The Bulls and inaccessibility

The Bulls and inaccessibility

Denmark is the home of famed author Hans Christian Andersen, one of the most important figures in adventure and fairy-tale literature from the 1800's and whose work is still being read by millions across the globe, to this very day.

As a Dane, the work of Mr. Andersen obviously means a great deal to me, especially as a parent, and just recently I introduced my son to his writing. But as I let myself submerge into his tales and poems, I was reminded of a myth that's been circling his legacy for over a century.

Supposedly, as a young author, Mr. Andersen felt the need to mark a small 'X' in his diaries for whenever he pleasured himself. As one can imagine, rumors are still floating to this day of diaries filled with small X's, even though they are - to the best of my knowledge - completely unsubstantiated. But yet, the myth persists.

One of the reasons are his secretive life, and the fact that no one knows a great deal about the man holding the pen, which has always been an invitation for people to invent stories, or at the least spice up the truth. Since Andersen did in fact keep a diary, why not add a little something to the lure of his person?

That logic is one applicable to the Bulls as well.

Despite former greatness, and a solidified position as one of the best franchises in the history of basketball, there's mystique surrounding these Bulls, which leads people to embellish on rumors, embellish on their own connections tot he team, and what have you. In short, stories are made up to create a psychological connection to the person of interest, or in this case, the team of interest.

Leave the same door locked every time you have people over, and that room becomes the most interesting thing in the house. People will eventually graviate towards it, and begin to ask more and more questions about the content of the room.

Sounds slightly familiar, no?

The Bulls remain one of the most secretive organizations in the NBA, by choice, and their lack of transparency has grown infamous to the point where theories are thrown left and right about their collective mindset, approach to team building, and disinterest in trades.

Hell, I even mentioned something about that last bit a few pieces ago.

When people know virtually nothing, speculation arises. This, too, played a role in the whole Tom Thibodeau debacle. For over two years, fans were fed scripted lines denying an undoubtedly miserable relationship that, ironically, was made worse by constant media speculation, culminating in Jeff Van Gundy laying the smack down on the Bulls on national TV, officially ending whatever hope of reconciliation that remained.

Would Thibodeau still be the coach had the Bulls been more transparent? No, not by a long shot. But that's not really the point seeing as both sides had to move on. Specifically, the end would probably have gone smoother, and the Bulls wouldn't be perceived as an organization that is dripping over with internal drama, which they've been several times over in recent years. This isn't about Thibodeau, Vinny Del Negro, or any other controversial coach/signing/decision in years past. It's about identifying, and removing, a pattern that seems destined to repeat itself over and over.

The Bulls have grown accustomed to building walls instead of bridges, most notably through public statements that have become so riddled with clichés and white noise that they might as well forego the trouble of even drafting them in the first place. For clarification's sake, it's not suggested that the Bulls should come out to inform media and fans about every little bit that happens throughout their day, but rather stop speaking to their fan base as one that is beneath them. It's the robotic approach to public relation that is inviting fans to become skeptical of what the Bulls are actually doing, but also disengage entirely with the franchise.

It's August, and for all intents and purposes, there's yet to be presented a vision for what the team will be trying to do this upcoming season. There are vague hints at player development via the Fred Hoiberg hiring, a reporter's opinion (which frequently is viewed as the Bulls' way of leaking info) of a line-up change, and after that, there's a whole big of nothing, as per usual. Even 76ers fans knows what plan is in place.

The somewhat constant drama unfolding within the Bulls might play out differently, if they showcased something that resembled a personality. Even their Twitter-feed resembles a stone-cold, no-fun mentality. When teams are interacting with each other, doing Photoshop show-offs, finding the best movie quotes, helping each other finding nick names, and whatever else they come up with, the Bulls remain silent, almost purposely so.

Now, a Twitter-feed means absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things, but it still serves as yet another reminder that these Bulls have painted themselves into a corner with their reluctance in being more progressive from a PR-perspective.

Why is this a problem? It's not if you don't mind the myths and stories that will be created out of thin air due to their limited accessibility, but it is one if you wish to avoid imaging a little 'X' every time you think of them.

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  • Interesting post. Someone posted recently that the Bulls are good at manipulating the media, but I think that POV is an example of how the team's secrecy " leads people to embellish on rumors, embellish on their own connections tot he team, and what have you."

