(This is the first interview in a two part series that I conducted with former Bulls broadcaster Tom Dore and Bulls beat reporter David Schuster for Chicago Sports Radio 670 The Score. I asked both gentlemen the same questions regarding the Bulls and both of them were kind enough to give their own perspectives about the Bulls’ season and playoff run.)
When you think of watching Chicago Bulls games on TV during their glory days it’s hard to forget the memorable broadcast team of Tom Dore and Johnny “Red” Kerr, who brought the Bulls’ dynasty into our homes all throughout the NBA season. They were there for all the great moments: the 72 win season, championship after championship; they watched the greatest basketball player of all time perform every night…you get the picture. Tom and Red were the voices of the Bulls from 1991-2008 and, once again, thanks to social networking I was able to speak with Tom and ask him a few questions about what he’s currently doing, the present Bulls and some of his memories with the late Red Kerr…
Rick Mollway: Thank you so much for giving me an opportunity to speak with you Tom. What have you been up to the last couple years since you’ve been away from the Bulls?
Tom Dore: I do a few different things. I’m a tv announcer for MTV and the Lingerie Football League. The league is going into it’s 3rd year and it’s really going well. MTV seems to be a good partner and they are very high on the future of the league and the game. I’m also a partner in a website that presents gold, silver and other type of precious metal mines, along with oil wells and other high value properties for sale. So if someone was looking to buy or sell a property like that, we’d be a good partner.
RM: Were you surprised that the Bulls won 62 games? I don’t think anyone had them penciled in to win that many games.
TD: I was really surprised that they jelled as well as they did so quickly. Normally when you have a new cast of players and especially guys that played a lot and contributed as much as the new guys did, it takes quite a while for the team to come together. Also with Boozer being out for the early part of the season, they really didn’t have any chance to get to know him during the pre-season. I think it’s a real testament to the head coach and his staff that they came together so quickly and kept that up all year.
RM: We’ve seen Derrick Rose get better and better each year and now he’s the youngest player to win the MVP. How much more does he need to improve to get the Bulls to the next level?
TD: Rose is such a great player and in the perfect system for him to continue to develop and just get better. He’s obviously a hard worker and a very smart player. For the Bulls, that’s huge.
I think for him the big thing to work on is his passing. He seems to want to hit the home run with a few of his passes too often instead of just making the easy pass. Really good defensive teams will tend to read him, and know when those passes are coming. If he could become a better passer and cut down on his unforced turnovers, I think he’d be an even more effective scorer as defenders would be forced to protect against the great pass. Magic Johnson was not a very good shooter, but his ability to hit the open man so perfectly led to him being open on drives more often. Teams HAD to cover the shooters because he was so good at delivering the ball. If Rose can develop that kind of passing accuracy and cut down on the turnovers he’ll be even more difficult to guard, and that’s really saying something.
RM: After the Bulls’ victory in the first game of the Eastern Conference Finals against Miami, things fell apart for the Bulls. What were your thoughts on that series and the entire Bulls playoff run?
TD: I think the Bulls had a great year. Miami was a better defensive team in the post-season than they were during the regular season. I think that’s where Wade and especially James really made their mark this year. I’m so impressed with how well they communicate on defense and how well they help and recover. You don’t often see that from a team with superstars like Miami has.
Against Miami, shots that were dropping all season just stopped going in. Part of that is a learning curve and part of that is having the confidence to keep shooting even if you’re 3-12 from the field. Going back to Scott Skiles teams in Chicago, the big key for them in the playoffs is to put the ball in the basket. When the Bulls played Miami a few years ago in the playoffs it came down to the very same thing. They just couldn’t make the shots they needed to and that ultimately cost them the series. I think it was the same thing this year, the Bulls just couldn’t get the ball to drop when they needed to.
I don’t think that’s a long term thing. Like I said earlier this is about learning how to score when it’s a game 4-5-6-7 of the playoffs. When you can score in those games, you’ve arrived. I’d look for that next year.
RM: During last year’s free agency, we saw a new trend starting in the NBA with superstar players teaming up to create a “super-team”. Michael Jordan said that he would have never teamed up with Larry Bird and Magic Johnson because he was trying to beat those guys. What are your feelings on the matter and do you think that these “super-teams” make the league less competitive?
