Our Pledge To You


Gar-Pax might have critics, but Bulls players aren’t among them

There will be a time when the John Paxson-Gar Forman front office runs its course.

Heck, some feel like it has already.

Paxson, the Bulls VP of basketball operations, and Forman, the general manager, have gone through several rebuilds and a handful of coaches in trying to return the Larry O’Brien Trophy to the West Side of Chicago, and have continuously come up short.

What they have on their side, however, is the loyalty of board chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. A stamp that carries as much weight as any across the Association.

“Everything in this game has a shelf life, even front offices,’’ one Bulls veteran player said recently.

True, but Gar-Pax have proven to be asbestos. Fire-proof in every way.

“What will be interesting is when it is ending, who eats who?’’ one NBA insider said last week. “Does John simply remove Gar or does Gar take advantage of John’s loyalty and point fingers behind his back? When it ends that will be a helluva story.’’

The only story these days with this front office? Even with the firing of former coach Tom Thibodeau and the front office now all-in on Fred Hoiberg, for the most part the Bulls players still believe in the Gar-Pax regime.

“I haven’t had any problems with the front office at all, and I really haven’t heard too much of that from the players that have been around here,’’ veteran forward Taj Gibson said. “Their job is to make sure guys are happy, make sure we have the right personnel, and they’ve been doing that.

“It’s been up to us really. We’ve been having good teams for years, but it’s been a lack of just having guys healthy at the right time. But I feel like they have put a lot into us. There has been some finger-pointing, but at the end of the day they believe in us.’’

Enough so that Paxson addressed the team last week, and let it be known what was expected of them.

Crossing the line? Good timing by the former hard-nosed player? Well, the Bulls have gone 2-1 since then, and have played with a lot more urgency.

“Oh no, I loved it,’’ Gibson said, when asked if it felt like Paxson undercut his rookie coach. “Pax is a player. That’s what we need. We have veterans like Pax, Toni Kukoc, Scottie Pippen come talking to you, and the level that Pax is now, he’ll still come talk to you and still comes across as a guy that will choke a referee for you.

“There are some guys that really don’t understand what you need to do to help your team, to be a champion. But when a guy comes in that has been looking on from the outside, and can tell you in a good manner, ‘You’re better than that,’ I know it made me feel better about all the talk around here.’’

Rah-rah speeches are one thing, but the true value of Gar-Pax this season will be on trial soon. Besides being tied to Hoiberg – sink or swim – they have a roster problem to deal with if they want to dethrone LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Momentum has been building on Joakim Noah trade rumors, with the Bulls looking to add a proven small forward because of growing concerns with Mike Dunleavy actually being able to return from preseason back surgery.

It will be on Gar-Pax to try and make that fix before the window completely shuts on this group.

As for the window on Gar-Pax?

All windows shut in this league. Some much slower than others.