The Chicago Bulls appear to be imploding following the controversial comments made by Dwayne Wade and Jimmy Butler after the Bulls’ 119-114 loss to Atlanta, a game in which they led by 10 points with just three minutes left.
When asked if the loss would be debilitating to his team, Wade remarked “I don’t know if they care enough, so I can’t say it is. I wish I could say that everyone in here is going to go home and not eat tonight. I can’t say that. I wish I could, but I don’t know that they care enough.”
Butler vigorously reiterated Wade’s sentiments. “Motherf***ers just got to care if we win or lose… If you’re not pissed off that you lost, man, something is wrong,.” The 27-year-old continue. “This is your job. This is what you’re supposed to love to do, and I don’t think that everybody looks at it that way.”
This sort of storyline has played out in many locker rooms over the years, veteran players speaking up after some poor performances, hoping to light a fire under their younger players. This time around, it’s backfired on the Bulls, turning into infighting and jabs on social media.
Rajon Rondo, in particular, took umbrage with Wade and Butler’s comments, posting a lengthy response on Instagram the next day comparing the Bulls to his 2008 Boston Celtics championship team.
“My vets would never go to the media. They would come to the team. My vets didn’t pick and choose when they wanted to bring it. They brought it every time they stepped in the gym whether it was practice or a game. They didn’t take days off,” Rondo said in the post that included a picture of him with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce during their time in Boston.
“My vets didn’t care about their numbers. My vets played for the team. When we lost, they wouldn’t blame us. They took responsibility and got in the gym. They showed the young guys what it meant to work.”
In a move that might have been more harmful than beneficial, Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg made Wade and Butler come off the bench for the Bulls’ next game against Miami. Chicago lost 100-88, with Butler going 1-13 for just three points and Wade’s 15 points leading the Bulls. Following the loss, Hoiberg said the loss was “the worst game we’ve played all year, in my opinion.”
One of the main issues that has sparked the internal conflict is has been the appearance, or lack thereof of Dwayne Wade at practice, forward Taj Gibson revealed. “That’s one of the things in the meeting: Young guys just want a little bit more from him, and he (brought) it today. He pushed the young guys. And that’s a sign that that meeting did a little something.”
It’s a tough position for Chicago to find themselves in, with a young coach and a team full of veterans with strong opinions being asked to win now. Is this the squad that will take the Bulls for a deep playoff run or are there moves to be made before they take the next step?
The greatest issue facing Chicago is whether they allow this turmoil to ruin their season or use it to galvanise their squad.