WHAT ONCE RANKED HAS TURNED RANK
November 10, 1999
First the good news. Will Perdue has not lost a
step. On the other hand, that's like saying a
warthog hasn't lost its pantyhose . . .
The Bulls are obligated by schedule and duty to
do whatever that was they were doing Tuesday
night for another 78 games. Some may be
tempted to call it basketball, there being a
vague resemblance to the game that used to
take Chicago's breath away.
Still does, I suppose, like a landfill or
Others might call it nose wiping. Or teeth
picking. Egg sucking. Choose a euphemism. In
kindness to the Bulls of memory, these Bulls
have to come predescribed. Rotten. Woeful.
Bottom-feeding. Pitiful. I've seen them all
A 23-point drubbing and fourth double-digit
loss in four games inspires all sorts of labels,
but the key is to remember to pronounce them
while holding your nose.
That would be the bad news, unless you are an
opponent and then what you do is show up
early and try not to drool.
Take the Phoenix Suns, a team with ambition
and both Jason Kidd and Anfernee Hardaway,
who arrived at the United Center never having
won a game in the house Michael built. This
put them dead even with the Elton Brand
Bulls, who have not won in the building either.
Chances are good the Suns will win here again
before the Bulls (or the Blackhawks, come to
think of it).
"Give the Bulls credit," said Suns coach Danny
The more credit the Bulls can get, the better
his team's 103-80 victory looks.
"Our players eventually will tell us who they
are," said Bulls coach Tim Floyd, as if he
wasn't listening at the start of the game.
The Bulls still amplify and shout the
introductions of the players, which tends not to
be a salute as much as an accusation. The
illumination that follows the Bulls onto the
floor has the feel of a prison yard searchlight.
I suggest they turn the thing out and whisper
the names. Or use aliases.
"And now--shhhhhh--from parts unknown . . ."
Have the Bulls thought of playing in fake
glasses and a mustache? No need. Just imitate
Hersey Hawkins, the invisible starter. When
last seen, Hawkins was . . . wait a minute, has
anyone actually seen Hawkins? Other than on
the side of a milk carton, I mean.
"Hersey is an old pro," said Floyd, providing
one form of identification.
Whether the Bulls are the worst basketball
team in the history of paid basketball teams is
not much to build a season around, but any
identity is better than none.
Certainly Randy Brown has to be the worst
point guard in the history of paid point guards,
assuming Brown is not too embarrassed to take
his money. Brown plays point guard like a
shoplifter. He brings the ball up like he's
trying to get through a leather detector. The
ball clearly is not his and all he wants to do is
get rid of it before somebody catches him.
That obligation usually falls to veteran Toni
Kukoc, to whom this menagerie is supposed to
look for guidance. Someone made a movie out
of the leadership Kukoc is capable of. The
Blair Witch Project. Now, like the real Bulls,
only on video.
Kukoc played only four minutes in the second
half, giving way to ringless ciphers such as
Michael Ruffin and Fred Hoiberg. This is not
to be taken as a disapproval of Kukoc, said
Floyd, as if it mattered.
Likewise, No. 1 draft choice Elton Brand was
benched for most the second half as Floyd ran
in guys who used to play for him at Iowa State,
when the world and basketball was a happier
place for him as well as for us.
Brand is not going to become rookie of the
year playing like this, a non-rebounding, poor
shooting grunt. Brand too often gets his shot
blocked by shorter and slighter players.
There were brief flashes of the triangle, but
more often the Bulls seemed to be running
what could be called a flapjack offense. Sooner
or later they are going to turn it over.
At least one old Bull was on the winning side.
Luc Longley was back for the first time since
the team represented by the last banner in the
rafters was shattered by spite.
"Weird," said Longley. "It was odd and
different coming here to play. That was from
the whole gamut of being at the other end of
the court and none of the guys still being here."
Hey, Chicago misses them more than you do, Luc.