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Columnist
A big daily double for Reinsdorf?
By Barry Rozner | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 10/19/2007 12:21 AM

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Jerry Reinsdorf didn't sign Albert Belle because he thought Halloween in Chicago was boring.

He did it with one eye on winning and the other on putting fanatics in the seats.

And that's why we're guessing Reinsdorf isn't thinking about Kobe Bryant or Alex Rodriguez right now.

We think he's dreaming of both.

Impossible, you say? Not at all, we say.

Let's start with A-Rod, which obviously is the less complicated proposition.

It's a matter only of money, and you can be sure Reinsdorf's already done the math and pondered whether A-Rod's worth $300 million over 10 years as he becomes baseball's home run king.

That money would come back to the Sox five-fold in ticket sales, TV money, team marketing, jerseys brought, and -- best of all -- winning.

Naturally, Reinsdorf also gets to stick it to the Cubs, who can watch Aramis Ramirez turn doubles off the wall into singles for the next five years while A-Rod hustles toward recognition as perhaps the best player in baseball history.

So Reinsdorf has plenty of motivation to make it happen, as he does with Bryant, who offers the same opportunities as A-Rod to fill seats, and a better chance to help the Bulls win.

It's also much more complicated, with Bryant possessing an opt-out to become an unrestricted free agent in two years.

If he doesn't get along with Bulls coach Scott Skiles -- even the most ardent Skiles supporters have to acknowledge this possibility -- you risk giving up some very good players for a two-year shot at a title.

So is it worth it? Absolutely.

Apparently, conventional wisdom is that the Bulls can't make this happen because they can't possibly give up Luol Deng in the package they send to L.A.

But the object, as we understand it, is to win it all, and the franchise in its current form appears a bit short.

With all do respect, he's Luol Deng not Lew Alcindor. While Deng is a very good player who might someday be a superstar, the league isn't going to remove anyone from the list of 50 Greatest Players in NBA History to find a spot for Deng when his career ends.

That isn't meant to insult, only to point out that Bryant is in everyone's top 50 and in most people's top 10.

Assuming you can at least keep Ben Gordon in the transaction -- giving Bryant someone to feed for wide-open looks off double teams -- the Bulls would have a chance to win it all now while the East remains horribly weak, before that window slams shut.

Look, the Bulls are a cute story, wholesome, homegrown and heart-warming, but will this group be good enough to win it all in the next two years, before Ben Wallace starts cashing Social Security checks?

Are you going to look back and wonder what might have been with Bryant if the Bulls never capture a trophy with this great young core that won't be great, young or together forever?

They still lack a post presence and a closer, and while GM John Paxson's rebuilding plan has been remarkable, and his patience admirable, his stubbornness also has cost them chances to get Kevin Garnett and Pau Gasol, and this group has yet to get out of the second round of the playoffs.

Without Bryant, are the Bulls destined to be a perennial Eastern Conference finalist?

With Bryant, Gordon, Wallace and whomever, are they an NBA champion?

That's what Paxson has to ask, while Reinsdorf must be dreaming of acquiring two of the best athletes ever, available at the same stunning moment in history.

You think Reinsdorf wants to make history of his own, and turn Chicago's sporting landscape on its ear in one fell swoop?

Stranger things have happened.

Trick-or-treat past Albert Belle's house and ask him if you don't believe it.

brozner@dailyherald.com