Are The Chicago Blackhawks A Dynasty ?

“D’s Corner”

Are the Chicago Blackhawks a dynasty? Yes!

The Chicago Blackhawks have just won their third Stanley Cup in the last six years which everyone acknowledges is a tremendous feat but the question being posed right now (mostly from the media) is are they a dynasty?

Short answer in my opinion, yes!

However, the question that no one has yet (in my opinion) to answer is what exactly defines a dynasty?

That’s where the ‘blurred lines’ come in because the definition varies depending on who you ask. Some simply say yes because they’ve won three Cups in six years…nuff said (I’m more in that ‘camp’). Some call it a “modern dynasty” (like “Jeopardy”…I’ll accept that answer) because since the 2004-05 NHL lockout (which cancelled the entire season that year) they are the first team to win three Stanley Cups. Why should that make a difference you may ask? Because after that lockout the NHL instituted a salary cap and unlike the NBA (which still allows teams to go ‘over’ the cap) the NHL doesn’t allow for a team to pay a ‘luxury tax’ should they go ‘over’ the cap…it is what’s called a ‘hard’ cap…you CAN’T go over it!

This makes it MUCH harder for a team in the NHL to win championships consistently because they are ‘bound’ by the cap. You can’t simply just go out and spend on the best players to your hearts content or maintain them (like you could before the lockout) you now have to actually scout, nurture and cultivate young talent through your minor league system (while still spending on free agent talent whenever possible) and then bring them up to your team and hope and pray they materialize into great players (Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Corey Crawford, etc…). While knowing you will LOSE some of those same great players in a short period of time because of the salary cap.

Some say they aren’t a dynasty (prefaced by “not yet” in most cases while still acknowledging it being a great feat) because they compare the Blackhawks to the Montreal Canadians of the 1970’s who won five Stanley Cups (between 1973-79) or the New York Islanders of the 1980’s who won four straight (1980-83) or the Edmonton Oilers who won five (between 1984 and 1990). All dynasties and great accomplishments obviously, but this was all PRE salary cap. While taking absolutely nothing away from those great teams I doubt if they could have won ALL (some if not most) of those Stanley Cups had a salary cap been in place because they couldn’t have signed or kept all of those great players they had.

But my definition of a dynasty goes a little deeper than maybe most because I look at sustainability.

In other words, were you able to maintain a consistent level of excellence in the years you DIDN’T win the championship? Were your teams competitive, a perennial playoff contender during those ‘down’ years? If the answer is yes, (see most recently over the last few years the New England Patriots, San Antonio Spurs, St. Louis Cardinals and yes…the Chicago Blackhawks all in each ‘major’ sport who can claim that mantle) then you my friend have what in my book is called a dynasty!

All of these organizations have maintained ‘power’ over a period of time (not ‘winning it’ every year which is close to impossible) and always being ‘in the hunt’ as well as seeing no immediate end to that power or dominance…that’s a dynasty!

Or break it down to it’s lowest common denominator, what’s the old saying? If you have to ask the question you already know the answer. I will say, in this ‘new’ era of the NHL salary cap that literally ‘forces’ and almost ‘rigs’ parity which also has a playoff format that really doesn’t ‘favor’ the ‘top’ teams what the Blackhawks have done in the last six years is downright amazing!

But at the ‘end of the day’ it’s up to us the individual to decide (in our own minds I guess) how we want to define the 2014-15 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks!

Me myself, I like the answer Scotty Bowman (Senior VP of Hockey Operations for the Blackhawks) and father of current G.M. Stan Bowman (named after the Cup) gave after the team won this current Stanley Cup…”oh yeah, it’s a dynasty”!

Who is Scotty Bowman some of you may ask (longtime hockey fans already know)?

He is only the former coach with the record for most wins in NHL history (fourteen hundred and sixty seven) total, the record for Stanley Cups as a coach (nine) which includes those five I listed above with the Montreal Canadians, one with the Pittsburgh Penguins and three with the Detroit Red Wings and five additional Stanley Cups as a player. I think he knows the definition of a dynasty.

And for those who may say he’s biased because his son is now the Blackhawks G.M. my answer is simple…so!

After all of his accomplishments (that I just listed)…I think I’ll take his definition of the Blackhawks being a dynasty (and any possible bias) over oh…I don’t know…EVERYBODY’S (mine included)!

