Typically, the morning shootaround on the day of a Chicago Bulls game lasts 45 minutes to an hour and takes place on the court.
There was nothing typical about Friday’s shootaround.
Two days after Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler questioned their teammates’ commitment and one day after former University of Kentucky star Rajon Rondo posted a stinging rebuke on his Instagram account of Wade’s and Butler’s leadership efforts, the Bulls met as a team for 75 minutes with Coach Fred Hoiberg, executive vice president John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman.
Rondo confirmed management fined the players for airing their grievances publicly. Forman made a statement but took no questions. And everybody vowed to move on and try to piece together this rockiest of seasons.
“Every team has issues,” Forman said, “and it’s our strong belief that when you have issues or critical comments that you keep those issues or critical comments in house, that it is not shared through (reporters), that it is not shared through social media.
“It’s not how we want to operate. It is totally unacceptable, and we made it very clear to the players that were involved that it’s unacceptable. It’s a distraction that’s not needed. I think it’s a detriment to team growth. We have visited with the players that spoke out at length and we have dealt with that internally. We’ve also visited with our team and we’ve talked about the issue with our entire team.”
Wade said he had no regrets and can have a professional relationship with Rondo moving forward.
“I’m a professional,” Wade said. “I have a professional relationship with anybody who I need to and I have to. I have no problem. I’ve been a big supporter with Rondo out in the public eye with what he’s been dealing with and being taken out of the starting lineup and how he’s handled it. I have no issues, no problems with Rondo at all.”
In his Instagram post, Rondo said the veteran leaders he played with in Boston never took days off, which seemed a direct shot at Wade, who has rested on the back end of four sets of back-to-back games and rarely practices. This prompted perhaps Wade’s most eloquent answer.
“I could take that as a personal attack,” he said. “But what’s that going to do for me? Come in and fight Rajon because he said his vets practiced every day? I’m 35. I’m not practicing every day. That’s very clear. Everyone has their own things. My vets did different things, too. They were very successful with what they did in Boston.
“I took it as a human being expressing himself and feeling he wanted to say something regarding the young guys on the team and he felt it was portrayed different. And that’s his leadership. That’s his way of leading. Just like my way of leading is my way of leading when I come out here and I smile and say all these positive things. And when I come in and say I’m pissed off, that’s my way of leading at that time.
“It’s not always what people want to hear or a popular thing. I told Gar and Paxson that I respect their decision to do the things they did because it’s their organization. It is right. A lot of things should be kept inside. But sometimes in the frustrating moments, you say things you feel in that moment. That’s what I did. That’s what Jimmy did. We take our punishment and move on and try to be better.”
All involved said the young players had a chance to express themselves in the meeting.
“Dwyane is who he is,” Rondo said. “His name speaks for itself. He’s done so many great things for this league and for the teams he’s played for. Dwyane leads his way. I lead my way. The young guys got to say what they wanted to say today, and that’s the biggest thing. We spoke as a team. A lot of guys that don’t have much to say or don’t have as big a voice, everyone had the same platform this morning and we got to talk it out.”
Rondo said his Instagram post was his third draft and that he spoke with former Celtics teammate Kevin Garnett afterward.
“Certain comments were made and I just felt like I needed to make a statement for my team,” Rondo said. “One thing I loved about this team that was different from the last couple years of my career was that when I got here, the young guys were in the gym. I love to come back myself at night, but when I came back, there were seven or eight guys here getting their work in.
“I disagree with the comment about the work ethic. Guys want to win, guys take their job very seriously. And they’re young, so they needed to be guided the right way as far as there’s going to be ups and downs, there’s going to be games you play and you don’t play. I’ve been through that. Jimmy’s been through that. D-Wade probably hasn’t, but Jimmy and I have been through that, so they lean on us for direction on where to go, how to feel.
“It’s an emotional game. We’re humans, we get emotional, so us as leaders have to show them the way, how to be professional and get the job done.”
Rondo was asked if the Bulls can be a cohesive team moving forward.
“I mean, it’s not that we didn’t like each other,” he said. “It was just some things that came out publicly that shouldn’t have come out. We should have addressed it as men, face to face in the locker room, but I don’t think there’s any tension between us as a team.
“You go through this. Every team I’ve played on has players-only meetings, players-staff meetings, so this is part of the process. Ours just happened to be a bigger spotlight.”
Hoiberg, whose hold on the locker room seemed to be called into question by all the drama, said he remains absolutely committed to his job.
Asked if the Bulls have accountability issues, he said: “It’s something that we talked a lot about. It’s something that we’re going to continue to address, continue to get better in all areas.
“It starts with me. I’ve got to get us prepared to play. I’ve got to get us prepared to go out and play consistent basketball and then try to put a plan to get us to go out and win games and be consistent in all areas.”