Interview: Jewish Blogging the Bullies with David Pustilnik

Our second interview of the month comes from Dave Pustilnik. Dave is a really good guy and his girlfriend Julie is one of the coolest Phisters I have ever met. Anyway, recently Dave started writing a blog about his beloved Bulls. He covers everything thing from Derrick Rose’s All-Star appearance to Tyrus Thomas trade rumors to post-game analysis. Bulls fans everywhere check out, you will be hooked. Dave was nice enough to answer some questions for TGR about his site and Chicago Bulls history. Enjoy!

1) Tells us a little bit about yourself and your athletic career?

First and foremost, I’m a huge sports fan…and also a lawyer in my spare time.  I was born and raised in and around Chicago, and this being the greatest sports city in the world, I had no choice but to enthrall myself in all things sports.  I was born on the Northside, so naturally, I’m a Cubs fan.  I know TGR is a diehard Southsider…so I hope he can forgive me for my transgression. 

Unfortunately, my athletic career was brief — I was limited to 5 years of Buffalo Grove Park District youth basketball.  I retired at a young age, but I like to think that I left my mark.  I went to an absolutely massive high school, and being 5’9″, trying out for the basketball team did not seem too realistic.  Although I do still play pretty often recreational ball and actually play a pretty mean point guard.  Other than that, I live vicariously through the replica of myself I created in NBA 2k10.

2) What is your blog all about?

My blog is about one thing and one thing only: the organization known as the Chicago Bulls.  I provide both news and analysis prior to and after just about every game and give my take on the outcome.  I also provide analysis of all transactions the Bulls partake in as well as any rumors that surface.  If you read the blog, you’ll be able to tell that I’m pretty opinionated.  You know the saying “Don’t judge a man until you walk a mile in his shoes”?  Well I do the opposite of what that saying says to do.  And I’m pretty sure I’m right 99.9% of the time.

3) What made you want to get involved in blogging about the Bulls?

Well, my passion for the Bulls started at an early age.  Passed down from my father at around roughly the time when the Detroit Bad Boys were handing over the crown to Jordan’s Bulls, I was hooked starting in kindergarten.  Yadda yadda yadda 6 rings later and I rarely missed a game throughout all of the 90’s.  Then disaster struck.  Jordan retired.  The greatest basketball team ever is dismantled.  The Bulls fell into obscurity for a about half a decade.  Bulls fans jumped ship.  I stuck around, but most of my friends who I’d been able to talk Bulls basketball with in the past no longer followed closely.  Even when the Bulls were making the playoffs consistently in the second half of the 00’s with the emergence of the baby Bulls, Chicagoans seemed to lack interest.  My friends seemed to lack interest.

But I figured there had to be fans out there who shared my passion for this team, even without Jordan.  I started looking for blogs, and I found some good ones as well as some average ones.  I also found lots of diehard fans that I didn’t know existed.  But I also found that these blogs were not seeing all the angles and some of their analysis were somewhat wacky and just didn’t make sense to me.  I had a lot to say, but I couldn’t force my friends to become interested in the Bulls.  So who could I share my opinions with?  The other diehards in the blogosphere, that’s who.  So I started a blog of my own.  Plus, I figured that maybe if I started my own blog, my friends would become more interested in the subject.  I’ve found this to be true so far.

Besides that, there was an incident where there was some sort of 35 point comeback that we shall not speak of and I physically got sick afterward.  Whether the illness was actually a direct result of the heartbreak stemming from the loss or not isn’t certain.  But I figured that it might be a good idea to have some sort of outlet where I can bang away at my keyboard after tough losses like that. 

4) What are your goals for this blog?

My main goal for this blog is just to be able to share my thoughts on the goings on of the Bulls with as many Bulls fans as possible.  The reason that’s appealing to me is because I feel as if I have a pretty good grasp on why the Bulls win, why they lose, what they should have done to win, what trade they should or shouldn’t make, who they should draft, etc.  What interests me is whether other Bulls fans agree with me or not.  What better way to find out than to post my thoughts publicly on the internet where tons of Bulls fans can read them and let me know?

5) Who is your favorite Bull of all-time (note MJ does not count)?

I hate to be generic, but really there’s only one choice.  And anyone who says otherwise is fooling themselves.  Scottie Pippen baby.  The greatest defensive player of all time.  He redefined the position of small forward.  He holds the record for the most career assists by a forward and most career steals by a forward.  One of three players to record 200 steals and 100 blocks in one season.  8 time All-NBA Defensive first team honors and 10 time All-NBA Defensive team honors.  One of the 50 greatest players of all time.  Original Dream Team member.  He was able to play every position except for center and was arguably one of the most versatile players in NBA history.  He continues to be the most underrated player in NBA history, largely in part if not completely as a result of MJ’s shadow.

