Ask Sam | Sam Smith opens his mailbag | 02.28.2014

Every Friday, Sam Smith of Bulls.com opens his Ask Sam mailbag and responds to the latest round of emails from his readers
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I'd like to ask why the Bulls wouldn't consider adding a guy this season like Jimmer Fredette? I know he's not Tom Thibodeau's typical type of defensive guy, but he could be a nice scorer on a team that lacks one.

Matt Zagrean

Sam: They would and they might. This obviously has been the question of the week with the post trade deadline buyout, which has to be done by Saturday if you were in the league this season. Then you’d be eligible for the playoffs. You can sign anytime before the end of the regular season. If you have not played this season, like with Lamar Odom or Richard Hamilton, you can sign anytime. The Bulls are interested in basically every one of those players. I don’t know if there’s a priority as they’re all NBA players whereas the options are players who have been in the D-League or out of the NBA. So they’d love to have Granger or Fredette or Antawn Jamison or basically any of those guys. The larger issue is where those guys want to play. The Bulls have just a minimum to offer given the luxury tax consequences. So it comes down to the players deciding what’s the best fit for them. Glen Davis, Beno Udrih and now Caron Butler already have gone to teams. Given none of these players are regular starters, it’s not likely they’d play much, anyway. And even though the Bulls have a tight roster with basically eight regulars, it’s not likely Thibodeau would have someone come in who hasn’t played before and get major playing time. Maybe Tony Snell loses out some as he’s last in that rotation. But none of the players who are available would be considered top defenders, anyway. Thibodeau is big on knowing the system and there’s basically no practice time, so not much time to adjust. It’s rare these late season guys make a major impact other than a key play here or there. It would be good to add one and I assume the Bulls will be doing so. Fredette has been most rumored of late and makes sense as it’s easier to fit in a guy who is a shooter as opposed to someone who runs offense. But until someone clears waivers, which take 48 hours, you cannot make a deal or talk to them as they are not free agents.

Are the Bulls showing any interest in Danny Granger? This could be a really good move and would help Granger prove he can still make an impact. He can also get the start at the SF position, moving Dunleavy to the bench. He could be a difference maker in the playoffs since we are no more tanking.

Ryan Monte

Sam: The Bulls never were tanking despite popular belief. The Deng trade was a rare, one-time opportunity to save more than $20 million by making a move that day which would enhance the team’s position going forward. It’s why there never—ever—were serious talks to trade Kirk Hinrich or Mike Dunleavy. It popped up in the media because of the false assumption the Bulls were unloading salaries. Even NBA people misread the situation and soon learned there was no house cleaning. If Granger could start, he’d still be in Indiana. They made that move because it’s clear he hasn’t recovered yet from his knee problems and is a part time player for now with limited movement. He’s nowhere near the player that Dunleavy is at this point. It’s sounding like he’s headed to the Clippers, anyway, and Butler to Oklahoma City. Players have to clear waivers. Technically someone could pick them up, but would have to assume their contracts. So come this weekend there’ll likely be some signings.

BG has steel cajones. He brings scoring both at a high level but also against elite competition. Who cares if he’s short. We have great 3-5 defenders who can make anyone BG is guarding a jump shooter, which is what we want anyway.
Sure, Granger and a lot of other guys sound nice on paper. But, if he was that nice, he wouldn’t have been dumped like yesterday’s trash. Earl Clark will be on his 50th team in a few days.

Joseph Hollis

Sam: My guess is the one guy the Bulls wouldn’t bring in is Ben Gordon. Yes, I get the most mail about Gordon, and the community has a great fondness for him given the terrific run he had with the Bulls. But while players like Granger and Fredette and Jamison and Butler have played some, Gordon has basically not played for the last two years. And if you can’t get on the court in Charlotte with what that team has been, there have to be questions. I think the Bulls have plenty of those; plus I haven’t seen Gordon seeking a buyout for certain. If he does, my guess is the Bulls would pass. No hard feelings, but they’ve moved on, as would be my guess with Luol Deng this summer as well.

