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Temptation for Bulls to get Dwight Howard can’t be dismissed

Orlando Magic superstar center Dwight Howard would make quite tandem with MVP Derrick Rose. | John Raoux~AP

Orlando Magic superstar center Dwight Howard would make quite a tandem with MVP Derrick Rose. | John Raoux~AP

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Updated: February 11, 2012 8:19AM



A friend of mine wrote a screenplay about American heavyweight boxer Joe Louis that centered on two fights with German Max Schmeling in the 1930s.

The story had everything — the difficulties Louis faced as a black man in a white world, Adolf Hitler’s warped ideas on racial purity, the distant rumble of war drums, etc.

Midway through a pitch meeting, a producer interrupted.

“I see Schwarzenegger as Schmeling,’’ he said.

My friend started to protest that the movie was really more about Joe Louis and that introducing the muscle-bound Arnold Schwarzenegger into the equation would turn it into “Conan the Boxer.’’

The producer held up a hand.

“Rule No. 1 in Hollywood: If you can get Schwarzenegger, you get Schwarzenegger,’’ he said.

I was reminded of this the other day when Magic center Dwight Howard reiterated his desire to be traded.

If you’re the Bulls and you can get Howard, you have to get Howard, right?

You’ll notice the previous sentence is a question, not a statement. That’s because I’m conflicted. Columnists aren’t supposed to be conflicted. I am.

I like this Bulls team. A lot. I like the idea of building something from scratch, meaning the draft, and not from scratch, meaning money through mega-free agency. This team is the anti-Heat. Miami bought LeBron James and Chris Bosh to go with Dwyane Wade. The Bulls drafted Derrick Rose, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah.

That doesn’t make the Bulls nobler. The system embraces both approaches. But there’s something almost quaint about an NBA team that was built the way the Bulls were built and that plays as hard as the Bulls play.

That’s nice.

But we’re talking about Dwight Howard here!

Howard and Rose on the same team!

And there you have the raging conflict inside your friendly neighborhood columnist as he watches the Bulls thrash the lowly Pistons by 24 points on a Monday night in January.

I’d like to see how far this team could go as constituted, especially with Carlos Boozer playing as well as he did against Detroit (23 points, eight rebounds).

Then again, I’d like to see Howard in a Bulls uniform.

The conventional wisdom is that you need two superstars to win a championship. The Bulls have one, Rose, and yet they’re very good.

If they were to get Howard, it might set them back Noah, Deng and some draft picks. The question then becomes how soon the Bulls could win a championship with Howard. Faster than the current team might?

As much as people want to pooh-pooh the idea of chemistry, it exists. I know this Bulls team plays extremely well together. I can’t say for certain that Rose, Howard and whoever is left would be compatible. I wouldn’t mind finding out.

Maybe that’s my impossible conflict: I’d like to see how both scenarios would unfold. I can’t.

If Deng had a vote . . .

“I really feel like the sky’s the limit with this team,’’ he said. “I feel like every guy in this locker room is committed to winning. That’s really what makes us so unique. Every night is different. We’ve got guys who don’t really care about anything except winning.

“It’s so much fun just going out there and playing. That’s how basketball should be. I feel like we’re kind of an old-school type of team. We just go out there and play.’’

Howard recently said he still wants a trade, that a guy has to do what’s best for him and his family. The Bulls don’t seem to have many players so worried about their own personal situations. The Bulls also don’t have a big man nearly as good as Howard.

“I think his leaving or going has nothing to do with Orlando,” Magic general manager Otis Smith said. “I think he wants a bigger market. I can’t do anything about that.”

The Bulls are a big-market team, but the Magic has given Howard’s agent permission to talk with the Nets, the Lakers and the Mavericks. The Bulls would be fools not to at least research a trade.

The journey is supposed to be the thing. Getting past Detroit in the 1991 conference finals after losing two years in a row might have been the best part of winning an NBA title for the Bulls.

I don’t think the current team is good enough to get past the Heat this season, but who knows?

My friend’s screenplay wasn’t made into a movie. Maybe Howard’s trade request won’t turn into a Bulls highlight film. That would be for the best. I think.



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