Sunday morning, the Chicago Bulls and former Bull, Kirk Hinrich, reached a verbal agreement for a two year, six million dollar contract. (Note: No contract can be signed until Wednesday).
As a loyal Bulls AND Hinrich fan, I will try to be as biased as I can be writing this piece. On a side note, I did call this, check my tweets from last summer and the summer Hinrich was traded.
If you don’t remember two summers ago, the Bulls did NOT want to trade Hinrich in the first place. But I will not open up that can of worms, because what happened in the past happened. I mean no disrespect toward any player on the Bulls roster.
Moving on, Hinrich has always been a fan favorite. However, with fans, enter “haters.” Those little negative voices saying, “Hinrich is a scrub,” or “He can’t score” and so forth. Hey, I recall Tyrone “Mugsy” Bogues tolerating the same criticism for all you basketball nerds out there. (Granted it was mostly for the height, but after that last shot against MJ in ‘95, his shooting was never the same).
As John Paxson’s first draft pick (seventh overall) as the Bulls GM, Hinrich brought many other valuable qualities. He was a leader, on and off the court, a great defender, and a blue-collar point guard with a pass first mentality.
As a leader, he was an important piece of the puzzle that brought the resurging Bulls back to the playoffs after a seven-year drought. He made his teammates around him better. Teammates, past and present, have nothing but positive feedback toward Hinrich. Most recently by Bulls forward Taj Gibson:
“Kirk is a phenomenal player. I played with Kirk my rookie year. He was phenomenal in helping me grow as a player. He was a phenomenal leader. He was one of those tough-minded players that doesn’t really care about much (besides) getting wins, and it would be great to have Kirky back on our team.”
Even Derrick Rose’s comment in March 2011 has been pro-Hinrich:
“Every game you play against a good defender like that, you’re going to get better because you kind of get prepared for it. And I just can’t wait. It’s somebody that I came in the league. He took me under his wing.”
Aside from leadership, he brings probably one of the best perimeter defenses in the league. At one point, as a Hawk, he’s given Rose a tough time or two. With defense like that, you can bet a defensive-minded coach like Tom Thibodeau is looking forward to working with Hinrich.
Remember the earlier days of the Chicago-Miami revamped rivalry? Specifically in Decemeber of 2006, when Patrick Riley was the coach and LeBron James was still a Cav? Hinrich is known to bring the worst out of Dwyane Wade. Are Riley’s “dirty player” comments ringing a bell? Yes, I thought it would.
The past few seasons, Hinrich’s numbers decreased due to less playing time and injuries. As Hinrich entered the playoffs, his play, on offense and defense, have thrived under the pressure. Also, his passing skills are a big asset. When you have big men like Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson, a three-ball specialist in Kyle Korver, and an all-around shooter in Rip Hamilton (hopefully healthy), you can expect that assists stat to go up drastically. Hinrich has always been known as a pass first player. Don’t believe me? Check these links out:Hinrich to Rose as a Bull
Hinrich to Gibson vs. Philly as a Bull
Hinrich steal and fastbreak pass to Gibson vs. Orlando as a Bull
Hinrich to McGee as a Wizard
Hinrich to Joe Johnson as a Hawk
With Hinrich in the lineup, you can expect everyone to step up and play better.
In closing, Hinrich is a great (re)pick up by the Bulls, I think with him and healthy Rip Hamilton in the backcourt (until Derrick Rose’s late January return) will be a great match for Bulls. There is more to Hinrich than meets the eye. Stats do no always state the full story.