Jordan holds court at anniversary ceremony

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Jordan holds court at anniversary ceremony

Saturday, March 12, 2011
Posted 10:07 p.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

At halftime of the Bulls 118-100 win over the Jazz Saturday night, a ceremony to honor the 20th anniversary of the franchises first championship took place, featuring members of the 1990-91 team, including one Michael Jeffrey Jordan.

After the ceremony, Jordan spoke to reporters about the unique experience.

For me, some guys I havent seen in a while. Dennis Hopson, I havent seen since 1991 and for us to reunite, tell old stories, it brings back a lot of great memories and I wish we could turn the clock back, said the Hall of Famer. Thats how I feel, but Father Times coming touches everybody and youve got to deal with the cards that you have. I miss it.

Looking back upon the journey the team took to get to that moment particularly overcoming hated division rival Detroit Jordan reflected fondly on winning the title.

Winning your first one everyone said a scoring champion cant win so that mattered for us, winning our first one. Beating the Pistons, getting past the Pistons, all that was gratifying and then doing it five more times after that, stated Jordan. If I had to pick the first one or the last one, thats a tough choice, especially when youre trying to repeat something every single time.

The Bulls legend opined on the potential of the current edition of the franchise he made a household name worldwide, expounding on his previous thoughts about All-Star point guard Derrick Rose.

I was just talking to former teammate and current Bulls vice president John Paxson, the guys upstairs, and I said, You guys could be the best team in the East. No, I dont think its going to take them seven years. Theyve got a good, talented team and once again, I think theyve got the MVP of the league.

"Hes Rose coming into his own, hes maturing quite a bit, said Jordan. When he came into the league, everybody said he had speed, he could get to the rim, but he cant shoot. Now, he can shoot the three, as well as pull-up shots. He has very few flaws. Im pretty sure the next thing theyre going to say is he doesnt play very good defense or he cant handle the double team, but time will tell.

"The kid works hard and I think hes a great piece for this franchise to rebuild with and theyve got some other pieces that help them quite a bit in the East.

Everybodys talking about Boston and everybodys talking about Miami and Orlando, you tend to forget about Chicago. You can have a lot of work on your hands.

Jordan also discussed his connection to the Windy City, a place that immediately embraced him as an NBA rookie, all the way to the present day, despite him owning a rival NBA franchise.

I had an autograph signing this morning and I signed parts of the old stadium floor, said Jordan, who mentioned the late Johnny Red Kerr when he addressed the United Center crowd on the floor where he once dominated as a player. This the United Center is a beautiful place here, but what was more beautiful was the Chicago Stadium and the home-court advantage we had back in the day. We can sit here and reminisce all day long.

"To me, its unbelievable and Im glad I had the opportunity to spend time here and make my career here. The fans are very enduring, in terms of the hard work and effort we put on the floor. I played for them. As much as I played for myself, I played for the fans of Chicago.

I love the city. I still live here, contrary to what everybody believes. My home is still here, I still pay taxes here, so Im still living here. I want the city to do well. Theyve been very instrumental in my whole career me living here and raising my kids and everything and every chance I can get to come back and thank them, its truly gratitude for me, he added.

Im very happy with the warm reception that I get every time I come here, even though Ive left and gone and done other things.

Jordans best line, however, came as he was walking away from the media throng in the bowels of the United Center.

When asked about his thoughts on Roses long-term future, the business-minded hoops icon looked over his shoulder and quipped, Any time you want to give him, well take him.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

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What will Bulls do with Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade?

What will Bulls do with Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade?

The Bulls have made their biggest decision of the offseason but the future of Rajon Rondo and to a lesser extent, Dwyane Wade, is still in the air.

Due to the trade for Kris Dunn and the Bulls having acquired Cameron Payne at the trade deadline last season, it doesn’t appear to be much room for Rondo. Even moreso, considering Dunn and Payne’s lack of production, one would think the Bulls would easily guarantee Rondo’s $13.3 million for next season.

But with the June 30th deadline approaching, it seems more and more like the Bulls will buy Rondo out for $3 million and go with a total youth movement, despite Rondo’s success with guiding some of the young players on the roster.

If not for Rondo’s wrist injury in Game 2 of the Bulls’ first-round series against the Boston Celtics, the Bulls could’ve advanced to the second round of the playoffs. Instead, they’re embarking on what could be a long process that may take years to recover from.

“He’s always been a great teammate and nurturer of the young guys,” said Bill Duffy, Rondo’s agent. Duffy also serves as Zach LaVine’s agent, so he was in attendance for LaVine’s introduction at the United Center.

The handling of Rondo’s benching, re-emergence and subsequent importance to the Bulls this past season has helped Rondo, in a sense. Rondo proved to be a galvanizing force to a degree after being shuffled in and out of the starting lineup.

“I think it’s fair to say he definitely showed a different persona that what had existed but like I said, he’s always been that way, I think it’s more publicized,” Duffy said. “I think he just loves to develop people, always managing and directing. So I think that’s always the case with the younger guys.”

If Rondo is released—and it certainly appears matters are trending in that direction, the 31-year old could have suitors in the New Orleans Pelicans and Indiana Pacers, sources tell CSNChicago.com. One would think the Bulls could use Rondo’s type of straightforward but encouraging brand of leadership in the locker room, but the Bulls have yet to guarantee his contract for next season.

“That’s still to be determined,” Bulls Executive Vice President John Paxson said. “We’re going to sit down with Bill and talk it through. We do understand that veterans are important for a young basketball team, the right veterans – guys that are good teammates, are supportive of the young guys and can continue to teach them how to be pros. Those are things we’ll be addressing.”

“The proof’s always in the pudding and I think if you talk to the front office and coaches, they really love what he brought and how he handled the challenges last year,” Duffy said. “I think we all mature over time and he’s been in the league a long time. He wants to win but he loves the game. I think he appreciates it more, he’s kinda of in his twilight years or approaching it.”

As for Wade, he exercised his $23.8 million option for next season as he was expected to, but that was before the Jimmy Butler trade that ushered in a new day of change.

There’s been speculation Wade would seek a buyout from the Bulls at the start of free agency but so far, those conversations haven’t been held and Paxson intimated Wade would have to give back a significant amount of that money to become a free agent.

There’s been speculation of Wade joining LeBron James with the Cleveland Cavaliers, as well as Carmelo Anthony getting a buyout from the Knicks and following suit.

But the Cavaliers will have very little to offer in the way of cap space, so it’s tough to see Wade giving back a large sum then going to Cleveland for the veterans’ minimum—which would not make up the difference of a “significant” amount.

“I know Gar has spoken with Leon Rose, Dwyane’s agent, As far as the buyout, that has not been broached,” Paxson said. “I would say this: In this type of scenario, it would have to benefit us. It would have to benefit us. Dwyane was a great pro last year, and he’s been around a lot of different situations.”

But with Wade’s history of giving up large sums of money in the name of team, it’s harder to predict his moves. As strong as his relationship with Butler is, the possibility of Butler being moved didn’t affect him picking up his option, so his desire to play competitive or at least meaningful basketball could be weighed against wanting to keep his family comfortable after relocating to Chicago last year and collecting every dollar of his deal.

“He was in Miami when they had a couple rebuilding years as well,” Paxson said. “So right now we’re operating under assumption that he’ll be here. But like I said, if that subject is ever broached by them, it would have to be advantageous for us."