Jordan-era Bulls never missed time like today’s players

SHARE Jordan-era Bulls never missed time like today’s players
SHARE Jordan-era Bulls never missed time like today’s players

When did basketball become football?

Am I nuts or was there a time when football players got hurt and basketball guys played on and on?

And now NBA players go down like NFL tailbacks?

If you think I’m nuts, keep it to yourself.

But here we are 12 games into the Bulls’ season and three starters and the sixth man (as I write this) are already out with injuries. Derrick Rose (hamstring), Pau Gasol (calf strain) and Kirk Hinrich (chest contusion) were not healthy enough to play in Friday night’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers. Taj Gibson went out with an ankle injury in the third quarter. Let me note: This is the first month of a possibly eight-month season, counting playoffs.

I understand that the game is faster than in the past and the players are more muscular and athletic, but how can any club make plans when stars go own like mosquitoes at a bug zapper?

Wouldn’t it be nice if All-Stars Kevin Durant (knee) and Russell Westbrook (hand) were playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder? If Kevin Martin (wrist) and Ricky Rubio (ankle) were playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves? Etc.

But the Bulls are our team, and what can you say? I understand frail Captain Kirk nearly getting his chest caved in on an attempted block of the Sacramento Kings’ 292-pound DeMarcus Cousins the other night. And I know nobody is faking any of these injuries.

But do we have to start thinking about these guys as ‘‘probable’’ for life?

I have all but given up on Rose, whose body might be that of a 50-year old — out of alignment, fragile, with each injury catapulting from the one preceding it. Knee, knee, ankle, ankle, hamstring and on.

No, nothing matters until the playoffs. But Rose has played in 4 1/2  of the Bulls’ first 13 games this season — after missing nearly two years with injuries — and don’t you need to play the game to excel at it? I see those televised Adidas shoe ads featuring Rose running and cutting, and all I can think is: What a joke.

Look closely and you’ll see he doesn’t even have his sneakers laced to the top, and the strings are loose. Which is how he does it in games, too. Which is ridiculous. And I mean ridiculous.

Shoes may be style and cool for Jimmy and Doofus walking down the sidewalk, chillin’ with their pals. But for an NBA player, they are the conduit between the star’s body and the hardwood below. They are as important as a surgeon and his scalpel, an Indy racer and his tires.

Why rehab endlessly if you can’t get your uniform right?

Oh, and I’m not nuts about players once being durable. That first Bulls NBA championship team in 1990-91 had five starters and a sixth man (B.J. Armstrong) who missed a total of seven games out of a possible 492 in the regular season.

In the record-setting 72-win 1995-96 championship season, the first eight players — Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Ron Harper, Dennis Rodman, Luc Longley, Toni Kukoc, Steve Kerr and Bill Wennington — missed 44 games out of 656 total, with most of those being Longley’s when he was out with a stress fracture in his leg. And no Bulls player in either of those seasons missed the playoffs.

From 1986 until 1998 —excluding his time off for baseball — Jordan, who played harder than anyone, missed seven games out of a possible 837. And he played in every playoff game — 172 of them.

Maybe that spoiled me forever. Of course it did. Sorry. But if injuries are the name of the game, I’ll watch the Bears, thank you.

INTERESTING NOTE from USA Today about Jay Cutler. In an interview, retired Hall of Fame coach and announcer John Madden said, ‘‘You stick with a quarterback when you don’t have anyone better to go to.

‘‘You take, like, a Jay Cutler, and Jay Cutler has a few interceptions, and you lose a few games and you want him out of there. But who do you want in? There’s not enough quarterbacks to go around for 32 teams to all have one. The talent pool is too low.’’

There’s the endorsement we’ve wanted!

LASTLY, LET’S GET a chuckle from our good buddy Kobe Bryant, now suffering through the Los Angeles’ Lakers worst start in history (1-9 to begin, now 3-10).

Asked while the Lakers were 0-4 and being outscored by 17 points per game, worst in the league, if it bothered him, Bryant replied, ‘‘No, it doesn’t bother me. I’m festively joyful about it.’’

Then, asked recently if he was bothered by criticism that he was taking too many shots, he answered, ‘‘I’d rather not have to do that, but we can’t sit back and let crime happen.’’

Well done, sir.

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