“What? What did you say?”
“I said, I want your job” Lai repeated once again, rolling his eyes at his boss. Former Boss, he corrected himself as he stared down towards the man.
“But…but what about me?” Forman asked weakly
“You can take a step back, I call the shots now” Lai replied, “Go back to being a scout or something”
“…and how are we going to explain this to Pax and Jerry?”
Lai waved him off, “Make up something, you are good at bullshitting”
“But I….” Forman began but Lai cut him off once more.
“Photographs” Lai stated simply and Forman immediately cowered back into his seat
“Thank you all for coming on such a short notice.” Forman began, “Unfortunately due to health issues I will step down from the role of general manager of the Chicago Bulls immediately. Leo will replace me in the role and I wish him and the rest of the staff success.”
Murmurs began in the crowd and hands began to rise in the press section for questions.
“K.C. Johnson, Chicago Tribune. Could you elaborate on your health issues?”
“It is a matter that I wish to keep private, but my doctors have basically said the day to day operation required in the GM capacity puts too much stress on my body.” Forman replied, “That is as much as I will disclose”
“Scott Friedell, ESPN Chicago. Do you think you will return to the job in the future?”
“Perhaps, that will be up to my body and the decision of Jerry and John. I will still be around the organization in a lesser role so I can recover.” Forman finished as the team spokeperson waved for one last question.
“Word has it that the real reason you are stepping down is because of a secret relationship with Martyl Reinsdorf, is that true?” a shady looking reporter asked
“That…that is utterly ridiculous!” Forman stuttered as his face reddened with rage, then he suddenly spotted Leo on the side in amusement. "It's YOU! You did this!"
Leo put up an innocent face as he replied calmly "I have no idea what you're talking about"
"You...." Forman cursed loudly as he passed out in anger
Security guards quickly ushered the reporters away and team officials wrapped up the press conference as Forman was carried off the podium with cameras flashed all around him.
“Enjoying your new office?” Jerry Reinsdorf asked as he entered the room, not bothering to knock on the door as he looked at his new general manager.
“Yeah, it sure ain’t bad here” Leo replied, “Did you want to speak with me about something Mr Reinsdorf?”
“Yes, a few things I need to tell you before I go back to my main priorities” Reinsdorf said a matter-of-factly, “It’s about the budget of the team”
Lai suppressed a groan that almost slipped out, he of course had heard all about the unwillingness of Jerry Reinsdorf to have his profits from the Bulls cut in anyway by the luxury tax, even though they are still very much profitable. Jerry loves his baseball team - the White Sox – more than anything else and the Bulls are just another way to fund his real passion.
“I don’t want to pay it at all” Reinsdorf began, to no surprise of Lai, “but I do understand the structure of the CBA has changed and it is hard to avoid completely.” He paused as he stared intently into the eye of his young employee, “You will do your best job to lower the payroll”
“Jerry, we just won 7 in a row…” Leo began to protest
“I don’t care, we are not winning a title without Derrick anyways” Reinsdorf snapped, “I am not losing my money over a team that isn’t sure going to bring me some hardware.”
“You ain’t losing money even if you pay the damn tax Jerry” Leo snapped back as he begin to lose his cool, Now I see why last year’s team was broken up, he thought to himself as he stared Reinsdorf right in the eye.
“Watch it” Reinsdorf shot back, clearly not happy at either the response or the attitude from his young employee.
“Watch what? The team?” Leo replied, “Yeah I’ll do that, you just go and watch your baseball and I’ll handle the basketball”
Having heard enough, Reinsdorf began to leave the room, “Just cut the damn salary” he said as he went out the door, leaving Leo sitting there alone, fuming at the stingy owner.
"Jerry's a pain in the ass" Leo was saying to John Paxson, who still drops by every now and then to check on the affairs of the team despite spending most of his time going away and playing golf
"Now you know what I had to deal with over the years" Paxson said
"Tell me about it..."
"So you got any ideas so far?" Paxson asked as he grabbed a handful of cashews and popped them into his mouth
"Twelve, or none" Leo sighed as he sunk back into his chair and sipped some coffee, "Nobody that'll take Booze off us is not going to give us similar salary in return, there's no point trading Rip either"
"Well, either way you gotta come up with something now. You're the head man" Paxson grinned as he stood up and headed for the door. "I'm off for another 36 holes, have fun!"
Lai cursed under his breath and got ready to wrap up for the day, but at that moment the phone rang again. It was the same anonymous number.
"So, do you need some more help Mr Lai?"