I was attempting to come up with a top 10 list of the best moments for a Bulls fan post Jordan, and what I found was that virtually every moment on my list came from either the 2004/5 season or the 2008/9 season. This prompted me to consider the similarities of the seasons as well as whch one was more enjoyable. . Both seasons gave you great play down the stretch with reason to be excited for the next year.
In 2004, the Bulls played the whole season as the cardiac
kids winning most games and playing them all close. After a 3-14 start, the
Bulls finished 44-21, a pace which would have been good for 55+ wins if they
could have maintained it throughout a season. In 2008, the Bulls entered the all-star break at 23-30. They finished the season 18-11, a pace which would give them 50+ wins if they are able to maintain it this season
. Both seasons gave you great play down the stretch with reason to be excited for the next year.
In 2004, the Bulls acquired a new hero. Ben Gordon scored
over 10 points in the fourth quarter 21 times. Second only to LeBron James on
route to winning the 6th man of the year award and prompting the moniker 4th
quarter Gordon. Despite his heroics at times, he was plagued by turnovers,
inconsistency, bad defense, and long cold stretches.
When Derrick Rose jumped on the scene in 2008 he had many during the year.
remarkable performances early on in the season willing the team to victories on
the circus trip against Utah and Golden State while looking absolutely unstoppable. Rose went on to win rookie of the year,
and the heart of Bulls fans. However, much like Gordon, he was also plagued
by inconsistency, struggling with assertiveness and defense for long stretches
during the year.
In 2004, the Bulls suffered a playoff loss, but had hope
going into the off-season. They would have Curry and Deng coming back for next
year as well as a young cast expected to improve. That hope then transformed
when Eddy Curry, the Bulls leading scorer, was traded for future draft picks
and the Bulls were in a holding pattern for a season to cash in those assets.
In 2008, the Bulls suffered a playoff loss, and also had
hope going into the off-season with Luol Deng coming back from injury and a
young cast which would improve. Then that hope transofmred when the Bulls let
Ben Gordon walk in order to collect future assets in terms of 2010 cap space
leaving the Bulls in a holding pattern for the next season.
2004 had the better regular season with closer games, more
wins, more moments, and a team that had a very good young player at every
position on the floor going forward. On the other hand, 2008 featured a team
with a potential future superstar and had by far the more exciting post season
with a number of extraordinary games against the Celtics.
Interestingly, the two best plays of the post Jordan era, in
my mind, are easily "the steal" and "the play" which broke
open tie games in the final seconds where we should have been at a
disadvantage. Both plays were then followed by a block to shut out the other
team and clinch the game. Below are some descriptions and youtube videos of
my favorite moments of both seasons:
2004 Great Momments:
There weren't quite as many unique moments in 2004, and
youtube wasn't as big, so they aren't chronicles quite as well.
Gordon hits game winners against the Knicks in back to back games (2nd game winner shown)
Nocioni's Birthday game
Unfortunately, I couldn't find a youtube video of the game, but real Bulls fans will remember this one well. Up until this past season it easily ranked as the greatest moment in the past decade at the UC for me. It was the first playoff game for the Bulls since the Jordan era, and the crowd was absolutely incredible. You could feel the desire from every person there for Bulls basketball to get back on the map.
The Bulls were playing without Eddy Curry and Luol Deng who were out with injuries and fans were wondering who would step up and whether we'd have a chance in the series. Andres Nocioni may not have been able to keep it up, but in game one, he was the difference maker with 25 points, 18 rebounds, and 4 assists while drawing a blocking foul on Jarred Jeffries to seal the game in the final minutes.
As Nocioni shot the free throws to ice the game, the crowd broke out into a NO - CI - ON - I
Surprisingly, I couldn't find the video clip on Youtube of Antonio Davis brawling with Brendan Haywood in preseason. The moment seemed to set the tone for the toughness of the team as Luol Deng was undercut wheb Larry Hughes pushed Kirk Hinrich into him. Hinrich gets up in Hughes face only to have Haywood get into Hinrich's face. Davis goes in there to protect Hinrich and Haywood throws a punch while Davis isn't looking.
Davis then charges the fleeing Haywood and body slams him to the ground while Eddy Curry, for who knows what reason, decides to run into the action and sucker punch Haywood in the balls while Davis holds him down.
Chandler blocks a last second attempt for the Knicks to tie the game, right after the play.
The Bulls make an incredible play to break open a tie game in the final seconds.
2008 Great moments:
There are too many moments from the Boston series to even list them all without being repetitive, but here are the moments in the season and playoffs that stuck out to me the nost.
Rose breaks Andre Miller's ankles
Gordon's 4 point plays against the Clippers and Detroit (this is Detroit)
Ben Gordon grabs his balls after sending game four into double OT
Rose blocks Rondo
He clinches game six by making a defensive play, shortly after the steal.
Noah makes perhaps the most exciting play in the post Jordan era.
So what's it going to be 2004 or 2008 which season was better and left you feeling better about the Bulls future?