Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Classic card of the week
Bill Cartwright, 1992-93 Stadium Club
Every kid like myself who was totally obsessed with Michael Jordan growing up -- read: all of them -- was all too familiar with Bill Cartwright. He was a necessary evil in the world of those dominant Chicago Bulls teams -- the antithesis of Jordan and Pippen’s unmatched athleticism, yet required to guard the likes of Patrick Ewing and Bill Lambier when playoff time rolled around. Truth be told, Bill Cartwright was pretty darn good during his heyday with the Knicks of the early 80’s, but by the time this card was printed, he was spending most of days grooming his grey goatee, getting outscored by his man, and getting yelled at by Jordan. Nevertheless, Cartwright was always respected as a leader, as evidenced by his coaching tenure with the Bulls later on in his career. Obviously, he must have had a deep, enduring basketball philosophy. But what was it? Let’s go to the back of the card to find out:
His quote, “You’ve got to accept blows and you’ve got to give blows,” characterizes his game…
During his first practice as Chicago Bulls head coach, Cartwright gathered his team around in a huddle, and he asked them, “Okay, who here is willing to accept blows?” The entire team raised their hands (they also gave each other high fives, and recounted stories that proved they were, in fact, willing to accept blows). Then Cartwright said, “Alright, alright…but who here is willing to give blows?” Nobody raised their hand. In fact, Bulls forward Ron Artest simply stormed out of practice, shouting, “Oh no, he didn’t,” as he left the gym. “But that,” Cartwright continued, “is what separates the good teams from the great teams.” The Bulls responded to Cartwright’s powerful words by finishing the 2001-02 season with a 21-61 record, mostly as a result of their inability to return blows. Cartwright was also often criticized for leaving his starting five in for the full 48 minutes, refusing to give them, as many game announcers put it, a blow. Cartwright’s career itself was given a blow when he was fired as head coach 14 games into the 2003-04 season.
Did you know?
When Bill Cartwright goes out to dinner with friends, he will frequently walk right up to the host or hostess, and yell, in an Asian accent, “Cartwright! Four!”