John Paxson still has it.
Give him credit for that.
The Bulls’ vice president of basketball operations can still fool the media members that stroll into a Bulls news conference four times a season and yet leave the United Center feeling like they’ve really captured the pulse of the team.
Paxson guessed your weight, botched it by a few pounds, and let you skip out with a cheap pencil in hand and a smile on your face. The consummate carny.
And as long as those few voices are out there helping spout the company line, Paxson has won.
The latest Gar-Pax show shouldn’t have gone on for 40 minutes. It should have been a simple take-no-questions statement, and one of actual truth rather than hypocrisy.
It should have started with an apology to Tom Thibodeau.
For five years, the former coach covered up all the missteps by this front office. He was the one coach that the Gar-Pax regime couldn’t bully.
There’s a number of reasons that a global brand like the Bulls has remained a league punchline since Thibodeau was escorted out the door, and all of it was on full display in the latest Gar-Pax show.
Culture was never an issue under Thibodeau. The Bulls had an identity from the moment they stepped off the team bus.
What’s the identity now?
“We saw what you saw and what a lot of our fans saw,’’ Paxson said Wednesday. “And that is inconsistency in our play and really a team that was searching for an identity much of the season.’’
Make that an identity Gar-Pax removed two years ago because of jealousy and control issues.
Thibodeau was able to cover up bad drafts, bad roster decisions and bad personnel choices during his tenure.
He made Gar-Pax actually look like they knew what they were doing. Right, Marquis Teague?
Strip away the shield those two were hiding behind, however, and now complete buffoonery has been exposed.
One of the reasons also cited by Gar-Pax for Thibodeau’s dismissal was failing to beat the Cavaliers in the 2015 playoffs.
The narrative that they seem to leave out, however, was that the Bulls had LeBron James and Co. down 2-1 in the series, and it took a shot at the horn from James in Game 4 to keep it from being 3-1. By the way, the Bulls lost Pau Gasol to an injury in Game 3 and still competed.
Since then, there hasn’t been an Eastern Conference team that has challenged James.
James gushed about how “well-coached’’ that Bulls team was on a nightly basis.
Last week, the Bulls had Boston down 2-0 in the first round, lost Rajon Rondo and folded like a cheap tent. Thibodeau, however, won a playoff series with Nate Robinson.
And while it’s been open season on Gar Forman’s selection of Fred Hoiberg as coach, this front office should have identified that Hoiberg was coming into a dysfunctional environment and needed certain types of players to fit his system.
Instead, Gar-Pax gave Hoiberg assistants with their own agendas, and players that really don’t fit his system.
Wednesday could have finally been a day of honesty. Instead, it was what it always seems to be with the Gar-Pax show.
Nothing but cheap pencils for everybody.
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