I read this one a lot. It’s the classic syndrome of minimizing the successes of our teams while not doing the same to other teams. For some reason, a lot of folks want to diminish the Bulls roster and particularly the GarPax management team that has built one of the best teams in the NBA.
Other than lucking into Rose, this team has been either a lottery team or first round fodder since the Jordan era, not much to recommend the guys running the show.
If not for the luck out of Derrick Rose and hiring of Thibs(who in my opinion was an obvious hire and someone Gar/Pax probably thought they could to a an extent control), and his brilliant defensive apparatus, this team would be what Gar/Pax created, a middling, cheap, non fan friendly undynamic franchise that for a major market was the laughingstock of the league.
Let’s get this out of the way up front: The Bulls aren’t the Lakers. The Lakers consistently go after the game’s biggest stars and they consistently get them. They stole Shaq from Orlando. They swindled Pau Gasol from Memphis. Before my time, they pulled Kareem from Milwaukee. They are the Lakers, the model franchise of the NBA and the Bulls are not. If you’re angry about that, there’s not much I can say to change your mind. Become a Lakers fan, I won’t hold it against you.
So let me ask those of you who say the Bulls “only” got Rose because they “got lucky”: Do you discredit other teams who gain superstars by getting the top pick? Do you think the San Antonio Spurs should give back their 4 championships for lucking into the Tim Duncan draft? Mind you, the Spurs already had a top overall pick in David Robinson, but he missed the season with injury, the balls bounced the Spurs’ way and the rest is history. Should the Houston Rockets be discredited the 2 championships they won behind Hakeem Olajuwon, he of first-overall-pick status? I love me some D-Rose, but a truly lucky team would have been able to draft a big man in the mold of Duncan or Hakeem, not a 6’1” point guard. Furthermore, it is often referred to as “luck” because the lottery rewards the worst teams. The Bulls actually played too well that year to get the top pick, in fact so well that their lottery chances were a famous 1.7%. If they had been a worse team, they wouldn't have needed as much luck to get him. Some might suggest they should have tanked the season if they weren't going to make the playoffs, but that's exactly why the lottery is designed the way it is.
Fact is, beyond the Lakers and the mystique they’ve created, it’s ALL luck. Did the Bulls have foresight in drafting Michael Jordan 3rdoverall, or was he simply the consensus best player to draft in the 3rd slot? How about the Oklahoma Thunder, did they not get extremely lucky? Not only did they get Kevin Durant with the 2nd pick, but they lucked into getting the 2nd pick instead of the 1st, which was used on consensus top pick Greg Oden, who turned out to be a bust.
Sometimes it’s not a top pick but a roll of the dice, but you still need luck to come up box cars. Dallas took a chance on developing Dirk Nowitzki and it worked out. Bulls took a chance on Eddy Curry and it didn’t. Dwyane Wade fell to 6th, Miami scooped him up and he turned into a superstar. Houston drafted Yao Ming 1st overall but injury problems prevented him from fulfilling his potential. Same year, Bulls drafted Jay Williams and he wrecked his career on a motorcycle. I suppose GarPaxDorf deserves the blame for that too.
It’s much more of a crapshoot than anyone wants to believe. When you see a team win consistently, it’s not luck, so credit goes to the Lakers but that’s about it in the NBA. Joe Dumars did a heck of a job putting together the Pistons team of the 2000s without lucking into drafting any top talent, but it’s worth noting that they won only 1 title, and they’ve been unable to duplicate their success.
I have my issues with GarPax. They’ve been totally unable to bring a 2nd superstar to play with Rose. The Celtics traded 7 players for Kevin Garnett. The Lakers found a way to get Pau Gasol. Oklahoma developed Russell Westbrook. Bulls still need another guy and I know GarPax has tried, but this is the big leagues and trying isn’t enough. GarPax has made some mistakes as well, trading Lemarcus Aldridge for Tyrus Thomas, hiring Vinny Del Negro, and mishandling the Omer Asik situation. But every GM makes mistakes. GarPax built one of the 4-5 best teams in the NBA around a 6’1” point guard. You don’t do that on luck alone. They selected the right coach (admittedly took a few tries), found the right complementary players, made the right choice between Luol Deng and Ben Gordon when many fans got it wrong, myself included. They’ve done so many things well.
They just haven’t been lucky enough.