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Celebrating 1990-91 - Bill Cartwright

Sam Smith recently spoke with Bill Cartwright, Center on the 1990-91 Chicago Bulls Championship team who shared his reflections on the season, twenty years later

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For Bill Cartwright, he knew the day after the Bulls returned from Detroit after that devastating seventh game loss in the 1990 Eastern Conference finals. The players had not scattered in disappointment. Just about all were working out getting ready for the next season.

"We had a bunch of guys (at the Deerfield Multiplex) a day after the season ended that way working out," recalled Cartwright. "You can see guys really wanted to get after it and wanted to get ready to play. It was a good lesson for what it takes, to get ready and show physically what our mindset was going to be. Not being bullied.

"I can remember Phil talking about that year and the Pistons," said Cartwright. "Our theme was we were going to bend but we were not going to break. That was our thing. Being in the battles we had been with them we were going to be ready for anything."

Cartwright, a former Bulls head coach, now is an assistant for the Phoenix Suns. With the Suns in a playoff chase in the Western Conference, he will not be at Saturday's reunion celebration, though he will be back to Chicago with the Suns in April.

He was the so called final piece when he was acquired from New York for Charles Oakley. At first it was an unpopular move as Michael Jordan was upset losing his buddy, Oakley. But even Jordan came to acknowledge the Bulls might not have succeeded without Cartwright to defend the big centers of the East, like Patrick Ewing and James Edwards. And Cartwright after having survived eight seasons in New York going from an All Star to a backup for Ewing and through injuries and media defamation was hardened to the trials that Bulls team would face.

"It was a great time in my career to be able to play that role," said Cartwright, the ultimate team man who you could never get to talk about himself. "I knew we'd have the opportunity. And after New York I felt like I was ready for anything. I felt I had the experience to be able to handle any kind of situation physically and mentally. I had been in enough big games. I was ready.

"For me personally, that's all I'd been waiting for since I was a kid, to be part of a team playing for a championship," said Cartwright. "It's the chance of a lifetime in every athlete's life. After all that frustration in New York and all the battles. Then to have the opportunity and with all that doubt because it's the Lakers and then to come out on top. It's what you've been waiting for. Why you play."

While many doubted the Bulls against the Pistons, Cartwright said he felt everyone doubted them against the Lakers. He remembers people saying after they left Chicago 1-1 they wouldn't be coming back to play another game in the Stadium.

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Bill Cartwright