The Chicago Bulls’ season is steadily going down the gutter. At 23-24 right now, 4-6 in their last 10, the team sits at 8th in the Eastern Conference. They hold on to that Playoff seed by only the tips of their fingers; the Milwaukee Bucks are a game behind them. A loss to the Atlanta Hawks Wednesday had team leaders Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler venting to the media.
“It doesn’t mean enough to guys around here to want to win ballgames,” Wade remarked in a postgame tirade. But Rajon Rondo had something to say about that.
On Instagram, Rondo posted a photo of himself with former teammates Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in Celtics jerseys. Attached to this was a lengthy caption – a shot clearly aimed at the way Wade and Butler are handling the team. It seemed to be a comparison between the kinds of leadership he’d experienced from “his vets”, and his current team. Through his caption, Rondo seems to suggest that they’re worlds apart.
Below is a partial quote from Rondo’s Instagram post caption:
My vets would never go to the media. They would come to the team… When we lost, they wouldn’t blame us. They took responsibility and got in the gym… The young guys work. They show up. They don’t deserve blame. If anything is questionable, it’s the leadership.
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. 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. Even in Boston when we had the best record in the league, if we lost a game, you could hear a pin drop on the bus. They showed us the seriousness of the game. My vets didn't have an influence on the coaching staff. They couldn't change the plan because it didn't work for them. I played under one of the greatest coaches, and he held everyone accountable. It takes 1-15 to win. When you isolate everyone, you can't win consistently. I may be a lot of things, but I'm not a bad teammate. My goal is to pass what I learned along. The young guys work. They show up. They don't deserve blame. If anything is questionable, it's the leadership.
Rondo, KG, and Pierce had been the core of a Boston Celtics team which saw the NBA Finals twice from 2008-10, and won one championship. Is calling out Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler for tackling their spiraling situation differently (according to Rondo, anyway) good for the team? That’s yet to be seen.
For what it’s worth, Dwyane Wade “liked” the post on Instagram. It could’ve been in understanding as Chiacgo Bulls teammates. But it could’ve simply been in snarky acknowledgement, too. It’s hard to tell.
For Rajon Rondo, the frustrations have certainly been boiling for a while now. In the early weeks of 2017, he only watched the Chicago Bulls games from the bench, and when he was allowed to play again, his minutes were reduced. He’s faced the possibility of being dropped from the team. Even right now, a future in the Windy City is uncertain.
When he plays well with Wade, Butler, and the other young Bulls, they can be pretty good. Three All Stars should never be discounted in terms of their capabilities on the hardwood. But having three players with alpha dog mentalities isn’t always going to end prettily. The Instagram post was two things: one, a criticism of team leadership, and two an invitation to communicate more directly with the team.
It looks like this post could be a turning point for the Chicago Bulls. But will it be for the worse or for the better?