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http://www.suntimes.com/output/bulls/cst-spt-reggie30.html

For Bulls fans, before there was Michael Jordan, there was Reggie Theus.

He was a singularly popular man of royal Chicago streets -- basketball king of West Madison and a fur-collared, insti-prince on Rush. He showed Stadium crowds pre-Magic showtime. He romanced models and ran with socialites, and it all came crashing down oh-so-quickly.

Theus was run out of town because of a sudden -- and still mystery-laden -- estrangement from coach Kevin Loughery. In the space of 12 months, Theus traversed a strange helter-skelter from NBA All-Star to seldom-used bench rider to Kansas City King.

''I should have been the first player to choke a coach,'' Theus can joke today.

Perspective -- and success -- help fuel the laid-back reflectiveness of the still-photogenic 47-year-old. That's because Theus is experiencing one of the greatest weeks of his basketball life.

On Saturday, the former ''Rush Street Reggie'' will be at Rick Pitino's side as an ace assistant when Louisville (33-4) plays Illinois (36-1) in an NCAA semifinal in St. Louis.

Within hours of the Cardinals' finale -- be it triumph in the championship game Monday night or a quick departure after a loss either Saturday or Monday -- Theus will be jetting to Las Cruces, N.M., where he will assume his newest career role as the incoming head coach of the faded basketball program at New Mexico State.

''I have come full circle,'' Theus said Tuesday. ''This is a culmination of a lifetime in basketball. On every level.''

Theus arrived in Chicago in 1978 as a 21-year-old rookie with a long, defined frame, a Billy Dee look and the sort of up-tempo skills that in the possession of other stars would set the table for the NBA's fabulous rebound of the 1980s.

''I had something special with the fans in Chicago,'' Theus said. ''Every night, they would chant my name. When I left, they were still chanting my name.''

After five marquee seasons with the Bulls -- including two as an All-Star -- Theus' sixth season was expected to be nothing less than more of the same.

''People who weren't there misunderstand my relationship in Chicago,'' Theus said. ''They saw the end and they think it must have been messed up the whole time. But it wasn't. I had a bad two, maybe three months in Chicago, but other than that, it was fantastic.''

Loughery appeared to go out of his way to publicly humiliate Theus. While the Bulls' younger players flailed, Reggie sat. With cigar-store veterans such as Caldwell Jones and David Greenwood laboring, Theus still sat.

''Fellows,'' Theus told Chicago reporters, ''my soul is bleeding.''

Finally, on the league's trade deadline -- Feb. 15, 1984 -- Theus was dealt to the Kings for vagabond big man Steve Johnson and three second-round draft choices. He would play seven more full seasons in the NBA.

''To this day, I still don't know what happened,'' Theus said. ''[Loughery] and I never had a major run-in, argument, nothing. I am more mad about it today than I was then because now I realize how unfair it was. Then, I was a kid and I was so into being professional that I didn't know any other way to react but to take the high road.''
 

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But then he got his big break on a little show called Hang Time, and the rest, as they say, is history.
 

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Theus was about 6'7" and a point guard. HUGE player for the position in his day. But there were others. Bobby Wilkerson was about 6'7" also, played point/SG, and when he was with Indiana (NCAA), he did the jump balls (instead of Kent Benson).

Wilkerson and Theus were teammates on a Bulls team that was a very big lineup:

Gilmore 7'2"
Greenwood 6'9"
Kenon 6'9"
Wilkerson 6'7"
Theus 6'7"

Theus was extremely talented, and a very flashy player. What some would now call and1. A lot like Crawford, similar in height/build, style and skill. And in their unwillingness to play hard at the defensive end.

Yeah, Theus was traded away right before the Bulls drafted MJ. Some might say MJ was drafted to replace the hole left by Theus' departure.
 

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DaBullz, as someone who has followed this franchise for decades, and who remembers the Theus days, do you have a guess to venture as to how and why Reggie became persona non gratis on the Bulls?
 

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A flashy player with rabid fan support that suddenly found himself stashed at the end of the bench by a "right way" coach?

When does Jamal get his own Saturday morning series, that's what I'd like to know?
It should be by the same people that made the MC Hammer cartoon. I'd buy the DVD set.

;)
 

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TomBoerwinkle#1 said:
DaBullz, as someone who has followed this franchise for decades, and who remembers the Theus days, do you have a guess to venture as to how and why Reggie became persona non gratis on the Bulls?
A good question that I don't really have an answer to, but I can speculate.

He had played well enough, but the team wasn't winning very much. Remember, the season we traded him away was good enough to net us the #3 pick next year - MJ.

I don't think the team's offensive scheme was really suited to his game once we got Gilmore. Gilmore was the biggest thing to EVER hit the bulls at the time we got him, though Theus was highly touted as well. Theus was built to run and was dynamite in the open court... Gilmore was more like Kareem - the offense had to wait for him to jog up the court and get in position.

We also had some pretty decent draft picks back then. All out of college, naturally. Guys like David Greenwood and Sidney Green. Those guys turned out to be fairly decent players (similar to AD in his prime, IMO), but never panned out to be as great as touted in school. We were extremely deep in the front court and back court positions.

We also had Orlano Woolrige (SIC, NO D) who was a scoring machine, but didn't play a lick of defense. It could be that teamed with Theus and Woolridge were deemed to be too much of a defensive liability on the court at the same time.

The Bulls also drafted some pretty good guards in Ennis Whatley, Quintin Daily and Mitchell Wiggins that may have made theus expendable. The Bulls were also used to having PGs like Van Lier (who played a lot like Duhon), and Whatley and Wiggins were more in that mold.

For yuks, I looked up Jordan's rookie season. Pretty guady numbers at 28.2 PPG. But Woolridge scored 22.9 in his own right. And Dailey 16.0. Not too shabby. As a team we shot 50% FG ;-)
 
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