Honestly, is there ANYBODY out there that has accomplished more in this sport than him and can claim to know more?

Once again, if you have to ask the question you already know the answer!

No matter where you may stand on this issue I think there’s one thing we can ALL agree on…

Congratulations to the 2014-15 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks!

D

Daryl is also a contributor to thestartinglineup.net

Are The Cavaliers On The Verge Of An NBA Title ?

Sight seen. Golden State Warrior star guard and league MVP Stephen Curry leaving the court after a loss by his team by the Cleveland Cavaliers 96 to 91 in game 3 of the NBA finals.

As Curry left the floor his head was down and shaking from side to side clearly displaying his disappointment in going down two games to one in this best of seven series.

Curry had his best game of the series leading his team with a game high 27 points but it was not enough to stymie Lebron James and the Cavs who through three games have somehow managed to control the tempo of each contest.

Who knows what was going through Curry’s mind at the time ? Maybe he wished he could be playing better or maybe his team mates could’ve upped their games ?
Nevertheless, walking off the court at the end of a key game with your head down was not good form.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are deliberate and physical and they have basically dictated the terms of battle. On defense the Cavs are jamming cutters and contesting shots. Power forward Tristan Thompson (pressed into duty after the season ending injury to starter Kevin Love) has been on a Moses Malone like tear in attacking the offensive glass.

The Cavs have successfully used their size advantage to discourage drives to the basket as they enjoyed a 44 to 36 advantage on points in the paint while holding the Warriors to 40% shooting overall.

On offense Lebron James enjoys dissecting the Warrior defense from the post as keeps the pressure on with strong moves to the basket and laser like passes to open team mates.

With the exception of Steph Curry the Warriors are a rhythm shooting team but in surrendering the pace and tone of the game the Warriors have allowed the Cavaliers to crack their offensive code.

To have a chance to even the series the Warriors will need to force Cavalier defenders, particularly Timofey Mozgov and Thristan Thompson to defend the entire floor.

To accomplish this the Warriors have to utilize more ball movement particularly from side to side while probing the defense for weaknesses.

On defense the Warriors need to assign two players to follow JR Smith and Iman Shumpert everywhere ( use crazy glue if needed).

To be fair, this series is a long ways from over but then I return to Mr. Curry walking off the floor with his head down.

You see part of the stark beauty of the Finals is that to win an NBA title a team must be willing to raise their level of intensity to near injury levels ( Cleveland is there) and most importantly, experience teaches that psychological tactics are in full effect.

Steph Curry’s gesture could very well just be an honest expression of disappointment but as the leader of his team he appeared defeated and that my friend, is never appropriate during the NBA Finals with your team watching. (Contrast Curry’s exit to LeBron leaving the court after a game one Cleveland loss. He was pissed and he was defiant)

If the Warriors can remember who they are while raising their level of intensity this could become really interesting really fast. But?

Who will win the prize ?

Can’t say for sure but there is a pretty good chance that by this time next year we could looking at the next U.S. Senator from the great state of Ohio…..LeBron James.
COMING HOME

Is The Window Closed For The Bulls Title Hopes ?

By Lamar Battle

Home loss against the Cavs in a game that saw the Bulls seemingly quit.

The Bulls lost in six games to a Cavalier team akin to a wounded animal. Starting power forward Kevin Love was out for the playoffs and starting point guard Kyrie Irving was seriously hampered with an injured ankle.

Could the Bulls finally get past long time foe ( and soon to be G.O.A.T.) Lebron James 53120-derrick-rose-chicago?

No !

What seemed to happen was a Bulls team that literally gave up and accepted defeat in front of the home faithful. The once vaunted Chicago defense started taking on water and the players suddenly appeared to forget how to score.

Did coach Thibodeau fail to make the needed adjustments for victory?

Former Bulls coach( as of today) Thibs was the subject of a season long feud with Bulls General Manager Gar Forman and team V.P. of Basketball Operations John Paxson.
Coach Thibodeau was undermined in front of his team from the start of the season ( key players were approached and told the coach does not have teir backs) establishing him as a lame duck coach.

To be fair, Thibs was accused constantly of overworking his players ( possibly contributing to key injuries) and perhaps suffering from a lack of offensive creativity in his play calling.

