The Chicago Bulls suffered a meltdown of epic proportions last night, both in the fourth quarter, as well as in the locker room. The Bulls are beginning to look like something of a School House Rock parody, Dysfunction Junction as they rapidly unravel.
Last night, after watching the Bulls blow a ten point lead in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, I sat back and watched the seasoned NBA veteran Dwyane Wade rip the lackluster efforts of everyone around him not named Jimmy Butler. Butler piled-on in the post-game discussions in front of his locker as well.
I could only think of the old School House Rock episode, “Conjunction Junction”, and how much the Bulls were beginning to become the Dysfunction Junction of the Eastern Conference.
Sure, the Knicks are pretty scrambled at the moment, the 76ers have been seemingly tanking and stockpiling lottery picks for what seems like a decade now, and the Cavaliers are being run by their small forward via Twitter nowadays, but none of them top the dumpster fire that Gar Foreman and John Paxson have assembled at 1901 W. Madison St. this season.
Last night’s on-court collapse was comparable to the one they suffered in early December at the hands of Tom Thibodeau, when they blew a 21-point lead to the Timberwolves in front of the United Center crowd.
Fitting that the game that could be fingered as the Bulls demise in the 2016-2017 season, would come at the hands of their former head coach, whom they never should have fired to begin with. Had Jerry Reinsdorf not allowed “his guys” to have a chest-puffing contest with Thibs’ back in the spring of 2015, ultimately to bring in “their guy” as a replacement immediately after, the Bulls might not be in this situation right now.
That’s the common theme with Reinsdorf run teams, they’re run like good-old-boys clubs rather than multi-million dollar corporations, that should aim to win consistently. Instead, he has his buddies calling the shots in both of his Chicago sports franchises, and not by coincidence both of those franchises have spent the last decade “mired in mediocrity”.
Dwyane Wade left the Miami Heat this summer to join up with Jimmy Butler and a “talented” Bulls team, now just past the half-way point in his first season with his hometown Bulls, Wade finds himself laying into his teammates through the media after ugly losses. Wade had this to say about the lack of effort, or desire to win throughout the roster;
“This game is more than just makes and missing,” Wade said. “I don’t know. Guys have to ask that question themselves. I’m not at home with people. But I don’t know if I see enough guys who really, really want it. Losses like this have to hurt them.
I’m 35 years old. I have three championships. It shouldn’t hurt me more than it hurts these young guys. They have to want it. If they don’t want it, then we’ll show up and play Friday. Hopefully, we’ll win. If we don’t, then we go to dinner again and keep it going until the season is over. It has to change. It has to hurt inside to lose games like this. This shit should fucking hurt.”
Wade continued to rip his teammates in his post-game discussion with the media in font of his locker, by questioning the overall will to win by the Bulls, and their level of concern for the current state of their season;
“I don’t know what happened,” Wade said. “But you continue to be in these kinds of situations and lose games like this, you really don’t care enough. You don’t care enough. It’s got to mean that much to you to want to win. And it doesn’t. So I don’t know. I don’t know happened. I don’t know how you fix it. It just doesn’t mean enough for guys around here to want to win ball games.
It pisses me off, but I can’t be frustrated and I can’t care too much for these guys. They got to care for themselves. We got to do better. We got to do better knowing where you shots coming and knocking them down. We got to do better knowing film, knowing your personnel. As a team, we got to do better, man.”
While Dwyane Wade was holding no punches back on his teammates lack-luster efforts that have lead to an inconsistent, and often times hard-to-bear sub-.500 season, the Bulls franchise player Jimmy Butler was equally as frustrated with the current state of the Bulls, having this to say;
“If you don’t come in this motherfucker pissed off after you lose any game, if you’re not pissed off that you lost, man, something is wrong,” Butler said. “This is your job. This is what you’re supposed to love to do, and I don’t think that everybody looks at it that way. I want to play with guys that care, guys that play hard, that want to do well for this organization. That want to win games, man. Do whatever it takes, just win. Who cares who is shining? When we’re winning everybody looks great, everybody is doing what they’re supposed to do. I don’t think that’s happening right now, I really don’t.”
Were Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler right for venting their frustrations with the team so freely with the media on Wednesday night? Maybe the old “time and place” adage could have been adhered to a little bit more, but can you blame them? Can you blame Jimmy Butler, a guy who almost literally carries the Bulls on his back every single night? I sure can’t, and I have no issue with what Wade and Butler said. Jerian Grant however, did have an issue with it, and handled it in a similar fashion on Wednesday night, by taking to Twitter.
Grant Tweeted the following, over the course of four separate Tweets;
“Tough loss, that hurt for sure. But I play hard TO WIN every second I’m out there, and grind everyday for everything I have.”
“I’ve played this game since I was 4yrs old. Basketball is in my blood and means way more to me than just a paycheck.”
“The ONLY way I know how to play, is to win.”
“My point is I work hard, I play hard, and I play to win for our team.”
Grant was quite obviously slinging some “shade” (as the kids say nowadays) at his teammates Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler. Which should only add fuel to the fire that is at a near flash-over temperature at this point.
Butler and Wade were also vocal in their displeasure with Bulls Head Coach Fred Hoiberg‘s late game play calling in Wednesday night’s collapse. Hoiberg had plays drawn up late in the fourth quarter for Nikola Mirotic and Paul Zipser, both of which missed late three-point field goal attempts.
Dwyane Wade was not a fan of his head coach putting the ball in the hands of third and fourth level scoring options late in a ballgame;
“Me and Jimmy, coach puts the ball in our hands a lot to make plays, to make shots,” Wade said. “That’s our job. I think for the majority of the season we’ve done it when we counted, when we needed to. I can look at Jimmy and say Jimmy is doing his job. I think Jimmy can look at me and say Dwyane is doing his job. I don’t know if we can keep going down the line and be able to say that.”
Last night was more than just another head-scratching loss, it was a perfect summary of their season, capped off by a stern call to action by the team’s two star players. The Bulls were within three minutes of a victory against an Eastern Conference playoff contender on Wednesday night, a win that would have put them in the sixth seed in the east. Instead, the Bulls imploded, a common theme this season in Chicago.
The Bulls are a walking example of the old saying “one step forward, two steps back”. Spending the majority of the season floundering around the .500 mark, haunted by poor roster construction, an overwhelmed head coach, and constant inconsistency, the Bulls are destined for failure in the end.
If the rest of the Bulls roster doesn’t respond to the indirect warning shots fired by Wade and Butler after Wednesday night, the Bulls will surely reach a boiling point in the coming weeks, if not sooner, which at this point, might be a welcomed occurrence.