Regarding Jimmer, a lot of people have written him off the way they wrote off another college sharpshooter, J.J. Redick. Redick has gone on to become a solid, reliable scorer in the league. Comparing the two, Jimmer’s numbers over his first 3 seasons are actually better than Redick’s, as he has dramatically improved his 2-pt. and 3-pt. shooting, while Redick regressed badly over his first 3 seasons. So could Jimmer become another Redick, or is he closer to Adam Morrison?

Christopher Prince

Sam: Yes, I know all the talk is now that Fredette is destined for the Bulls. He’d certainly make sense as it’s easier to fit in a spot up shooter and he can handle the ball some. But he’d just be coming--if he does--as a free agent to be for this season with the Bulls having no more right to him than anyone else and obviously salary cap issues with even trying to retain their other guards, Kirk Hinrich and D.J. Augustin. He’d really be just about this season. I’m sure he hopes he could be Redick.

So looking at NBA.com for the last 6 months, it feels like there has been an article on Allen Iverson at least once a month. He was clearly a great scorer (and master of the semi-carry crossover). Where do you come down in the debate on AI? Was he a great player or did the baggage outweigh his ability?

Matt Bianco

Sam: He’s a “first ballot” -- even though the NBA doesn’t consider it that way -- Hall of Famer. He perhaps wasn’t the ideal teammate the way he monopolized the ball with a low shooting percentage and curious work habits. But in many respects he changed the aura around the game as well with his youthful defiance and embrace of the hip hop world. His stubbornness ended his career prematurely when he refused to not be who he was, the ball dominating player. But that’s also how at barely six feet he became a star as one of the toughest, strong minded players. He was one of the great players in the game to watch, unless, of course you were concerned with taking the best shot or making the best basketball play. But he was a great one and good for the game.

How do you project the Bulls' backcourt next season? Will DJ command more money than the Bulls can afford? This season started with Derrick starting and Kirk as backup, so that seems to be economically feasible. Is it possible to start Derrick in a one-two combo with D.J. or Kirk and move Jimmy Butler to the three? Does that help with the finances? Is it an effective starting rotation?

Matt Cooney

Sam: I think that will be one of the tougher questions of the summer. Obviously, Rose is the starter. The summer will revolve around the pursuit of Mirotic and how much that might cost, which would affect whatever else the team can do. Do they amnesty Boozer and what is the benefit of having that money versus keeping him and using the mid-level exception, which is just for teams over the cap. There’s probably room for one backup. Would D.J. want to be a backup? Kirk would and was happy to do that behind Rose this season. If some team offers DJ a starting job I don’t see how he passes. But that’s questionable. He’s obviously the better scorer, but Hinrich is such a superior defender and really elite level in the NBA against guards. There may not be a better small guard perimeter defender in the NBA. The Bulls defense is at its best with him as you saw against the Warriors. But he obviously needs to play limited minutes. He could with a healthy Rose. As good as Jimmy Butler has been, he’s not a traditional shooting guard. I assume the team would like to move him to small forward and Dunleavy back to the bench and find a shooting guard. But that’s a lot of stuff to do with limited resources. Obviously none of which includes enticing some big name free agent, who then would basically have no one to play with as you’d have to offload Boozer, Gibson, Augustin and Hinrich and forget Mirotic to accommodate a high salary free agent player.

