The 2013-14 season has been a very disappointing one for the Chicago Bulls. With another serious knee injury to star point guard Derrick Rose and the recent trade of longtime swingman Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers, a team that once had hopes of a championship now looks more like a default playoff participant in the extremely uninspiring East. They can maintain goals and might not have to suffer the ignominy of the lottery, but they can't pretend that any of this is ideal.
Like any Tom Thibodeau-coached team, though, the Bulls are still giving maximum effort. According to big man Taj Gibson, they've even embraced their status as underdogs and have even begun to think of themselves as the NBA's answer to a group of well-loved sports movie outcasts. From Nick Friedell for ESPNChicago.com (via Beyond the Buzzer):
Gibson said the team has begun to view its situation like that of the fictional version of the Cleveland Indians in the movie "Major League." In the movie, the team's owner decides to make the organization as bad as it can possibly be to relocate it. The Bulls' situation is not as dire, but Gibson sees parallels.
"We understand it's kind of like the movie 'Major League,'" he said. "We've got that mentality where we believe in the locker room. We believe in what we think. And we're taking it one game at a time and we're trying to get those wins hopefully to see ... get a good, nice poster at the end of the year." [...]
In the movie, the players put together a cutout of the owner's body with the caption: "You guys stink!" After each win they pealed off a section of the cutout.
So who will be on the cutout for the Bulls?
"We haven't figured that out yet," Gibson said with a smile. "But that's kind of the way we're going at it. That's what Joakim started. Joakim said it, and I've just been running with it. Every game is like a test and we're fighting."
For those who don't remember, the owner of the Cleveland Indians in "Major League," Rebecca Phelps, is a not-unattractive woman. Jerry Reinsdorf, the very real owner of the Chicago Bulls, is a 77-year-old man with the sex appeal of a potato. I'm not sure an image of Reinsdorf in his underwear would count as a reward for anyone.
While it's easy to joke about such matters, the Bulls' comparison says something about their attitude towards the season. As Friedell notes, the Bulls are not in the same situation as the fictional Indians, who are intentionally gutted to force a move to Miami. However, there is something to the idea that the Bulls might feel as if management has not allowed them to be as good as they can possibly be, largely because of the Deng trade but also possible in relation to perceptions of thriftiness in free agency. They're reacting to the situation they've put in by both luck and more controllable circumstances. That's not to say that the Bulls only have animosity for the front office, but the parallels don't stop with Thibodeau and Lou Brown both getting hoarse when they scream.
Or maybe this is all a ruse by the Bulls to get Tom Berenger to show up to one of their home games. I bet Kirk Hinrich is a big fan of the "Sniper" series.
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