30 Teams, 30 Days
Chicago Bulls Season Preview.
The Chicago Bulls kick-off our Central Division previews. You can read past previews here.
by Russ Bengtson
Hey fellas. I’m glad your coach gave me a chance to talk to you guys. I know I work for another team now, and I probably shouldn’t be in here at all, but let’s face it—Michael Jordan can do whatever he wants, especially in Chicago. Have you ever done 150 on Lakeshore Drive in a brand-new Ferrari? With a police escort? In the snow? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Who’s got a light for me?
Thanks, Brent. Brad. Whatever. You should try smoking instead of chewing, guy.
Anyway, when Vinny asked me to say a few words, I was touched. Me and him go way back, all the way to November 22, 1988. He was a rookie then. Tough kid. Came off the bench for the Kings, shot seven of eight from the floor, had 15 points. Which was totally Pax’s fault, by the way. He couldn’t guard a goddamn paper bag. To be honest, though, I didn’t really notice Vinny at the time, because I was too busy scoring 32 points on 16 of 20 from the floor. Had 11 rebounds and eight assists, too. That’s right, I didn’t shoot a three, and I didn’t go to the line once. Those refs were godawful, but it just motivated me to get better. And I wouldn’t have become Michael Jordan without them. So thanks, guys. Sons of bitches. Can’t forget that we won by 16. Just another easy win over a crap team. Maybe the Kings would have had a chance had Vinny gone to a real college. And maybe then I would have called him something other than ‘that little blow-dried motherfucker.’
Where was I?
Oh, right. Look guys, I’m not here to fill your heads with all kinds of unrealistic hopes and dreams. I know you see all those banners hanging in the United Center and the Berto Center and think you can add to them. Well, let me tell you something: Organizations don’t win championships. Michael Jordan wins championships. And I’m not coming back again. That is, unless Jerry asks me nicely and offers me $50 million a year. Which I don’t think is such a bad deal since y’all gave Ben Wallace $60 million and he couldn’t even shoot. And while Michael Jordan may be 46 years old, he still knows the game of basketball. Enough to kick your ass, Swordfish. Tilapia. Salmons. Yeah, you. Ask Bryon Russell what happens when you say some shit about Michael Jordan. And don’t try and say you just said hello. I know what you meant. You best hope you don’t see me when I’ve got shorts on.
As for the rest of you, I don’t even know your names. Don’t feel bad, though—I called Steve Kerr “Pax” for two years before I realized he was actually a different player. Guess I should have figured it out when they were both on the floor at the same time. Oh well. And I never did know the name of that other kid. You know, the one who looked like he was 12 years old. DJ something? I don’t know. Didn’t matter. All I knew is that we were winning as long as Michael Jordan was on the floor. Leroy Smith might have kept Michael Jordan off of the Laney High varsity, but he sure as hell wasn’t going to keep Michael Jordan from winning championships. And neither was…what was that one guy’s name? You know, the one with the weird hair and all the shit in his face. Yeah, that guy. He was either gonna help us win or go back to Jupiter or wherever it was he came from.
Anyway, look, you guys got potential or else you wouldn’t be here. Even the weird-looking guy over there. Yeah, you, reggae. With the hair and the roosters on your shoes. What’s your problem? You think you could sit down while I’m talking? Thanks. Oh, and tell your mom I said hey. Thing is, at some point you have to turn that potential into something real, and there hasn’t been much of that going on around here. Least not since I left. Like you. Yeah, you. You, the kid who skipped college and went to LSU. You think because you get a few dunks and block a few shots that means you understand the game of basketball? Let me tell you something. I know you all won 49 games once and thought you were doing something, but you know what? In 1989 we won 47 games and reached the Eastern Conference Finals. Pretty good, right? Yeah, we fired Doug Collins’s ass that summer. Good riddance, too. Only reason I hired him in Washington was ‘cause I knew he’d be so grateful for the chance he’d let me do whatever I wanted. You guys? You’ve got that little blow-dried motherfucker. Good luck with that.
I’m not sure what else to tell you guys. I don’t even know what your record was last year. Why should I? I know you played the Celtics in the first round, and I know you lost. Been there, done that. It’s not like you won 72 games. And what did you do this summer? You got rid of your leading scorer. Just let him walk. Sure, we did that with Orlando Woolridge, but by the time we got rid of him, he wasn’t the leading scorer anymore. Michael Jordan was. You guys? You sure don’t have Michael Jordan. I know Kurt over there used to be pretty good. Kirk. Right. Be happy I know you at all, Converse. And you, you had your moments, too, Coming To America. Least until you got hurt. And Derrick, you’re all right. Maybe y’all will win a couple more games next year, even win a round in the playoffs. Big deal.
Look, people are gonna doubt you until you win something, and you’re not gonna deserve anything more than that until you DO win something. That doesn’t mean you have to accept it. And in the meantime you’ll probably get hit hard, disrespected, and frozen out of the 1985 NBA All-Star Game by Isiah Thomas, George Gervin and Magic Johnson. But that’s how a Michael Jordan gets made. You saw that statue out front, right? You want one of those, right? Well, then you need to remember every slight, every insult, every defeat. Let them burn deep inside. And you’d better hope you get traded, too, because there’s only gonna be one statue in front of this building. Oh yeah, if you see Jerry Krause, tell him I said he should get a job.
OK, where’s Oak? I’ve got a tee time to make.
(Prediction: 45-37, first-round out)