Bulls

The best thing Zach LaVine has done for the Bulls, according to Stephen A. Smith

The best thing Zach LaVine has done for the Bulls, according to Stephen A. Smith

Chicago played a tremendous host to the NBA’s 69th All-Star Game and the preceding weekend of festivities. The Bulls, though, spent much of their time at the center of the NBA universe being lambasted from all sides by pundits and fans, alike. 

The bright spot amid the tumult was the team’s best player and bona fide cornerstone, Zach LaVine, who made the only appearance in an All-Star event by a Bull while gracefully juggling television spots and community engagement appearances throughout the weekend.

RELATED: Bulls Talk Podcast: NBA All-Star 2020 weekend recap and Bulls front office changes?

One national personality offered a refreshing perspective on LaVine’s ascension in his sixth season: ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.

“I’ve always seen the growth from Zach LaVine,” Smith told NBC Sports Chicago. “He’s a really good person, he’s a damn good player, incredibly athletic — had a nasty injury a few years ago, came back from that — so to see the athleticism and the ability he’s had… I remember his agent Bill Duffy used to brag about what he was going to be, and he’s lived up to it.”

That growth, in Smith’s opinion, is the greatest thing that could have happened for a Bulls team mired in a choppy rebuild. But not for the reason you might think.

“I think the greatest thing that Zach LaVine is doing for the Chicago Bulls right now is making the Chicago Bulls fans see that change needs to occur,” Smith said. “Cause when you have somebody like him — what’re you doing with him? What’re you building around him? What kind of things are you doing to facilitate the level of success he obviously craves? When you have talent like him, you don’t just let it go to waste, and right now there are legitimate questions about whether or not that’s exactly what the Bulls are doing.”

Change could very well be coming for the Bulls this offseason, though it remains unclear exactly what said change would entail. But if this season has shown this city anything, it’s that LaVine is a part of the solution, not the problem.

“I think he does, I think he does,” Smith said when asked if LaVine has the potential to be a true franchise player to build around. “I'm not saying he's the second coming of Michael Jordan, but he's a damn good basketball player with a tremendous upside. He's got the right mentality, he's got the right approach and the right focus. He certainly has tremendous athletic ability. he's not scared of anybody. And he can do some things.”

Desirability as a destination will be key to the Bulls in the next phase(s) of the rebuild. Smith lamented that aspect of the organization, as well.

“But you haven't put anything around him from an organizational perspective, from a coaching perspective, from a player personnel perspective. You haven't done anything. And the Bulls are gonna have to do something because you do not have a talent like that and just stand around and do nothing. Cause if you don't do anything with him, there's no star alive that's gonna think about coming to Chicago to play for you.”

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Bulls Talk Podcast: Bulls search for new front office member begins

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Bulls search for new front office member begins

The Bulls started the interview process for candidates to run their basketball operations department. Jason Goff is joined by Rob Schaefer and Bulls insider KC Johnson to discuss and update on the potential candidates and what the Bulls are thinking and what are they looking for.

Listen here or below.

2:12) - Michael Reinsdorf is doing his due diligence trying to find a new head of basketball operations

(10:00) - Bulls are looking to modernize their front office

(19:10) - Whoever the Bulls hire will decide how much Gar/Pax are involved

(29:00) - Bulls job is appealing, according to people around the league

(39:45) - How does a change in front office impact the players and coaching staff?

(45:20) - What should the John Paxson tenure be remembered as

Listen here or below.

Bulls Talk Podcast

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Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.

Game-worn Michael Jordan 1992 'Dream Team' jersey up for auction

Game-worn Michael Jordan 1992 'Dream Team' jersey up for auction

Early Tuesday morning, Robert Edward Auctions announced it is auctioning off a United States men's basketball jersey worn by Michael Jordan during the Dream Team's Gold Medal run at the 1992 Summer Olympics.

The front of the jersey is inscribed by Jordan in black Sharpie that reads: "Best Wishes/Michael Jordan." 

Photo courtesy of Robert Edward Auctions

The jersey was first purchased at a 1992 charity event (hosted by the Michael Jordan Foundation) for a whopping $17,500, according to a release. The last it appeared at a public auction was in 2013, when it realized $53,325, also per the release. The starting bid this time around was $25,000, which, as of this writing, has swelled to $33,000.

Bidding for the jersey ends April 19 — incidentally, the same day as the new early release date for ESPN's "The Last Dance" documentary on Michael Jordan and the 1998 Bulls.

What better way to prepare than selling the farm for this slice of history?

Every other night through April 15, NBC Sports Chicago is airing the entirety of the Bulls' 1996 NBA championship run. Find the full schedule here.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.