Sadly for me and all other Bulls fans, the Bulls were eliminated from the playoffs by the Washington Wizards this week. The future of the Bulls is really up in the air. How effective will Derrick Rose be when he finally returns for a full season? Is Thibodeau on the way out? Is Carmelo or another major scoring threat on the way in? But with all of these questions, one fact is being somewhat overlooked: the fact that Kirk Hinrich may have played his final game as a Chicago Bull.
Kirk was never one to light up the scoreboard or the stat sheet, but he has been a solid contributor during his time in the NBA, specifically in Chicago. Drafted in the first round in 2003 out of Kansas (thus making him even more near and dear to me) during a somewhat dark period in Bulls history. But he was part of the teams that got the Bulls back on track. With the likes of Ben Gordon, Andres Nocioni, a younger Luol Deng and some more role players, the Bulls had a few successful runs during his first stint with the team, and since returning Captain Kirk has made a name for himself as a good defender with a lot of passion in his play.
As I said, his basic statistics will not blow you away. A career average of 11.8 points per game, 4024 total assists (good for 5.24 per game) and a career field goal percentage of 41.3. But those numbers don’t tell the whole story of Kirk Hinrich. Fourth all time in games in Bulls history. Most 3-pointers, fourth most assists. You can make the argument that these stats come from longevity, but you must be at least good enough to stick around as long as the Captain has. And all you have to do is watch tape to see that Kirk is a very good on-ball defender, he’s quite underrated in that regard. And against the hated Miami Heat, Kirk Hinrich goes hard and doesn’t give up.
I love Kirk Hinrich. Kirk Hinrich got me interested in Kansas basketball over a decade ago, and when the Bulls drafted him I was overjoyed. The first basketball jersey I ever owned was a #12 Bulls jersey, “Hinrich” across the back. He’s not a hall of famer, he’s not going to have his number retired, but he should definitely not be forgotten. If we indeed have seen the last of Kirk Hinrich in Chicago, let go to open up room for bigger names, we should remember the passion he played with and all he did to help the Chicago Bulls over nine years playing in the Madhouse on Madison. Live long and prosper, Captain Kirk.