Sadly, Father Time has robbed Hinrich of his athleticism. He can't jump like he used to for sure and the nicks take longer to repair themselves. However. He's as smooth as butter. He keeps his balance so well whether in backpedal, slide step, or sprint. He cheats the screen by bodying his guy through it. Bulls switch but he gives the big a little edge by holding on to the handoff for that extra moment that lets the big cleanly engage. It's a dumb subtle thing that his teammates I bet appreciate. Folks watching on TV can't hear, but I suspect that Hinrich is also really good at calling for rotation when he's beat and he's smart enough at this point to know what's his plan B. Bulls bigs get a lot of credit that they deserve. Noah in particular is freakishly mobile for a guy that size. Hinrich sets a lot of that up, though by breaking the rhythm of the guard which lets the big lock up cleanly. Another thing Hinrich does: consistently skew the passing lane just by not taking possessions off. He also has really good hands in traffic for the rake. Hinrich is not going to swat you from behind a la LBJ. He's too smart to get into the habit of jumping the route because he knows that ends up breaking the defensive concept. Let's check some tape and see how often Hinrich gets beat at the back door. Answer: just about never, and across his career he's played the likes of Wade. If Thabo had stuck around, that pair would have rivalled Sloan & Van Lier on the defensive end though for entirely different reasons. Problem with the pairing: you needed a front court of Kareem, 'Nique, and Bird. Yeah, he screws up Curry and John Wall pretty regularly, and actually he does a pretty good job on Jeff Teague (though not so much the other night), but he's been doing that stuff his entire career that I've seen. Hinrich is a lovely piece of work. I've always liked his game, just not as anyone's centerpiece. To me, the bonus is the distributor part. He knows his group and gets them into the right spots. Augustin is obviously a different player entirely, but when Hinrich is out for a couple of games you see spacing get all hosed up. When his shot is clicking and he's healthy, he's really valuable.

Pete Zievers

Sam: As I was saying… thanks for the breakdown on Kirk. He’s truly one of the more overlooked (the famous underrated) players among the public and media, but not among players and coaches. He eschews publicity as much as anyone, as evidenced after the Warriors game when he obviously did maybe the best defensive job anyone ever has done on Steph Curry and left before the media got in the locker room. He’s so quick on defense he even eludes the media. No one is what they were a decade ago, but I remember when Kirk came and thinking this was Jerry Sloan in this era. He was much more athletic than Jerry ever was, and people forget Jerry had a huge number of injuries the way Kirk does because they compete so hard. Kirk just never was a true centerpiece as Jerry was. The Bulls have had so many of these guys that if you could just combine them, like Augustin’s offense with Kirk’s defense. If I had to choose I’d probably want Hinrich more because there’s just no one who defends like that and how much it means to setting up everything the Bulls do defensively. It changes the way point guards attack. True, Kirk doesn’t have the quickness he once did. But that banging takes a toll as the game progresses and it’s no coincidence after Teague had his way for so long that he melted down in the last few minutes with three or four turnovers. These guys are so good it doesn’t look like it. But the physical play has an effect over a long game, and when you have someone like Hinrich chasing you and challenging you and banging you all game like that, perhaps your legs aren’t there for a late shot or your mind isn’t as swift for a late play. It can mean all the difference while never being noticed by any analytics.

Let's agree that the Bulls match up better with Indiana then they do Miami. Why exactly is that? And if all goes well and we meet Indiana in the second round, how many games does that series go?

Victor Wisel

Sam: Bulls in six? Not that the Pacers fear the Bulls, but you also can get a bit comfortable being put in the conference finals without having played your way there. It’s assumed it’s Pacers/Heat conference finals. I can accept Miami as they’re working that way and have been through it all. The Bulls as we saw again last Sunday would have their issues with that defense without Derrick Rose. But the Pacers have basically one star, and he’s no LeBron. They’re built similarly to the Bulls, based on defense and size. Actually, they built themselves a lot to play the Bulls as the Bulls of the 80’s built to play the Pistons. You have to beat the team closest to you to begin to advance. But Hibbert is one dimensional, West isn’t a big scorer and George Hill doesn’t play the point well. That’s why Evan Turner was such a good acquisition. They’re tough and strong and smart. But so are the Bulls. And they don’t have LeBron. It’s looking for now like the Bulls are in a four/five matchup with Washington and the winner to get Indiana. I’m guessing if the Pacers hold onto first they’d much prefer to see Washington. The Bulls would be an underdog against Washington, which gives them big problems with athleticism and inside if Nene can return. So I’d hardly be looking ahead, though nor should the Pacers.

