Rozner: At the least, Bulls no longer a clown show

  • Bulls coach Billy Donovan has the team moving in the right direction, and has worked nicely with new boss Arturas Karnisovas.

    Bulls coach Billy Donovan has the team moving in the right direction, and has worked nicely with new boss Arturas Karnisovas. Associated Press

  • Arturas Karnisovas has been rebuilding the Bulls on the fly.

    Arturas Karnisovas has been rebuilding the Bulls on the fly. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 3/26/2021 12:17 PM

Sports executives are not supposed to care what fans think, despite what you may believe or what you might hope.

It's not part of the job description. Sure, they pay lip service to your wants and needs, and especially your likes and dislikes.

 

But the truth is you don't want them listening to you. You want professionals doing what they think is right and -- even better -- actually doing what's right.

Right now, Bulls boss Arturas Karnisovas is going about the business of undoing all that John Paxson and Gar Forman have done, and in the process doing what he believes is best for the organization.

It just so happens that he's making Bulls Nation very, very happy.

Karnisovas is rebuilding the team on the fly, but he's also tearing apart the Paxson legacy, removing coaches and players and moving on from a forgettable generation of Bulls basketball.

Since 1998 when the GOAT left town, the Bulls have been to the conference finals once and been victorious in five playoffs series in 22 years, with Paxson in charge for 18 of those seasons.

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He was a big part of why they Bulls had to hire their 10th coach in the last 20 years when Billy Donovan came aboard a few months ago, and some of those coaching hires and subsequent firings were so ridiculous that the Bulls at times were a laughingstock.

If you have forgotten much of this due to the trauma, it's understandable.

The Jim Boylen era was a joke, as was his contract extension. In a players' league where they run the show, the Bulls were constantly confused, unable to understand the system, their assignments or their roles.

Fred Hoiberg was hired to not be Tom Thibodeau, but Jimmy Butler essentially fired Hoiberg two months into his first season when Butler said Hoiberg needed to coach harder.

Thibodeau was so good at so much of the job, but he played his stars until they had nothing left, which brought Paxson into the mix and led to confrontation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The two deserved one another.

There was the forgettable Vinny Del Negro, who went 41-41 twice. Paxson got into it with him, too, a physical clash over minutes limits.

There was Scott Skiles, also extended and overpaid when the team had already tuned him out. Like Thibodeau, Skiles brought much to the table, but he has a short shelf life with players and he flamed out when the roster rebelled.

On and on it went, the fiery tyrant always replaced with the good guy who the players didn't respect, and never did it work for very long.

But less than 10 days after Donovan split with Oklahoma City, Karnisovas got himself a true professional on the bench, and the two obviously work well together as they have begun to transform the roster and move on from wasted draft picks.

There is a plan in place now, a plan to get pieces that fit together on an NBA floor, fit with what the coach wants to do, instead of merely collecting players that might fit a system the boss wants them to play.

The Bulls have not just been unprofessional, but they've been irrelevant for years in a city that doesn't ask for much, only an effort and an idea of how to play the game.

A legitimate coach is a promise of nothing. A plan is a promise of nothing. Draft picks, trades and free-agent signings are a promise of nothing.

But the Bulls have lacked direction for two decades and Karnisovas is starting to point the franchise toward one, and with Donovan they are at least moving together toward building something better, something cohesive and with a strategy.

No, it's not a promise of an NBA title. You need stars and several of them if you want to compete for real in a league run by stars and dominated by the very best.

But it's a start. And that is significant for a fan base that has been abused and taken for granted for too long.

Welcome to a new era. Finally.

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