It seemed like a simple task. In Minnesota, every fan I talked to had some opinion of the Roy/Foye trade. I just assumed that Chicago fans, who have a reputation for being devoted if not knowledgeable, would have something to say about trading Thomas for Aldridge. Funny thing happened though: No one knew what I was talking about. I walked around the lower bowl of the United Center for 20 minutes asking fan after fan if they were familiar with the trade that brought Thomas to Chicago. Not a single person knew what I was talking about.
I tell Trail Blazers PR flack Collin Romer that I can't find anyone who knows anything about the trade. He comments that the hardcores sit up in the rafters and that I'd have a better chance getting a true fans opinion of the trade if I asked the common man in the nosebleeds. It seemed like a logical suggestion, so I took the stairs up to the top deck in search of some real Bulls fans so I can write my little story. What did I get for my trouble?
Nothing. I walked around the whole top level of the United Center, and not one of the 20 or so people I asked had the slightest idea what I was talking about. Some claimed they hadn't followed the team much since Jordan. Other gave a blank stare and returned to eating an $8 chili dog. One lady asked me if I could get her group better seats. But not a single, solitary person that that I asked who showed up that night knew of, let alone had an opinion of, the trade that changed the careers of LaMarcus Aldridge and Tyrus Thomas. I'll let you make the decision on what that says about the fans in Chi-town.
So why tell this long, drawn-out story? Today the Chicago-based Sam Smith answers a question, from a guy in San Diego no less, about whether the Bulls would have been better off taking a Trail Blazer:
It seems that the general consensus among the national media is that John Paxson should have drafted LaMarcus Aldridge instead of Tyrus Thomas. I couldn't disagree more. In hindsight, wouldn't Brandon Roy have been the better choice? It seems that a starting backcourt of Roy and Hinrich would have eliminated some major problems that the Bulls currently have, most notably, a big guard that can score as well as defend and an athlete that can take it to the hoop and get to the foul line on a consistent basis. --Tony M., San Diego
He was my choice then, but I have to admit Paxson gets more right than I do in the draft. The Bulls commitment then was to going big and it was hard to disagree. They desperately needed size. I recall the debate well. The fear was Aldridge was soft and too much a perimeter big man like Channing Frye. They decided to take a chance on talent and athleticism, which they hadn't before. I believe Paxson is kicking himself now for varying from his own formula and beliefs. I think he probably was influenced by people saying he'd been too conservative and you can't get a star like Stoudemire that way. That's who they hoped Thomas would be. We'll see if he gets more time, though now, yes, it does look like the wrong pick.
So I finally got the answer to my question, sort of.