To be a Chicago Bulls fan over the past two decades is to somewhat know the true pain of injuring a strong knee or a healthy hand. It takes time to adjust to the idea that the body could be anything less than perfect. And when the mind eventually catches up, alas, it’s beyond frustrating.
The Bulls I grew up rooting for were so able. They were led by the shrewdest coach, the finest sidekick and the best player who ever lived. They beat back the Bad Boy Pistons, outran the Showtime Lakers and abused the New York Knicks while distinguishing themselves as the preeminent sports dynasty. As the Last Dance docuseries explicitly showed, the Bulls were a cultural force – one that not only put my overlooked hometown on the map, but made basketball the global game it is today.
But after the 1998 NBA championship, their sixth title in eight seasons, the Bulls’ decline came quickly. Jerry Krause, the reviled general manager, blew up the team, and over the next five years this once-enviable franchise grew into one of the worst in the league. Some fights returned in mid-August when shooting hero John Paxson took over as general manager and more hope of returning to glory when Paxson selected future league MVP Derrick Rose with the first pick in the 2008 draft. But those Teams were never as good as LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers. And then after 2017, they were not good at all.
This season, however, it feels different. Family. Tingle. It started with modest expectations and then four wins in a row, albeit against teams that, like Chicago, missed the postseason a year ago. But then the Bulls’ streak was extended to seven in 10 games. After a 10-point beating over Dallas for victory No. 8, Mavericks guard Tim Hardaway Jr finally called him out. “All I can say is the Bulls are back, man,” he said after the game.
The statement, while flattering, was also a bit delusional. That the players on the other side of this compliment recognized so much was strangely reassuring. “Eleven games into the season, I don’t think you can say that no one is back,” replied Bulls guard Alex Caruso, “especially because of the Bulls’ prestige. They won three championships in a row twice. Being back is a great statement. “
But now, almost halfway through the season, it’s hard not to be swayed by the sight of the Bulls perched atop the Eastern Conference standings after nearly surpassing their win total from last year. What’s more, some of these victories have come at the expense of the Super Nets and defending champion Milwaukee Bucks. Until Sunday night’s loss to Dallas, Chicago had a nine-game winning streak, the longest in a decade. Two of those victories would come courtesy of DeMar DeRozan’s back-to-back ringing knocks.
He hit the second one on New Year’s Day versus Washington, a game that proved to be quite the character study. Here was a Bulls team playing its third game in four on the road, with key players out with injuries or Covid scares, facing a Wizards team that was as hot as they’ve been all season. It was a classic Pack It In game, and it looked as if the Bulls would do just that as Bradley Beal and Kyle Kuzma shot Washington out to a double-digit lead.
Chicago never fell too far behind, though. Not with Zach LaVine sinking in buckets from deep, Nikola Vučević controlling the boards and Coby White (filling in for Caruso and starting point guard Lonzo Ball) setting the tempo at both ends. Come the fourth quarter, it was DeRozan’s time to shine. And watching him puncture the Wizards defense with his devastating mid-range game, it was hard not to be reminded of another clutch Bulls shooting guard. After Kuzma knocked down a three-ball to put the Wizards up 119-117 with three second left, the capacity crowd at Capital One Arena crowd was delirious.
During the summer, the Bulls “winned” the off-season with the addition of Ball, Caruso and Ayo Dosunmu (smart rookie guards who have already paid dividends).However pièce deré sistance DeRozan was a 32-year-old former All-Star and Toronto Raptors powerhouse, whose midrange game was considered too retro for today’s 3DNBA.Not only did the game and his significantly improved three-point strokes prove to be an ideal complement to the Lakers’ slash and slash attack, but DeRozan (although not alpha) was an early candidate for MVP. Originally aimed at the Lakers in the off-season) closer than the team needed Take things personally.. Despite a featureless free-throw night, DeRozan returned to the United Center floor after the match after another victory over Orlando, shooting another 250 shots from the charity stripe. “I was angry” He explained to ESPN’s NBA Today.. “I hate missing free throws. I hate it with passion. It wasn’t comfortable to leave the arena until I took an extra shot.”
With ties and determination, there seems to be nothing that these next-generation bulls can’t or can’t do. “For me, the ceiling is the final,” said former NBA tough guy Matt Burns. In today’s NBA..Former Sharpshooter JJ Redick on his podcast this year’s Bulls Last year’s sands.. To be clear, Bulls fans aren’t ready to go this far yet. There’s still a lot to understand if the Bulls can shoot with the Sands and Warriors, and if the Bulls can bang with Joel Embiid of the Sixers (which couldn’t be denied in the early November match). Regained Klay Thompson.. And, of course, no team can become an NBA champion without first having a broken heart.
In Chicago, once a noble title town, sports have made locals colder than the strong winds of the lake effect. Aside from Sky, which won the WNBA Championship, it’s a desolate landscape. The Cubs have returned to the loser, except for the lovable part. The White Sox was disappointing.Bears are dumpling fire, NHL Blackhawks Remaining confused on the ice..
But the Bulls have regained their old, warm and proud feelings. At this point, I think many Bulls fans are like me. It’s more than content to support a talented and hard-working team, discussing whether to risk seeing them alive during a pandemic. And, well, everything is Covid, and perhaps this feeling is not a fluke. Maybe this team is finally strong enough to stimulate the idea of a turn from the last dance to the next chance. “The goal is a championship,” DeRozan told the NBA Today. “We are not going to shorten ourselves.”