Imrem: Bulls, Hawks, Cubs news reflects what it takes to succeed

Three events during the past few days connected three prominent periods in Chicago sports.

Past: Former Chicago Bulls assistant coach Johnny Bach's death Monday at 91.

Present: The Chicago Blackhawks tied a franchise record with their 11th straight victory Sunday.

Future: The Chicago Cubs' convention over the weekend kick-started what they project to be a glorious decade.

What the three have in common is the quest to be the best. Each features brainpower matched by an obsession to succeed matched by a winning work ethic.

Call them cerebral grinders.

Johnny Bach was an early cog in the Bulls' dynasty that would collect six NBA titles during the 1990s.

The Hawks hope their winning streak leads to a fourth Stanley Cup in seven seasons.

The Cubs intend to someday be in the elite class with those Bulls and these Hawks.

Not by being just good … not by being just great … by consummating the quest to be the best.

Before the news of Johnny Bach's death reminded what it took for the Bulls to be a dynasty, Hawks head coach Joel Quenneville did by moving up to No. 2 on the NHL's career victory list.

It's no coincidence that No. 1, Scotty Bowman, also works for the Blackhawks as senior adviser in hockey operations.

Hawks chairman Rocky Wirtz wants to employ the very best of the best, from club president John McDonough on down.

The Hawks fired Denis Savard - a good hockey man, Hall of Fame player and local legend - to make room for Quenneville.

General manager Dale Tallon - another good hockey man who built the Hawks' championship core - was fired so academic intellectual Stan Bowman could be promoted.

Savard and Tallon were good enough, but good enough wasn't good enough for the Hawks, who wanted to shoot for the best coach and general manager possible.

So it was for the Bulls when they began building around Michael Jordan with GM Jerry Krause's philosophy that players don't win championships, organizations win championships.

Jordan bristled at Krause, but now as owner of the Charlotte Hornets he might appreciate the proclamation.

Would Bulls players have won six titles if club chairman Jerry Reinsdorf didn't hire Krause and Krause didn't hire Doug Collins and then replace him with Phil Jackson?

Collins was a good head coach, albeit with personal flaws, but Jackson was an upgrade in a variety of ways.

The Bulls also hired two of the best assistants available: Bach, a genius of defense, and Tex Winter, a genius of offense, to help lay the dynasty's foundation.

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts followed the blueprint by firing general manager Jim Hendry, a good baseball executive, before hiring Theo Epstein, who had won two World Series in Boston.

The Cubs had manager Ricky Renteria, a good baseball man, but again good wasn't good enough when Joe Maddon became available.

Feelings were hurt, but the most successful franchises allow nothing, especially feelings, to interfere with winning.

The Cubs have a long way to go but appear to be sufficiently maniacal in their attempt to join the Bulls and Hawks dynasties.

Assistant coach Johnny Bach, baseball president Theo Epstein and head coach Joel Quenneville symbolize the quest to be the best.

Teams need cerebral grinders on all levels to be all they want to be and will stop at nothing to acquire them.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.