Dwyane Wade recently dropped a mini-bombshell on the Bulls’ free agent dreams: Because Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen aren’t on Chicago’s payroll at the moment, Wade has doubts about the organization’s loyalty.
When a team is in the market for a superstar, that team probably doesn’t want on-the-market superstars openly questioning the organization’s loyalty in the press. It just looks bad. Why not tell everybody that Jerry Reinsdorf bathes in human blood and survives on an all-kitten diet, Dwyane?
Well, Bulls GM Gar Forman — who somewhat laughably claims he is not addressing Wade specifically — wants the world at large to know that the Bulls are actually pretty darn loyal if you stop to look at the facts.
To wit, here’s a list of the former players whom the Bulls have hired as front office employees, coaches or broadcasters: John Paxson, Bill Cartwright, Randy Brown, Bill Wennington, Stacey King, Pete Myers and B.J. Armstrong.
And that’s not all. As Michael Gibbons of the Bleacher Report points out: “The late great Johnny ‘Red’ Kerr was the team’s first coach and was a longtime broadcaster. Jerry Sloan, who has his number retired, worked his way up as a scout before becoming the head coach. His coaching tenure lasted less than three seasons. The late Norm Van Lier was connected to the team in many ways, mostly through the broadcasting side. Bob Love, who also has his number hanging from the rafters, can be seen at almost every single Bulls game and helps out greatly with all the Bulls charities.”
Gibbons also reminds us that Miami Heat president Pat Riley once nudged Stan Van Gundy out the door so he could return to coaching. And if you do a little reading between the lines, it seems like Riles is considering doing the same thing to current Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.
And while it’s true that Jordan and Pippen — the two biggest names on the Former Chicago Bulls All-Star Team – aren’t and haven’t been on the Bulls’ payroll since their playing days, it could be argued that role players need loyalty more than superstars do. Plus, last time I checked, the Boston Celtics don’t have Bill Russell or Larry Bird on staff. The Utah Jazz never hired John Stockton or Karl Malone. Isiah Thomas isn’t working for the Detroit Pistons. So on and so forth.
Not that Forman wants to argue about it. He just wants people to know what’s what: ”Anyone who would question our loyalty is obviously misinformed. I think it absolutely ignores our record, which speaks for itself. We have a number of ex-players that are — and have been — employed within our organization within a variety of capacities, ranging from the front office to the coaching staff, in our business office, as part of our broadcasting teams. We take great pride in not only how we treat our current players, but also in how we treat our former players.”
Of course, Forman couldn’t resist making a pitch too: “What I read and what I hear the players say is that winning is the most important thing. And we believe, like I’ve said before, with our talented young nucleus of players and the flexibility that we’ve created to add to that core that we’re set up to have great success here for many years to come.”
Meanwhile, Randy Brown — a former Bulls player and current director of player development — said: ”I was shocked. I talked to D-Rose [Derrick Rose] right after we both saw the article, and he didn’t understand what D-Wade was saying. I told him this thing completely threw me off stride.”
You’re not the only one, Randy.
In fact, Wade himself is trying to distance himself from his comments: ”I’m not taking shots at the Bulls and the organization. I respect the organization. … It’s just my opinion when the question was asked about what’s most important to you, I said one of the most important things is loyalty.”
Uh huh. Suuuuuure, Dwyane.
Henry Thomas, the Chicago-based attorney who represents both Wade and Chris Bosh in partnership with CAA Sports, added: ”No. 1, there were some statements that Dwyane made that were taken out of context. ‘That was why it was very important that clarification was posted as quickly as possible. He made a point to say that he does not know, other than as an outside observer, much about the Bulls’ organization. Growing up here, he, of course, heard some things that were said with regard to how matters were handled with Michael and Scottie and even Phil [Jackson].
”But for him at this point to make an educated judgment about the loyalty that exists between the Bulls and former players, really not positioned to do that.”
No. He’s really not.
Here’s the money shot: when he was asked if Wade has ruled out the Bulls as a possible destination when he becomes a free agent this summer, Thomas said: ”Absolutely not.”
There you have it. Dwyane Wade is still in play.