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Gordon on leaving: Bulls fans were cheated
By Mike McGraw | Daily Herald Staff

Ben Gordon


Associated Press

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Published: 7/1/2009 7:00 PM | Updated: 7/1/2009 11:25 PM

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Parting can be sweet sorrow. Or in the case of Ben Gordon, who verbally agreed to join the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday, he feels sorry for some of those he's leaving behind in Chicago.

"To the fans, I generally had a great time being here," Gordon said in a phone interview. "For my true fans, I feel bad for them. The longtime fans of the Chicago Bulls - I just felt like they're being cheated.

"Not with me, but just things that happened in the past. I feel like the fans deserve a lot better."

Gordon didn't give any specific examples. Like most professional sports teams, the Bulls have made some moves that worked well and others that didn't.

After spending Wednesday on a recruiting visit to Auburn Hills, Mich., Gordon felt he and Pistons general manager Joe Dumars share a basketball philosophy. Gordon's new deal is believed to be slightly less than $55 million over five years. He can officially sign with Detroit on July 8.

"I'm finally happy to be a part of an organization that feels the same way I do about basketball," Gordon said. "We just talked about what this organization is about and what kind of culture he (Dumars) is building in Detroit and what his goals are, as far as trying to compete for a championship every single year.

"Being a good team is not enough. Their goal is to win a championship. To me, that's everything I wanted to hear from a GM. It was easy to sell me on that. I won in high school; I won in college. My basketball legacy won't be complete unless I win an NBA ring."

Gordon turned down contract offers from the Bulls the past two summers, believed to be worth $50 million over five years in 2007 and $54 million for six years last summer. He settled on a one-year qualifying offer last October, which gave him the right to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

In the meantime, Gordon was steady on the court, recording his fourth straight year as the Bulls' top scorer. The No. 3 pick of the 2004 draft was one of just six NBA guards who averaged at least 20 points and shot better than 45 percent from the field last season.

Gordon didn't give the Bulls an opportunity to make a counteroffer, but it probably wouldn't have mattered. The Bulls' payroll already is within $2 million of the luxury-tax threshold, so they weren't likely to match.

"The Bulls never made an offer," Gordon said. "We were all ears, my agent (Raymond Brothers) and myself.

"Even after I signed the one-year deal and the things that happened the last two summers, not once did we turn out backs on the Bulls. I said that I'd still be willing to listen to the Bulls and work something out.

"They didn't even make an offer to me. That was kind of surprising, but I guess it's part of the way they do business. I'm moving on, and I'm happy with my decision."

Gordon's scoring will be difficult to replace, but the writing has been on the wall for his departure since the Bulls acquired 6-foot-6 John Salmons in a trade with Sacramento in February.

As much as the Bulls liked Gordon, there was a feeling within the organization that they'll have a better chance of competing for a spot in the NBA Finals with a taller backcourt and a better defensive guard in Kirk Hinrich available to play next to Derrick Rose.

The Pistons reportedly also agreed to terms with former Milwaukee power forward Charlie Villanueva, Gordon's one-time Connecticut teammate.

Detroit still is missing a coach. Former Bulls and Pistons boss Doug Collins has been mentioned as a top candidate, along with ex-Dallas coach Avery Johnson.

Asked if he expects to come off the bench in support of Richard Hamilton with the Pistons, Gordon answered, "I'm expecting to win for the Pistons. Minutes, number of starts - all of that is irrelevant right now. It's all about trying to compete for a championship.

"To all the true Chicago Bulls fans, it's been great," he added. "I loved playing here; it's one of the greatest sports cities in the world. It was a great time. But it's time for me to move on."