Past Connections Can Trump Issues, Make Season Worth Watching

Past Connections Can Trump Issues, Make Season Worth Watching

By making the World Series, the Cubs are doing a fine job at making the other major franchises in Chicago look bad. The White Sox can't decide on a direction, the Blackhawks can't kill a penalty to save themselves and do we even need to say what's wrong with the Bears? But what about the Bulls?

The consensus is they'll be lucky to get the seventh or eighth playoff seed in the East. Many have them missing the postseason for a second straight year. One can't really knock that viewpoint after the Bulls signed two aging stars, did little to address their shooting woes and brought aboard young players with seemingly low ceilings.

But as the Bulls prepare to open their season Thursday against the Boston Celtics, the lack of expectations should be helpful to players and fans alike. For the first time since Derrick Rose's lost season, no one is penciling the Bulls in as contenders for anything. Shouldn't that mean any success will make folks fall in love with a young team?

It's happened before and not that long ago. When the 2004-05 Bulls made the playoffs, there was an optimism surrounding the team not seen since the last championship. Sure, everyone had been happy with landing Ben Gordon and Luol Deng in the draft, but that feeling faded when the Bulls lost their first nine games. It only made that postseason taste all the more sweeter as it filled the United Center with excitement once again.

Of course, even with that rough start, the young core of then had more expectations than the one now. It didn't have three alpha males to deal with either. There's a big difference between a team with no baggage and one that may or may not have its stars clash should the season hit a lengthy bump.

Despite the large potential for issues to arise, none of that should matter when you're 0-0. Some will scoff at the preseason stories about how great the practices have gone and how everyone has gotten along with each other. They see it as nothing more than fodder. But after the soap opera that was last season, it's nothing less than refreshing to hear of this peace that's been going on.

If the present doesn't make this season watchable, turn to things in the past that helped get the players where they are. For instance, why can't we find enjoyment in watching future Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade play out one of, if not the final productive season of his career? Why can't we, with great interest, see how well Wade and Rajon Rondo start in the backcourt together after all those intense playoff battles between Miami and Boston?

Two recent national players of the year will be in the rotation. What, if anything, can Doug McDermott and Denzel Valentine learn from each other? Maybe the rookie out of Michigan State will be just the teammate the Creighton product needs. They're two completely different players, but their potential for a bond has to be helped by their mutual collegiate honor, right?

Jerian Grant is now playing for the team his uncle Horace won three championships with. While he's a point guard on the bench instead of a starting power forward, his family connection could inspire him to up his game. Whenever he walks into the United Center, he sees his uncle's name on those banners. If that's not pride, what is?

So before you moan and groan about the fact that the Bulls didn't rebuild or go as "younger and more athletic" as they promised, try to find the good. That's what the start of the season is about after all. Now is not the time to worry about what might derail everything. Look for reasons to watch, even if it requires a time machine.

You might be spoiled by the Cubs now, but their season will be done by this time next week. It's safe to assume you, the Chicago sports fan, will need your local sports fix until they start up again. Why not tune into the Bulls, especially if the Blackhawks and Bears are both off? Sometimes, the past makes the present more bearable.


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