I'm a Bulls fan extremely mad online. If you aren't sure why, Ricky O'Donnell summed it up best here.
Below you'll find the application I'll be sending to 29 other teams. It's simple, straightforward, and if answered correctly, will fix my problem of having bumbling idiots running basketball operations for my favorite team.
Obviously I'm kidding. The Bulls will always be the center of my civic pride. But it's heartbreaking to watch a franchise openly express zero interest in assembling a dynamically run organization.
Yes, we've had it really good as Bulls fans. We've had the blessing of watching six championships with the greatest athlete to ever play the game. But now, nearly 21 years since Michael left, the organization has watched the city's two baseball teams each win a World Series, three Stanley Cups, and a Bears team turn a toxic culture into a Super Bowl contender coming of age under the right coach.
But the Bulls are lazy. They refuse to put the work into winning another title. Instead they keep hoping with enough Jordan era nostalgia we'll keep blindly handing over our money without ever seeing just how little they respect us. That's why they've never changed the logo, or the uniform, or why they plant Scottie Pippen courtside for every game. They're hoping we just keep thinking about the 90's when things were perfect. But we're not as dumb as John Paxson thinks we are. The game is more accessible than ever with the advent of League Pass and sharing highlights online. There are no big markets anymore. Only superstars with massive follower counts. And the Bulls transparent dysfunction has kept every free agent superstar from ever landing in Chicago.
And It's not just here in Chicago. The Bulls are still incredibly popular in Asia. David Stern had the brilliant, but also like no duh dude, idea to take the game globally as Michael Jordan's stock soared. But those 90's kids in Asia have grown up. A lot of them have their own children who will probably fall in love with basketball like their parents did. Who are they seeing on TV or YouTube? Not Cameron Payne, or Jabari Parker. They're watching Steph, Embiid, LeBron, Harden, and Durant.
By refusing to do what's right and fire John Paxson and Gar Forman, the Bulls continue to alienate their fan-base and decimated their growth potential. After Jordan's run, they had an opportunity to be the next Lakers, or Celtics, or Yankees. Instead of working at becoming a multi-decade institution of greatness, they've made nearly every wrong decision possible and show no signs of accountability.
Until ownership sells the team, this is what we can always expect - a dysfunctional, condescending misery. I'm just so sick of it.
Wow. What a day. There are a special days on #NBATwitter every basketball fan will always remember. The great DeAndre Jordan emoji battle of 2014, the Warriors blowing a 3-1 lead in the 2016 NBA Finals, the Cavs blowing up their team at the 2018 trade deadline, and the annual Dwight Howard has a new team day that comes around every late June.
If you're not familiar with #NBATwitter, it's quite possibly the most insane phenomenon of the internet age. No other sport has this sort of fan engagement. To participate in #NBATwitter, you have to follow two people - ESPN NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski (Woj) and The Athletic's Shams Charania. They're the overlords of this weird little Twitterverse. When these two report break NBA news, Twitter essentially erupts with GIFS, memes, and photoshops. The NBA is the most dramatic league in the world, and #NBATwitter perfectly balances the theatrics with unparalleled humor.
Today, #NBATwitter was something special. What should have been a week celebrating major milestones, Dwyane Wade announcing his final season and Elton Brand accepting the 76ers GM position, the focus is now on three separate events all colliding simultaneously. As an #NBATwitter addict, I'm here to break down the events of the day for you.
12:46 p.m. - Jimmy Butler requests a trade from Minnesota Timberwolves
Let's cook! The first news drop of the day was arguably the juiciest. After only one year in Minnesota, it was reported Jimmy Butler requested a trade to one of three teams - the Clippers, Knicks, or Nets. The announcement wasn't a huge surprise as rumors swirled all summer of his unhappiness with the Timberwolves organization. It was also reported Thibs was flying to LA this morning to meet with Jimmy and sort out this mess. I think most people figured Jimmy would stick it out one more year and then test free agency in 2019.
