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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