Here is more from a conversation Monday with Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. The rest can be found on suntimes.com/sports.
Question: What is your take on Derrick Rose's , there were some negative things (allegations of grade change at Simeon and ACT test taken by another, picture of Rose flashing a gang sign at a party) that came up this summer. What's your perception of Derrick?
Derrick's been more than what I hoped for. I remember conversations with John, Gar, and Vinny [saying], `Don't put too much pressure on the kid. Let's bring him along slowly. He showed he can really handle it. The negative stuff, that was kid's stuff. What did you do when you were 18-, 19-years-old. I know what I did and it wasn't something I was always proud of.
He's a very solid kid. Coming out of kind of a rough background, it's amazing how grounded he is. He's not full of himself at all. He just wants to play basketball and get better. Hopefully, he's going to be here a long time. I think people are going to really like him as they already do.
Q: What about the perception the team was looking to go cheap when you hired a rookie coach in Vinny Del Negro?
A: The novice, because he was a first-time coach, deserved a lower salary than the others. It wasn't that we said, `Let's get a low-salary guy. We tried to get the best coach we could get. Then, when you decide on somebody you like, and he never coached before, you're not going to play him what you're going to pay a guy who's coached for 10 years.
But Doug Collins took himself out of the running. And I guess [Mike] D'Antoni took himself out of the running. Actually, John [Paxson] had zeroed in on four guys and Vinny wasn't one of them originally. I guess he had a conversation, or a couple with Vinny, somewhere and he became very impressed with him. That's why we put him in the mix. If we had signed Collins, or we had signed D'antoni, they would have been paid what coaches with that experience get paid. But we signed Vinny. The fact of the matter is we made him an offer. He asked for a little more and we gave him what he wanted.
It was an exciting season. As far as grading Coach, I'm not in the business of grading coaches. That's something you have to get from John [Paxson] or Gar [Forman].
Q: But didn't you sound off using the words ``disaster'' and embarrassing'' when talking about the team's coaching in a TV interview during the season?
A: I wasn't talking about Vinny that day. It got totally misinterpreted. What I was trying to say--and I shouldn't even have got into it--was I felt the staff was structured exactly the way it should be. Now you can see what we've done and we have probably one more announcement to make to bring in a big man coach [Sidney Green].
Q: How has the transition of Gar Forman taking over from John Paxson as general manager gone?
A: It's almost seemless because that's really what was going on before. When John first came in, he really didn't know Gar. Over the years, it evolved he became more and more comfortable with Gar. John is more interested in the pure basketball stuff. [He] doesn't enjoy dealing with agents or media, or administrative things like that. Gar was already doing a lot of this stuff. The final push, I guess, was just to make it official. What John really enjoys is the scouting and trades. He's phenomenal in his dealings with other clubs. If you could just see what goes on in the draft room, you'd be amazed how quicly his mind works and how he's able to wheel and deal. That's what he wants to do.
Q: One thing we've been hearing from Gar is the organization wants to get back to more of a defensive-based philosophy. That's something you've publically said in the past. Do you still believe that?
A: I absolutely believe in every sport defense is more important than offense. Even in tennis. . . .Clearly in the Super Bowl, the defensive teams win. In baseball, it's pitching and defense. I'm absolutely convinced that defense is more important and that we need to become a better defensive team. But I think we have things in place with the restructuring of the staff, that's going to happen.
Q: You said you'd be lost without [White Sox vice president] Howard Pizer. Why is that?
A: Because he does all the work for the United Center and the White Sox. He doesn't do anything directly for the Bulls. But he does for the White Sox and the United Center. His capacity is unbelievable. He's been with me since 1972 in law, real estate, and sports. You have to have a guy like that.
Q: Luol Deng did get what is the richest contract in team history and fans are wondering if that is going to pan out.
A: It would have been suicidal to play with a fracture. And there's no question the MRI showed a very slow-healing fracture. He's had some bad luck. I believe Luol's going to be an outstanding player. He's already an outstanding person. Hopefully, his bad luck is over.
Q: How important is a player's character for you?
A: You're not looking for saints. But you're looking for good character on the basketball court. If somebody's really bad, you want to rule him out. I would not take somebody I thought was just an out and out bad person. Somebody who's really a bad person off the court, chances are he's not going to be a good player or in the locker room. So I think character is a very important ingredient. On the other hand, talent is even more important. So there is a balance.
Q: How healthy is the league?
A: I would assume revenues are going to do down. They've gone down in every other business significantly.
If in fact the number of teams that are [said] to be losing money are losing money, the league has a problem.
I love it when a team wastes money. Let them lock themselves up. I don't feel sorry for them when they waste money and then they cry losing money. That's their problem. Eventually people stop losing money unless they have bottomless pockets. So eventually people will correct the way they're acting. I don't see any teams that are on the verge of going broke, like in hockey. So I think the league is in good shape.
Q: Do you enjoy being the face of two teams in town?
A: No, not particulalry. I wish my name was Williams or Johnson or something like that. Because even people who don't recognize you recognize the name. If my kids go in and charge something at a store, the name is recognized. So I can't imagine what the plus to being recognized.
Q: Have the Bulls helped develop the West side?
A: We've created a revolving fund for housing construction. We had an economic development fund to help them be proactive on the West side. Then lot of things just happened because the building's here; restaurants moving out here. . .It's just a whole lot better area than it was. We've ha more impact on the community than building a new ball park did. I don't think that had a huge effect but this place has.
And we were able to give jobs. We've employed so many kids from the neighborhood.
I think it's really important [to give back]. If you own a baseball or any sports franchise, you take a lot out of the community. Think about it; why should somebody care who wins a baseball game? A basketball game? And spend good money, whatever our average ticket price is? I think, not only is there an obligation to give back, but it's fun.''
There are so many things we can do that are really easy to do. [President] Obama said we should all become volunteers. The White Sox, we started a volunteer group, all of a sudden we have 2,000 people painting Boys and Girls Clubs and doing other stuff. It's a feel-good.
Q: What did you think about President Obama wearing a Sox jacket while throwing out the first pitch at the All-Star Game?
A: Yeah, I didn't want him to do it (joking). He said to me, `I gave you a lot of free advertising.' It's great. I think it's very uplifting for fans to think the President of the United States is a fan of the same team they are. Also, nationally, you ask them about baseball teams in Chicago, they're going to say, `The Cubs.' Maybe that changed a little bit now the President is wearing our jacket.
There were people in St. Louis that weren't very happy he was going to wear our jacket. Some baseball people wanted him to wear either an All-Star jacket or even a Cardinals jacket. He said, `I'm a White Sox fan, I'm going to wear my White Sox jacket.'