    Going along with Mort's piece, I actually think the Bulls are quite BAD at media and PR, and KC Johnson is the only one I ever feel like is in any way controlled by them. Even if you agreed with the Thibs firing -- which most fans here do -- you have to say the FO did a clumsy public job of it and ended up looking bad. They could have just said something about how the two sides disagree on how to best move forward, like the Denver Broncos did in firing John Fox. Instead Reinsdorf released an overly verbose, somewhat cryptic and completely classless statement that pointed the finger solely at Thibs.

    Then you get downright weird rumors that the FO was jealous of the attention Thibs was getting. I think it's nonsense, but that's what happens when you constantly shroud yourself in secrecy and basically do a bad job of managing public perception.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Clumsy job of it? Basically seems like they imaged the worse possible way they could have fired him and went with that. It was epically terrible and left the entire Organization looking petty, classless and vengeful.

    As for the manipulation of the media I agree they are suck at it. If the media silence thing worked we wouldn't have known about a feud between Gar and Thibs for the past two years... Everyone knew this was coming after Gar pulled the stunt of firing Ron Adams out from under Thibs. After that it was only a matter of time.

  • "Leave the same door locked every time you have people over, and that room becomes the most interesting thing in the house. People will eventually graviate towards it, and begin to ask more and more questions about the content of the room.

    Sounds slightly familiar, no?"

    Especially if you live in Colorado....... or Amsterdam. lol. (and something smells funky).

  • While somewhat of an "off-beat"(please whatever you do do not invert the order of those words.. Ha, Ha, say it ain't so Hans Christian), the point rings true.
    Gar/Pax always seem to speak in generalities, and just seem emotionally numb when speaking to the media as if having to consort with a molester or some other social scourge.

    Truth is, while it seems most successful people have an enjoyment of life and a certain consideration of others(unless the other is a proven jerk), it isn't always the case. Take one Jerry "Krumbs" Krause. You never got the feeling Jerry was a "people" person which he wasn't, but on the other hand he was on rare occasion willing to genuinely smile and in the presence of someone he trusted would laugh at himself aka show a little humility.

    Yet despite being notoriously secretive and insular, there's no denying Krause's success with casting the likes of Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, Steve Kerr, Toni Kukoc, Craig Hodges, Ron Harper, and Dennis Rodman. And if not mistaken he was the one willing to take a chance on a zen centered NBA rookie coach in Phil Jackson.

    So it can be done being a non-people person. Yet with Paxson and now Forman when handed their near or actual superstar in Derrick Rose, the best they could offer to assist him were Keith Bogans, Rip Hamilton, and Ronnie Brewer. Outside of Ben Gordon they never drafted or retained a true scoring star or all star. They also without question have been disingenuous in trade pursuits with other G.M.s offering guys like Ronnie Brewer for O.J. Mayo when the team in question had already waived said limited player who when he left the Bulls fell off the map.

    With the Jimmy Butler coup in hand, the emergence of Nikola Mirotic as a bonafide potent scorer and McDelayed development as at minimum a three point terror(not looking likely) would seem to solidify Gar/Pax as adept appraisers of talent for perhaps the final stretch of their Bulls careers which may be endless with Reinsdorf enjoying the family/known brand that dupes fans into continued allegiance despite true sustained quality.

    Yes Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, and Klankenstein(not to mention do your (hand)job(s) regular season wins dynamo in Thibs) seemingly defy death as a Chicago Bulls natural NBA career cycle churns on and on seemingly beyond the grave. Maybe we could rename them the Chicago Zombies.

    You just wonder with a corporate based fan infusion(yeccchhh) and a largely corporate media structure how likely it is that Gar/Pax's tenure will be viewed with Rose colored glasses? Certainly the playoff success during their (yellow) reign is sub par for some die hards considering we're talking what going on 12 years now. Though Boston and L.A. may be headed down the same decrepit path as we speak.

