This wasn’t nearly as much fun Friday as when early in that last championship season Scottie Pippen, though injured, went with the Bulls on the famous circus trip and declared because of the Bulls’ miserable treatment of him throughout his career he’d never play another game for the team and wanted to be traded immediately to the Suns or Lakers. Or when Jerry Krause on media day that season declared even if the Bulls went undefeated Phil Jackson was out. Or when Horace Grant on the eve of a playoff series with the Pistons condemned his teammates. Or when Michael Jordan skipped a team trip to the White House, said he had a family weekend scheduled and went on an illegal gambling weekend with a convicted drug dealer.
Ah, the good times.
Jimmy and Dwyane said the young guys don’t try hard enough and are not good enough; Rajon says the kids do so try hard and maybe you guys should shut the heck up. That’s it? That’s what all this was about?
It was another fun day in the NBA Friday. Well, perhaps not for the Bulls after an unusually long game day shootaround before having to play the Miami Heat Friday night.
But when it was over, after a long team meeting in which previously dulled voices apparently came alive, with fines issued and the principal players lined up to the media’s firing squad of questions, this seems pretty much what we know:
Jimmy and Dwyane, who pretty much come together these days, may not care for Rondo and vice versa, which we sort of knew since in 2011 Wade nearly broke Rondo’s arm in what Rondo said was Wade’s typical dirty play and Wade said Rondo was a punk. But that hardly prevents them from playing together and having success. Anyone seen what Kobe and Shaq did together?
Leadership is like making laws, which is like making sausages that sometimes you don’t want to see being done and which can sometimes be ugly and, at least after the taste, can make you sick. But it’s necessary.
If you are Dwyane Wade and you are hired to provide direction for a situation perhaps without enough, well, then you sometimes have to do it and everyone isn’t going to like you. It’s not about being liked when you are a competitor.
It’s about success.
Maybe it won’t happen here, but damn if he’s going to allow that without at least giving it a try.
And damn if Rondo is going to sit around and let his kids be pushed around. Rondo’s not big, but you want him on your side in battle.
That’s enough, kids. No cookies and milk if you don’t take your naps.
“We were extremely disappointed that several players chose to speak out after our last game,” Bulls general manager Gar Forman said in a statement to reporters. “Every team has issues and it’s our strong belief that when you have issues or critical comments that you keep those issues or critical comments in house, that it is not shared through you (media) guys, that it is not shared through social media. It is totally unacceptable, and we made it very clear to the players that were involved that it’s unacceptable.
“It’s a distraction that’s not needed,” Forman continued. “I think it’s a detriment to team growth. We have visited with the players that spoke out at length and we have dealt with that internally (players said they were fined, but no suspensions). We’ve talked about the issue with our entire team. Where we are today is we’ve got a game tonight. We are looking forward to moving forward and moving ahead and at this point we are not going to comment any further on it.”
Hey, a chance to get back to .500 against Wade’s former team. And so the NBA moves on.
You know, LeBron and Carmelo are mad, too.
For the Bulls, there was Butler and Wade after Wednesday’s meltdown loss to the Atlanta Hawks issuing a team wide condemnation—no names, please—about commitment to the game, work ethic, intelligence on the court and the fate of the team.
Rondo came back late Thursday on social media with a sort of veiled critique of the two, though mostly defending the unnamed young players who were targeted but don’t quite have the gravitas to face off with a future Hall of Famer and starting All-Star.
And, you know, both sides were right.
Butler and Wade after the frustrating loss to fall back under .500 were angry about what they believe can be a more successful team. Though I still think they were tired and cranky from the long ride back from Orlando after playing the night before, their comments were directed toward team success.
Perhaps better to say when they didn’t play so well and dominate the ball all game, but the point was reasonable.
And then good for Rondo for standing up for guys who cannot themselves, either being too young, too inexperienced or too unsuccessful.
Though it’s fairly obvious it wasn’t exactly the best way to do it, even if it’s often done that way in sports.
Rarely does it get out that way at Nike or Apple or GM when workers are upset with their contemporaries or superiors. Of course, this also is why we love this game. It’s not only what they do, but what they say.
And don’t believe this isn’t common. Just like, well, which friend or neighbor do you have who never complains about his coworkers and bosses? Overheard any lunchtime conversations lately in the Loop?
This week in the NBA—yes, just this week—it’s LeBron about his bosses, and he’s got a team that really matters. It’s Carmelo; it’s almost always DeMarcus Cousins. It will be some center soon among the three on the 76ers. It was Marcus Smart the other day with the Celtics.
The difference with those Bulls was they won; same with Kobe and Shaq. Actually, LeBron does this pretty much all the time as at about 20 games over .500 he got his coach fired last year this time.
When you win, it’s the leadership needed to produce success. When you are .500, well, it’s a cataclysm.
As usual, Wade handled himself beautifully, explaining that he can play with everyone and anyone, that the real world isn’t kumbaya, that it’s hard, but that anything worth attaining should be difficult. Rondo did, as well, offering his unique brand of candor and rectitude. Jimmy, for his part, was upbeat and insouciant. Hey, I’m a pro basketball player and famous. My problems start well after that.
And, hey, maybe this works out.
Maybe the young guys become more emboldened and confident, take those tough shots instead of hesitating and demand more of themselves. Maybe Butler and Wade then come to trust them more and share the ball with them more often. Maybe Fred Hoiberg laughs again.
Here are some excerpts from a day not unfamiliar to the championship Bulls of the 1990s:
Background music of Frank Sinatra’s My Way then began playing. OK, but it should have.
Jimmy and Dwayne will not start Friday's game, but will play.