Thursday, April 5, 2018

The 45 Most Important Players to the Chicago Bulls Dynasty - #7 Bill Cartwright

Bill Cartwright
Bill Cartwright is a guy who is incredibly underrated in most people's minds. Since he was on the most famous team of the 1990s, most people associate Cartwright with his Bulls tenure. And because of the parallels between the first threepeat and the second threepeat, many consider him an earlier version of Luc Longley, but that shows a blatant disregard for how effective Cartwright was as a player, even in the late stages of his career with the Chicago Bulls.

Before arriving to the Bulls, he spent his first nine years with the New York Knicks after becoming the third pick in the 1979 NBA Draft. In his rookie year, he put up an incredible 21.7 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 1.2 blocks per game. Usually that would be more than enough to win Rookie of the Year, but unfortunately for Cartwright, he was competing against two relatively well-known basketball players in Magic Johnson and the winner of the award, Larry Bird.

Even though his numbers fell off slightly from his rookie year, he was still a very good center for the Knicks. Still, the Knicks went ahead and drafted Patrick Ewing, and Cartwright eventually became a backup center for the team. This gave the Bulls an opportunity to acquire the big man.

During the offseason before the 1988-89 season, the Knicks traded Cartwright for Charles Oakley as well as swapping first and third round picks. The third rounders did not amount to anything, but the Bulls would solidify their big men by drafting Will Perdue, while the Knicks took Rod Strickland. It's a fascinating deal as the Knicks won the trade in the matter of acquiring more talent, but the Bulls got the necessary pieces to help them win three championships so it's tough to complain about the result.

Although Cartwright's numbers would drop every year he was with the team, he provided the Bulls with what they needed in their starting lineup. Cartwright was tough, and he knew how to deter people from driving in the lane. What's the greatest deterrent to someone scoring inside? Elbows, because outside of Macho Man Randy Savage, Cartwright had the most lethal weapons in the game. They were legendary...actually, maybe notorious is a better word to use. He took out Hakeem Olajuwon. and knocked out Charles Barkley. His elbows were so lethal that other teams tried to petition the NBA to force Cartwright to wear elbow pads. And although this is not elbow related, he did once try to murder Isiah Thomas.

Oh yeah, and he also threatened to end Michael Jordan's career if he ever told teammates not to pass him the ball. I don't care if his stats were declining; Bill Cartwright OWNED.

For all three championship teams, Cartwright started every game that he was healthy enough to play. And even at his advanced age with severe foot issues that saw him miss nearly two full years earlier in his career, he still managed to play in an average of 70 games during the threepeat. He was definitely a guy whose greatest impact at that stage was far more than any box score would show.

Cartwright would last one more year with the Bulls before signing with the Seattle SuperSonics for one final year before retiring in 1995. He would join Phil Jackson's staff for the 1996-97 season and would get two more championship rings as an assistant coach with the Bulls. He would coach some really crappy Chicago Bulls teams a few years later and is currently the coach of the Mexican National Team. No word on whether he drops a Macho Man elbow if his players get out of line. One thing is for sure, if you abuse your children, them elbows are coming for you.

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