Players- This is must reading. There are key statements that describe what players must do to create a championship environment.
Coaches- This is must reading. It is filled will quotes you will want to use over and over.
Synergetic and energetic describes Bulls top to bottomOne night last July, when Bulls general manager Gar Forman stayed late at the Berto Center as the phone wouldn't stop ringing, the ball started bouncing.
On the court below Forman's office, he saw new coach Tom Thibodeau beginning a rigorous workout of individual drills with center Joakim Noah. It was well past 8 on a weeknight. The Bulls were months away from starting training camp and several players away from filling their roster.
It was symbolic of where the Chicago Scenario that Bobcats owner Michael Jordan said he wants his team to duplicate truly began, in an empty practice gym filled to capacity with commitment.
The best thing about the Chicago Scenario is it includes no acting at all.
"In 13 years of doing this, I can tell you that's pretty rare for a head coach to do what Tom did,'' Forman recalled Thursday. "What struck me was he would work around the summer schedules of Joakim or other players to get them one-on-one. It didn't have to be, 'OK, be here at 10 a.m.' That laid the groundwork.''
Forman and boss John Paxson sensed the Bulls needed to hire someone more labor-intensive than laissez-faire, and after the Vinny Del Negro experience, they knew they had a core of players desperate to be coached. For anybody in the organization still wondering how Thibodeau would relate to players as a head coach after two decades as an assistant, those early impressions reinforced how good of a fit he was.
But finding the right coach worked for the Bulls only because they also found the right players — the right people — to surround Derrick Rose. The Bulls lost star power when Plan A free-agent targets LeBron James and Dwyane Wade signed with the Heat, but they gained a surplus in character in the seven players they added as part of Plan B.
Carlos Boozer got most of the attention and the money, but Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, Kurt Thomas, Keith Bogans, et al., worried only about what Thibodeau wanted.
The Chicago Scenario involves everybody learning and accepting their roles.
"In a normal year, people would have looked at what we did in free agency and it would have jumped out,'' Forman said. "But because of everything else, there was no wow factor. We knew the type of guys we got made us better. I really didn't want to put a ceiling on what our team could become.''
It embarrasses Forman to hear respected NBA voices say he and Paxson deserve the NBA's executive of the year award. They earned the praise with smart payroll planning and shrewd player evaluation. But besides adding players, some of the best moves were ones they didn't make in the name of preserving chemistry: No Melo (Anthony), no (O.J.) Mayo.
Where Forman begins and Paxson ends, in terms of decision-making, only they know. But it matters little when you're 62-20. Both men have worked together well enough, long enough, not to care who gets the credit. That's genuine.
"What's really satisfying to me is the type of team we have because it's a really enjoyable group of guys and the relationships you build with (Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf), Pax and Tom,'' Forman said.
A year after drawing unwanted attention for an uncomfortable working relationship with Del Negro, the Bulls resemble the picture of organizational harmony. Put another way, if anybody in the building is going to complain about communication with Thibodeau, it won't be for a lack of it.
"Tom's great to just kick things around with or even debate,'' Forman said. "He'll come in my office, and next thing you know, it has been three hours and we've covered every player in the league and college. That's fun.''
The Chicago Scenario offers more fun than drama in the front office.
This marked only the fifth time the Bulls have posted the top record in the NBA. Research from the public-relations staffs of Chicago's other pro teams shows the Blackhawks have accomplished the feat in the NHL three times, the Cubs have had the best record in Major League Baseball seven times, the White Sox have had MLB's best record three times and the Bears have had the NFL's best record 14 times — but only three since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970.
There will be a time the Bulls celebrate how rare this regular season was. But nobody's savoring anything now but a chance to meet a challenge they began attacking in July.
"What's the point of celebrating if you get knocked out of the playoffs?'' Rose said. "There's no point of doing good in the regular season if you lose in the first round of the playoffs. There's a big goal ahead of us.''
The Chicago Scenario demands you hold your applause until Rose is satisfied. And that might take a while.