|Monday, February 19
Updated: February 20, 3:11 PM ET
Bulls gore their fans with bad, bad ball
By Jeffrey Denberg
Special to ESPN.com
How's this? The Bulls are undefeated since the All-Star break.
If the Bulls were a car, that's what they would be, a Russian Lada -- uncomfortably unreliable by any measuring stick.
If they were sirloin steak they would be the product of a mad cow. If they were a body of water they would be brackish. If they were a bottle of milk they would be sour.
They are bad and no amount of bovine fertilizer is going to put the bloom back on this rose.
Saturday night the Bulls celebrated an achievement they had not known for an entire calendar year. They won a second consecutive game. Beat the Hawks Tuesday and the Heat Saturday.
When the Bulls broke a franchise-worst 16-game losing streak against the sagging Hawks, streamers were shot off from each basket. That was the brain child of business operations vice president Steve Schanwald, who said he saw the same thing done at a Harlem Globetrotters game and liked the idea so much he implemented it and plans to continue doing so after each rare home victory.
Think about this: the descendants of six-time champion Bulls Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Phil Jackson are aping the Harlem Globetrotters, basketball clowns. And you thought they were more like the Washington Generals.
Coach Pink Floyd is finishing his third and probably final season on the dark side of the NBA moon before heading back to the college ranks. You would think Floyd had seen it all by now but he is as bemused by Schanwald's logic as he is by the workings of the NBA game.
Little did Floyd know that Schanwald, a cheap imitation of Chicago icon Bill Veeck, had all the hoopla in place for a month. Trouble was the Bulls could not win a game.
So impressed was Tim Hardaway after the Bulls beat the Heat, he said, gee, they didn't look a team with only seven victories. Make that eight, Tim and, yes, everyone's counting because the Bulls need two more victories to escape the ignominious nine-victory Mendoza mark of the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers.
Oh, with two months left in the season they'll do that. They may even treat 10-game loser Cleveland as road kill when they play Monday night. But are the Bulls actually better than those terrible Sixers? That's an interesting question, given today's watered down game.
Consider: a remarkable break in the schedule probably won these two games for the Bulls. They played them in a span of 12 days. That's football tempo and thank you, NBA schedule guys. Playing every six days, you know how long it would take the Bulls to win even 30 games? About six months and the season only runs 5½.
Anybody remember that Philly team?
The Sixers won 30 games the year before they set the all-time record for celebratory abstinence. They won 25 the year after. The Bulls are a long way from 25 wins.
The Sixers had some real players, including Kevin Loughery, who finished the year as player coach, and John Trapp, who once claimed he was Red Holtzman's favorite player, only Holtzman said he never heard of him. ESPN analyst Fred Carter averaged 20 points that season and later on, when he was an assistant coach in Washington, was given a dagger by a player who had drawn Carter's name in the Christmas pool and knew his tendencies..
For 51 games Philly was coached by Roy Rubin, who had been at Long Island University until then. He was fired with a 4-47 record and he took his money and bought a pancake place on Biscayne Boulevard in Miami. You think Tim Floyd has the sense to buy a pancake house, make an honest living cooking flapjacks? Maybe buy a fishing boat?.
Floyd has to wonder how can a team have gone bad this fast? Penthouse to outhouse in the blink of a eye?
Got to be his buddy Jerry Krause.
"Jerry has proven that players don't win. Organizations win." That's agent David Falk, a little smug these days when it comes to the Bulls, but what would you expect from the guy who ran Michael Jordan's career and would like to see client Elton Brand surrounded by real basketeers?
Krause dumped money, hoarding cap room like it was Silas Marner's gold, only to learn that his image and Jerry Reinsdorf's had been so tainted -- whether fairly or not -- by Jordan that none of the top players wanted to be a Bulls if there was a reasonable financial alternative. They ended up with Ron Mercer and backup center Brad Miller, who wants out five months after committing for three years, $13 million.
Then Krause drafted badly and too often. Six picks in this era? Marcus Fizer from the lottery when he could have had Chris Mihm, a good-shooting, high-post center who is ideal for the triangle offense that Krause forced down Floyd's throat (He did draft Mihm, but dealt him for point guard Jamal Crawford, who was the next pick).
Some offense. The Bulls the last two seasons had the lowest-scoring output of any team since the 24-second shot clock was introduced almost 50 years ago. Although Floyd has tried to run some extra-Triangle strategy, running some screens, these Bulls are averaging at the bottom again with fewer than 87 points a game, shooting in the low-.420s. Only the Nets are worst than that.
"The one thing you can't do is panic," Krause said over the All-Star break, adding straight-faced that the Bulls really missed injured Michael Ruffin.
Okay. Don't panic. The leases on those 200 luxury suites are going to come due soon. Those multi-season ticket subscriptions are going to expire and every guy who bought in during the halcyon days of Mike and Scottie is going to be holding a grudge. Sell a man Firestone Wilderness tires, you think he's coming back to your store for more?
Does anyone want to watch Dragan Tarlac take up space in a hoops game? Does the prospect of maybe signing a Shandon Anderson and a Rodney Rogers bring back the corporate guy, money in his hand? Is the coming draft going to turn the Bulls around? Did the last one? Or the one before that?
Face it, Chicago. You've been gored.
Jeffrey Denberg, who covers the NBA for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, is a regular contributor to ESPN.com.