By J. Coyden Palmer, Chicago Crusader
Chicago Bulls fans are seeing red with anger, not the team’s “See Red” promotional theme. This time last year Bulls fans were preparing for the team’s playoff appearance, one that ended with a second-round loss to Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Many blamed head coach Tom Thibodeau, who was fired with a year remaining on his contract. But a year later fans are starting to see this team had much bigger problems than Thibodeau, as the Bulls are on the verge of not making the playoffs at all this season.
New coach Fred Hoiberg is being trashed on social media and in barbershops and hair salons throughout the Black community. But he is not the only person being blamed; Bulls management is also seen as a culprit along with several key players, including hometown favorite Derrick Rose. At Crusader press time, the Bulls were 2.5 games in back of Indiana for the final playoff spot for the Eastern Conference. The season that showed much promise in the beginning has turned into a spiraling nightmare that has pushed fans’ patience over the edge.
“I’ve had it with management, D Rose, the United Center, Benny the Bull, the Luv-a-Bulls, Fred Hoiberg, Stacy King, the MJ statue, etc…,” said frustrated fan Jennifer Lee after another Bulls loss. “I’m ready to burn the entire arena down.”
Her sentiments were shared with just about every Bulls fan the Crusader spoke with earlier this week. They say this year’s team lacks heart, does not play defense and is selfish on offense. Some are even saying they want Thibodeau back.
“I see now we made a big mistake last year in firing him and the people who really need to go are the folks in management and many of the players,” said Brian Wilson from Burnside. “They went out of their way last year to throw Thibodeau under the bus and many of the players applauded the move. While he may have been tough on the players, he got results. These guys are soft.”
The hiring of Fred Hoiberg as coach was never fully embraced by fans. Bringing a person in straight from college with no NBA coaching experience very rarely works and since Hoiberg came from Iowa State, the same school perhaps the worst coach in Bulls history, Tim Floyd, came from, fans said this seems like déjà vu.
“Stupid is as stupid does. You tried this experiment last time and it blew up in your face. Now you’re doing it again?” asked fan Shannon Hicks. “Hoiberg is not respected in that locker room. The players seem to do what they want and this was already a crybaby group to begin with. He needs to go.”
That decision would have to come from the duo of Bulls Vice President John Paxson and General Manager Gar Foreman. Both men have been with the organization for years and are trusted by owners Jerry and Michael Reinsdorf. However draft picks that have been busts and unable to land quality free agents have dogged their legacy and fans do not believe they have the ability to fix the mess they have created.
“They have given out too many bad contracts through the years and top free agent players avoid this organization like they have the plague,” said Harold Atkins from South Shore. “When people don’t want to come to one of the best sports cities in the country there is a reason why.”
Perhaps the contract that has hurt the Bulls the most is Derrick Rose’s. For $96 million over the last five years, the Bulls have gotten little production out of their often injured point guard. His talks at the beginning of this season of playing toward a future contract angered many fans and his sporadic play this year has not helped. Monday night against Atlanta, a game the Bulls would lose by two, Rose scored 20 points, four above his average. But fans are ready to see him move on.
“He had a lot of potential but I think the injuries and selfishness of his play ruined him as a player,” said Tia Ashe from Calumet City. “I think they should try and trade him when the season is over. We need a point guard who can score consistently but also make the other players better. I don’t see him doing that.”
While the chances of the team making the playoffs this year are slim, even if they did, they would more than likely take on their nemesis James and the Cavaliers in the first round. The thought of that prospect is daunting for fans.
“It makes no sense to make the playoffs just to get your head kicked in,” said Joseph Wilkins from Bellwood. “I would rather they lose, get a lottery pick in the draft and try to start over. This group of players isn’t going anywhere even if Jesus was coaching them.”