John Paxson, in relative terms, is more well-liked and respected than Gar Forman (and by extension Gar’s corn-pal Fred Hoiberg) when it comes to the generally distasteful impression of the Bulls front office. It’s likely due to Paxson’s past success as a player and executive, and frankly due to him being more telegenic than ol’ muppet-head.
Forman, though retaining his title of Bulls GM, seemingly has taken a gradual backseat when it comes to being the front-facing element of the Bulls. He’s appeared in tandem with Paxson at times where it used to be him alone. I think Paxson just suggested he’s going to be exiled to Europe this year.
But while Paxson has better presentation skills than Forman (so he’s in the top 14th percentile of the population, congrats), he’s not doing himself any favors while trying to be the point-man for this latest ‘rebuild’. He’s instead coming off just as paranoid and petty as Forman, and the organization as a whole.
Over the summer Paxson had a comment about an ‘unfair narrative’ that Stephen Noh of the Athletic effectively eviscerated. And on the day of the season opener, Paxson went on both major radio stations. On his morning interview with The Score the big news was that Paxson outed himself as head of a group that can’t effectively scout and operated towards an ownership cash-grab. But there was other garbage on display from him including defending the ‘Bulls culture’ in the wake of two of ‘our young guys’ getting in a fight that put one in the hospital.
On AM1000 later in the day (the Waddle and Silvy Show), Paxson shamelessly said more of the same when it came to the sale of the 2nd round pick and ‘building equity’. But what was truly galling was his continued defense of the team’s culture as it put blame on perception:
(paraphrased to remove Paxson’s now-signature stammering)
People are gonna believe what they want to believe, and I’ve heard a narrative out there that this [face-breaking] is another ‘black mark’ on our culture.
That’s coming from people that don’t have any knowledge of what our staff has done from the day the season ended last year. That’s just somebody who wants to continue the negative narrative. I can’t do anything to stop that, or stop people who want to believe that, because they don’t put the work in to really understand the situation.
Go screw with his nonsense, man. Like it’s really people who cover the team (like Sean Highkin in this recent Bleacher Report article, who went after the Bulls culture) who are ‘continuing the negative narrative’, and not that it’s, you know, an actual negative situation?
Denying there’s a problem and instead attacking those who think there is: THAT is Bulls culture. Not ‘playing the right way’ or ‘hard work’ or whatever Bulls management is stirring into their SeeRed Kool-Aid to try and mask the complete lack of talent and future assets this ‘rebuild’ has left the team with.
Bulls culture is being paranoid about perception, and trying to root out everyone who may contribute to it. Get rid of Ron Adams and Tom Thibodeau. Bring in your old head coach and whoever comes off the bus from Ames.
If you want the narrative changed, make some actual changes and display some actual achievement. We can’t buy on faith that it’s a brand new Bulls. All this work ‘the staff’ has done this summer, it’s the same staff that has failed to adequately develop players in the past. Paxson himself has in the past criticized this aspect of Hoiberg and his assistants, yet no changes were made.
You don’t get a clean slate just because you ‘picked a new direction’, and definitely don’t get to maintain the moral superiority of your team culture when one of the ‘young guys in our building’ punches another out. If you truly think it’s a corner turned in terms of culture, don’t just say it and attack those who don’t believe you: let it actually be shown to us. Though I’m not sure how that will be possible being one of the very worst teams in the league, maybe it’ll happen.
It’s true that player development is what’s key, and the Bulls front office will get the credit they lust after if they actually manifest some core pieces of a future solid basketball team. But it’s been a long 5 years of failures in that area that causes such a ‘narrative’ , not people you deem uninformed out to get you.
The talking hasn’t helped. So unless it’s to actually admit mistakes (let alone display change towards fixing them), John Paxson can instead stay content with his valued support from ownership. In the meantime stay the hell out of Bulls fans’ business.