There were adjustments that could have been made on offense.

But, there is a flip side.

What if the Cavalier game was lost in January when a players mini mutiny almost cost coach Thibs his Job? Bulls players were harping on each other for not working hard enough while simultaneously complaining that that the coach was working them too hard.

What if coach Thibodeau lost his team at that point ( in January) when, after calling for a team practice he was over ruled by John Paxson who suggested instead that the team have a meeting where players could voice their concerns.

These were indeed uncharted waters for the Bulls, an organization that always seemed to avoid the type of coach killing players that always popped up on mediocre teams.
Bulls management has always suffered through acrimonious relationships with their coaches but players rarely if ever got themselves involved.

One thing is certain, when a coach loses his platform as the leader it doesn’t matter much which offensive and defensive schemes he employs.

What if the Bulls lacked the personnel to compete against the Cavaliers of the world ? Pau Gasol was old, Joakim Noah, Kirk Hinrich and Taj Gibson were getting old and unlike the Cavaliers, Spurs, Blazers, Warriors and Rockets the Bulls possessed only one player who could create for himself and others, ( Derrick Rose).

The NBA is a players league that is changing as we speak. Teams are trending towards 3 point shooting, speed, length and athleticism.

Maybe, just maybe the Bulls were running the sets best suited for their personnel?

What if any moves need to be made by the Bulls to rebound ?

The team has rights to the 22nd pick in this years draft so don’t expect much help there.
The team has immediate needs in rebounding and shot blocking ( for those of us who caught Tristan Thompson’s one man destruction of the Bulls front line).

Basically, playing time has too be found for young players like Tony Snell, Nikola Mirotic’ and Doug McDermott.
Picking up a tall scoring back up point guard would also be a step in the right direction and as hard as it may seem, tough decisions have to be made regarding Hinrich, Noah and Gibson.

This all leads us to the question?

Is the championship window for this current Bulls version closed ?

Answer: How long before LeBron James turns forty?

You don’t Get Punished for Cheating…You Get Punished for Getting Caught Cheating !

New “D’s Corner”…

Look, Tom Brady cheated!

I’m sick and tired of all of the pundits trying to generalize, parse words or use semantics when describing what is obvious to any non-nut! The NFL found MORE than enough evidence against Tom Brady to determine that he played a HUGE part in having the balls used in the AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts deflated. PERIOD!

Ok, most athletes and or coaches (hell, teams and organizations) do whatever they can to gain a competitive edge against their opponent…

Examples: A particular MLB team leads the league in stolen bases so let’s have our grounds crew ‘water down’ our infield so as to limit their traction on our field making it harder for them to steal against us or this NFL team has some of the worst fans on earth so let’s ‘pipe in’ crowd noise to make it harder for the opposing team to hear plays being called because we can’t generate that noise organically ourselves or one (or more) of the players on a particular NHL team has their sticks ‘curved’ beyond the league limit because it allows them to control the puck better or an NBA coach asks one of his players to ‘intentionally’ knock a cup of soda out of his hands onto the court to gain an additional timeout…I could go on and on but you get my point.

And you know what? As a former high school, college and semi-pro baseball and football player I didn’t then nor do I now have a huge problem with it. It’s called trying to gain a competitive edge any way you can. It’s been going on since the beginning of all sports and will never stop.

He, like most QB’s in the NFL likes his football’s a certain way which I understand but in at least this case (and I’m sure other cases) the football’s didn’t meet regulation inflation (hey, that rhymes). Anyway, is it the ‘worst’ thing you can do in the NFL? Of course not!

When I played baseball in high school I was a ‘student’ of the game (thank mom’s for that) and I learned how to steal the other teams ‘signs’…this ability I was able to acquire was then and is still now in all levels of baseball considered cheating. My attitude was/is if you’re dumb enough to ‘tip off’ your signs I’m dumb enough to steal em’. I saw it as no more than ‘gaining a competitive edge’.

Those who label cheating as cheating no matter the severity will never ‘get it’ and will ask that the perpetrator be punished to the ‘full extent of the law’ and those who feel like me and know it’s simply ‘part of the game’ will never look at it as ‘truly’ cheating.

All that being said…do you REALLY want to know why the NFL punished Tom Brady with a four game suspension (pending appeal)?

