In just two weeks, the basketball world will travel to and have all eyes on the city of Chicago when the 2020 NBA All-Star Game takes over the United Center.
The last time Chicago hosted the NBA's annual showcase of the stars in Chicago, Michael Jordan led the Eastern Conference All-Stars to a 138-133 victory over the Western Conference at old Chicago Stadium. On that evening, Jordan scored 40 points and was named the game's Most Valuable Player. The 1987-88 Chicago Bulls would go on to win 50 games under then-head coach Doug Collins before being eliminated in the Eastern Conference Semifinals by the vaunted Detroit Pistons.
The next decade-plus would prove to be the greatest era in Chicago Bulls basketball history, and quite possibly the most dominating dynasty in the history of the modern NBA as Michael Jordan and the Bulls would win six NBA Finals Championships.
The last time the NBA All-Star Game came to the Windy City, our beloved Bulls did the city of Chicago proud. This time, the Chicago Bulls are the laughingstock of the NBA with the eyes of the world set on Chicago in just two weeks.
Sure, the post-Jordan era had some thin years, but that was to be expected when the core and coach split after their time together had run its course. But this, this is on a whole new level, and Zach LaVine's All-Star snub on Thursday evening is just the latest in a long line of embarrassing events for this franchise.
Despite a sluggish start to the season that eventually led to LaVine being benched by head coach Jim Boylen in the very early going of the current season, LaVine has been nothing short of an All-Star.
The NBA is a scoring league, and the All-Star Game is the biggest scoring show of the year. There's no doubt an elite scorer this season was left in the cold last night. Take a look at the scoring totals for the Eastern Conference reserves that were selected instead of LaVine:
- Jimmy Butler - MIA: 20.2 PPG
- Kyle Lowry - TOR: 19.8 PPG
- Ben Simmons - PHI: 16.3 PPG
- Khris Middleton - MIL: 20.2 PPG
- Jayson Tatum - BOS: 21.5 PPG
- Bam Adebayo - MIA: 16.0 PPG
- Domas Sabonis - IND: 18.0 PPG
Meanwhile, Zach LaVine is averaging 25.1 PPG through 50 games.
Now, here's where this becomes a Bulls problem, not an NBA problem. Let's take a look at that list again, with LaVine included and each player's team record instead of their scoring.
- Jimmy Butler - MIA: 32-15 (4th)
- Kyle Lowry - TOR: 34-14 (2nd)
- Ben Simmons - PHI: 31-18 (6th)
- Khris Middleton - MIL: 41-6 (1st)
- Jayson Tatum - BOS: 32-15 (3rd)
- Bam Adebayo - MIA: 32-15 (4th)
- Domas Sabonis - IND: 31-17 (5th)
- Zach LaVine - CHI: 19-31 (23.5 GB)
Through the halfway point of the 2019-20 NBA season, LaVine is more deserving of the individual accolade of being selected to the NBA All-Star Game than nearly all of the reserves selected in front of him, but the Bulls are a dumpster fire and he fell on their sword.
However, the Bulls' long stretch of embarrassment goes much further than the LaVine snub.
This is a franchise that wasted away the prime of stars like Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Luol Deng, and the rest of the "Baby Bulls" before trading them away for pennies on the dollar to make Jimmy Butler the face of the franchise. When that didn't work, they traded Butler to Minnesota to start their *checks notes*, third rebuild under this management regime.
They chased away Tom Thibodeau because he wasn't a yes-man, and prior to that, John Paxson went as far as choking former head coach Vinny Del Negro back in 2011 when he wouldn't bow down. This shouldn't be surprising, seeing as Paxson completely swept Bobby Portis punching Niko Mirotic in the face -- leaving Mirotic with a fractured face and a concussion -- under the rug by slapping Portis with a measly eight-game suspension.
This is a franchise that could have landed Dwyane Wade and LeBron James before they went to Miami, but they instead watched them head to South Beach and win multiple NBA Finals. This is a franchise that traded away LaMarcus Aldridge on draft night in favor of Tyrus Thomas during the 2006 NBA Draft and has missed on first-rounder after first-rounder.
Then there's the locker room mutiny of Jim Boylen's militant-style practices last winter, just weeks after John Paxson's sixth -- yes, sixth -- head coaching pick was handed the keys to the ever-sinking ship.
Oh, and who can forget about the "Three Alphas" public meltdown that eventually led to the current "rebuild."
The draft misses, the horrid trades, the coaches ran out of town, the inability to evaluate internal or external talent, the wasted stars, and the constant lies from the front office to the fans can almost barely be counted at this point.
With the NBA All-Star Game coming to town in two weeks, the Chicago Bulls franchise is an utterly disgusting embarrassment that's front and center for the world to see.
John Paxson said that if this rebuild fails, that he would fire himself.
Well, John -- this one failed.
Boylen is an atrociously bad head coach, and the talent that they have acquired this time around appears to be regressing as a result. The team can't get any notable free-agents to come to what has been dubbed by other players as a toxic workplace.
I can honestly say that I've never been more embarrassed as a Bulls fan in my entire life.
The last time the NBA All-Star Game was in Chicago, Michael Jordan was putting the Bulls on the map and turning the franchise into an international basketball brand. Unfortunately, this time the Bulls are merely the running punch-line of the basketball world.