Chicago (AFP) - Chicago Bulls stars Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler blasted their team-mates in the wake of an embarrassing home loss this week, but their criticism provoked a strong response on Thursday from backup guard Rajon Rondo.
Butler scored 40 points and Wade added 33 in a 119-114 loss to Atlanta on Wednesday in which the Hawks erased a 10-point deficit in the waning minutes.
"I don't know if I see enough guys who really want it," said Wade, who won three National Basketball Association championships with the Miami Heat before joining Chicago as a free agent prior to this season.
"Losses like this, it has to hurt them. I'm 35 years old, man. I got three championships. It shouldn't hurt me more than it hurts these young guys. They have to want it.
"I wish that I could say that everyone in here is going to go home and not eat tonight," Wade said. "I can't say that. I wish I could, but I don't know if it hurts. Games like this are supposed to hurt you. You're not supposed to sleep. You don't want to go up and talk to nobody. These games are supposed to hurt. I don't know if it's in the guys in this locker room."
Butler, 27, was no less scathing after the game.
"We weren't guarding anybody, doing whatever we wanted to do, and we lost," he said after his fifth game with at least 40 points this season.
"Story of our year. Over and over. Same thing. It's not the first time we've seen this. It's not the first time we've done it."
Rondo, who won an NBA title with the Boston Celtics in 2010 and joined the Bulls prior to this season, responded via an Instagram post.
"My vets would never go to the media," he said in a post that included a picture of himself with former Celtics team-mates Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
"When we lost, they wouldn't blame us. They took responsibility and got in the gym. They showed the young guys what it meant to work."
Rondo said it was unfair to blame the team's less experienced players.
"The young guys work," he wrote. "They show up. They don't deserve blame. If anything is questionable, it's the leadership."
The Bulls, winners of six NBA titles in the 1990s era of league legend Michael Jordan, have not made it past the second round of the playoffs since 2011.