Mainly because he got caught (the preponderance of evidence was overwhelming) but here’s the REAL reason for the severity of the punishment…Tom Brady and that ‘smug-ass’ and ‘arrogant’ attitude of his and the way he went about trying to be ‘above it all’ as if to say…”do you know who I am?”!

I learned a lot from my parents and one thing I distinctly remember my dad saying to me was…”know when the jig is up”!

You’ve been busted, you’ve been caught, give it up. Admit what you did and ‘move on’! Not Tom Brady…he decided to basically ‘double-down’ and come very close to Ryan Braun-ville by trying to implicate two team employees (and why would the Patriots suspend both these guys before the league could get to them if ‘nothing’ happened?) and have them take the fall. That I don’t respect and neither did the league and this is one time where I’m with the league. He deliberately went out of his way to ‘stall’ the investigation as best as he could and then refused to cooperate in any meaningful way even after knowing…”the jig was up”!

And of course, after last year’s Ray Rice debacle (by the way, you will NEVER see him in the league again) the NFL wants to make sure that punishments are doled out properly and also, don’t forget ‘Spy-Gate’…the Patriots have a ‘history’ of (getting caught) cheating therefore, you get (what some deem as harsh) the four game suspension.

Do I hate the Patriots? You damn right I do…do I feel sorry for them? Not in this life! But (as I’ve stated in these pages before) I also hate the Yankees, Packers, Notre Dame, Duke, etc…etc…however, I can hate a team and STILL respect what they’ve accomplished and how they go about winning in which case I still respect how the Patriots simply win!

But the Patriots to me ‘major in the minor’…in other words, they cheat when they really don’t have to. They win primarily because they have more talent than anyone else and a better coach than most…that’s the only competitive edge they need. They don’t win because they cheat. ‘Spy-Gate’ and ‘Deflate-Gate’ really had nothing to do with them winning Super Bowl’s. So you might ask…why did they cheat? Same reasons Barry Bonds, Roger Clemons and Alex Rodriguez cheated…paranoid, arrogant, greedy and stupid to use a few adjectives!

None of them needed to…they all would have been Hall of Famer’s (Brady will get in for the NFL) anyway because they were extraordinary and superior talents…just not always in the ‘up stairs department’ if you know what I mean! They all got caught and are now paying a price for it (Bonds, Clemons and Rodriguez the ultimate price…no Hall of Fame…probably ever).

I’m about to tell my age now but they remind me of Richard Nixon back in 1972 ‘bugging’ the Democratic Headquarters at the Watergate Hotel (for those of you too young to know or too old to remember…the term ‘Gate’ e.g. ‘Spy-Gate’, ‘Deflate-Gate’, ‘Bounty-Gate’, etc…when speaking on any major scandal derives from the Water’gate’ break-in in 1972) when Nixon wound up winning 49 of 50 states in that year’s election anyway! What the hell do you care what’s in the Democratic Headquarters? Of course, we all know what happened after that…Nixon was ‘forced’ to resign…not because he was the ONLY President to ever cheat in office but because he was one of the few to get ‘caught’ cheating while in office! Nixon got greedy, paranoid, arrogant and…well, you get the picture!

The only thing worse that cheating when you don’t have to is getting CAUGHT cheating when you don’t have to. Think back to your school days, if you truly practiced and studied for a test and knew you knew the answers why would you cheat? That makes no sense right? In essence, that’s what Brady (and the other aforementioned players and Nixon did…cheat on a test they already knew the answers to). More often than not, we get caught doing wrong when we get greedy and the cheating is unnecessary (ever wonder why ‘greed’ is one of the seven sins?).

So the next time you hear someone say while defending Brady or the Patriots, “well they all cheat” just tell em’…”yeah, but they don’t all get caught”!

Daryl Wren

Are The Chicago Bulls Soft ?

When did things start to change?

Chicago Sun-times columnist Rick Telander suggested that he resembles a big rusty anchor. The person of note is one Zaza Pachulia, starting center for the Milwaukee Bucks. Blog co-conspirator A.J. suggested that up to game two of the NBA playoff series between the Chicago Bulls and the Milwaukee Bucks the Bulls were more or less having their way.

