One Punch

One punch. Bobby Portis broke Nikola Mirotic’s face.

One punch. Bobby Portis broke an entire summers worth of “culture.”

One punch. Bobby Portis broke his entire career.

One punch. Bobby Portis broke the Chicago Bulls.

The good will and curiosity this young team had built up in fans this summer has evaporated into the familiar and toxic smog of disappointment and frustration. Questions abound. How could something like this happen? Why would Bobby do something like this? Was there a history between Niko and Portis? How could the coaches and management let something like this happen? Many of the questions are the same we’ve had for years about this team. Can Fred Hoiberg lead and develop his players? Does he have the respect of those players? Will they listen to him? Does management have any clue what they are doing? Do they know how to build an NBA team? Can they properly evaluate the talent, personality, and chemistry of players? Questions that were placed on the back burner with the approach of the upcoming season, questions that were to be answered by the end of 82 games, they are now front and center.

I am angry, and I am disappointed. It is frustrating to see two players, who still had potential, who are counted on to be foundations of the rebuild, whether through improved play or as trade assets, cannibalizing each other in the name of “competition.” Competition in this case acting merely as an alias for ego.

One punch. Niko must have gotten under his skin.

One punch. Bobby unleashing years of frustration.

One punch. Two men filled with a life time of regret.

How much can selfish pride ruin?

This was a year for both Portis and Mirotic to prove themselves. The drafting of Lauri Markkanen was a herald that their time with the Bulls was at an end. The money Niko was given in the contract he signed this summer wasn’t based on basketball achievements. Niko is earning 12+ million dollars this year because that salary is easier to trade, and it gets the Bulls closer to the salary cap floor. Niko did not earn his contract, and he barely earned his starting position. Lauri Markkanen is the future power forward of the Chicago Bulls. Niko Mirotic had nothing worth lording over Bobby Portis.

Likewise, Portis had no reason to be jealous of Niko Mirotic. Niko was named the starter, so what? If Bobby distinguished himself in games he would have played just as many minutes as Niko. If he continued to play well, he would have been given a chance to start. That’s how Fred Hoiberg coaches, he gives everybody a chance. Angry, jealous, ashamed, not able to move past that Niko shaped obstacle in front of him, Bobby knocked that obstacle down with a face shattering blow.

One punch. Niko in front of him, Lauri breathing down his neck.

One punch. Trying to escape the pressure of being squeezed out your position.

One punch. Pride getting the better of two teammates.

One punch. I belong here. I’m the one that deserves this.

One punch. I’m the one who earned this. I was here first.

One punch. I was hand picked to be the man. This is mine.

One punch… And it all goes away.

Lauri Markkanen is now the starting power forward of the Chicago Bulls, and he has played well enough (through two games) to stay in that role.

Niko Mirotic is awaiting surgery to repair his face.

Bobby Portis has been suspended 8 games and has a life time of making amends in front of him.

The Bulls are left in the lurch. The power forward position, once filled to capacity with promising talent, is down to a single rookie. Hoiberg was left scrambling to shore up player rotations just a day before the season started.

And the fans…

We are left shaking our heads. Laughing at the absurdity, crying at the stupidity of one punch.

Bulls Regular Season Record: 0-2