In much the same manner that people are born Cubs’ fans, Sox fans, or Blackhawks’ fans, I was born a Bulls’ fan. Growing up, my dad told stories about Bob Love, my brother sort of looked like Will Perdue with Horace Grant goggles, and my mom did a near perfect Bill Cartwright voice impersonation. During my teenage years, I was much more likely to practice Michael Jordan’s signature turn around fade-away, complete with my tongue hanging out than to apply makeup or paint my nails.
I’ve stayed with the Bulls from Jordan to Deng to Rose to Butler. I’ll admit I didn’t watch them as much in the early 2000’s when the Bulls hit a franchise low of only 15 wins in a full season of play. Ironically enough, those were the years when current coach Fred Hoiberg was a Bulls’ player. Though still a part of me, I viewed them like that distant third cousin who moved to a different state.
The picks of Joakim Noah and then Derrick Rose brought me fully back to the Bulls. Even with Vinny Del Negro at the helm, (I’m actually longing for a Vinny Del Negro season after these last two), the Bulls became a team to watch. Then Thibodeau, Gibson, and eventually Butler came along to make this team a force. My distant third cousin was suddenly back in town upgraded to sibling equal to that of Will Perdue with Horace Grant goggles (sorry Bro).
Jimmy Butler, NBA’s version of The Blind Side, who started out in the league averaging just three points and playing limited minutes his rookie year, would go onto play second fiddle to Rose’s acrobatic, ninja-like MVP level of play. Then after Rose’s injuries doomed him to the bench, Butler’s play took center stage, and he became the franchise’s best player on both offense and defense.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, coming from troubled beginnings in Tomball, Texas, Butler never knew his father, and at the age of 13, Butler became homeless after his mother kicked him out saying, “I don’t like the looks of you.” He then gained stability in a new family, the Lamberts, in high school.
He went from high school and earned his stripes as a junior college player before Marquette picked him up as a sophomore in 2008. After three successful seasons, the Bulls drafted him #30. The odds everywhere seemed to be against Butler—his family, a junior college beginning, a #30 draft pick. That combination doesn’t usually lead to becoming a top player in the NBA. But it did for Butler, and it sufficed for my Bulls for awhile anyways.
I’m not worried for Jimmy Butler, even though his manager seemed a bit miffed. When adversity hits, Butler rises, and he has a much better supporting cast in Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, so he doesn’t have to be a lone wolf in a pack (oh no, I may be becoming a T-wolves fan). He’ll find his home again with Thibodeau who will definitely coach him “harder” than Hoiberg and bring out the best in him as well.
I am extremely worried for the Bulls and fully believe this year’s team that Hoiberg will coach will be akin to the ones he played on when he played for the Bulls. The only players that remain from the Thibodeau-Chicago era are Nikola Mirotic and Mirotic’s beard. The highest score on the new Bulls’ roster is now newly acquired Zach Levine at 18.9, and this happened before he tore his ACL. Need I mention, the Bulls don’t do so well with torn ACL’s?
The second highest scorer would be Dwayne Wade with 15 points per game. Can someone tell me another playoff or championship team whose leading scorers averaged under 20 points? Though Forman and Paxson are touting this trade along with Minnesota’s #7 draft pick of Lauri Markkanen as a move to the young, Jimmy Butler is only 27. Dwayne Wade is 35, as he told reporters last year as an excuse for missing practices. “I’m 35, I’m not practicing every day.” (I gave my principal this same excuse last year about attending teacher meetings. He was not amused.) Yet Wade remains, and Butler is now on the Timberwolves.
The media has also reported that Forman and Paxson have been enamored with Dunn since last year when Minnesota drafted him 5th. He averaged just under 4 points per game last season. The lesson learned in Dunn is that the Bulls’ love is blind. The lesson learned with Butler is that it’s also fleeting.
As a Bulls’ fan and Jimmy Butler fan and on behalf of my family, including both my mom who often wears a Jimmy Butler t-shirt jersey to the Bulls games and my 93 year old grandfather who watches every game, I wish you, Jimmy Butler the best and hopefully a long, successful career in Minnesota. To the Bulls, I’ll just pretend you moved to Montana for these next couple of years, unless somehow, you prove me wrong.