Bulls fans chant ‘Fire GarPax’ on national television


FireGarPax Billboard is up! Posted July 19, 2017 on Twitter @BrettFox5

Matthew Rago, Editor-in-Chief

Bulls fans chanted “Fire GarPax” on national television on the first day of the NBA All-Star weekend, a scathing rebuke against the efforts of Chicago Bulls’ Vice President of Basketball Operations John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman.

The demonstration took place on a live broadcast of ESPN’s First Take, which was filmed live at Chicago’s Navy Pier. Host Max Kellerman asked Bulls’ shooting guard Zach Lavine whether he had confidence in GarPax’ ability to lead the franchise to title contention. Lavine responded by offering a vote of confidence, stating that he’s “with the team man” before conceding that the fans might believe differently. Fans in attendance disagreed, responding with boos and “fire GarPax” chants.

The discontentment grew so loud that it interrupted Lavine’s interview, prompting moderator Molly Grim to gesture for the crowd to quiet down.

The restlessness of the Bulls faithful is a harrowing sight for a regime rumored to be on its way out. Under the leadership of Forman and Paxson, collectively known as GarPax, the Bulls have regressed into a caricature of a once-proud franchise. Though GarPax’ draft history has been strong–the Bulls drafted Derrick Rose (No. 1), Jimmy Butler (No. 30), Joakim Noah (No. 9) and Luol Deng (No. 7) during GarPax’ tenure–the duo’s record in free agency has been underwhelming.

A top-five valued franchise according to Forbes, the Bulls have been overlooked by top-tier free agents since GarPax’ took control. During the 2010 free agency period, the Bulls infamously whiffed on LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Chicago-born Dwayne Wade, instead settling for a sign-and-trade deal that brought Carlos Boozer to the Windy City. This offseason, the Bulls weren’t considered by any major free agents despite residing in the third most populous city in America.

The duo also fired former Coach of the Year recipient Tom Thibodeau, replacing him with former Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg. In three-and-a-half seasons, Hoiberg led the Bulls to a 115-155 record. Hoiberg has since returned to the college ranks to coach the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Hoiberg was replaced with current head coach Jim Boylen, who has been ineffective in his role as head coach. After his third game as Bulls’ head coach–a 56-point loss to the Boston Celtics, the largest home defeat in franchise history–players infamously rejected Boylen’s hard-nosed practice stance, refusing to appear at practice the following morning.

Despite such displays, which social media has described as ineptitude, the Bulls’ extended Boylen’s contract, suggesting indifference from the Bulls’ front office.

Entering the 2019-2020 season, the Bulls harbored playoff aspirations. However, power forward Lauri Markkanen, who was assumed to be on his way towards becoming a legitimate top-two scoring threat, suffered a startling regression, The former University of Arizona standout is averaging a career-low 15.0 points per game (ppg), his lowest average since his rookie campaign. Otto Porter Jr. appeared to be a shell of himself prior to spraining his left foot, an injury that has kept him sidelined since Nov. 6.

Despite hosting the NBA All-Star Weekend, the Bulls went without an All-Star representative for the third straight season. At the All-Star break, the Bulls sat in 10th place in the top-heavy Eastern Conference with a record of 19-36, good for a .345 winning percentage.

Bulls fans have vocalized their displeasure on social media for the better part of five years.
Embarrassing team owner Jerry Reinsdorf on national television, though, may finally push Paxson and Forman off what’s been a surprisingly long pier.