Bulls

Bulls used All-Star weekend to continue seeking input on likely changes

Bulls used All-Star weekend to continue seeking input on likely changes

When Michael Reinsdorf takes center court late Sunday night, the Bulls president and chief operating officer won’t just be ceremoniously ending his All-Star game hosting duties for the United Center and city of Chicago.

He’ll be taking center stage after doing plenty of work in the background.

Talk has been rampant throughout All-Star weekend about expected changes to the Bulls’ front office. According to multiple sources, Reinsdorf has been using this week to continue seeking input from confidantes around the league on candidates for what one source described as “an empowered presence” in the front office.

While no final decisions have been made, the expected addition would take on the day-to-day operations and become a fresh voice and face of the franchise. It’s unclear what this addition’s title would be, however general manager Gar Forman likely will remain in the scouting role he has worked in this season while Paxson would still report to the Reinsdorfs.

The scouting department also is expected to undergo a significant facelift, sources said.

As for the future of coach Jim Boylen, who signed an extension last summer, he still has significant support from the Reinsdorfs and Paxson. Whether he returns or not could be the first test of the autonomy of this expected new hire.

One source stressed no final determinations have been made on the structure of the front office. However, Jerry Reinsdorf’s other team, the White Sox, could serve as the blueprint. That’s where Ken Williams moved from general manager to vice president, while Rick Hahn assumed general manager duties and the role of the franchise’s public voice.

Paxson ceded that responsibility to Forman once previously but reclaimed it when the organization chose to undertake a full rebuild because he wanted to take on the responsibility of articulating the vision.

In recent separate interviews with regular beat writers who cover the team, including NBC Sports Chicago, Paxson stressed how much passion he still had to see the rebuild work.

“I’m not going anywhere,” he said at the time.

But Paxson also would be comfortable having another voice help articulate that vision.

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Bulls observations: The full Dennis Rodman experience sends Knicks packing

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NBC Sports Chicago

Bulls observations: The full Dennis Rodman experience sends Knicks packing

The Knicks are hitting the links and the Bulls are going to the Eastern Conference Finals. Observations:

A splendid series for Dennis Rodman

This series felt like the full Dennis Rodman experience, and it was delightful. In terms of production, he averaged 15.6 rebounds (4.8 offensive) across five games and dished two game-swinging assists to close out Game 4 at The Garden. As a team, the Bulls were +39 on the boards (winning the offensive glass 84-45) in the series.

In the clincher, Rodman posted 11 points and 12 rebounds — relatively pedestrian by his standards. But he was omnipresent throughout nonetheless, a whirlwind of limbs careening into every rebound scrum, passing lane and screen set. His swagger and unbridled joy for the game were on full display, too:

 

 

Every foul call (there were six in this one, plus an ejection) drew a performance. Every bump from a Knicks player elicited subtle retaliation. And every move he made was met by raucous cheers from the home crowd. Chicago really loved Rodman, and he earned it every time he stepped on the floor.

It all culminated with a litany of peak Dennis moments in the fourth quarter. With just over four minutes left to play, he leapt down the floor and into Luc Longley’s arms after a fastbreak Longley dunk that he assisted put the Bulls up 13. Moments later, he sealed the game for good with a layup to similar celebration (this time, Ron Harper got the hug). 

And the coups de gras: With about a minute left and the game out of reach, he picked up a suspect second technical (which led to an ejection) after he had committed a sixth personal foul. A fiery exit and impassioned jersey chuck into the frenzied UC stands capped it off. All in a day’s work for The Worm. His evolution from fierce rival to beloved anti-hero is truly something to behold.

 

Unfortunately, NBC Sports Chicago wasn’t able to get the reel from this game’s ‘Walk of Shame’ but we’re sure it was as entertaining as ever after this one.

“Playing in the mud”

Those were Tom Dore’s words early in the fourth quarter, and boy were they apt. For this game and the entire series. 

Without fail, mid-90s Bulls-Knicks seems to be a recipe for slog. A fistfight where all the blows are contested midrange jumpers and wild elbows. Only once in the series did a team reach 100 points (the Knicks, in Game 3). In this one, the Knicks hit their first 3-pointer with just outside of a minute remaining in the third quarter (finishing 2-for-13 overall). 

Man, how times have changed: 

 

But ultimately, this series amounts to another whooping, one the Knicks appeared noticeably demoralized by the end of. The Bulls’ swagger is just unmatched. We’ve detailed Rodman’s individual exploits, but there really is a collective feeling of inevitability when this team gets rolling, as they did in the second half of this game. Somehow, Michael Jordan’s 36-point average in this series felt under-the-radar, but he was capable of ripping New York’s hearts out seemingly on a whim.  

And beyond even the players, this team’s energy seemed to seep into the city around them. At one point in this game, cameras panned to a fan-posted ‘Title Ticker’ on the UC wall, counting down the numbers of wins remaining until another Bulls championship. “Another One Bites the Dust” blared as the Knicks sauntered off, defeated. Even from afar, it’s apparent that this dynasty was a full-city effort.

And another late-series gem, from Johnny “Red” Kerr: 

So long, Knickerbockers.

Passing thoughts

  • Jordan (35 points, 5 assists) and Pippen (15 points, 11 rebounds, 5 steals) remain absolutely ridiculous. And Ron Harper, who poured in an impactful 12, is still one of my biggest personal revelations from this Rewind run. Couldn’t go this whole post without shouting out their nights.

  • We had a sad, then animated, then sad again Spike Lee make multiple appearances throughout this one. You simply have to respect the grind.

  • Seriously. Bring back the classic Bulls intro theme. I’ll never ask for anything again.

  • Uh, what?

 

See you Wednesday at 7 p.m. CT for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Magic.

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.

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Report: NBA planning players-only 2K tournament broadcast on ESPN

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USA TODAY

Report: NBA planning players-only 2K tournament broadcast on ESPN

Starting to feel the effects after nearly three weeks without live sports? The NBA and ESPN are reportedly teaming up to offer a solution.

According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports, the NBA is planning a players-only 2K tournament to be broadcast on ESPN this Friday, April 3.

Though the league is still reportedly finalizing the details of the tourney, Haynes wrote the showcase could include some "big-name players."

That begs the question: Could Zach LaVine be one of them?

Who knows! But some signs point to it being a possibility. LaVine, after all, has participated in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare tournaments hosted by SLAM two weeks in a row, and told Sam Smith of Bulls.com (in a feature published Monday morning) that he's currently exploring starting his own Twitch channel.

"I play a lot of video games and obviously the big thing now is people are getting into the video game community. I'm starting to do that as well," LaVine told Smith. "I'm creating my own Twitch account because I play video games so much, anyway, and I have a pretty big following with that."

If LaVine does get and accept an invite, it would certainly make for an entertaining distraction for Bulls fans. Either way, this is must-watch television.

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