Usually, any disparaging occurrence to encircle the dreaded Chicago Bulls I welcome with open arms, a gruff chuckle or two and a phone call to Rudy, my Bulls-adoring buddy in Miami.
Yet for some reason unbeknownst to me, I didn't want to make this call. I didn't want to rub this latest transgression in Rudy's cherubic face, trumpeting the death of this god-forsaken dynasty.
Wednesday's hiring of Iowa State's Tim Floyd officially toe-tags these Bulls and ceases Michael Jordan's basketball career, whenever he gets around to getting that foot-long cigar out of his mouth to tell us so.
And given the chance to play Chicken Little, even I felt some tingling of remorse, for we have all suffered some worldly loss because of the exponential egos possessed by two men named Jerry.
While I've learned to loathe the Bulls and their bandwagon fans donning those red 23 jerseys, something tells me this era has ended in error.
And why? A coach who helped bring six championship trophies to the Windy City is blown out of town because his acrimonious general manager and apocryphal owner can't stand his personality?
You've got to wonder what skeletons Phil Jackson has in his hippie closet to be dismissed so soundly after such a surreal run.
And the Jerrys are calling Jordan's bluff, ignoring his voice when he routinely says that if Jackson is gone, the NBA meal-ticket is too.
The game's greatest player shorter than 7 feet certainly will not put up with playing for a college coach whose resume declares him a sometimes winner at Idaho, New Orleans and Iowa State.
Michael won't revel in a retirement tour, with rocking chairs and trips to Bora Bora as each city he graced would genuflect to his aura. My lasting memory of his career won't be a particular circus shot or a championship buzzer-beater. It'll be the inane 60,000-plus fans that filled the Georgia Dome, more than half who couldn't see the game, just to be able to breathe the same air as Jordan.
Well, I finally got the nerve Wednesday to call Rudy to listen to his perspective, which I sometimes admire when he's not full of Bull.
"Don't depress me like that," Rudy said when I told him of the news. "I guess the dynasty comes to an end. C'est la vie. All good things must come to an end, right?
"I guess what it really means (is) that I'm no longer a Bulls fan. Not without Jordan and Scottie Pippen. And who cares about Rodman. I'm a Jordan fan, just like everybody else."
And here lies the threatening concern with hiring such a no-name from Ames. All of a sudden, without Jordan and Pippen, the Bulls become very Grizzlies-esque, and their hordes of followers just jumped ship.
Then Rudy pestered me with the next unanswerable NBA question: Who will now win the title? There's the popular choice in the Lakers and Sonics. There are the stalwarts in the Jazz and Pacers. There are the upstarts in the Spurs and Suns.
Of course, without an NBA season to think about now, all this talk becomes moot. Floyd will have to wait to coach his first game, and when he sees a roster of Luc Longley, Steve Kerr, Toni Kukoc, Ron Harper and Jud Buechler, he may long for the days of losing to Kansas in the Big 12.
I'll miss Jordan because I'm not sure whom to direct my venom toward now.
One of the funnier moments of this fiasco came from His Airness calling Floyd "Pink" -- a general slap in the face to the band.
Yet, without Jackson, Jordan, Pippen and Rodman, one can't help but thinking these Bulls have landed on the Dark Side of the Moon.
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