Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Yeah, the Bulls have Derrick Rose, but history shows that the team mucks things up

The Chicago Bulls have been lucky in the NBA Draft.

Two years into the league in 1968, the Bulls' lucked out on Tennessee's center Tom Boerwinkle #4 overall) who was an excellent choice for the team. A year later, they brought in St. Francis' Norm Van Lier (#34 in the 3rd round; talk about your basic sleeper pick here) to complement the core of Jerry Sloan and Boerwinkle as they became challengers in the Western Conference. And they would continue their build-up in 1971 as they picked out a pair of centers... Clifford Ray (#40 in the 3rd round) out of Oklahoma and Jacksonville's Artis Gilmore with the #117th pick of the 7th round. And when they obtained Bob Love through a trade, these Bulls were as good as anybody in the league.

But lest you think they were all that successful, there was the infamous "Astronaut Draft" of 1977 when they picked out Tate Armstrong, Bob Glenn, and Steve Sheppard. Not getting it? The famous American astronauts at that point were Neil Armstrong, John Glenn, and Alan Sheppard. While the real life space explorers went somewhere, the Bulls' variety took up space on the bench and were soon out of the league.

In 1979, with the #9 selection, they obtained flashy scorer Reggie Theus out of UNLV. And a year later, in the coin toss where the Bulls lost Magic Johnson, Chicago instead got David Greenwood. Yeah, exactly.

But Greenwood would be a serviceable part of their pre-MJ team as they also got Orlando Woolridge with the #6th choice in 1981, Quintin Dailey (#7 in 1982), and Rod Higgins #32, Round 2 in 1982). That team went to the play-offs two consecutive years where they were swept out by the Boston Celtics.

In the post-six-peat era, here's how it all went:

1999 Elton Brand #1 overall out of Duke -- traded to the LA Clippers where he became an ALl-Star on a bad team. Ron Artest #16 overall and later traded to Indiana where then-Bulls GM Jerry Krause was building a contender at the Conseco Fieldhouse (he also sent Brad Miller there).

In 2000, they tabbed Marcus Fizer out of Iowa State with the #4 overall selection and three teams later, they also got Texas' Chris Mihm, now with the LA Lakers.

In 2001, they took hometown boy Eddy Curry with the #4 pick. In 2002, once more with good draft position, they got Duke's Jay Williams. Still in 2003, they took Kansas' Frodo Baggins, er Kirk Hinrich at #7 in the first round. And in 2004, they got NCAA champ Ben Gordon out of Connecticut at #3 overall.

And now they have Rose, their second number one overall choice. But think of this, instead of Hinrich in '03, they could have gone up and traded for Dwyane Wade, another hometown Bulls fan and they'd have an all-Chi-town native backcourt. Wade wanted to play for his hometown Bulls.

Ah, the what-ifs of the Bulls. They've had incredible luck in the draft, but have had very little success in making them stay, fitting them into a good system, or even downright winning. Arguably, in the Bulls' history, they've had three teams that were rightful contenders for the league title:
the Dick Motta teams of Sloan, Van Lier, Bob Love, Chet Walker, Clifford Ray, and Tom Boerwinkle, the 1990s team led by that bald-headed dude out of UNC of which so much has been said and written about, and the squad that fell apart last year.

Now they have Derrick Rose and all of a sudden Kirk Hinrich's days in the Windy City are numbered. But honestly, I'd rather trade away Ben Gordon because at least Hinrich passes the ball. And they should keep Andres Nocioni because he gives them a toughness inside an extra three-point shooter.

It would be interesting to see what happens after John Paxson has bungled a lot of moves that have set back this franchise. And they have a lot of cleaning up to do. Here's hoping they do more than come up smelling roses.

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