Derrick Rose is supposedly running at full speed and being able to perform lateral cuts and what not....I understand completely that two knee injuries in two seasons would cause a special approach to our MVPs return but correct me if I'm wrong didn't MJ return in the playoffs after a knee injury? If we have a good shot at a good playoff run I mean why not try and ease him into the rotation? Even with Thibs and management saying he will not return this season I think they got something up their sleeves. I honestly think his progression is being kept very low key, as a meniscus injury repaired correctly could have a normal person completely healthy in one to two months.

Gerald Gitzke

Sam: I figured this was coming when Thibodeau again the other night was asked about Rose. He said emphatically Rose was not playing this season. Then in being nice as he only can be he talked about Rose’s progress. So some media wrote how well Rose is coming along, which always leads to fans saying he’s ready to play. I’d say at this point the Bulls probably should go to the “no comment” whenever there’s a Rose question. He’s not playing this season; there is no conspiracy or secrecy. He’s not practicing with the team. He’s not preparing; they are not preparing for him. Though I did see him walk the other day, and if you can walk you can run, and if you can run you can jump, and if you can jump you can dunk, and if you can dunk, you can spill overflow coffee all over you.

Would you consider Noah the best passing big man of all time and if not who is?

Aaron Meister

Sam: I get asked this question a lot now given how terrific Noah has been this season as a playmaker. My easy answer always is Wilt led the league in assists one season, averaging almost 10 per game. He was Chris Paul. Of course, it was Wilt, who if you challenged him to win a bathing beauty contest would have done it. He had the competitive nature of Jordan; just never the whole life commitment to the game. The best big man I’ve ever seen passing was Bill Walton. His outlet passes were amazing and he was one of the smartest players ever. Bill’s as shy about talking about himself—though as you know not about everyone else—as any great player ever. Healthy he likely would have been the best all-around talent at center in a class with Kareem. Russell also was a very good passing center. Johnny Kerr and Tom Boerwinkle were terrific passing centers in Bulls history. So Noah as good as he is probably doesn’t top the Bulls list yet. But he’s getting there.

It seems like the Bulls are going to be caught in the proverbial catch-22 when it comes to trying to assemble a championship-caliber team for next year. They don’t have the cap space or even assets to realistically think about acquiring a seminal player and even if Mirotic comes over, by all accounts he’d initially only be a complimentary player. Furthermore, whatever they are able to net from the draft, even with two potential first round picks, probably will entail two raw prospects that aren’t ready to make significant contributions to a play-off run. Having said all that I’m wondering what the Bulls appetite would be to shopping Noah this off-season? I know that sounds sacrilegious and by moving Noah you’d open up more holes in the roster, but he’s the one guy on the Bulls that probably has a lot of value in the trade market and would allow you to shuffle the deck. I’d hate to see Noah go but wouldn’t you have to at least explore this alternative?

Michael Dlugos

Sam: Can you get LeBron or Durant for him? Otherwise, no. I’m always confused by this next thing many fans have about title or bust. You can always get worse, and you probably would without Noah. First of all, who would you get to replace him? The Bulls history is not strong with centers. It’s often taken decades to get a good one. Kevin Love puts up terrific numbers, but you win games with more than that, and he’s never been on a team that’s won close to 40. And he plays for a great coach. Anthony isn’t exactly playing with no talent. Tyson Chandler was defensive player of the year a few years ago. My mailbox used to be filled with insults for the Bulls for not going after the athletic J.R. Smith. He was sixth man last year. The Knicks have many more guys now honored by the NBA who are playing with Anthony. Noah brings an awful lot to a team and you can spend years trying to find a player like that. The Bulls are not a title contender because Derrick Rose is hurt. Not because they otherwise are not good enough. If Rose returns playing at a high level, which all indications are he can, then the Bulls with the few moves they can make in the offseason can be back as a contender. It doesn’t mean you win; it means you have a chance. That’s all you can assure. By trading Noah I’d have a hard time considering the Bulls in that contending category anymore.

