As I noted yesterday, Bulls management has a specific end-game in mind heading into the already legendary Summer of 2010: Add a superstar (such as Chris Bosh or Dwyane Wade) and another star or semi-star (say, Joe Johnson or David Lee). That would provide the Bulls with a three-star core and the best collection of talent the team has had since the Jordan era.
It might work, or it might be a pipe dream. We won’t know until, well, this summer.
Some people — ESPN’s Bill Simmons, for instance – think the Bulls have a shot at landing LeBron James. No way. LeBron wants to be as big as Michael Jordan some day…maybe bigger. That won’t happen in Chicago, where he would be playing in Jordan’s giant (and, really, inescapable) shadow. Anything less than six or seven championships in the Windy City would mark him as MJ’s inferior. I just don’t believe LeBron’s ego could take that, or even the possibility of it.
At any rate, two other names that keep popping up in the “to Chicago” rumors are Wade and Bosh. Wade because he grew up here and still has family in the area, and Bosh both because his current team — the Toronto Raptors – isn’t going anywhere and because he fills the Bulls’ biggest need. Namely, a proven frontcourt scorer.
On TrueHoop, Marc Stein reported that Bosh’s desire to be The Man could have a major impact on where he goes.
Said Bosh: “I was just looking at what people say and it’s like, ‘Chris is going to go here and play with him or this, this and that.’ I’m like, ‘Wait a minute.’ I feel like I should be built around. And maybe that’s just my ego talking, but I feel that I’m a very good player in this league and I’m only going to get better. So … maybe we should be getting somebody [in Toronto].”
Ultimately, hubris is the biggest obstacle to the Bulls’ master plan. It’s also why many superstar players end up signing or re-signing with losing teams. Because they want to be The Man, to be the focus of their franchise, to be given a max contract, to get all or most of the endorsements. It’s hard for mere mortals to understand the difference between, say, $80 million and $75 million. And, in all reality, the players probably don’t really comprehend the difference, either, except that one number is bigger than the other. And bigger is always better.
There’s something deeper at work here than the desire for better bling. This is how one philosopher put it: “Greed is the newest variation of the survival instinct, the difference being knowledge. The survival instinct doesn’t understand threats like economics, politics, or mental state. These modern threats are indirect, not damaging lives but acting as explanations as to why lives are damaged. Thus a simple compulsion to survive can no longer be used to dictate our lives, unequipped to deal with the complex scenarios created by an intellectual world. Using material possession we have created a physical barrier between us and all conceivable threats, complex and simple. … Now money is thrown into the mix and suddenly there is no possible means of guaranteed survival except to have a pile of money so big that not even the greed of others could destroy it.”
Extrapolating from that, having the most money andthe most authority/status in your immediate sphere of influence would probably go a long way toward massaging the survival instinct. On the flip side, turning your life upside down (such as changing cities and systems) and facing a possible threat to your superiority (in this case Derrick Rose) for an uncertain future (because there’s no way to know whether things would actually work out in Chicago) could feel more like a threat than anything else.
Which is why I’m not holding out hope for a hero.
I’m not saying it’s inconceivable that the Bulls could land Bosh and/or Wade. Just that it’s improbable. Don’t forget, the Bulls had this same plan several years ago, and they ended up with Ben Wallace because nobody else wanted to come here despite a collection of young and talented players. And we all know how that turned out.
I’m still excited at the possibility that the Bulls will pull off a major free agent coup this summer. But I’m also kind of scared they won’t, because…what then?