office, coaching staff, and Derrick Rose or any other Bulls player,” Reinsdorf said in the statement. “To the contrary, I can remember no time when the organization has been any more focused, optimistic, and cohesive.

If memory serves me correctly, Reinsdorf's long had a beef with the sun times in general dating back to the Jay Marrioti days. However, this piece was just pulling together a bunch of previously reported information for the most part. Bulls nation sort of laughed it off as old news and dicey reporting given the awful use of that Gasol quote. Perhaps some longstanding animosity caused the response.

However, this wasn't Cowley trying to undermine the Bulls spirit or any other such thing. If anything it was Cowley trolling for some summer slow time hits. The article isn't really even that bad as it goes into a bunch of past problems and suggests that the Bulls are back with everyone on the same page now at the end.

Well some of those problems were damn obvious in the past. If someone wanted to do a hatchet job piece they could go on about the rift between Thibodeau and the front office as well or link the two and wonder aloud (as others have) about how the Bulls front office could appear at odds with both their elite head coach and superstar player.

If Cowley wanted to truly undermine the spirit of the Bulls this could have been a lot uglier.

Here's the thing, in the end, there was a lot of frustration over the past three seasons. The bulls had a legitimate championship window taken away by multiple injuries to their superstar player. That weighs on everyone. I'm sure Derrick, Tom, Gar, and Pax were all frustrated with the events. I'm sure like any group of people who work closely together that frustration boiled over at times.

It weighs on the front office who was blasted for not doing enough to win this whole period when it's sort of ridiculous to think they'd have any shot of winning when they lost their best player. Seriously, what team loses their best player and then wins? Chicago actually did remarkably well while Rose was out given the circumstances.

It weighs on Tom Thibodeau who's suffered plenty of criticism over short rotations, playing guys too much, and ignoring offensive players, etc.. Thibodeau has shown he plays guys who are good and doesn't play guys who stink, and while I think he errs on the side of defense, his not playing rookies has more to to do with them not being ready relative to guys he does play than a hard and fast rule. Last year's short rotations weren't due to him being insane, they were due to a short bench while the Bulls tried to avoid the luxury tax and prepare for this summer.

It weighed on Derrick Rose who's become aware that plenty of fans weren't really excited about what appeared to be two occasions where he could have played basketball but choose not to. Rose has been wearing a teflon jacket his whole life but suddenly found himself the subject of plenty of criticism in his home town by the local fans for perhaps the first time in his life.

Pressure creates rifts, and poor luck with Rose's health has created lots of pressure, but if everyone stays healthy this season that pressure will be all but gone. The Bulls are ready to compete for the title this season. With Paul George's ghastly injury, the Bulls and Cavs look like the only two legit teams in the East.

It will come down to Chicago vs LeBron again, and Bulls fans will wonder if we'll play foil to LeBron a little while longer similar to the Knicks and Michael Jordan. However, this is the best team Chicago's had to go after the Knicks and even if the Cavs trade for Kevin Love, Chicago will still have a chance to stand toe to toe with them.

So was there some growing discord in the Bulls organization over the past couple seasons? Probably, but I'd bet everyone is pretty happy and on the same page right now. Could there be discord again? Absolutely. If the team underperforms due to injury or other reasons then sure.

Pro sports are simply like that. Everything is great when you're winning and awful when you're losing (or in the Bulls case, not even losing but simply failing to meet expectations even if the reason is injury and we all understand it).

Yeah, I think it's probably fair to say not everything has been wine and rose petals between the Chicago Bulls biggest personalities the past three years, but it rarely is and hasn't been any worse than it is in other cities, just look around the league. Look at the drama surrounding the Nets which is eye popping, or the Warriors who decided to jump Jackson to give Steve Kerr (who's never coached) an elite coaching salary.

This is part of the business, but I believe the Bulls (front office, coach, star) have been smart enough/good enough to work through some of these problems and are all ready to take on this season with one goal in mind, a championship.

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  • 1990's Bulls have a big player vs management rift. Who cares as long as it does not blow up the team.

    It is interesting that LeBron and his camp did not publically complain one bit when Miami amnestied his boy, Miller, and did not use the MLE last summer. I think that may have been the beginning of the end for LeBron in Miami - cemented by the ugly finals loss and aging/thin roster. Those moves look pretty short-sighted now.

  • In reply to Granby:

    The truth of the LeBron's departure is simple. He left for a better team and a better opportunity. I realize that the national media ate up the whole "going home" bit and especially the South Florida fan base (believe me I know - i live down here) has rationalized the departure likewise. Not saying that going home wasn't a factor but a simpler and less talked about truth exists, the Cavs presented an opportunity to enter Phase 3 of his career with a young, talented team that has an opportunity to acquire another star while allowing him to be the "man" and lead his hometown team too. The stars aligned perfectly.

