Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf put in a rather grumpy appearance on The Monsters In The Morning on Comcast SportsNet yesterday. You can go read the full transcript for yourself, but here’s the money shot: When prompted to express his feelings regarding the Bulls’ season-to-date, Reinsdorf said: “You want the grade up ’til today? What’s the lowest grade you can give? This has been a disaster. It’s embarrassing.”
Don’t hold back, Jerry. Tell us how you really feel.
Reinsdorf did add “But it will get better” and said that “John Paxson is not going to let this situation continue.” However, the most telling moment of the interview came when Jerry was passive-aggressively asked about Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro. His response: “I have a lot of thoughts about that but they’re not thoughts that I really can say publicly. All I know is what we have right now is not good and we have to get it better.”
[Cue sad trombone music for Vinny.]
Now, if I heard that the CEO at my Clark Kent job had said something like that about me, I probably would have wet myself, immediately logged onto Monster.com, quickly realized that the crappy economy has killed the job market and then wet myself again. (What can I say? I stay properly hydrated.) But not Vinny. Remember: He’s Italian! So, naturally, he took Reinsdorf’s comments in stride…while presumably munching on spaghetti and listening to opera music.
According to Vinny: “‘That’s just Jerry trying to motivate and trying to get guys going. Jerry wants to win just like every owner, every coach. It’s not easy. Managing expectations and developing and all those things are very easy to talk about, but they’re hard to do and they take time. Some people are more patient than others.” Hey! This is a job for the Dull-Negrometer!
Vinny wasn’t done, though. “‘We’re all frustrated. You always want to feel like you can do better. That’s just the way it is. I can’t control those things. I go with the mind-set, ‘I have to win a basketball game tonight; I have to do whatever I can to help this team get in the right mind-set, make plays and get a win.”
Now we’re cooking! Finally, Vinny concluded: “‘That’s what I’m trying to do. Is it easy? No, but we have good guys, and I feel like we’re going in the right direction getting Kirk [Hinrich] back like we’ve talked about. I’d love to get Drew [Gooden] back. You guys know the history of the team, in terms of things we’ve had to deal with. You can’t use those as excuses. You have to get other guys to step up and play better, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Yes! A perfect 10! I knew he’d get there.
What can we take from all this? Well, first and foremost, that the Vinny Del Negro Coaching Career Countdown Clock is officially ticking. In a time-bomb-that-could-go-off-at-any-time sort of way. But that was an open secret already, wasn’t it? Reinsdorf’s interview just made it official. It’s also a sign that Reinsdorf is pretty ruthless in how he manages the team. But hey, this is the guy who ran Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson out of town when he felt they’d outlived their usefullness. So, uh, yeah.
I do find it interesting, though, that Reinsdorf gave John Paxson a free pass. I mean, isn’t Pax the man responsible for assembling the talent (leaving last season’s 33-win roster largely intact) and hiring Vinny in the first place (stating at the time: “Vinny is the right guy for us going forward.”)? Plus, Jerry failed to acknowledge that there are circumstances, some of which are, you know, extenuating. I mean, rookie head coach, rookie point guard, over half-a-season’s worth of player games lost due to injury, the teams’ recurring case of fumble-itis, and some seriously porous interior defense. But hey, why let reality get in the way of righteous indignation?
Update! Scott G. wrote in to say that: “I found Reinsdorf’s take on Paxson chillingly out-of-touch.” Scott’s right. By a whole lot. Let’s take a closer look at Jerry’s assessment of Pax: “But if there’s one person that is not responsible for what’s going on right now, it’s John Paxson. I have tremendous confidence in John Paxson. He’s really one of the best people that I know. He’s a great general manager and a great judge of talent.”
He is talking about the same John Paxson that signed Ben Wallace to that four-year, $60 million dollar free agent contract, right? The guy who traded LaMarcus Aldridge for Tyrus Thomas on draft day? And Tyson Chandler for PJ Brown and JR Smith? And exchanged Wallace’s albatross of a contract for Larry Hughes despite having a logjam in the backcourt? (That’s the same Larry Hughes who isn’t playing, that Pax is desperately trying to trade, by the way.) I could go on, but I’m sure you get the point. Vinny’s been around half a season. Pax has been around for several. So seriously, Jerry, who’s really more responsible for this mess?