Jerry Reinsdorf senses Bulls title run
As Chicago Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf prepares to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his team's first title, he's sensing the Bulls may be on the verge of another championship era.
Michael Jordan will be at the United Center on Saturday with other former Bulls to celebrate the first of six titles they won in the 1990s. But nostalgia will be mixed with anticipation, as the Bulls have at least one interested observer confident that another championship run could be near.
We have an outstanding coach, an outstanding bunch of players, the team is deep, and if we stay healthy, we have an awfully good chance of winning at least four championships.” -- Jerry Reinsdorf, to Chicago Sun-Times
"If you don't see something special in Derrick Rose, then you're blind," Reinsdorf told the Chicago Sun-Times. "We have an outstanding coach, an outstanding bunch of players, the team is deep, and if we stay healthy we have an awfully good chance of winning at least four championships."
Rose, 22, is considered the favorite to become the youngest MVP in NBA history. He and Tom Thibodeau, who is a strong candidate for coach of the year, have positioned the Bulls as the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.
"I think the sky's the limit for us right now," Rose said Wednesday morning. "I think everybody in this locker room, they want to win a championship. They're winners.
"Who's to say that we can't win it this year?"
Thibodeau responded with a little praise of his own.
"For us, for our team, we don't want to skip any steps," the coach said following the Bulls' win in Charlotte on Wednesday. "So we're just focused on improving each and every day, getting ready for the next day; the thing that I do like, we know we have great ownership with Jerry. I think it's championship ownership. Our team management is outstanding, I think it's championship-caliber. I think we have an excellent group of assistant coaches. And we have a great group of players and we're hoping to be a championship-caliber team, so that's what we're striving for. And we feel we have all the pieces necessary to move in that direction."
Reinsdorf reiterated how U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who played for Thibodeau at Harvard, campaigned for Thibodeau to get the Bulls' coaching job in 2008. Thibodeau was a Celtics assistant at the time, and Boston -- which was on a championship run -- denied Chicago permission to speak to Thibodeau until after the playoffs, so the Bulls instead hired Vinny Del Negro.
The Bulls fired Del Negro after two seasons, and Duncan again entered the picture to campaign for his former coach. And after the hire, Reinsdorf -- who also is chairman of the Chicago White Sox -- heard from none other than President Barack Obama.
"When the job was open again, I talked to Duncan several times on the subject, and he still strongly recommended Thibodeau," Reinsdorf told the Sun-Times. "So we hired him. Then in July 2010, the White Sox were playing in Washington, and we invited President Obama to come to the game.
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"First, [Obama adviser] David Axelrod arrived and said, 'Thanks for hiring Thibodeau.' Then a little while later, President Obama came in and the first thing he said to me was, 'Great hire.'
"Isn't that a beautiful story?"
After the Bulls hired Thibodeau, Duncan talked with ESPNChicago.com about Thibodeau's dedication.
"Tom believed in me and worked to get me the opportunity, and he didn't have to do that," Duncan said. "I was a long shot at best. He wasn't paid extra after the season to work with me. ... He has just an extraordinary commitment to his players and the hours he will put in with them and the team are like nothing you've ever seen before. I'll never forget what he did for me."
ESPNChicago.com Bulls reporter Nick Friedell contributed to this story.