Only after an incident during game two when Zaza hit Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic’ in the back of the head only to follow later with another elbow to the head during a scrum did this series actually become a series.

Of course this could be a bit of a stretch to suggest that this incident was the catalyst for a Milwaukee resurgence but after it happened the Bucks took the Bulls to triple overtime and then defeated them twice prior to game six scheduled for Thursday night in Milwaukee.

During the Buck victories Zaza Pachulia could be clearly seen literally taking the ball right out of the hands of Bulls players after rebounds.

The Bulls have tough players I mean Derrick Rose is from Chicago’s Englewood community and others like Kirk Hinrich, Joakim Noah and Jimmy Butler back down from no one.

But it wasn’t until game three where 161 pound back up point guard Aaron Brooks landed a punch in the chest of Bucks guard Jarryd Bayless that I was reminded that he may have been the first Bulls player since former center Bill Cartwright to fire off a retaliatory foul for his team.

Now a team does not have to be well versed in the art of hand to hand combat to win a championship but it was interesting to see Nikola Mirotic’ approach Aaron after the punch to offer comfort, support and probably thanks.

Intimidation is and has always been a part of sport and teams normally address it by maintaining focus and execution however the Bulls now have a hungry, well coached and motivated team in their way.

The Answer ?

The answer is no, the Bulls are not a soft team . They have historically been a defensive oriented team even during the halcyon years of Micheal and Scottie.
These Bulls are known for a physical brand of defense which includes fighting aggressively through screens and chucking cutters coming through the lane.

What may be lacking is the need for time spent together during this injury ravaged season. That is one of the reasons Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau kept stressing the need for increased practice time.
Injuries to key players have played a part in inhibiting the progress needed to improve defensively.

The team, as it currently stands is engaged in a bit of a dog fight with a young, long, athletic and suddenly awake Milwaukee Bucks team and the Bulls may have to take advantage of their experience by controlling game tempo and by exploiting their size advantage.

In the meantime:

Bucks guard Middleton is a deadly shooter, stay home on defense !

Forward Giannis Antetokounmpo must be kept out of the lane as he and point guard Micheal Carter Williams are poor outside shooters. Play off of them and step up high to cut off dribble penetration when they drive.

Center Zaza ( the aforementioned anchor) Pachulia is not a shot blocker and should be challenged off the drive…If you dare.

And finally the Bulls might want to send in a big man to follow Rose or Brooks as they attack the lane. Drive and dish opportunities along with lob passes should result.

The Bucks collapse their entire defense at the first inkling of dribble penetration. The Bulls guards should pass out to shooters where the resulting second or third pass rotations should lead to wide open shots.

Next up? The Cavaliers and Vader.

BO DON’T KNOW

New “D’s Corner”,

“Bo DON’T know”!

Look, I hate all things Duke, if there was/is a “I Hate Duke” club I could be the Chairman!

That being said, I have always respected their program for doing what they do best (to my chagrin) which is win! They’ve now won a total of five NCAA basketball championships under Mike Krzyzewski since he took over the program in 1980 with countless amounts of Runner-Up, Final Four and Sweet Sixteen appearances. Duke won their 5th title Monday night beating Wisconsin in Indianapolis 68 to 63 but I’m not here to talk about Duke because what they did (see above) is “old hat’!

Naw, I’m saving my rant for Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan who (prior to Monday night) I’ve always liked and who’s team I rooted for but then again (see above) I would root for escaped convicts if they were playing Duke so that’s not really a good litmus test. In reality I had no ‘dog in the fight’ but I tend to lean towards the ‘underdog’ whenever such a situation resides so Monday night was no different. After building (what I thought was) a sizeable lead against Duke late in the second half Wisconsin was four minutes away from glory but Duke being Duke went on a 12 to 5 run and put the game away. So ‘dummy me’ expected after the game a while obviously upset coach over losing probably the biggest (and maybe last of this magnitude…he is 67) game of his life a well thought out, mature, contrite and conciliatory concession response from Coach Ryan once the media came calling. Especially, after the comments over this past weekend by Kentucky player Andrew Harrison towards Wisconsin player Frank Kaminski (saying “F” him and calling him the “N” word) and the media backlash Harrison (deservedly so) received. And while Harrison did apologize (which Kaminski accepted) some of Kentucky’s players were also ‘called out’ (deservedly so again) for NOT shaking hands after their loss to Wisconsin and showing ‘poor sportsmanship’.

