New General Manager Marc Eversley hopes to be an integral part of a Bulls rejuvenation after spending time working in the front offices of the Philadelphia 76ers, Washington Wizards, and Toronto Raptors.
If a big job takes a big man, the Bulls may have found the solution, both figuratively and literally.
"Get the Chicago Bulls back to relevancy and get that brand back to where it's cool again and kids want to be part of it," Mark Eversley, Bulls new General Manager, said Friday during a media conference to announce his hiring.
Eversley, 51 and a native of Canada who has worked in basketball for Nike, the Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards and Philadelphia 76ers, joins the Bulls as so called right hand man for Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Arturas Karnisovas.
Both Karnisovas and Eversley are former 6-foot-8 basketball players. So in executive pickup basketball, you definitely want the Bulls now. Karnisovas and Eversley believe you'll want the Bulls in more ways than that before long.
"I am thrilled to join the Chicago Bulls family. Becoming a GM in the NBA is a dream come true," said Eversley in an opening statement. "To be in a leadership position with Arturas for this iconic franchise is an opportunity of a lifetime. We both come from successful programs and we're going to establish a culture of winning in Chicago. Everything starts and ends with winning. We need to focus our culture and mindset to be about excellence day in and day out. I'm so excited to start this chapter. For Bulls fans, hear me when I say it: Our ultimate goal is to bring an NBA Championship back to the city of Chicago."
Something like digging into that post position and scoring. They've done it on the basketball court in their playing careers. And now comes the opportunity to face up to the challenge of what's lately been a rough ride for the Bulls franchise.
As Teddy Roosevelt said, Big jobs usually go to those who prove their ability to outgrow small ones.
Not that Karnisovas' history with the Denver Nuggets was insignificant. Nor that Eversley played minor roles as an assistant general manager or player personnel chief with several NBA franchises. But now both move into prime decision making positions for the first time. Their times has come. And with it comes the Bulls next chapter.
These men appear to speak softly. But their experience and influence suggests the big stick that often is necessary for franchise change and success in the competitive NBA.
It wasn't Spiderman but Roosevelt who said, "Much has been given us, and much will rightfully be expected from us."
Marc Eversley has spent time working with the Philadelphia 76ers, Washington Wizards, and Toronto Raptors.
Which Eversley understands as the child of Barbados natives who moved to Canada. He played small college basketball in Ohio and began a basketball career through the Nike organization. So he's viewed the basketball world on both sides of the rose colored glasses. It's often been a rough ride, so he also understands Roosevelt's dictum that, Nothing in this world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty.
Roll up your sleeves and help the Bulls get back up on their feet and perhaps help produce more of those wonderful feats we so enjoyed and appreciated. "Relationships move the needle in this business and it really starts at the grassroots," Eversley said. "I was fortunate enough to work at Nike at a time when LeBron James and players like that were coming up through the system. It really taught me the value of relationships. One of my mottos is ‘players first.' I think you have to create a players first mentality.
"We (Bulls) were the second youngest team in the NBA last year, and I really believe it starts with a foundation of player development," Eversley said. "True player development, that's really when we can see what kind of players we have on our roster. I was surprised to find that there was one player development coach on the staff. That's a helluva job for one person to take on. It's going to be one of my tenets to try and figure out our player development system. There's a lot of key areas within it. Skill development, physical development, mental enhancement. You need to hire people to help support that. So we're going to do a pretty diligent job in terms of looking for the proper staff to bring in here to work with our young guys. But player development is going to be a tremendous focus for this organization moving forward."
Both Eversley and Karnisovas emphasized they're going to be in the analysis stage, which also pertains to the coaching staff.
"It is really early," Eversley reiterated. "Coach (Jim Boylen) and I did have a conversation earlier in the week where he called to congratulate me on accepting the position. Just like anything else on our staff, we are going to utilize our time to evaluate everybody on staff – not only players, coaches, but also people in the front office. I've spoken to coach. We had a really great conversation and I'm looking forward to spending time with him in Chicago when we're afforded that opportunity.
"I think we owe it to everybody on staff to get to Chicago and meet them face-to-face," Eversley said. "I think we owe it to our players to hopefully get to evaluate them in practice settings, in playing settings. And we owe it to our staff to see them in those types of settings as well. I just think it's far too early to make those types of decisions with respect to anybody on the staff until we get to Chicago. That will ultimately be a joint decision."
And both Karnisovas and Eversley have come through organizations which emphasized collective decision making.
"Going through the hiring process, getting to know Arturas and everything he was about, we're basketball junkies," Eversley said. "We love being in the gym. We love evaluating talent. We love growing teams. I think my relationships complement him well. My days at Nike and working with the teams I've worked with, I think they're going to be a great complement to him and our staff moving forward. In the teams I've been with we've always fostered healthy debate and communication. That's something (Arturas) welcomes. As long as you do it in a respectful way, you can do great things.
"I like teams that play fast," Eversley continued. "I like teams that share the ball. I put a heavy emphasis on basketball IQ. Simply put, we want players who play the right way, play for each other. We want winners on the court at all times. That's something that's not going to be easily done or done overnight. I think it's going to be a process; it's going to take some time. Then defensively, I like players who are versatile. I like players who can switch multiple positions. I believe in rim protections. I believe in good, positional sound defense. We want kids who are going to play hard and compete. I think there's an element of toughness that I would love to see us really focus in on as we build out this roster. But those are just some of the types of things that I'd love to see Bulls basketball evolve to.
Marc Eversley has also spent ten years as an executive at Nike.
"I certainly did my research on the team," Eversley added. "Obviously winning 22 games this year is not ideally where you want to be. I was committed to my role with the Sixers. I didn't study the (Bulls) that intently. But when I did, I noticed that they're not necessarily a strong rebounding team. I don't think they shot it particularly well this year. But I do think there's areas of improvement and we're committed to turning this program around. With respect to any other coaching and all that kind of stuff, it's really about getting to Chicago and doing a deep dive on all of the departments, including coaching staff and really figuring out what the needs are and addressing them and then putting the plan in place against all of those needs.
"I take pride in (being the franchise's first black general manager)," Eversley said. "I think it's a tremendous responsibility. I am a black man, I'm in a leadership position now in a city with so many black youths. I see this as a great opportunity. I think being visible is going to important. I think being invested is going to be important. I think this position with the Bulls provides me with resources to help drive some change. You know, we can all do better, I intend to do more. And I welcome those types of opportunities to become a role model for a lot of the young youth, both boys and girls, in the city."
It was Roosevelt who said, "I cannot consent to take the position that the door of hope — the door of opportunity — is to be shut upon any man, no matter how worthy, purely upon the grounds of race or color. Such an attitude would, according to my convictions, be fundamentally wrong."
And so Marc Eversley is ready to join the battle, to take and deliver the hits. And not so softly.