TD: I’m not really in favor of the super teams. I think the NBA will address that in the off season although I’m not quite sure how they’ll do it. I think that superstars jumping to new teams just be on the same team as another great player is silly. To me it’s like in little league baseball, trying to stack one team so you win all the time. That has to be fixed in the NBA. Otherwise you’ll see the NBA become too much like baseball, where there are 4-5 teams that everyone will want to watch and then you’ll have all the rest. Not that teams like Memphis in this past playoffs wasn’t great fun to watch, but you still find yourself rooting against Miami just because of who they are. That being said I’m as big of a Dwyane Wade fan as there is. I like how he plays and I can really appreciate the effort that he puts out every single night.
RM: What type of offseason moves do you see the Bulls making this summer? Dwight Howard’s name has been thrown around. Personally, I’d like to see if the Bulls could make a trade for Monta Ellis if Golden State made him available for the right price.
TD: The great thing about where the Bulls find themselves right now is that every big guy who can score will want to play for Chicago. Being on the same team with Rose, you’ll get shot opportunities that most players will never see. Rose breaks down defenses and opens the floor like very few players can. If Dwight Howard would be willing to sign a two year deal for whatever the Bulls can afford, they would be right there with Miami. You almost never pass up a big guy like Howard. He’s a beast inside and has a monster work ethic. If you’re Chicago and you know that he’s interested in coming, you do everything in your power to make that happen. Everything else is a side deal that could help, but has nowhere near the magnitude that getting Dwight Howard does.
RM: Looking back on your days broadcasting Bulls games, there were so many great moments that you and the late Johnny Red Kerr experienced together. What are some of your favorite memories?
TD: Early on Red and I became not just broadcast partners but really good friends. We both loved to fish and play golf. There were a lot of golf days that he and I would sneak our fishing poles onto a golf course and catch a bass or two while we were pretending to play. I had the great fortune to not only be a part of the great teams the Bulls had, but I had as good a partner and friend as any guy who ever announced in the NBA could have. Plus I was a part of such a great group of people as the Bulls had.
Back to Red and the times for both of us that were the best. I remember the 70th win in Milwaukee and all the hoopla surrounding that game. The playoff game in Orlando when MJ went back to number 23. He pulled me aside and told me to make sure we had our cameras on him when he pulled off his sweats, because he had a surprise for everyone. The closeness and trust that we developed with the coaches and players that at any time we could ask questions of what they were trying to do and get such great in-depth answers. Phil Jackson and I talked a few times about how much fun it could be to do a weekly show to really teach the NBA game to the average fan. Then to know that we had the support of the Bulls and at the time Sports Channel Chicago. There’s another great group of people. Now Comcast SportsNet Chicago. I’ve never had boss anywhere else like Jim Corno Sr.
I went to work every day, knowing that if I needed something it was there. I can’t say enough about Jim and the people he surrounded himself with. We always communicated very clearly what the exact situation was and what needed to happen If more bosses were like Jim Corno you wouldn’t hear horror stories of people hating their jobs.
So in the end, I guess there are a number of games that stood out, but it’s always the people that make a job what it is. My 17 years with the Bulls were about as good as it got for any announcer anywhere.
RM: Last question for you Tom and it’s a question that’s been bothering me for awhile. Why did the Bulls decide to shake up the broadcasting teams? You and Red were the voices of the Bulls for such a long time and the only voices for the Bulls that I ever knew. Having said that, it was very disappointing for me personally to see you guys leave.
TD: When Jim Corno called me about the change, I was surprised. I had my heart set on retiring from announcing in Chicago in another 12 years or so. What I was told was that the Bulls wanted to go with one person as the television play-by-play announcer and that WGN would not accept me and Comcast SportsNet would not accept Wayne Larrivee. So the Bulls moved Neil Funk over to TV and brought in Chuck Swirski for radio. I know Chuck had been trying to get an announcing job back in Chicago and especially with the Bulls for a few years and up to that point the answer had always been the same Then one of his children got sick and needed health care in the US and I think the Bulls decided to help Chuck and make the tv move all at the same time.
I loved my job and loved working for the Bulls and I really miss that connection.
Thank you again to Tom Dore.
Don’t forget to check out Tom’s website: http://www.tomdorespeaks.com