But what we got instead was a sore loser coach showing ‘poor sportsmanship’ who spent the entirety of his time with the media after the game ‘whining’ about the referee’s (who were bad…for BOTH teams) and the NCAA system of ‘Rent A Player’ or ‘One and Done'(which is really more on the NBA than the NCAA)!

Huh?

Coach Ryan went on to boast how Wisconsin doesn’t do ‘Rent A Player’s’ and how he “likes to build from within (sic)…it’s just the way he is”! Oh really? So are you trying to tell me coach that if you had a chance to sign a Jabari Parker or a Jahlil Okafor knowing you’d probably only have them for one year you wouldn’t take em’? You can ‘miss me’ with that one coach! Duke didn’t create this process (I can’t even believe I’m defending Duke right now), the NBA stipulates that college basketball players must be 19 years of age and ONE year removed from high school in order to enter the NBA draft. Sounds more like an NBA thang versus a NCAA (or Duke) thang! I remember a time when Coach Krzyzewski himself hated this process (anybody remember the William Avery, Corey Maggette and Elton Brand years?) but guess what he did once it became the ‘lay of the land’? He adapted and accepted it for what it is (like it or not).

So since Coach Ryan wanted to come off like he runs such a ‘pristine’ program I decided to do a little homework on his Wisconsin program to see just how ‘above it all’ his program REALLY is. But what I found was while he’s done great things with his players ON the court for the last 14 years at Wisconsin (multiple Big Ten championships and NCAA appearances) his success rate for his players OFF the court reads a little sumpthin like this…they have the lowest graduation rate for Black players (ZERO…ZERO?) and the third lowest overall! They have historically graduated less the 50% of their players (Black, White or other…) for years!

Based on those facts he should take a page from Coach Krzyzewski, Coach John Calipari of Kentucky and coaches from other top programs who have learned how to exploit this process…hell, at least they ain’t lying and pretending that it’s something different than what it really is! Why not adopt these coaches philosophies Coach Ryan? It’s not like your graduating your players anyway! I think the Coach Krzyzewski’s and Coach Calipari’s of the world would prefer to call it…’Won and Done’!

I guess Coach Ryan was right when he says they don’t do ‘One and Done’ at Wisconsin…sounds more to me like he prefers ‘ALMOST Won…and DUMB’!

“D”

FOR SALE: NBA Head coach.

New “D’s Corner”,

FOR SALE: One of the top coaches in the NBA…asking price…NOTHING!

I have been and will always be a Chicago Bulls fan for as long as I live (1966 and counting…), that being said I can’t remember being more angry at ‘my’ team than right now and here’s why…

The Bulls have had a total (so far) of twenty two head coaches in their illustrious almost fifty year history and save for a few (Johnny ‘Red’ Kerr, Dick Motta, Jerry Sloan, Doug Collins, Phil Jackson and now Tom Thibodeau) most of them have been in a word…TERRIBLE!

I ain’t no mathematician but six out of twenty two with one of them (Sloan) having his best coaching years in Utah don’t put you on the ‘credit’ side of the ledger that’s for damn sure.

Instead of going waaayyy back down memory lane I’ll just list the coaches we’ve had since we won our last of six championships (all under Jackson)…Tim Floyd, Bill Berry, Bill Cartwright, Pete Myers, Scott Skiles, Pete Myers (again), Jim Boylan, Vinnie Del Negro and now Thibodeau.

Are you kidding me? I count seven terrible coaches who had no coaching success before we hired them and none after they left. So now after finally striking ‘gold’ with a coach in Thibodeau (who won Coach of the Year his first season as head coach) who has led the Bulls to the playoffs each year he’s been their coach and only taking one ‘healthy’ squad (the 2011 team which went all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals) into said playoffs (this season’s litany of injuries notwithstanding) the word is he may be out after this season. Rumored to be replaced by former Bulls player and current Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg (who has a better chance of joining the “Un-Magnificent Seven” I listed above before ever becoming a coach like Thibodeau). Why?

The ‘company line’ is because he plays his players too long during games which also leads to injuries. Supposedly, the players are too tired by the time the playoffs start. In other words a coach who’s been in the NBA for over twenty five years never learned how to manage player minutes.

