"We Had Become Stale" - John Paxson Speaks Candidly About His Front Office Tenure

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“We Had Become Stale” – John Paxson Speaks Candidly About His Front Office Tenure

Chicago Bulls

I know you’re not supposed to live in the past, so let’s just take a quick vacation.

On a recent episode of Stacey King’s podcast Gimme The Hot Sauce, the NBA champion and Bulls color announcer brought on former teammate and former front office leader John Paxson. Now, before you click off this post and throw your phone at the wall, I think you will be happy to know that Paxson actually provided a rather entertaining listen.

The long-time vice president of basketball operations was surprisingly candid about his time at the helm of the organization. He did not come off defensively, nor did he seem bitter about the way his tenure ended. Although, to be honest, part of the reason for that could be because he still receives a paycheck from the organization. While general manager Gar Forman was let go upon Arturas Karnisovas’ hiring, Paxson technically moved to a special advisory seat upstairs.

Still, Paxson’s role is extremely limited, and this is fully Karnisovas’ show. Paxson even acknowledged that is the way things needed to be, and he was rather blunt about that to King.

“In the last 3-4 years, I realized, and I relayed this information to Jerry and Michael, we had become stale. And I knew that. The fact that we made the decision to look outside the organization – one of Jerry’s great qualities, and Michael same way, they’re loyal. They just are. And it’s a wonderful thing, and we’re very lucky we have ownership like that. But I always felt like it was my responsibility to be honest in terms of where I thought we were. I just felt at times there was a comfortability in how we were doing things, and maybe we were not looking at other ways to approach this thing. So the last year and a half since we made the changes, it has been new life in the organization, and it was needed.”

You’re darn tootin’.

The new life has come thanks to a massive roster overhaul. From a trade deadline that saw five players depart and an All-Star arrive to a free agency that was arguably the best in franchise history, we have seen Chicago act like an aggressive big-market team for the first time in a long time.

After all, only two players remain from Paxson’s reign in Chicago: Zach LaVine and Coby White. Only one of those players is someone Paxson handpicked out of the draft. Speaking of which, he was also surprisingly honest about how the franchise’s success rate on draft night panned out over his final few years.

“I’m happy for our fans, and the people in our organization. We tried the last few years to rebuild it through the draft, and it didn’t work. So the fact AK and Marc have been so aggressive, it has to have our fan base excited.”

I can confirm the excitement.

Paxson’s praise for the new front office also did not end there, as he gave both Karnisovas and Marc Eversley props for the way they have handled the show since walking through the Advocate Center doors.

“I’m really happy. I’m really proud of Arturas and Marc. What they have done in a short period of time. They came with the mindset of being aggressive, and they have been. Not from the get-go, last year when we hired AK, beginning of the COVID stuff, he really did a good job of evaluating the situation as it was. I’m really grateful that there is a new way of looking at things and working. The fact that they have been so aggressive and taking some chances.

I’m sure part of this excitement is actually relief from no longer being under the intense critical spotlight. But I can also believe that Paxson is genuinely proud to see the organization in a better place. As a former player who hit an iconic finals shot and has spent as much time as he has in Chicago, we can all agree he cares deeply about the team (I just wish he cared enough to start this overhaul sooner!).

To listen to the entire Paxson interview, make sure to check out the podcast below.

Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.