9:42 AM CST, February 13, 2012
I think we can understand why John Paxson jumped Vinny Del Negro a couple years ago.
Paxson didn’t like the way the Del Negro was playing Joakim Noah after his injury. The Bulls’ inadequate basketball honcho was worried that the Bulls’ inept coach would cost the Bulls their young center.
After one game of extended Noah minutes, Paxson burst into Del Negro’s office and jumped him, or roughed him up, or grabbed his tie or something akin to a ruckus.
I wonder if someone plans to pummel Tom Thibodeau after Derrick Rose went into traction and took the Bulls’ season with him.
Rose missed the national TV game in Boston because of back spasms that racked him when he played against the pathetic Hornets last week, a game where the Bulls didn’t need him, a game where common sense should’ve reigned, a game that might cost the Bulls the season.
Not to sound like Chicken Little here, but without Rose, the Bulls are a lottery team.
I know, that’s obvious, but it needs to be stated so we understand that the care and feeding of Rose is the first order of the entire franchise, and that starts with the coach doling out playing time.
Rose said Sunday he was scared because it wasn’t the kind of pain he has played through previously. The Bulls’ only hope for a championship will see a specialist Monday.
That’s how coaches get jumped.
This is the worst thing to happen to Thibodeau and his myopic coaching philosophy of winning the game that night, period. Understandably, coaches cling to that view. That’s how’s they’re judged. Their record is their record is their validation. It’s what makes Thibodeau once of the best game coaches in the game today.
Thibodeau is manic about every game being everything. He uses his best players as much as he needs, even if he doesn’t need them that much and even if it’s bad for the long-term health of the player and franchise.
Thibodeau tried to justify his philosophy last week, saying if a player is healthy, he plays, and if not, he sits. The coach said he didn’t understand this notion of players sitting out the regular season.
Thibodeau, of course, also doesn’t understand this notion of resting his best players in 20-point games.
How can a guy who demands floor balance from his players display no such balance between game and season?
Especially this season. If ever there was a season demanding a lower gear or, geez, neutral if not park, this is it. All 66 games in 124 days. The NBA: Where Stupidity Happens.
Some teams, some coaches, however, have recognized the need for pacing. That’s not Thibodeau with his hand up.
Now, it needs to be said that if there is going to be blame, Rose himself gets some. He wants to play every game. That’s admirable. He needs some kind of long-term common sense, however. Maybe he and Thibodeau can get a group rate on that.
Assault and battery aside, the job of the general manager is to protect the franchise from the coach. Another big job of the general manager is to protect his job. It might not be written that way on the flow chart, but come on, people, wise up, connect the dots. Covering one’s backside sometimes is worth fighting over, or at least worth yanking a necktie.
And then there’s the tricky part amid all the other dynamics: Back pain is often inexplicable. It frequently is the kind of thing that just happens. It flares up and takes down the big and small alike. No warning, no conscience. Bang. Gotcha. So, if you don’t know why something happened, it’s hard to assess blame accurately.
Sports, however, has never required the accurate dumping of blame. I’m not saying such a view is fair. But it’s a view. Top players are more valuable than top coaches.
I hope Rose finds out it's nothing. I hope Thibodeau learns something. I hope Rose didn't make it worse by playing when he didn't have to play and when Thibodeau didn't have to play him. If Rose misses, I don't know, a month, and if people start unearthing who said what and when, it might turn out that Rose lied to Thibodeau, but you know what?
Thibodeau gets all the blame. The coach pays for it, not necessarily with his job, but that's also an option in a season built on title expectations, fair or not. Remember, fairness has nothing to do with pro sports.
After all, Dale Tallon still gets criticized for winning a Stanley Cup while Stan Bowman gets praised despite failing to fill holes on a team in a death spiral.
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