SAD UPDATE: Many already know that in the final moments of their win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, the Bulls lost Derrick Rose not only for the rest of the playoffs, but likely well into the season for NEXT year. Sam Smith has a GREAT account of what this means for the BULLS and the history of ACL injury comebacks here. Please pray for Derrick’s healing (even if you aren’t a Bulls fan).
Forgive me if I’ve told this one before.
I sold more Christmas wreaths than any other Cub Scout growing up in my suburban Chicago troop. My reward was tickets for my dad and I to see the Artis Gilmore, Tom Borwinkle and the rest of the Chicago Bulls on a wintery evening at the old Madhouse on Madison Chicago Stadium. As I remember it, the Bulls were down by 8 with only 10 seconds to go. And they came back an won, making me a lifetime Bulls believer and in overcoming impossible challenges.
Many felt it was an overachievement for MVP Derrick Rose to lead the Bulls to the NBA’s best record to play in the Eastern Conference finals since they wilted in the presence of the Heat. Sure Tom Thibodeau won Coach of the Year and with such a young team the ghost of Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson’s multiple back to back championships seemed slightly less daunting. But I don’t think anyone expected this. Especially after getting a sense that the NBA would simply move Bulls press conferences directly to Chicago Memorial Hospital.
Instead while many of the teams brought out crying towels for the wear and tear the shortened 66 game season wrought on their star players, the Bulls and Thibs:
- Won a HIGHER percentage of games than last year
- Had an Eastern Conference best 50-16 record.
- Tied for the best record with San Antonio but secured home court advantage for their entire playoff duration by virtue of holding the head to head regular season tie-breaker.
The verbose but amazing Sam Smith recapped it this way:
…in the six championship seasons combined, Jordan missed a total of six games. Scottie Pippen missed just one game in the first three championship seasons combined and then five combined in 1996 and 1997 before missing the first part of the final championship season after surgery.
So the Bulls lose the league MVP for almost half the season. The second best player and only other All Star, Deng, misses a dozen games, which was more than Jordan and Pippen combined in the first three championship seasons together. The Bulls let go their starting shooting guard who played all 82 games last season, Keith Bogans, for Hamilton. But with groin and shoulder injuries, Hamilton missed 58 percent of the games. Rose’s backup Watson missed 18 games with a variety of ankle problems.
Yet, even deep reserves guys like Lucas, whom many didn’t believe should be in the NBA and played just 10 minutes all of last season, step in and have big roles in even big games like against the Heat. Watson and Brewer started 68 games combined. The Bulls had 10 different players start games. The regular starting lineup played just 15 games together.
Yet, the Bulls led the league in fewest points allowed, biggest winning margin, rebounding and second chance points. They set a franchise record for opponent scoring. The Bulls also were in the top five in opponent field goal percentage, blocks, opponents’ three point shooting and assists.
How can Thibs not be the first Chicago coach (yes even over Phil Jackson) to not win back to back COY honors?
And let’s hope he does because except the possibility of winning the Eastern Conference championship or a sudden willingness of the Supreme Court to look at that birth certificate, it’s all the Bulls will do this season.
Why? The Obama’s Sports curse. Among the many picks he has made since being office declared to be slam dunks, are these losers:
- 2016 Olympic bid
- LeBron to Chicago
- Bears/Green Bay 2011 NFC title game
- Bulls 2011 Eastern Conference Championship
- Blackhawks 2011 playoffs
- Every single Final Four pick since he’s been in office.
And don’t forget Obama’s “guarantee” that USA’s women soccer team would win. Seems a pretty safe bet since USA was ranked #1 in the world and the final game was against a team that had not beat the USA in 25 tries, right? Wrong. Lowly Japan won causing some to say USA choked. Believe me. It was beyond their control since the Obama Jinx was set in motion.
I can’t find Vegas odds but I bet we could retire the national debt by betting against any team the former Chicago Senator predicts to win. So the Bulls are doomed. He has ALREADY declared the Bulls to be National Champions.
But unlike the Nobel Peace Prize, this honor actually has to be EARNED.
So, perhaps if any team COULD break the curse it would be this heroic team of youngsters that exemplify almost everything Barack Obama does not. Hard work (no vacations), team unity (not dividing by party, classes or race) and meritocracy instead of Marxism.
The Bulls start their futility at noon Saturday against the Philadelphia 76ers.
What the hell. As a CUB fan I’m used to rooting for hopeless causes.
Maybe Sports Illustrated will put Obama on it’s cover prior to the election. And he’ll stay a Chicago White Sox fan.