The gang gets prepared
The Chicago Bulls are showing the Bears and NBA how to handle young stars by extending 23yr old reigning MVP Derrick Rose to an additional 5yrs, at $94 million. This ultimately sets Rose up well into his late 20's. It also gives him comfort and full backing from the organization heading into a season where he and the Bulls will try to build on a league best 62-20 record.
As I see it, this is good for the moment, although I am a bit surprised it wasn't extended for longer. If the Bulls, Derrick Rose, Chicago, and the world know that he should and will probably be a Bull for life. Is it a bit impassive for the gang to only give Derrick an extra five years. You look at other professional sports such as the NHL, where players earn lifetime contracts and extensions to the tune of 12,13 years. And at the age of 23, this should be the prime time to lock him in so no other team will ever have a chance to have him.
Not to mention Albert Pujols (31yrs old) signed a 10yr/$250mil contract with the Angels.
Plus he doesn't want to ever play for anyone else. Unlike many of the superstars of today's NBA. So what is the holdup? Unless the Bulls plan on Rose only having 6 more productive seasons, why not lock him in for a longer contract? Don't get me wrong, I'm glad a deal got done before the regular season, something that the Bears probably needed to see before they went into this season with running back Matt Forte, but I am left scratching my head upon looking beneath the surface.
But putting that to the side, there was even more to celebrate this week, as the Bulls went undefeated in the condensed preseason, leading into the condensed NBA season. The Bulls defeated the Indiana Pacers in two games to a total of 188-171. The Bulls averaging 94ppg game against a good defensive Pacer team is a great sign heading into a season where teams are all going to struggle to find rhythm coming of the delayed lockout.
Newly signed guard Rip Hamilton got the starting nod for the Bulls. Putting to rest pondering on whether the veteran was ready to go for the last game of exhibition.
He and Derrick showed signs of potential. The duo combined for 25pts, 15ast, and 9 rebounds on 10-21 shooting. Despite the low point total, the two seemed to click on the court as they both lead the offense without the necessity to knock down shots. This shows with the combined 15 (Rose 9, Hamilton 6) assists. But to anyone watching the game, they looked really good on the court together getting the offense in gear.
Rip also shot 100% from behind 3-pt, going 1-1 in the preseason.
Christmas Day is near, and the Bulls look to open the season with a win against the LA Lakers. This Bulls team that at times last season looked capable of breaking their predecessors historic single season record mark, will go into this year a little more deep on the offensive end.
Phil Jackson's Chicago Bulls became legendary winning championships in 3's. So with that I decided to break down the 3 key advantages that the Bulls have heading into the regular season.
This may come as a surprise but youth doesn't win championships. Check the records, most champion teams are not averaged under the 30 year old mark in any professional sport. Experience always holds paramount, with that said, the Bulls current roster age average is a shed over 27yrs old, one of the youngest in the NBA. So how does this help the Bulls?
The catch lies in the experience.
The Chicago Bulls went to the Eastern Conference Finals without the exact same roster excluding one player. They have only added pieces. So that means young players such as Omer Asik (25), Taj Gibson (26), and Derrick Rose (23) have all tasted the agony of defeat. And after last years crushing loss to the Miami Heat, they know it all too well.
With the addition of Rip Hamilton, the gang has added the age and veteran leadership on the court. Something that they clearly lacked last season when it was needed the most. Brian Scalabrine adds alot of player coaching, but he does not show on the box score, something that will be necessary in order to compete in the NBA Finals, or even make it there for that matter.
If the Bulls have one significant thing in their favor, it is the shadow of the teams 90's dynasty. Some of the similarities are scary. It took Michael Jordan's Bulls tasting the agony of defeat in the hands of the all-star riddled, defensively adept Detroit Pistons. The Bulls, led then by newly acquired head coach Phil Jackson, lost to the Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals. Leaving the team with the hunger and the ammunition to come back with a vengeance.
This 2012 team looks the same, clearly Derrick Rose has done a remarkable job in handling the task of separating himself from the shadow of Micheal Jordan. He has made a name all to himself, and has done it with class and sophistication. So the pressure is off when it comes to living up to the expectations of those who would want to compare him to MJ. Rose is writing his own story and he, more than anyone, wants it to include multiple championships.
The very fact that since his entrance to the league, Derrick has improved in every facet of the game, proves that this season is primed to be the Bulls best yet. His first season he was awarded Rookie of the Year, led the Bulls to the playoffs, and gave the Celtics something they will always remember. The next year he improved defensively, and led the Bulls back to the playoffs, losing to the Cleveland Caveliers in the first round. Last season however, he exceeded all expectations, making an MVP campaign while leading his team to the best record in the NBA, and ultimately the Eastern Conference Finals.
What's next may be the most captivating yet.
Let's face it, underdog or not, Chicago was the NBA's best regular season team last year. No matter how you slice it, they were among the NBA's best defensive teams. Although they lacked support, the Bulls are equipped with undoubtedly the leagues most elite scorer in Rose, whether he wants to or not.
The Bulls are to be considered heading into the season as a top contender for the title. That can be good and bad for the young team. The underdog title has been stripped and they now have a clear bulls-eye on the their back by every team they dominated last season.
It also now will give them the benefit of the doubt in games, where they did not receive such favor in the past. If there is one thing that rings true about professional sports, it's that rookies and young teams do not get the calls. It is an "earned" acquiescence in the NBA. And for that the Bulls have paid their dues in spades. Rose earned enough war wounds last season to get to the line 20 times a game this season if he wanted to. The rest of the team earned the leagues respect with tough-nosed defense and sportsmanship from top to bottom. This should bode well with the referees in the league that hold the fate of games in their whistles.
And for this I say for the winter season,
"It's Always Sunny In Chicago"