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GM Gar Forman defends loyalty of Bulls organization

Sam Smith at Bulls.com

The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or its Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

Gar Forman

“Anyone who would question our loyalty is obviously misinformed,” said Forman. “It ignores our record, which speaks for itself. We have a number of former players who are or who have been employed in the organization in a variety of capacities ranging from the front office to the coaching staff to the business office and part of our broadcast team. We take great pride in not only how we treat our current players, but also how we treat our former players.”

Bulls General Manager Gar Forman defended the loyalty of the Bulls organization to its former players in light of damning comments in Thursday’s Chicago Tribune by Miami’s Dwyane Wade that the Bulls are a disloyal organization.

Wade Thursday in Florida backed off the comments a bit, though the feeling among some around the NBA was Wade was put up to the tactic because the Bulls are such a serious contender for the top free agents, whom Wade is trying to recruit for his team.

It’s possible the NBA will take action again Wade for his apparent anti-competitive comments, given the league has rules against tampering for players as well as team executives. The NBA has yet to take action against a player or determine how those rules will be applied.

“Anyone who would question our loyalty is obviously misinformed,” said Forman. “It ignores our record, which speaks for itself. We have a number of former players who are or who have been employed in the organization in a variety of capacities ranging from the front office to the coaching staff to the business office and part of our broadcast team.

“We take great pride in not only how we treat our current players, but also how we treat our former players,” said Forman.

“In regards to the summer, what the players are saying is winning is most important,” said Forman. “We believe with our talented young nucleus of players and the flexibility we’ve created to add to that core, we’re set up to have great success here for many years to come.”

Forman declined to say whether the Bulls would do anything regarding Wade’s incendiary and accusatory comments.

Wade Thursday squirmed some about his comments in telling the Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel his comments that, "I see Michael Jordan is not there, Scottie Pippen is not there… So that is probably one of the biggest things for me, because I am a very loyal person" were taken “out of proportion.”

Wade said it was the childhood Bulls fan in him that led to the concerns about Jordan not remaining with the organization.

"I only know, as a fan, from the outside looking in and so I don't know what's going on," he said. "All I know is that my favorite player of all time is not there, so I'm wondering why, as a fan. Besides that, I think everything was maybe taken out proportion.

"I don't know about their loyalty because I haven't been in their organization," Wade said of the Bulls. "The only organization I have been in is in Miami, so I do know the front office, I do know the loyalty of this team and that's what's big to me. It's not just about basketball, and what can I do for them. It's about when this game is over, what kind of relationship are we going to have? That's what I'm speaking more so than anything, so the question was posed to me about Chicago, and . . . I said I don't know about Chicago, because I don't know the organization, I only know as a fan, from the outside looking in."

"I'm not taking shots at the Bulls, and the organization," Wade said. "I respect the organization, I respect every organization in the NBA. It's just that my opinion when the question was asked about what's most important to you, I said one of the most important things is loyalty. It's not that I'm taking shots at the Bulls, or I'm taking shots at any organization."

The irony, of course, is the Heat seems to be one of the least welcoming organizations to its former players.

Only three former players remain part of the organization, and in minor roles. There is no former Heat player in a significant or high profile position in the organization. They’re mostly minor contributors, like Alonzo Mourning, John Crotty and Keith Askins.

Plus, despite the work he’s done the last few seasons, coach Eric Spoelstra already is being discussed for jobs as team president Pat Riley again said he may come back to coach. Plus, it was no secret how Riley ran out coach Stan Van Gundy after a 59-win season so Riley could have a shot to take the team to a championship once Shaquille O’Neal returned from injury.

If you compare it with the Bulls, there seems little obvious comparison of which franchise has been more loyal and supportive of its former players.

Randy Brown and Pete Myers are on the coaching staff. Stacey King is the main TV analyst. John Paxson is the Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations, probably the highest ranking official in the organization in a true decision making position, of which the Heat never entrust any former player. Bill Wennington is the radio analyst.

Wade made a point of mentioning Jordan and Pippen, and Jordan basically wanted to be owner or run the basketball operations, but a former Bull already was running the team. As for Pippen, the Bulls gave him a sign-and-trade when they didn’t have to in 1999 so he could earn an extra $30 million on his contract and brought him back with a $10 million contract at a time in his career when he could no longer play. He’s since been a regular at Bulls functions, like their annual golf outing, and is a regular contributor to the team’s web site, Bulls.com.

Plus, check Miami’s list of former coaches—you won’t find a former player, but the Bulls have had Bill Cartwright and Jerry Sloan as coaches. B.J. Armstrong was a front office executive and now represents Derrick Rose.

Bob Love has been a longtime Bulls executive, and Johnny Kerr, though never a Bulls player, but the first Bulls coach, became virtually synonymous with the organization with a job for more than three decades. Norm Van Lier did team pre and postgame broadcasts. Sidney Green recently became big man coach, which followed another former Bull, Mike Brown.

If anything, the Bulls have been accused of being too loyal.

There isn’t an organization in the NBA with top executives who have been with the organization as long: Executive Vice President of Business Operations Steve Schanwald, 23 years; Senior Vice President Financial and Legal Irwin Mandel, 38 years; Vice President of Ticket Sales Keith Brown, 27 years; Controller Stu Bookman 25 years; Senior Director of Public and Media Relations Tim Hallam 33 years, Senior Director of Community Relations Dave Kurland 21 years; Senior Director of Ticket Operations Joe O’Neal 30 years. They encompass the top senior management of the team.

The shocking part of this was that at a time when the Heat is in competition with the Bulls and other teams in free agency this summer that Wade would launch a personal attack on the organization without having any facts, but a personal bias.

So much for gentlemanly competition and let the best organization win.

It suggests, apparently, Wade believes the Bulls are in a much better position than his Heat to attract top free agents, but also this far before July 1 suggests this could become an ugly process that the league will have to more closely monitor.

Well, I guess there could be at least one free agent the Bulls won’t be courting. Of course, if he apologizes, I suppose things could change. And if Wade does want a career with his team after his playing career is over, maybe he should consider the Bulls. Heck, this whole thing may be a boon for the Bulls, as maybe Wade will look at the facts and reconsider and decide to sign with the Bulls. Certainly, having been a member of the Miami Heat doesn't seem to do much for your future.