Bernstein: Wendell Carter Jr., We're Sorry

Hang in there, big fella. We understand your pain.

Dan Bernstein
November 26, 2019 - 2:05 pm
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(670 The Score) 

Dear Wendell Carter Jr.,

We know you didn't think it would be quite like this by the second year of your promising professional career, stuck in a role on the Bulls for which you never asked and certainly could never have expected.

You're the old soul in the room already at just age 20, probably wondering why so many around you appear to be some combination of selfish, vacuous, indifferent and clinically insane. I promise you that we're seeing what you're seeing, if that's any consolation. It's in your eyes too -- during the games in which you're always required to do far more than your share and after them when you tell obvious truths like a wise and already world-weary veteran.

"I know I'm pissed," you said after the debacle at home against the Lakers on Nov. 5. "Not to talk about my past, but me coming from a winning culture and then coming here and last year wasn't so good for us and then this year, it kind of bothers me. I don't even care about my stats. I don't care about anything. Because at the end of the day, none of that matters if we're not winning. It's just something where everybody has got to look in the mirror and say, 'I'm bought into this team. Whether I play good or I don't play good, as long as we win, that's all that matters.' If everybody can say that in the room, we're going to be successful."

You were right then, and it all still applies now. That was three weeks ago, well before more similarly brutal home losses to the Rockets, Nets, Heat and Blazers, more inexplicable defensive game plans and failures of execution, more ill-advised shots from teammates just taking turns and more bizarre and unfortunate blather about spirit and soul and heart from your comically overmatched coach.

And this after your stint at Duke was knocked sideways by the surprise arrival of Marvin Bagley III after you had been recruited with the promise of being a focal point. But instead of pouting or transferring, you stuck it out and made a role for yourself in the high post and as a defender. For that sacrifice, you deserve better than this, a job that requires you to cover for others too often.

You're the one always rotating responsibly to the open man, helping and recovering as needed, which can be multiple times in a possession. It's hard to also lead the team in rebounds while doing that, but we note that you are. Your reward for this is an ongoing narrative about accruing more fouls, and you take responsibility for it professionally instead of just saying, "You'd be in foul trouble too, if you had to pick up the slack for guys too lazy or unaware to do their jobs, in a scheme apparently designed to magnify their individual shortcomings."

That would have felt nice to say, huh?  But you're kind enough not to. Still, we heard you Monday night.

"It gets kind of tough," you said. "It's just something I need to get used to, learn to work out of it. It's our defensive coverage. I'm not asking anyone to change it. You just got to find a way to work it out."

Even if you don't want to describe what's going on in this train wreck of a Bulls season, the numbers don't lie. When you're on the floor, your net rating of 1.7 is tops among all regulars. Same goes for your off-court rating of minus-10.5 per 100 possessions, which means your team -- this team, whatever it is to this point -- wins with you and loses without you more than anybody else.

Hang in there, big fella. Here's hoping it gets better.

We're sorry this is where we are. It's not your fault.

Sincerely,

Bulls Fans

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s Bernstein & McKnight Show in midday. You can follow him on Twitter @Dan_Bernstein.