I've been seeing a growing number of articles claiming that, "According to most US based sources, it’s a given that Nikola Mirotic will leave Real Madrid...” I'm curious though, how do the players and Thibodeau feel about Mirotic? Do they ever address him coming over? I also wonder what Mirotic is thinking. For me, if I was an MVP, and had won the championship in the 2nd best league in the world, I'd want to try my hand at the best league in the world. You got to see a similar situation with Kukoc. What do you think about this?

Frank Leng

Sam: I have never heard one player talk about him. They’re Thibodeau-ized by now of thinking only of the next game and game plan. It was different with Toni Kukoc because of the dynamic then of players like Scottie Pippen seeking their annual contract renegotiation and the team winning and the resentment washing over to Kukoc because general manager Jerry Krause raved about him. I even recall him telling Jordan that Kukoc might be better than him. It’s a new management. They never mention Mirotic’s name and never with the players. If he comes, then they’ll talk about him, which is the right method. You don’t want this kid being built up like a savior, which he isn’t. He’s the best player not in the NBA. Which also could mean he’s the 450th best player in the world. None of us really know. It’s a financial issue now because he has a big buyout from his European team of maybe $3 million. If the Bulls are limited in what they can offer, it doesn’t make sense for him to come now when he can wait a year and is just 23. It also doesn’t make sense for the Bulls to overpay to get him and then thus limit other moves they can make at a time they have holes to fill. So it will be negotiated out in the months to come.

People need to be asked who would they rather have had the past four seasons:

1. Boozer
2. Amare
3. Nene

I love Carlos and I appreciate the play he has given us. He is who he is. He wasn't a young guy with room for improvement when we got him. We knew who we were getting, a solid offensive player who wasn't a good defender. I am rather pleased with the signing especially since he's been an iron man for our roster. I find it so unfair that he gets so much crap for the sole reason because we failed to land any of the big 3 in the summer of 2010. No matter who we signed after missing out on them that player would be crucified like Booz has been.

Mike Sutera

Sam: I did get a lot of mail to sign Stoudemire, who obviously has been a major disappointment for health reasons. Boozer also is playing well these days. He’s been taking the ball to the basket, rebounds consistently and is tough. Guys don’t much mess with him, you’ll notice. I can understand if the Bulls go with amnesty given the various options that can come into consideration. But if he’s not with the team next season they will miss him. They‘ve tried a lot of these fan favorite power forwards from summer league, and you don’t find any putting up a regular 15 and 8 in 26 minutes like Boozer does. And as I noted the other day in my post game analysis, the Bulls have been a top five defensive team every season Boozer has been with them. So it’s not like he’s sabotaging the team.

My brother-in-law and I occasionally renew our discussion about Pete Maravich. He believes he was a great player stuck on middling to poor teams who doesn't get included with the all-time greats because of a lack of championships. He also thinks if Pistol Pete had played his entire career with the three point line, he would have set all kinds of records. I remember him as being kind of a much taller Nate Robinson with flamboyant passes. He could score but needed to dominate the ball. Poor defense and not making his teammates better are reasons for his lack of inclusion in the Magic/Michael etc. group, to my way of thinking. What are your thoughts and remembrances of Pistol Pete?

Allan Olson

Sam: My remembrance is you have to listen to your brother-in-law more. For one thing, it’s doubtful Nate could even have made the NBA in that era when there were so many fewer teams and a higher level of play to be a regular. In the history of the NBA, Maravich was one of the top 10 players you’d most want to watch with the combination of skill and entertainment ability. He was a rare gift to basketball. No, he’s not a top 10 talent, but he reflected in many ways as well as the best ever the combination of great talent and showmanship. In his era, he was one of the best shooters and passers in the league. He could run a break better than maybe anyone. No, his teams didn’t do well and he did monopolize the ball a bit. Though more because of whom he played with. He wasn’t quite good enough to lift a team like Jordan or Magic or Bird. But there aren’t many in the history of the NBA once you get past those few and the big men who were as great as Maravich. Because of where he played and with what teams, few saw him at his best. But if you did it was something you never forgot.

