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updated: 6/29/2014 11:35 AM

Reinsdorf's cheap? What a bunch of Bull

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  • There's a perception in some circles that Bulls and White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf is all about winning and throw away millions by eating contracts. Daily Herald columnist Barry Rozner says that perception is just dead wrong and totally unfair.

      There's a perception in some circles that Bulls and White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf is all about winning and throw away millions by eating contracts. Daily Herald columnist Barry Rozner says that perception is just dead wrong and totally unfair.
    Daily Herald file photo

  • Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, left, embraces Chicago White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf during the White Sox baseball fan festival on Friday, Jan. 27, 2012, in Chicago.

      Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, left, embraces Chicago White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf during the White Sox baseball fan festival on Friday, Jan. 27, 2012, in Chicago.
    Associated Press

  • Carlos Boozer is due to make $16 million next season. Will the Bulls let him go, using the amnesty clause? Time will tell, but Barry Rozner says if Boozer does end up back in Chicago, it isn't because team owner Jerry Reinsdorf is a cheapskate.

       Carlos Boozer is due to make $16 million next season. Will the Bulls let him go, using the amnesty clause? Time will tell, but Barry Rozner says if Boozer does end up back in Chicago, it isn't because team owner Jerry Reinsdorf is a cheapskate.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 

Jerry Reinsdorf is cheap and less interested in winning than making money.

We know this because ESPN basketball expert Bill Simmons has told us this a few times now.

It happened again Thursday night during the NBA draft when Simmons told a national TV audience that Reinsdorf is a businessman who watches every last dollar and didn't believe Reinsdorf would be willing to pay Carlos Boozer $16 million to go away.

In other words, Reinsdorf is a cheapskate.

It's not the first time Simmons has made this claim. It's at least the third, and perhaps many more than that.

The stunning part isn't that it happened again. Reinsdorf has long been a target for a certain segment of the media that may have motivations escaping the naked eye.

It's stunning because someone with Simmons' platform would seemingly have more knowledge than has been displayed on national TV and in a nationally-read column.

Last month, Simmons wrote that the Bulls operate the franchise "like they're stuck playing in Indiana or Milwaukee. Keep getting dem checks, Jerry."

Yes, Jerry is all about the money. Except that he's not.

Reinsdorf has eaten plenty of contracts over the years and spent plenty of his own money helping out players and employees in trouble, both with the Bulls and White Sox, stories never made public by Reinsdorf or his kin.

On the baseball business side, just this year he let Rick Hahn dump Jeff Keppinger and ate $8.5 million of contract. Just this week he dined on more than $2 million of Scott Downs' salary.

Yeah, he'd never send a player away for nothing, right?

As for the Bulls, well, it's still his fault Scottie Pippen agreed to a bad contract -- even though Reinsdorf begged him not sign it, knowing the deal would soon be obsolete.

But Pippen blamed Reinsdorf and Jerry Krause for the better part of two decades, making certain everyone around the NBA knew they were terrible people and to blame for all the world's ills.

Lest you think that story dead, understand there are players around the league who still think Reinsdorf did wrong by Pippen and Michael Jordan, a legend yet furthered by players from the six title teams.

It doesn't matter, apparently, that Reinsdorf has not only forgiven Pippen for everything he ever said about Reinsdorf and his family, but when Pippen was unemployed, Reinsdorf hired Pippen to walk around the UC and shake hands.

Randy Brown was forced to sell his championship rings in a Chapter 7 auction five years ago. He's now an assistant GM for the Bulls.

Jay Williams broke his contract when he broke his leg in a motorcycle accident. The Bulls could have released him immediately, knowing his career was over, but they paid him in full the next season. When the Bulls bought out Williams' contract the following year to gain roster flexibility, Reinsdorf wrote Williams a check for $3 million.

Yeah, the man is heartless and cold, collecting "dem checks" and keeping track of every dollar.

As for Boozer, well, the Bulls did buy out Eddie Robinson for $10 million a decade ago, and since have bought out the contracts of players Tim Thomas and Rip Hamilton, costing millions more in the process.

If the Bulls end up accomplishing nothing this summer, perhaps they will keep Boozer and pay him to play if they find no better options, reserving the right to deal an expiring contract that might have value later.

Or maybe they'll figure out another reason to keep him and play him rather than pay him to go away -- though the chances of that are very slim -- but the conclusion won't be a result of the owner's stinginess.

The people who say that are the same who claim the Bulls have never paid the luxury tax. Actually, they did a year ago to the tune of $4 million just so they could sign Kirk Hinrich the previous summer.

The Bulls didn't have to bring in Hinrich. They could have bought someone for the minimum and saved $4 million in salary and $4 million in taxes, but in an attempt to stay afloat while Derrick Rose was rehabbing, they thought Hinrich was the answer.

So that's another $8 million spent trying to win.

They attempted to sign Luol Deng to an extension before he was dealt this season, and that would have put them back in the luxury tax, but Deng turned it down and somehow that makes the Bulls cheap for avoiding the tax this summer.

It goes on and on and on.

At best, it's a result of ignorance. At worst, perhaps something more sinister. But it's always wrong and intrinsically damaging to both Reinsdorf and the Bulls franchise.

Like Reinsdorf or not, think him a winner or not, that narrative is simply false.

It's also really unfair.

brozner@dailyherald.com

• Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM.

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