He demanded a trade. When a guy's PR team tells one of the two pillars of #NBATwitter that their client wants out right now, that means they're not fucking around. Within a few minutes of telling Shams, every team in the NBA knew Jimmy was suddenly available, thus crashing his trade market value for the Timberwolves. Now Minnesota has no choice but to move him for pennies on the dollar.
The silver lining for Minnesota is the franchise belongs to Karl-Anthony Towns once again. He's one of the brightest young stars in the league and doesn't have to share the leadership role with Jimmy anymore. The downside is, they traded two young assets and my sweet, beautiful, baby boy Lauri Markkanen to the Bulls for a one year rental. WHOOPS!
1:25 p.m. - Mark Cuban donates $10 million to promote women in leadership roles
Back in February of this year, Sports Illustrated released a report on the misogynistic and toxic culture of the Dallas Mavericks organization. Calling it "A Real-life Animal House," the story reported on dozens of current and ex-employees accounts of sexual harassment and domestic violence within the Mav's workplace. After the article came out, a law firm was brought in to conduct an independent investigation of the organization. The result was a 43-page report that was released today. It stated investigators found that such harassment was allowed because of a company-wide culture of misconduct. The report concluded with recommendations the Mavs hire more women for leadership and supervisory positions. Mav's owner Mark Cuban has committed $10 million to numerous organizations that promote women in leadership roles and combat domestic violence.
Obviously this is a serious issue and shouldn't receive the typical funny #NBATwitter replies. This story deserves honest reflection and discussion of how to prevent systemic misogynistic culture from developing in any organization. The timing of the report's release was what added to this day's insanity. What should have been the top story of the day was overshadowed by the Jimmy Butler news dropping 39 minutes earlier.
2:04 p.m. - Space Jam 2 is officially announced
Of course! Why not on a day with two major NBA storylines pumping through the veins of #NBATwitter, the most anticipated cartoon/live-action mashup sequel of all-time is announced?! It's been 22 years since the original came out. It couldn't have waited for a day when nothing else was going on?
I feel like the first whispers of LeBron starring in Space Jam 2 began when he took his talents to South Beach. Then speculation got even hotter when he surprised a lot of people with his above average performance in Train Wreck. Finally, the move to the Lakers this summer flared up rumors of wanting to settle in Hollywood for a career in acting after basketball. LeBron confirmed the locker room graphic on Instagram later today. It's really happening, folks.
#NBATwitter shifted from trade scenarios, to commentary Cuban's donation, to predictions of the new Monstars lineup in an hour and a half. I've never seen #NBATwitter move that fast in this short of a timeframe. Unreal. This is why the NBA offseason reigns supreme. No other sport can demand this much attention between seasons. What will happen tomorrow with #NBATwitter? I'm not sure, but something delicious I bet. Can't wait to find out.
Here's my official Space Jam 2 Monstars lineup prediction:
Elena Della Donne
Magic Johnson can keep his job. The Lakers president of basketball operations said he would step down if he didn't land a premier free agent either this summer or next. After a harrowing five days without job security, Magic got THE free agent.
LeBron James is signing with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The four-year deal is worth $154 million with an opt-out after the third season. The longest deal LeBron has signed since he took his talents to South Beach.
There's not much to say. The move was expected. The only real surprise is his announcement came less than 24 hours after the start of free agency. By comparison, LeBron waited more than a week after the official July 1 start date to release the Decision and the SI cover story.
Following the Decision 3.0, the Lakers signed Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee, and Rajon Rondo. Not exactly the super team predicted to join LeBron, especially with Paul George staying in OKC. But it's a long off-season and the Lakers aren't done yet.
I'll have more to say once free agency cools down. Speculating on what happens next is useless since my next paragraph focused on DeMarcus Cousins probably signing in LA. Naturally Cousins just decided to sign a one-year, $5.3 million dollar deal with the Warriors five minutes after I started writing. Why? Because the NBA is chaos and I clearly can't predict anything right.
