Bulls

Former Nuggets GM Arturas Karnisovas 'had his eyes' on Bulls job

Former Nuggets GM Arturas Karnisovas 'had his eyes' on Bulls job

The Bulls made a huge splash late Wednesday night when it was reported that they were in the midst of negotiations to make Arturas Karnisovas the new Bulls head of basketball operations. Bulls fans have had mostly positive reactions to the news and as we wait for further updates from the NBA as to the status of the league, we are finding out more and more about the intriguing background of Karnisovas. 

On Thursday's Sports Talk Live, The Gazette Denver sports columnist Paul Klee was on with David Kaplan to help give Chicagoans a better idea of what to expect with Karnisovas.

Klee started off by acknowledging that the Bulls made a great move and immediately touted Karnisovas' ability to maintain relationships. "His strengths are his eye for talent and his networking abilities, everybody he knows in the game, not only here but in Europe. This is an icon in Lithuania that's managed to get the [Denver] Nuggets back from the ashes."

Indeed Karnisovas has been a part of the Nuggets steady rise from overachieving team to a consistent force in a particularly stacked Western Conference.

RELATED: 5 key moves the Nuggets made during Arturas Karnisovas' tenure

There has been much discussion among league sources about the potential of a restructured Chicago front office, something K.C. Johnson and Tom Haberstroh touched on in their most recent piece. In that story, a rival executive is quoted saying, “It’s not a good job...it’s a great job," in reference to becoming the new Bulls head of basketball operations. 

Klee said, "this was a great opportunity and a job that I know personally, Arturas has had his eyes on." Karnisovas was actually a member of the 1992 Lithuanian national basketball team that finished with a bronze medal and put up a valiant effort against the Michael Jordan-led Dream Team and you can even find a photo of Karnisovas taking a picture of the Dream Team during the action.

There was obviously a level of respect and admiration for MJ's game from international hoopers and there is a strong possibility Karnisovas has been dreaming of working for the Bulls organization in some capacity for a long time. Regardless, Karnisovas' storied past as a big-time international basketball player, when combined with his reputation and record of doing things "his way," makes him a clear cut step in the right direction.

"He is not going to be a guy who is doing zoom calls with media all the time...that's not really his cup of tea. He's a more measured, reserved, thoughtful guy, watches the room and then he figures what move he's gonna make. If they were looking for a public face of the franchise, he's gonna point those cameras towards the locker room. He wants the players to be in front." Klee continued that Karnisovas isn't someone who is known to come out and make too many statements about his players, as he prefers to keep things close to the vest until he is absolutely sure of his next move.

"He likes to know that you know your stuff before he shares any of his," stated Klee. Karnisovas is slated to come into Chicago and immediately start to put his stamp on a completely revamped Bulls front office. And after 17 years of the John Paxson regime, Bulls fans are extremely excited to see what a different team-building process looks like. The Bulls have given Arturas Karnisovas the keys to the kingdom and all signs point to him confidently and aggressively bringing the Bulls back to prominence. 

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Why Bulls-Pistons 1991 playoff walkoff remains iconic in Chicago sports history

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USA Today

Why Bulls-Pistons 1991 playoff walkoff remains iconic in Chicago sports history

“Straight up bitches. That’s what they walked off like.”

Talk about a putback slam.

Horace Grant delivered one of the most powerful quotes of “The Last Dance” documentary.

The former Bulls power forward dunked all over the “Bad Boy” Detroit Pistons for walking off the floor in the waning moments of Game 4 of the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals.

Wednesday marks one of the most iconic anniversaries in Chicago sports history. On May 27, 1991, the Bulls beat the Pistons 115-94 en route to an emphatic series sweep. Just over two weeks later, they were NBA champions.

Up until “The Last Dance,” the most memorable takeaway from that Game 4 victory wasn’t necessarily a key play or a postgame quote. It was a number: 7.9.

That’s the amount of seconds that were left on the clock when Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer and company ducked past the Bulls bench—without so much as a handshake— and eventually out of sight at the Palace in Auburn Hills.

It is one of the most iconic images in the Chicago sports canon. One could argue it belongs on a Bulls “Mount Rushmore” of images with, perhaps, Michael Jordan’s free throw line dunk in the 1988 Slam Dunk Content Or MJ weeping while holding the Larry O’Brien trophy after the ’91 Finals win over the Lakers. Or his final shot against the Jazz in 1998.

[MORE: Recounting the most memorable quotes from "The Last Dance"]

What transpired in suburban Detroit on that Memorial Day was more than just a victory or even a series sweep. It was a passing of the torch. Or, maybe, the Pistons’ torch was simply doused a’la the Wicked Witch of the West. Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Phil Jackson and company caused the “Bad Boys” to melt under the lights of a national TV broadcast and ensuing media scrutiny. 

Many Chicago fans remember the brutal, sometimes bloody Bulls-Pistons games in the handful of years up until that Monday in Motown. The Bulls lost three consecutive playoff series against the Pistons, two of which came in the conference finals. The victory was not just a flag-planting in the ground. It was a relief.

And with that win, the Bulls took more of the Chicago sports spotlight. The Ditka-era Bears were fading. The Cubs were mediocre at best. The White Sox were on the rise but were still a few years away. The Blackhawks finished first in the Norris Division that year but were bounced quickly in the playoffs. The Bulls were THE story in town.

Imagine if the Pistons had won that ’91 playoff series. That would have made four consecutive playoff headaches courtesy of the Pistons. Do the Bulls rise up again? Do the Bulls even end up getting to the 1992 NBA Finals?

Be thankful for that day in Detroit.

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.

Report: Ex-Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau leads list of Knicks targets

Report: Ex-Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau leads list of Knicks targets

When David Fizdale was fired by the New York Knicks in December, it was fair to assume a coaching search would come in the offseason. Now, even with the NBA season still in limbo amid the coronavirus pandemic, that search is set to begin, according to a report from Shams Charania and Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic.

At the top of their list of targets? Our old friend Tom Thibodeau, according to the report. Thibodeau has been reported as a candidate for the position in the past. The Athletic report notes that interim coach Mike Miller (17-27) and former Brooklyn Nets coach Kenny Atikinson are also expected to interview.

Thibodeau last coached in the 2018-19 season, but was fired by the Minnesota Timberwolves two-and-a-half seasons into a five-year contract. He amassed just a 97-107 (.475) record with the franchise, but helmed the 47-35 squad that snapped a 13-season playoff drought in 2017-18. The following year kicked off with the Jimmy Butler practice saga, which resulted in a trade of the star just 13 games into the season and foreshadowed Thibodeau’s eventual dismissal in January.

Thibodeau landed in Minnesota after being axed by the Bulls in the wake of the 2015 season. He led the Bulls through their winningest stretch of the 21st century, coaching to a 255-139 (.647) record from 2010-2015 that included five playoff appearances, three 50-win seasons, two first-place finishes in the Eastern Conference, an Eastern Conference finals berth and a Coach of the Year award. His resume is as stacked as any coach on the market.

The Bulls have been mired in a rebuild since his departure. The Knicks, should they land Thibodeau, will hope he can pull them out of theirs.