Joe says Bulls haven’t gone down the drain

By Mike Morris

Joe is your typical middle-aged plumbing contractor. Dressed in stocking cap, flannel shirt, droopy jeans, and work boots, he goes pretty much unnoticed in my favorite corner bar back home.

But as a sports authority, Joe really knows his stuff.

Not only does he remember the stats of every quarterback in NFL history, he knows their height and weight at birth.

So, needless to say, when I want an informed opinion about anything to do with sports, I go to Joe.

To get to the point, I was feeling pretty low this particular day. The Bears, bless their hearts, had bowed out of yet another Super Bowl race, the Blackhawks were back in the cellar, and the Cubs were 70-some-odd days from opening day. All the news on the Chicago sports pages was getting me depressed, and I figured a few cold ones would help take the edge off.

I hadn’t yet sipped from the foamy mug that sat in front of me when Joe pulled up a stool and ordered a draft.

“How ‘bout those Bulls?” Joe yelled above the jukebox.

You mean the Chicago Bulls? The Bulls who traded my favorite power forward for a knock-kneed geezer. The Bulls who once were the class of the NBA with guys like Bob “Butterbean” Love, “Stormin'” Norman Van Lier, and Chet “The Jet” Walker? Those Bulls?

“Yeah, those Bulls,” he said. “This is their year, I’m tellin‘ ya!”

I smelled his breath and I swear he was stone sober. But I couldn’t believe my ears. My hero had finally flipped. You do realize the Bulls are in fifth place, I said.

“Sure, but they’re playing some great ball. Look, they’re in the toughest conference this side of the Big Ten, they’re eight games over .500, and their plus/minus ratio makes them the No. 6 team in the NBA.”

Plus/minus ratio? What’s that?

“It’s a fancy way to figure out who’s really playin’ some ball and who’s just a bunch of panzies in short pants. You take a team’s road wins and subtract their home losses. Simple.”

And that tells you the Bulls are the sixth-best team in the NBA?

“It tells me even more than that. It tells me the Bulls are sittin‘ prettier than they were at this time last year.”

Without Oakley?

“Yep. You don’t think Krause was named General Manager of the Year just because he had the salted nuts to give Michael J. eight mil’ and some change, do ya?”

Well, I guess not.

“Besides, Oakley was always cryin‘ cuz Jordan got all the glory while poor Charles did all the dirty work like fightin’ with Laimbeer and Mahorn. I’m tellin‘ ya, he was a troublemaker.”

Just then, the bartender came over and said Joe had a phone call. As I sat there, I thought about all that Joe had said. Maybe the suds were getting to me. I don’t know—but I think he had something. Anyway, when Joe came back I asked how come he knew so much about the Bulls.

“Who do ya think that was on the phone?” he asked.

I don’t know. Your wife?

“No, she only calls when the alimony’s late. That was Krausie. He asked if I thought Dallas would consider takin’ Brad Sellers for Mark Aguirre.”

What did you tell him?

“I told him he could throw in Will Perdue and a couple grand and they’d still laugh in his face.”

That Joe—he really knows his basketball.