  • Thanks for commenting on another attribute of Chicago sports--the secret side--or the mentality and/or psychological. Success breeds success and failure...well it does not contribute to the building of great cities and its people--cause talk is cheap? Can this Bulls team go the distance and win a Championship, this year? Do we match up offensively and defensively with the players we have to beat the other teams? What is the vision of the Bull's management? Yes, these are the questions we have each year about our team, management, and its individual talent. We have a need to know what it takes to win at the highest level humans can win at!
    What is the thinking of the FO when players are available who can take us to the next level now and should money be the dominating force that they should be dominated by? We are looking at a multi-billion dollar franchise we helped to establish and build. So, we wonder and sometimes I just believe they intentionally want to keep us in the dark--just to make our blood boil. If management talked to us and told us everything thing on their minds--would that satisfy any one of us?
    Chicagoan's love winning at any thing and we want our teams, our people, and our city to be successful at every level of world achievement. As a Black American I look at Michael Jordan and Oprah Winfrey towards our success and we see the Chicago Bulls as an inspiration along the lines of Hans Christian Andersen. I even dream about sharing box seats with family and friends at Bulls games--like we once dreamed of doing with the Chicago Bears during the days of Payton and Gale Sayers. We go to Cub games--not to see them win--but, I guess just to share the moments of drinking beer with the crowd and talking about baseball--I guess you could call us fans--and not the insane who think the Cubs could ever win.
    So the secrecy doesn't stop with the Bulls front office--and it begins with our curiosity of what it takes to win at every level of society. It's all good to think about this on going drama in life--to evolve tomorrow positively and be the best one could be today-- and win! We all have a vision that we want the FO to acknowledge and work towards. So we think as positively as a people here on this site to respond to one another's thoughts--voicing our expertise, our experience and inexperience as athletes or simply fans--with hopes and aspirations to problem solve together here. So maybe its good for us to only know so much about the way management thinks--cause we are all right on the money with our opinions.

  • "If management talked to us and told us everything thing on their minds--would that satisfy any one of us?"

    penwit asks a great question, as rhetorical as it may be. We all know the answer is 100% "NO", as Roman pointed out:

    "Reinsdorf released an overly verbose, somewhat cryptic and completely classless statement that pointed the finger solely at Thibs.".

    Folks wanting "honesty" and "transparency" from the front office should have been jumping up and down with joy at this answer, after all that's obviously how Reinsdorf honestly felt. Right?

    But like Roman also pointed out, JR got ripped a new one for being "honest" instead of going with the PC "difference of opinions". Right?

    Folks didn't like the truth, yet they don't like PC catch-phrases, either.

    The truly successful organizations are usually the quiet ones.

    The Patriots are notoriously tight-lipped.

    The dynasty Bulls, same thing.

    You ever hear Dr. Buss talking about how Kobe absolutely hated Shaq's guts? We all knew he did, but Jerry never talked about it, did he?

    There are less than a handful of owners in the entire history of professional sports who have won more championships than Reinsdorf has won as Bulls owner.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    You have hit upon one of the fundamental hypocrisies of our current society. Everybody is always screaming that they want public figures(government and corporate leaders, athletes and celebrities) who tell them the truth(straight shooters) instead of playing the game(PC or otherwise) and only saying what their PR machine tells them to say and or bombarding us with meaningless cliches. Yet the minute that someone does, they are routinely ridiculed and attacked.

    Personally, I just wasn't all that upset by the Bulls handling of the Thibs situation, they clearly outlined what they felt were the main issues that lead to the parting of the ways. Reinsdorf doesn't say all that much in public, but when he does it appears that he says what he means and means what he says whether we like it or not. Maybe it would be more fun to have the Mark Cuban type owner, but he probably wouldn't have hired Thibs in the first place.

    Whatever you think of Donald Trump(not unlike the Yankees, Knicks or just about anything NY, I've never been a fan), he certainly isn't your typical calculating politician. Not unlike Ross Perot in the 90's, he is basically a loose cannon, saying whatever he thinks often without too much if any thought. For the most part he is getting crucified for just about everything that he says, rather than being celebrated for speaking his mind, keeping it real, telling us the truth as he sees it. Just giving the people what they want, right.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Jessep: I'll answer the question. You want answers?

    Lieutenant Kaffee: I think I'm entitled to them.

    Jessep: You want answers?!

    Lieutenant Kaffee: I want the truth!

    Jessep: You can't handle the truth!

    Replace Lt. Kaffee (Tom Cruise) and Jessep (Jack Nicholson) with "Bulls Fans" and "The Bulls Front Office".

    It's the same, tired, laughable story for 10 years now - "The Bulls are cheap, but they overpaid for Wallace, Boozer, Hamilton, Hinrich". Huh? They're cheap but they overpay for players? Huh?

    A fan doesn't agree with a move the front office made, or a free agent they didn't sign? They are either "cheap" or they "don't care about winning".

  • The truth of the matter is that they can't be outspoken and honest about the direction of the team.

    What are they going to say? "We've succeeded in building an incredibly profitable franchise, one of the most valuable in the NBA and all of professional sports. We're going to say the "right" things about winning, but we actually are pretty happy about the way things are going."