If Jabari Parker declares for the draft after his freshman year, what position does he play in the NBA?

Mike VerWay

Sam: He’s supposed to be a small forward, though with the lack of talent at Duke he’s had to play more inside, it seems. No offense to Parker, but I was glad to hear Jerry West this week say this draft class isn’t all that. And not because I’ve been saying that, also. There are some players who will be very good NBA players. But West’s point was this draft is being built up like kids are coming to the NBA to save teams and be stars, and at 19 that doesn’t happen, which is why the momentum is growing so much for an increase in the years to stay in school. The NBA is getting tired of having to supply the training wheels to so many of these kids not ready to be NBA players. Parker is skilled and smart, and if he went to the 76ers next season he’d probably average 15 points. And lose 65 games. West is saying don’t put pressure on these kids to save franchises because at 19 you can’t do that. Jordan couldn’t have at 19, either. Magic was amazing, but he had Kareem. These days you have Bismack Biyombo. I hope Parker stays another season because Duke would be much more fun to watch as well. Also, I think he’d be a better NBA player. He hasn’t even much played the position yet he’d play in the pros. He’s smart enough to learn quickly, but he’d have way more trouble than he would in another year.

All the outlets say that Kevin Love is gone (like Carmelo and D. Williams). Various teams get mentioned as places that could trade for him (the way Houston traded for Howard). I've heard Lakers, Warriors, Phoenix. Why not the Bulls? We have a good team without DRose. Great coaching. We have many tradeable assets. What do you think would be a good strong offer for one of the five or so best players in the league?

Alejandro Yegros

Sam: I don’t think they are gone. The Knicks have pretty much told everyone they’ll do all they can to resign Anthony, and I think they’d call his bluff first and let him walk and have to take $30 million less, and then where could he even go as teams like the Bulls won’t have enough to pay him. And I know the Lakers are not interested given his age. Similarly with Love, GM Flip Saunders has signaled he wants to run it out to see what the team can do this summer to persuade Love to resign. No one thinks they can, but like Love said, the Lakers aren’t all that good. Saunders always has been a believer in holding onto your star. The truth is you never get enough and you always lose the trade when you trade the star. Given those teams are not desperate at this point—and by the way Deron Williams is injured and on the downside and not an option—any trade would start with Noah and then have to add players or draft picks. I’m quite sure the Bulls would have no interest.

What is all this talking about Thibs going to the Knicks? Even if his contract was ending this season, wouldn't it be dumb to leave Rose and Noah to coach a Melo, JR and what remains of Stoudemire?

Cosimo Sarti

Sam: Of course, which is why there has been zero truth to any of this from the day it was first mentioned. Though Thibodeau and the Bulls keep saying it’s nonsense, there remains a media core that much prefers the back stage story to the truth. You can mess up a good column with the truth.

How does one determine the line between being "cheap" and being "smart"? A big criticism of the Bulls ownership is that they're cheap. I don't think that's quite accurate. When Ben Wallace was a free agent, the Bulls offered more than anyone (Pistons included) to sign him, and they also ponied up to sign Boozer. So they'll spend if the agent is willing to come. Ironically, now people feel both were overpaid. But, if the Bulls had only offered $8 million a year for those players and not gotten them, they'd be "cheap" for not offering more money. Then there's the luxury tax, which the Bulls wouldn't pay until Rose was aboard. Is paying the luxury tax a guarantee of success? Nets are in the tax, and three spots behind the Bulls. Knicks are in the tax, and out of the playoffs. Bulls have $17 million tied up in a player who is rehabbing an injury and still have home court in the playoffs. Interestingly, once Rose was hurt fans wanted to trade off the big money guys to save salary. Apparently if the front office thinks it's a bad idea to pay the tax for a non-championship team, it's being cheap. If fans suggest it, it's brilliant! Now there's all the Carmelo talk, with the idea being if you don't go all in to get Carmelo (i.e., trade Gibson, amnesty Boozer, give up draft picks), you're cheap. But is it smart to invest $20 million into a player who has historically been one and done in the playoffs, doesn't play defense, and would essential turn this assist-happy team into the 2001 76ers? Getting him for $10 million would make some sense. But that would be viewed as a lowball offer that makes the Bulls cheap. Short of signing LeBron for he vet's minimum, what do you do?