6) If you had to pick one of these players to hit a last second 3 pointer who would it be, John Paxon, Craig Hodges, B.J. Armstong, or Steve Kerr?

Great question.  Definitely not B.J.  Hodges was automatic in the three-point contest, but never hit a clutch shot in his life.  Steve Kerr had a big 2-pointer in game 6 in the 1997 NBA finals to clinch the title for the Bulls and he also won his second of back-to-back three-point contests that year.  But I don’t remember him draining too many clutch threes.  Pax, on the other hand, had blood in his veins and was a clutch three-point shooter.  He drained “the shot” in Game 6 of the ’93 Finals giving the Bulls the lead with 3.9 seconds left, IN PHOENIX, for their first 3-peat.  My pick?  Paxson.

Honorable mention:  Bobby Hansen, the catalyst and three-point specialist who started the Bulls rally in the 1992 NBA Finals in Game 6 against the Blazers where they were down by 15 going in to the 4th quarter.  Hansen come in for Jordan, and drains a three immediately, then steals the ball on the next possession.  Bulls come back and win their second title that day.  Without him, the Bulls don’t win that game, so he gets a shoutout. 

7) How good would Pippen have been without MJ?

Pippen would have been great without Jordan.  Pippen WAS great without Jordan.  We have a very small sample size, but just look at the ’94 season.  He had a line of 22.0 points per game, 8.7 rebounds per game, 5.6 assists, 2.9 steals.  Those are some serious numbers.  He led the entire league in steals that year.  He went on to win All-Star Game MVP honors.  He was selected to the All-NBA First Team.  The Bulls, without Jordan, finished with 55 wins…ONLY 2 LESS THAN WITH JORDAN THE YEAR BEFORE.  The Bulls lost Jordan and mostly thanks to Pippen (and the addition of rookie Toni Kukoc), the Bulls only won 2 less games without the greatest player in the world.  Unreal.  He was a man on a mission…a mission to prove to the world that Jordan was a luxury he didn’t really need.  He was possessed. 

If it wasn’t for the infamous Hue Hollins phantom foul called on Pippen, allowing the Knicks’ Hubert Davis to shoot the game-winning free throws in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, I truly believe the Bulls would have won the title again that year.  Imagine what Pippen’s legacy would have been if he won the title without Jordan?  This question that you just asked me almost surely would never be asked by anyone if that ended up happening.  Bottom line…Pippen was a true first-option scorer, team leader, and champion.  I strongly believe he could have led the Bulls to at least one title without MJ. 

8) Were the Bulls better with Grant or Rodman?

Another great question.  This one can be debated for hours and could honestly go either way.  Grant was the far more polished offensive player.  Rodman was the more tenacious rebounder, although Grant was a gifted rebounder in his own right.  But nobody was a better rebounder than Rodman.  He won 7 straight rebounding titles from ’92-98.  How he did it at 6’7″ or 6’8″, who knows.  Obviously it was a gift.  Rodman also is one of the best defenders at his position of all time.  He joined Michael and Scottie on the All-NBA Defensive First Team in 1996, the first time three players from one team were all selected.  Grant was no defensive slouch either, being selected to four All-NBA Defensive Second Teams.  But I have to say the Bulls were better with Rodman.  Rodman was better defensively, he was a better rebounder, and the Bulls didn’t really need any offense from him.  He helped the Bulls win 72 games, something Horace never ever could do, so clearly there was something about Rodman joining that squad.  So I have to go with Rodman.

9) Your prediction for the 2010 Bulls?

My final prediction is that the Bulls will sneak into the playoffs with the 8-seed right ahead of the Knicks.  Although the current 7-game road trip that they’re on surely will not help their case.  I think they’ll get bounced in the first round by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 6 games and hopefully sign some major free agents this offseason.  I don’t think Wade or LeBron are coming to Chicago, but I’m keeping a close eye on Joe Johnson, Chris Bosh, and Amar’e Stoudemire.  If we can sign one of those three, or maybe two (imagine that), nothing but good things for this franchise to come.  But I’m not getting my hopes too high.  That’s my inner Chicago sports fan speaking.

And Let Us Say…Amen.
-Jeremy Fine


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