It’s Okay to Grow Up Baby Bulls

All you need to know is that Bobby Portis decked his teammate of three seasons and said teammate went to the hospital with a broken face and a concussion. Nikola Mirotic won’t be able to return until-best estimate- November 15th, if it is on the light side of the 4-6 week recovery, and December 1st, if it takes six weeks to heal, which seems more likely since Mirotic can’t have his surgery until his concussion symptoms disappear.

Bobby Portis doing his best Mike Tyson will return after an 8 game suspension on November 10th in Miami. Portis is not out the woods yet. The NBA has to weigh everything. Like what were the Bulls doing?  It was reported that Bulls GM Gar Forman was at the practice. It wasn’t a secret Portis and Mirotic aren’t BFF’s so when it began to ramp up a little bit why no intervention? Besides, is an 8 games suspension enough when Mirotic has a longer recovery? Shouldn’t Portis be out as long as Mirotic since he is the reason bones in Mirotic’s jaw don’t work?

Because we like to lay blame there is this gem. Mirtoic instigated Portis to go all Tyson on his face by charging him, and just for the record, Mirotic has accountability. But then Portis has to remember he is at his workplace and has a team option for next season; Mirotic just signed a two year deal with a team option for next season too. It could happen that neither are with the Bulls next season. They both have a lot at stake this year that a fight doesn’t help.

“Both players owned responsibility in the incident itself but only one player threw a punch”, John Paxson said, sounding as if all the blame, as far as he is concerned, is on Portis’ shoulder. Paxson went on to say, “That punch connected. For us, that is inexcusable. It’s not who we are.”

Hmmm. So who are the Bulls? They fired Thibs. They traded Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler and paid Dwyane Wade to walk. They didn’t re-sign Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson so they could begin this rebuilding process they have no idea will work or not. Last season, players defied their coach. This year, they are fighting one another.

Who is in control of the Bulls culture? It’s not much of a secret that Fred Hoiberg is no one’s Thibodeau as far as my way or the highway creating a baseline for behavior. But someone has to establish a culture, particularly when young players are involved and are learning professionalism. What happened between Mirotic and Portis, sadly, is what happens when veterans are kicked off the team. There isn’t a hierarchy. No one to keep the younger players emotions in check and teach them how to deal with things so you’re not all into your feelings.

None of this [fighting teammtes] is new to the NBA. Remember O.J. Mayo and Tony Allen? It began on the team plane and Allen kept warning O.J. to back off before he slugged him because of a card game. Mayo then went to the I’m sick excuse instead of fist meet eye excuse for not showing up for work. Michael Jordan was annoyed and slapped Steve Kerr during practice and then Jordan called Kerr and apologized.

Of course, the mother of all arguments was between Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton. All you need to know is that Crittenton is currently serving 23 years for murder  (voluntary manslaughter with a weapon and aggravated assault with a firearm) so he is not somebody to mess with. It was another plane card game fight that caused weapons to be branded in the locker room. The season ended for the Wizards when their star, Arenas, was suspended. Crittenton entered  a guilty plea and was given a year of probation for gun possession. Then he was suspended too.

Crittenton v. Arenas was extreme but it was a cautionary tale too. These things end ugly for teams in the middle of it. Which begs the question. How do you get over this?

“Bobby Portis is a good kid. He’s a competitive kid. But in this instance, he made a mistake. And as we all know when you make mistakes, you have to suffer the consequences.” (John Paxson)

Of course, Paxson is right. Doing the right thing, controlling your emotions, understanding time and place, knowing you have to lose something like your reputation if you cross the line, are requriements. It will be in Portis bio that he jacked up Mirotic’s face. Depending on what kind of career Portis has will determine if it is the first line in the bio or somewhere tucked in the middle.

As for Mirotic, he needs surgery after “maxillary fractures.” Mirotic has had some bad luck. He had an appendectomy gone wrong a couple of years ago. But he will recover, albeit with a face mask.

Portis is a player who plays hard and spent the offseason dedicated to improving. Mirotic is 26, Portis is 22.

They needed adults in the room. And fast. A young team is vulnerable.


photo via llananba