Yesterday, Clippers star Blake Griffin expressed how very, very sorry he was for the friend-on-friend violence in a Toronto restaurant when he slugged a team employee, not once, but several times, bashing Matias Testi’s face in. Griffin said, “I want to apologize to the fans.” It was refreshing to hear accountability. Griffin’s behavior put his team in possible jeopardy because he couldn’t control his emotions. As Griffin put it, he “lacked judgment.”
Now there’s a couple of words the Bulls can relate to, lacking judgment. The front office ran Tom Thibodeau out the building for reasons only they seemed to celebrate. Yes, Thibodeau worked the players to death and he was a tough, no-frills coach and he didn’t pretty anything up and he wasn’t the kind that had wine and cheese with his bosses. But, he won. He won 62 games. He won 50 games. He won 45 games. He won 48 games. He won 50 games. That’s a fire-able offense, winning.
Perhaps the Bulls have the impression that anyone can coach and that’s why they plucked an inexperienced coach to lead a team that had a specific window in a conference with LeBron James. Of course, it has failed. They turned Tom Thibodeau into a victim. They turned Fred Hoiberg into an over-his-head coaching caricature.
The Bulls judgment was worse than Griffin’s because even though Griffin was embarrassed and punished, it was temporary, whereas the Bulls embarrassment seemingly has no end. Their self-inflicted justice is to pretend nothing disastrous has happened in the nearly nine months since Fred Hoiberg was hired.
First Bleacher Report reported the Bulls were “aggressively” trying to move Pau Gasol. And then Brian Windhorst of ESPN said the Bulls were not moving Gasol, they were only taking calls. OK. We’re stupid, here. The most skilled player on your team, the one with playoff experience and a couple of NBA rings, the one Tom Thibodeau coveted, recruited and sold on the Bulls, is the Bull you are trying to get rid of. Gasol is 34 years old with an opt-out; he can be moved. But where does that leave Chicago? Reports also have them wanting to move Taj Gibson and not re-signing Joakim Noah. From appearances, it seems that all of Thibodeau’s guys are the ones being led to slaughter. As was Thibodeau.
It’s been 17 seasons since the Bulls won their last championship. It looked like the Bulls were close in 2010 when they won 62 games but injuries decimated the next few seasons and now the front office has jammed Bulls fans in the face the way Blake Griffin jammed Matias Testi.
Except, there is no hospital visit to knit the wounds. No broken hand to heal. There will be no apology. No contrition, we made a mistake, we did this to our wholly arrogant selves. There will be no atonement. The Bulls will try to avert blame, shift accountability and pretend the Fred Hoiberg hire was a brilliant move, even as they are on track to win 41 games this season. The last time that happened?
The year before Thibodeau arrived.
photo via llananba