I’m not sure we should have expected anything different after Tuesday night’s game.
To absolutely no surprise, reporters threw questions at the Chicago Bulls’ three stars about the locker room confrontation that took place during halftime of Sunday’s 150-126 loss to Minnesota. Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic, and DeMar DeRozan each proceeded to downplay the incident, claiming that it was the kind of heated conversation that occurs often behind closed doors.
“Something that happens all the time in our locker room. It happens. Multiple guys talked, multiple guys frustrated,” LaVine told the Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley. “That’s what’s supposed to happen. It’s a basketball team. It’s not the first time, it’s not the last time … sometimes you need those conversations from top to bottom and you get through it. Everybody should be frustrated. I’m glad we got the win today to try to get back on the right track.”
Vucevic went on to echo LaVine’s comment, telling Bulls dot com that it all came from a “good place.”
“Nothing that happened was a big deal. In professional sport, in the NBA or any professional league, arguments with your teammates, that’s a part of it. If you are sensitive and soft (it can lead to more). But if you care about winning and care about doing the right thing, something goes on and guys argue it comes from a good place; it’s never personal.”
And, finally, here’s what DeRozan had to say:
“It ain’t like nobody threw blows or chairs or anything. To have any type of confrontation is just a true sign of a competitor,” DeRozan told Sam Smith. “When you want to win and things aren’t going right, a sense of frustration kicks in. You’re around aggressive (people) all day. It’s gotta come out, especially when you’re struggling. That’s all that was.”
Again, all are walking on the same road when it comes to handling this somewhat concerning report. And I think we can all agree that’s far better than the alternative. Also, to be fair, I understand what they’re saying. Teammates should get into each other’s faces at times and hold each other accountable. But it’s also difficult to believe that this was the healthiest exchange when we factor in all the other drama around this team.
While they got the win last night against a depleted Heat team, that doesn’t change the fact that there is constant talk about the organization blowing up the roster. Likewise, multiple face-to-face meetings have yet to help the on-court chemistry of LaVine and DeRozan, while rumors of Billy Donovan losing the locker room loom.
If all this other stuff wasn’t contextualizing the situation, it would be far easier to trust what the players are saying. But there are clearly real issues here, and I’m just not sure this incident implies that the situation is being handled. Until I see results on the court, I have to assume this might only add to the problem.