    Never seen a guy who had been so villified turn around perceptions over the course of 2 weeks like I did with LeBron. Everybody loves the story of "going home" but the real story is a Cavs team with a budding star PG Irving and a Top 10 star PF Love while bringing his boys Miller, Allen, Jones is simply a better team than one with an aging and falling apart Wade and exclusively perimeter Bosh.

  • In reply to ripiceman:

    You are right, it's definitely a better opportunity probably even without Love. The going home spin on this is just disgusting.

    Bosh probably had a better opportunity in Houston and did not take it. Carmelo had a better opportunity in Chicago and did not take it.

  • In reply to ripiceman:

    While I agree that the stars aligned to make this the right time for him to go home to Cleveland, I am not so sure that he is in Cleveland today if it wasn't his home, and he didn't feel so strongly about his home, say like Chris Bosh or Dwight Howard, who both apparently couldn't care less.

    So to dismiss it or be disgusted by it, is more a case of Lebron hatred and petty jealousy.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Well, yes, going home means something. But, it was the better situation first and foremost. I may hate LeBron a little less now. (He's actually a good guy, I just can't stand the flopping and how he left Cleveland the first time - the TV special and the pep rally in Miami...)

  • Cowley stirs up crap that's at least 6 months old, then it gets reprinted all over the internet like it's news, and guys like you call it legit. Come on!

  • In reply to EJMF:

    Thank you! It was a hit piece made by a hack sports columnist known more for his gossip reporting than his sports writing. No different than his tenure writing about the White Sox. It's hilarious how all the media types are rallying around him now. Sad really.

  • In reply to EJMF:

    Reinsdorf sure made this look legit by responding to it. The crap he stirred up isn't six months old in this case, the meat of his article was centered on recruiting Melo which was one week ago.

  • First off - what Joe Cowley did was just report what was already well known by the Bulls beat guys. Everyone has confirmed the issues and the tension, Cowley just took it to print. I dont blame him because it is a story that the Bulls beat guys have brushed under the rug but it got way overblown by the national media - again making the Bulls look bad. End of the day - its a story that gives everyone a black eye.

    But there are two things that the article sheds light on that is concerning me going forward. One - its seems that the notion that "Derrick doesn't recruit" is blantant garbage. What is clear here is that Derrick WILL recruit only players who wont challenge his status as "the guy." He'll recruit guys who he thinks he can play with and will fit his game - regardless of all the efforts the FO puts in to identify and bring in the best talent. Its why he recruited Hinrich and Gasol but half-heartedly pitched to Melo. Looks like Rose's ego to be the lone superstar on the team is the limiting factor. Interesting that Rose hasn't even recruited his work out buddy K. Love. Maybe he's thretened by another star eating into his glory? All I know is that the "I'll ride with the guys" is really only the guys that he's happy with. Looks like if the Bulls want to combat this, they'll have to acquire pieces by trade and force the issue. But the Bulls FO limiting factor seems to be the unwillingness to trade their precious core. Its obvious why the Bulls remain in this very very good category but unable to break the glass ceiling. Too many egos, too little foresight/vision, too little guts

    Secondly, the article sheds more light onto the Rose camp and advisors. I understand Rose's loyalty to those who kept him on the straight and narrow growing up but these very guys have become detriments in his professional career. Reggie Rose and B.J. Armstrong are guys who should be curtailed but they clearly have Rose's ear. Seems that Rose is either too naive or too ignorant to realize the tension and all the bad advice being given. Rose's pristine image of a humble hometown kid who is hard worker and do-gooder has been marred into an image of an arrogant, punk kid who is still a hard worker but is not in control of his business and does what he wants and when he wants. Rose's comments of playing when he wants and practing when he wants according to his own schedule and being out of sync with the FO is all a consequence of bad advice. Rose clearly doesn't have his stuff together and is not the CEO of his team. Obviously, you have a brother who is clueless at this rank and an "agent" in Armstrong who still harbors bad beef almost 10 years after the fact. Armstrong is doing Rose a disservice by interjecting his personal vendetta into doing what is best for his client. This amateur hour 101. And Rose is the one that looks clueless and ignorant and naive about the whole thing especially when he gives Cowley quotes for the article and then goes to ESPN 2 days later and pretends like what he said to Cowley never happened. Its comical but sad.

  • Like Doug said, all of this goes away if Rose stays healthy. Frankly, I consider it a non issue. Most people don't get along with everybody that they work with/for and all of their associates, nevermind in the make believe world of professional sports with all its hangeroners and other shady characters.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Totally agree. This situation was horrible. In life, especially in times of stress there will be disagreements. A year in which Rose and his key teammates can avoid major injuries would make this drama all go away. With no major injuries, this team is 1 or 2 in the east and there's probably a 50% chance (or better) of a Finals appearance.

    Bulls should be able to hang with anyone this year. I think with injuries they attain the best overall league record once again with about 62-65 wins given the weaker Eastern Conf.

  • In reply to Granby:

    I can see that forecast happening. And if M and M really develop, they should be near the top for years.

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