Until then, remember when Cousins tried to beat up Kevin Durant in the locker room last year? Incredible. I can't wait for the 2018-19 season to begin.
It's the monthlong event that arrives every four years. Journalists spend weeks sucking down cigarettes and coffee to help pump out content. Fans cement themselves in front of SportsCenter and refresh Twitter during sleepy boardroom meetings.
If you think I'm talking about those trash Summer Olympic Games, then you're clearly not an NBA offseason fan.
The NBA season is obviously fantastic. Even with the predictable and lethargic NBA Finals this year, it's by far the most entertaining professional league. What the NBA does better than other leagues is its offseason drama (known affectionally as Photoshop SZN). As soon as the season ends, draft speculation heats up, followed by wild draft-night trades, and finally the start of free agency on July 1.
Some offseasons are more chaotic than others, but every four years, something beautiful happens. It first began in 2010, when LeBron was an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career. This was the genesis of free agency mania with LeBron famously taking his talents to South Beach during the often rebuked The Decision. After four years in Miami, LeBron announced in a Sports Illustrated feature that he was returning home to Cleveland.
It's been four years, four NBA Finals appearances, and one Larry O'Brien Trophy for LeBron's second term as Cleveland's savior. After breaking Cleveland's title draught in 2016, two quick subsequent exits by the Warriors may have finally decimated this Cavs squad for good. Now the question Brian Windhorst will have to deny knowing the answer to for weeks is being asked.
Where will LeBron go?
Since everyone has to make a prediction, my official guess is LeBron stays in Cleveland. Kevin Love, the 8th pick, and Tristan Thompson will be the most notable assets on the move. Come draft night, Cleveland will talk themselves into Damian Lillard as a Steph Curry stopper and package their pick with two assets. If a trade fails, they'll try to sign Chris Paul. Obviously he's an elite talent, but he's aging and suffered a season ending hamstring injury in the playoffs. Cleveland needs to get younger if they want to get back to the Finals.
By moving Love and Tristan's contracts, along with dumping bad contracts like George Hill and Rodney Hood, Cleveland will put themselves in position to secure LeBron and scoop up Paul George. He'll write something for The Undefeated about unfinished business and staying committed to his roots while thanking his former teammates. A new big three era will begin — refreshed and retooled.
I'm probably dead wrong, but I don't think LeBron even knows where he's going. He's a thoughtful, community-oriented person, but he's not afraid to do what he feels is best. So this could be the end of LeBron's tenure in Cleveland.
The only thing I do know is if he leaves, the NBA power struggle will dramatically shift. The LeBron domino always triggers waves of discount free agency signings and unpredictable trades from fringe contenders trying to dethrone the king. After watching the Warriors hijack another NBA season, a LeBron move and the aftermath may threaten their dynasty. If you hated how predictable the NBA Finals were, you should be rooting for moving trucks outside the James' residence.
Details of the anniversary edition gameplay aren't out yet, but if the cover art is any indication, this game is going to be beautiful. It's a gigantic leap from the standard red background that had grown stale.
This year's cover art distinctly separates itself from all 18 previous 2K installments. The overwhelming size of LeBron's profile surrounded by his legacy defining soundbites makes this feel like a LeBron James video game - not a basketball game.
Never before has an athlete been bigger than the 2K brand. You were always sold an NBA 2K game featuring Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, and so on. The only exception was the 2011 Michael Jordan edition. But compare that cover art to 2019 and tell me 2K put Jordan above the brand.
As polarizing as LeBron has been, we're not going to have another athlete of his magnitude for a long time. Hate him or idolize him, you have to appreciate what he means to his fans and everything he's done for the NBA in the post-Jordan era. He deserves to be elevated above all the cover athletes that came before him.
NBA 2K19 drops September 11.
P.S. Smart of NBA 2K to give LeBron a generic black jersey after last summer's trade debacle.
I write the words I'm too uncomfortable to say.