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What's happened to Lonny Baxter? He was doing so well that the SI and TSN publications were gushing about his immediate impact. Now his stats are filled with a plethora of DNPs. What gives?--Roger Kurtz, Raleigh, N.C.
Two words: Marcus Fizer. In a space-wasting, make-it-look-like-I'm-working-hard-kind-of-way, the answer is this: There are three power forwards on this team in Fizer, Tyson Chandler and Donyell Marshall. Both Chandler and Marshall are taking some minutes at center, but not everybody can play. Baxter is the odd man out now.
KC, has Jerry Krause ever printed up business cards for you? If so, what do they say?--George Alexander, Chicago
He has not, and, quite frankly, I'm a little insulted. But if he did, they'd probably say something along the lines of "Losingest beat writer in Bulls history."
KC, It seems that Jamal Crawford has developed more of a shooter's mentality lately. In fact, I can recall more than a couple of times this season where he was leading a fast break and he opted to shoot the ball rather than to pass it off to an open teammate. When JC first came into the league, though, he had a reputation of being an unselfish player. Why the change in playing philosophy?--Dimitrios Panagoulias, Rocky Hill, Conn.
The short answer is he's trying to make the most of his limited minutes. The long answer is that he shoots a lot in practice in scrimmages and this is carrying over. But I have seen Crawford make a concerted effort to get to the rim more often this season. He's penetrated more effectively than at any time in his career. And that skill will grow as he does. Crawford has a big frame. He will fill out naturally and with strength work as he matures.
Since the Bulls claim to want a front court player to tutor our "future stars", will the Bulls jump at the opportunity to bring Horace Grant back to Chicago following his release? I seem to recall some hard feelings about salary when he left, despite Jerry Krause's statements regarding his "love" of Horace Grant. And Krause loved Charles Oakley too, but that turned out to be a mistake.--Peter Mark, Dallas
Corie Blount is filling that role this season, and I have heard of no interest from management's perspective to bring Horace back.
Why can't the bulls just go out and have fun playing? When they're down they give up, and when there up they think stop playing, too. They should go out and play hard the whole game and have fun, throw alley-oops, no-look-passes, etc.--Dustin, Elgin
I'm sure Cartwright would love that style.
Just out of curiosity, what ever happened to Michael Ruffin? Please, don't cringe yet. I just want to know because I went to college with the guy. I know he left school with excellent grades and a couple hours short of a degree in electrical engineering. Has he left the bright lights of the NBA for the florescent lights of a lab and a pocket protector?--Mike Jacklich, Lisle, Ill.
Maybe eventually. For now, he's playing professionally in Italy. I wonder if all his pets made the trip with him, including his coatimundi.
Hi, KC, this is an expat Chicagoan writing with a quick question. I've been keeping up with your reportage on the Bulls for some time (I usually can't get the games on TV, so I have to follow the team in print). While I do appreciate all of your hard work, I've noticed that your image in the sports journalism world has been rather, um... well, bland. When can we look forward to an exciting KC Johnson scandal, something akin to the Marv Albert cross-dressing, biting incident that will make us all fascinated with you and your personal life?--Sean Harvey, New York
Wow. And this after we updated my photo to show off my hip, "Hey, he's wearing black" side. I've tried my best, including a silent protest at a Toronto airport for an unnecessary random search wherein I refused to repack my bag quickly, thus backing up the line and bringing several customs agents to, um, firmly suggest I speed matters up. But ever since a scarring incident as the Indian in a Village People air band in college in the late 1980s--we were wayahead of our time on the disco resurgence--I've stayed away from controversy. After all, it's our job to report the news, not make it.
Thanks for your questions. Talk to you next week, K.C.