    The Bulls and the fans don't necessarily have the same goals. That's why it makes sense for them to say very little. Play it close to the vest and speak in cliches. Meanwhile, stay the course.

    This year they said the strategy is to improvement from within.
    Pau continued that this team last year wasn't ready for some games and it's inconsistent play throughout the season effected them in the playoffs.
    So getting rid of Thibs and hiring Fred is the plan. And if that doesn't work next season, there's always the old standby blame "injuries".

    Meanwhile, the thing to watch is whether the Bulls actually pay the luxury tax. They have until the end of the season to get under the cap. Not paying the tax, as it has been every year, is probably another unspoken goal. How would they explain that to the media and the fans?

    Oh and by the way, there is a change the Bulls made this year that has gone unspoken; they once again raised season ticket prices.

  • In reply to Waldock:

    You make a point that millions have tried to make, except they always forget one thing -

    Winning a championship or two raises the value of your franchise by much more than a season or two's profits.

    Simply going to the NBA Finals vs losing in the 2nd round adds another $10 million or so (if not more) in profits each year, because home playoff games are almost pure profit.

    Not to mention the extra money from higher ticket prices, higher local TV ad rates, more merchandise sales, all of that goes up when your team is winning.

    The entire premise of a franchise caring more about profits than winning is based on a 100% false premise. Winning = profits.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    Correct. I've never understood that sentiment at all. Makes no sense. If making the playoffs and being on the 'treadmill' gets you profits, wouldn't winning more get you more cash to splash?

  • In reply to Mark Karantzoulis:

    But betting on winning it all is a big gamble. Only one team out of 30 does it each year.

  • In reply to Mark Karantzoulis:

    yeah, but betting on winning it all is still a big gamble that many large market teams have lost. Only one team out of 30 can win it all each year

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    this is not related but I wonder what Reinsdorf and his group would do if some billionaire offered several billion dollars to make the Chicago Bulls his personal toy. Many say Reinsdorf only cares about money but I could never see him selling the Bulls, even if some super rich fan offered him insane money. On the other hand I think its clear that Reinsdorf will never go deep into the tax like some teams do even though he has the resources for it. My problem with ownership/front office is more to do with not making the big trade or signing some washed up vets because they "like the character" of the player. They have to get more creative with trades at the very least.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    Completely agree they can't swing the big deal, be it signing a FA or making a big trade. These things are very hard to do and they don't always work, but you want to see your FO acting aggressively.

    Can't say I agree with your comment about the tax though. I don't see any teams going deep into the tax these days, not one. The Bulls absolutely would have done it had they signed LeBron but they didn't, and even then, they've gone into the tax enough that you can't really complain that they haven't. Spending money hasn't stopped this team from winning championships.

  • In reply to Waldock:

    What a nonsensical, tired old argument.

  • I think the FO wants to prove that the problem was not with the player talent but with the coach. OK, I get that. Hopefully they are correct, and I do believe they may be.

    Normally we would blame the HC, Thibs, on the FO, but in this case reports are that was on JR.

    However, overpaying for Kirk, especially for the second year, may have kept them from getting Green, the SF the team could really use. And also the better-than-Brooks backup PG. In fact, they still should have, IMO, been able to land at least one of those guys.

    Similar stuff happened with Wallace, then Boozer, then Hamilton. This is probably an above average FO, but not a great one. Yet. If they make a great trade at the deadline for the solid wing and it leads to a title, then maybe they will be on their way. Maybe.

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    This piece is Fluffy! Denmark? HCA? Secretive? Oh well, I made it through the whole thing, and I'm still alive and awake.

    I agree that the Bulls FO is somewhat of a mystery, and I've never seen a bunch of journalist, and beat writers more supportive of every decision the FO makes than with the Bulls organization. Since the Jordan yrs when it smells like smoke there's always Sam Smith and KC Johnson to put out the fire, and make it smell like an bar-b-que cookout coming from the Bulls front office.

  • What do you expect? It's a Reinsdorf run operation. The White Sox are the same way. Remember the times Ozzie Guillen ripped the fan base? How about this year where Kenny Williams talked about them in June or the two times pitching coach Don Cooper made remarks about them during his radio show.

    Those people may be 100% correct in their comments but one of the first rules of business is, "never attack / belittle / insult your customer base..." especially when they are paying the fright.

    As far as being secretive nobody on the planet is more cloak and dagger than Kenny.

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