Chris Feldman

Sam: I guess say nothing and ride it out. Your point is well taken, though in trying to examine the subtleties of the issue you lose the angry audience. I’ve always hated this cheap charge, which is more biased slur to me. Are you cheap because you get this on the internet free? Does it mean you are not cheap if give a player what he wants? And then what about it keeping you given the league has a salary cap from making other transactions. Everyone in life judges what something is worth. Are you cheap because you didn't buy a Porsche? Why don’t people buy more $200 meals? Maybe they make $400 a week. They can afford it. If they don’t are they cheap. Every person and household assesses value given other needs and costs. No one who competes is cheap. The Bulls have been annual competitors. And among the top teams in payroll the last few years as well as the team that still holds the record for paying the highest salary to a player two straight seasons. And then playing him his basketball salary when he left the team to play baseball in the minor leagues. As you note, cheap is often associated with being wrong.

What are your thoughts on the NFL proposing to give 15 yard penalties for players using the N word or racial slurs in games? And the NBA possibly adopting something similar? You had mentioned in your column a few days ago that the NBA is one of the most progressive sports and we've seen athletes quickly apologize if ever publicly using one of those slurs.

Gorav Raheja

Sam: The NFL does a lot of crazy stuff and changes its rules seemingly every 15 minutes, so I don’t much pay attention. I don’t see where the NBA would do anything like that. I know this has become a talking point issue of late, but I will say I never hear this kind of talk in the locker room or in games. I know there’s this familial use of offensive language in some music, but since the only singer among the Bulls is Jimmy Butler and he sings country songs, it doesn’t seem to come up much. Though I keep telling Jimmy that he’s not the guy to be singing about his wife having left him (he’s single) and you can take this job and stick it while drinking beer and shooting up a bar.

It's now been five years (Thursday) since the passing of two great Chicago Bulls legends Norm Van Lier and Johnny "Red" Kerr. They both passed away five years ago. I miss both of them. I miss good ol' Stormin' Norman. That was Norm's nickname back in the day. I loved his energy and enthusiasm for basketball. The same with Johnny "Red" Kerr. He was the first head coach of the Bulls. He worked with Jim Durham, Wayne Larrivee, and Tom Dore doing color commentary for Bulls games. If it weren't for these two, the Chicago Bulls wouldn't even exist at this point. There wouldn't have been a Michael Jordan. There wouldn't have been a Scottie Pippen. There wouldn't be the United Center. There wouldn't have been the six NBA titles in eight years. Sure, those good Chicago Bulls teams of the 1970's didn't win a championship, but had it not been for Norm Van Lier, Chet Walker, Jerry Sloan, Tom Boerwinkle. Had those teams not been successful, the Bulls wouldn't even exist right now. There was the 1976-77 Miracle on Madison Street. Norm played on that team along with Artis Gilmore, Wilbur Holland, Scott May, John Mengelt. Yeah, I loved Norm's commentary on pre and post-game live shows. I miss hearing Johnny "Red" Kerr's great commentary as well. The Bulls are back at it. I hope to see FORTY EIGHT MINUTES OF INTENSITY! I'm just letting you guys know that I'm thinking about Norm and Johnny today. All the best! GO BULLS!!!

Paul Hostetter

Sam: Thanks for the appropriate recollection. They were two of the greatest and those of us around the Bulls miss them dearly.

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