The Bulls Got Absolutely No Love in The Athletic's Former-Player Survey

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The Bulls Got Absolutely No Love in The Athletic’s Former-Player Survey

Chicago Bulls

Whether it be a nice bump in nationally broadcasted games, a rise in the latest power rankings, or several favorable advanced stats, the Chicago Bulls have thrust themselves back into the spotlight this season. A historically active offseason for the franchise has so far done exactly what front office leaders Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley had hoped it would, moving the franchise into 2nd place in the Eastern Conference with a 17-10 record.

While the team is currently on a hiatus due to an unfortunate COVID outbreak, there is no question the Bulls brand is the strongest it’s been in quite some time. Well, that is if you don’t ask a bunch of cranky geezers.

The Athletic recently surveyed 118 former players through the National Basketball Retired Players Association about the current NBA. And despite a long list of questions regarding the league’s top talent and coaches, the resurgent Chicago Bulls failed to receive even an ounce of recognition.

Update: Players were sent this survey before the start of the season, so a lack of team-wide recognition is actually reasonable. With that said, I still think several individuals on the Bulls could have received a nod in the categories touched on below. 

To be fair, I didn’t necessarily expect the Bulls to have much representation when asked, “who is the best current NBA player?” Seeing Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and Giannis Antetokounmpo take home the top-3 spots made sense, even though I may disagree with the order. Likewise, Stephen Curry, Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic, Jimmy Butler, and Kawhi Leonard making the cut made sense. Now, do I think Russell Westbrook or Zion Williamson deserved to get a mention? No, but neither received more than one percent of the vote, so it is what it is.

Where I did find myself truly surprised by the lack of Chicago representation was when the former players were asked, “which current players would you want taking a shot with the game on the line?” Again, sure, Durant, Curry, Damian Lillard, and James all starting things off makes perfect sense. But zero love for Zach LaVine or … I don’t know … leading 4th quarter scorer DeMar DeRozan!? BRUH.

Khris Middleton made the list and so did Klay Thompson, someone who hasn’t stepped on a basketball court since the 2018-19 season. I respect both players scoring ability, but LaVine and DeRozan have been two of the best pure bucket-getter in the league for the past couple of seasons. The two have also only looked that much more deadly this year, leading Chicago to the 4th-best clutch offense in the NBA.

Ok, but the Bulls have to at least get a nod when asked “which current player do you enjoy watching the most?” Right? RIGHT!? Nope. Former players listed 18 names, and none wear a Bulls jersey. And, look, I know this team is the most exciting to see when playing together, but I’d still individually throw LaVine into a top-18 of most fun players to watch. Hell, if the survey was sent back out right now, I’d also think DeRozan should make the cut. Both guys have made the Bulls must-watch TV.

Billy Donovan also got handed his own fair share of disrespect with 16 other coaches all receiving a mention in the “which current NBA coach would you have most liked to play for” category. Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff got a mention, and so did Timberwolves coach Chris Finch. Again, I don’t mean any disrespect to the people I single out, but it’s surprising to me that both came to the mind of former players before Donovan. I guess Donovan’s reputation as one of the better player-coaches in the NBA doesn’t extend past the current generation.

As salty as I’m being, I guess this is a good reminder of what comes with winning. As good as the Bulls have been to start this season, it’s hard to garner the respect it feels like you deserve without a true playoff run. We also should keep in mind that how former players see today’s game only carries so much weight. This is a group that later had 71.1 percent of players say they would be “somewhat” more successful or “much more” successful in today’s league. They also had 50 percent of them say that the quality of play is worse than when they played.

So, at the end of the day, what this surveyed bunch has to say isn’t truly indicative of where things stand in the NBA. However, I still hope the Bulls force them to take notice of what’s brewing in Chicago as the season goes on. Motivational bulletin board material? 

For a complete look at the survey, click the link below:

Author: Elias Schuster

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