and then maybe you can exorcise this team of its demons. Let me explain.
In all of the classic sports movies, from Hoosiers to The Natural, what's the one thing that the protagonist ends up doing in order to find himself and obtain redemption?
He's got to have the humility to step forward and say, "I was wrong. I apologize."
In this case, Paxson's got to sit each of his affected and sensitive younger players down and look them in the eye and tell him that he's sorry for making them feel like they were pieces of meat hanging in a butcher's window that could be bartered away in the blink of an eye. He's got to say sorry and mean it.
A lot of you will say, "Who cares how the hell they feel? This is their job and they signed up for this." You may point out that in entertaining a serious Kobe offer Paxson was only doing his job. All of this is true.
But these are young players who built something special in Chicago. They erased the memories of potential over winning histories, athletes over players, and promise over delivery.
The point is not that these players have soft psyches. The point is not that they make millions of dollars and turn down offers to make in five years what most of us will never make in a lifetime. Again, all of that may be true.
But something is definitely missing in this team, and it's esprit de corps, and this is in part due to the relatively serious entertaining of the Kobe trade by Paxson.
In his first preseason as Bulls GM, Paxson is said to have lined up the old Krause-assembled team and told them something along the lines of, "From now on, you will answer to us. You will be accountable and we expect results."
Well, this isn't Eddie Robinson and the Cruisers. This is the team that came back from an 0-9 start to break the playoff draught that went back to the Jordan era. This is the team that brought back Hoosiers-style jump shooting in the age of post-Jordan athleticism, and actually won a playoff series.
So in this writer's opinion, if Paxson wants to get this team back on track, he's the one who needs to step up and reassure his team that they're in it together for the long haul of this season.
He could always stick to his demands that the team answer to him, or fall back on the truisms that the players are professionals and that they need to wake up and smell the coffee and realize that this is a business. But that won't get them to turn this thing around.