It wasn’t supposed to end this way. Derrick Rose looking every bit the untested age of 22. Tom Thibodeau acting every bit the dogmatic to a fault rookie head coach.
Clichés-(like this one) come into existence for a reason, they are widely applicable. An appropriate cliché for this Bulls team-“If it’s too good to be true, it usually is”. The Bulls, in defiance to every preseason amateur and “professional” prognosticator out there , went 62-20 in the regular season, en route to the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Three wins against the Heat accentuated all that we saw as right with the Bulls, and served as conspicuous stimulators to our expectations. As we often do with ourselves or our significant others, we saw what we wanted to see, we noticed what we wanted to notice.
Of course, in many respects, the disconcerting writing was on the wall. Our offensive deficiencies were often quite evident, as we regularly were bringing a set of knives-all butter save for one steak-to gun fights. The little engine that could metaphor appealed to our Chicagoan sensibilities; “we” worked hard, did the little things right, and our record served as evidence to the blueprint’s viability. Simply put, we were the anti Heat.
Then came the Eastern Conference Finals. Good vs. Evil. The Right Way vs. the Wrong Way. The Refs were awful. Our offense was worse. The incessant petulance and DeNiro esque acting of the Heat was annoying, our costly turnovers were more annoying. LeBron James playing like an MVP made a difference, Derrick Rose not playing like an MVP made a bigger difference.
We simply weren’t good enough when it mattered. We had dodged bullets all year, with will and hard work often trumping superior talent (collectively). We were the Rocky Balboa of the NBA-and there undoubtedly is no shame in that comparison. Of course, the real-life boxer for which Rocky is based, Chuck Wepner, actually lost the big fight.
Likewise, we just witnessed the Bulls lose the big fight. Was the season a disappointment? Are wholesale changes needed? I say no to both-but that is just one fan’s opinion. Would I like Dwight Howard? Absolutely. Am I willing to blow up the team for him? Absolutely not. A legitimate shooting guard, one who demands respect, would have arguably made the difference in this series, and can arguably make the biggest difference moving forward.
I also do not subscribe to the widely accepted idea that the Heat will simply naturally get better, and that our window of opportunity closed just as fast as it seemingly opened. The Heat will need to contend with a new CBA, as well as an older than years indicate Dwyane Wade. Are they the best team in the Eastern Conference moving forward? Absolutely. Are the Bulls resigned to the fate of perpetual runner up? Absolutely not.
I trust GarPax to be forward thinking, and diligent with respect to pursuing all avenues for necessary improvement. Furthermore, rest assure, the taste of defeat and disappointment will stay with Derrick Rose, and it will fuel his ongoing development. As long as Number 1 is suiting up, the Bulls as a legitimate title contender are here to stay.
Speaking of clichés…. and Rocky Balboa, the Italian Stallion once said “It ain’t about how hard you can hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward”. Derrick Rose and the Bulls just got hit hard, that story is written. The story of how they move forward awaits.
Be Good Friends,