As my beloved Bulls went down to Miami and lost to the Heat, thus ending another disappointing season in misery. Again!
As in 25 years and counting since they last ended a season in victory. Or every season since Michael left the team. Michael, of course, being the Jordan in that dreaded curse.
The curse stems from the disrespectful way in which the Bulls cast aside the world’s greatest player. It’s a complicated tale, but here’s how I see it.
At the start of the 1997-1998 season, Jordan made it clear he would only play for one coach—Phil Jackson. And if the Bulls didn’t rehire Jackson, he would walk away from the game.
But Jerry Krause, the team’s general manager at the time, said Jackson would be gone even if the team won every game. And Jerry Reinsdorf, the owner, stuck with Krause.
Thus destroying the greatest dynasty in the history of Chicago sports—perhaps the only dynasty in the history of Chicago sports.
Jordan did exactly what he said he would do when the Bulls didn’t rehire Jackson. He walked.
Not doing everything they could to keep Jordan from walking is, to put it mildly, a pretty bad decision. Right up there with lakefront liberals choosing a MAGA sympathizer over Brandon Johnson in the mayoral election. You watch, in a few years, you’ll find very few north-side voters who admit they voted for Vallas.
Sorry about that tangent.
For destroying a dynasty, the Bulls have paid a psychic price—they can’t win when it counts.
Sometimes a key injury does them in, as when Derrick Rose blew out his knee in 2012.
And sometimes they crumble under the pressure of trying to live up to the legacy of Michael Jordan. As though MJ himself were actually in the arena where they’re playing, bearing down on them until they crack under the pressure.
For instance, during the fourth quarter of last week’s game in Miami, the Bulls were so afraid of missing a shot, they were essentially too scared to take one. And Miami came from behind to win.
Worse, Jimmy Butler, an ex-Bull on the Heat, hit clutch basket after basket down the stretch. As much as I like Jimmy Butler, I must point out that he too crumbled under the Jordan curse when he was on the Bulls, in 2015 and 2017 especially. I still can’t talk about 2015.
Essentially, Butler had to leave town to make big-time fourth-quarter shots. That’s a helluva curse, people.
Uh oh, here comes another tangent.
Can you imagine a curse in Chicago politics? Like, say, the Harold Washington curse, brought on by electing such bad mayors after Washington died.
Imagine if Brandon Johnson felt that curse during his debate against Vallas. He’d have opened his mouth to answer a question, but he’d be like Jackie Gleason in The Honeymooners, saying “Habba da habba da habba.” As the specter of Harold Washington loomed.
What will it take for the Bulls to break the Jordan curse? Nothing less than MJ himself returning to town to say, “I forgive you.”
Don’t see that happening soon. In some ways, Michael Jordan reminds me of my ancestors, who held on to grudges forever.
And so the Jordan curse continues . . .