What?

Yeah, the reason we’ve not won a championship isn’t because your star player (Derrick Rose) has been hurt for the last three years (missing the playoffs the last three years save one game in 2012) it’s because the best coach you’ve had since Jackson (by far) doesn’t know how to manage his player’s minutes. This from a coach who was an assistant under quite a few NBA coaches (Bill Musselman, Jerry Tarkanian, John Lucas, Jeff Van Gundy and Doc Rivers) to name a few. Now you’re telling me he never learned how to manage player minutes under NONE of these coaches? Of all of the injuries sustained by Bulls players over the past four years I can’t think of one that was due to players playing too many minutes. Can somebody please tell me when this new era of NBA players need rest during the season? Call me ‘old school’ but I don’t remember players like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Jerry West, Julius Erving, Charles Barkley, Rick Barry, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, etc…having to take time off during the season (unless injured) because they were tired…are you kidding me?

To only pick out current Bulls management John Paxson and Gar Forman (current VP and GM) would be unfair only because Bulls management (despite some of our successes) has been bad pretty much for the last almost fifty years and counting!

We won six championships in eight years (1991, 92, 93 and 1996, 97 and 98) and granted it would once again be unfair to not give the previous management (Jerry Krause) some credit but let’s face it, having arguably the greatest player who ever played the game (in Michael Jordan) was your equivalent of “the BIG joker” (for you “Spades” players like me). Thibodeau should be getting a contract extension not being threatened with possible termination. These rumors have been going on for a while now (several years) so if they aren’t true or if the Bulls really want Thibodeau as their coach long term why haven’t they squashed them yet?

Let’s keep it real…whenever a good coach is rumored to be fired (Jim Harbaugh, Doc Rivers, Mark Jackson) it’s never just one thing or what’s being told or leaked by players and/or management. It’s usually granular, grainy, you know, something fine but course at the same time.

Sometimes, it can be as simple as coach and management not getting along either personally, philosophically, or both but usually, it’s deeper than that. Rumors of Tom Thibodeau being fired started almost as soon as he was hired and I can’t understand why. He currently has a .637 winning percentage in the regular season for his last five seasons. Once again, I ain’t no mathematician but a .637 winning percentage is practically winning two out of every three games last I went to school. He’s done more with less (Kyle Korver, Nate Robinson, DJ Augustin, CJ Watson, Marco Bellineli, etc…just to name a few) than any coach I can recall. All I listed were average players (at best) before ‘Thibs’ got a hold of them and ALL went on to sign huge contracts and one (Bellineli) won a championship with other teams after they left him because he made them better players.

No, he has not won a title yet (who could when their best player has been almost non-existent for the last three years) however, NO COACH could have done a better job with the hand ‘Thibs’ has been dealt these last few years and we are closer to winning a title WITH ‘Thibs’ than we would be without him. If Bulls management makes this move Thibodeau will have a gig before he walks out of the door…there are teams who will ‘fire’ their current head coaches just to hire ‘Thibs’…what are the Bulls thinking?

In the end, I don’t doubt that Thibodeau, Paxson, Forman and the players want to win…it just appears that maybe all of them have a different view of how to do that. And if Bulls management feels that strongly that ‘Thibs’ isn’t the coach to get them to the next level maybe it’s best for all parties move on.

We may never truly know what caused this rift between ‘Thibs’ and current management but I do know this…based on Bulls history…if they do decide to fire him or let him walk/resign we better hold on to our pictures of those championship teams we had because it’ll be a long time before we find another Tom Thibodeau! And I’ll go out on a limb a say this, I bet whichever team ‘Thibs’ goes to (I’ll put early money on Cleveland) he’ll win an NBA title long before the Bulls ever do! I’ll put up my paycheck (which is starting to look more like a bill) on that!

Hey, Fred Hoiberg’s #3 Iowa State team was just eliminated in the first round (Thursday) of the 2015 NCAA Tournament by #14 UAB so he might be available now…no time like the present right?

With his team’s performance Thursday it sounds like he’s the perfect fit to be the next head coach of the Chicago Bulls!

NOTE: RIP Jack Haley 1964-2015 (Chicago Bulls 1988-89 and 1995-96)

“D”

D is a regular contributor to thestartinglineup.net