No set of words could describe this season. I remember sitting at this very desk with the same computer thinking what was next for the Bulls a year ago. So with my very first blog I wrote about what was next for the Bulls last upcoming season. I thought about what the United Center would be like without “From Chicagooooo” being yelled before every game. I wondered if Stacy King would get bored with not being able to say one of his millions of catch phrases on Derrick, from “I WANNA GO HIGHER” to “BIG TIME PLAYERS MAKE BIG TIME PLAYS.” But as the Bulls played their first game against Sacramento at home, a game they won, I thought then that maybe he will be back this season. Instead we Bulls fans got one heck of a rollercoaster ride.
This was a different team right from the beginning. Obviously without Rose we all expected that the Bulls would have those nights where it would be a struggle to find basket against the Miami’s, New York’s and Indiana’s of the league. Yet instead we saw the complete opposite of what we had all predicted. The Bulls gave everything they had against those teams showing that on any given night the Bulls could hang with the best of anyone. And then there were nights where I would go on numerous Twitter rants (sorry followers, thanks for sticking with me especially you Michael Wood) and thought there was no hope for this team. All Bulls fans wanted from their team was consistency like the past 3 years but instead it was a free-for-all, all year long. There were so many rock bottoms for this team I began a favorites list. The first one came on Nov. 17 against the Clippers where it really showed that the Bulls couldn’t win on the road every night without Rose as their all-time back plan. Then came the dreadful Christmas Day game. Houston drove the Bulls to school, taught them, drove them home and then tutored them. They lost 120-97, one of the few times they were booed in the D-Rose Era. The next one is my all-time favorite. Six days later the always-dangerous Bobcats beat the Bulls badly on New Year’s Day 91-81 which put me in total disgust coming into 2013. Then of course there was the occasional thumping by Denver and OKC towards the end.
Yet, despite all the lows, the highs were even better. In December the Bulls man-handled the Knicks twice in MSG without Rose. Then on December 15th we saw emergence of Marquis Teague take center stage as he willed the Bulls to a 83-82 victory over the Nets and three days later the Bulls did it again with a strong performance against Boston. But when Jan. 4th came, they had us all believing. Through defense, hustle and rebounding the Bulls defeated the Heat in Miami. But of course later that month they lost to Washington, yes the Wizards. The one game that showed this team’s true colors was that one Wednesday night in late March against the Heat who were riding a 27 game win streak. With all expectations of going on to win number 28 especially with Bulls having no Noah, Rose, Belnelli and the rest of the team, they found a way. This also marked the emergence of Jimmy Butler, who played LeBron James better than anyone I’ve ever seen that night. The Regular season was anything but regular, thanks to the fellas who made this season not just a lost one.
Of course you have to start with Jo. A team who struggled to bring their A,B,C and sometimes D game every night, he gave 100%. A deserved All-Star and 1st team defensive player, Joakim put himself in the conversation as one of the best Centers in the game. Luol had another All-Star season and at most times this year was the Bulls only scoring option during tight games and once again led the league in minutes, a shame he couldn’t finish this season out, but he will be happy not having to carry the load every night next year. Before you start criticizing, Carlos Boozer played extremely well this year. Sure he had the occasional missed defensive assignment that made you say “Trade him” or “Amnesty him” but above all he was huge this season playing all but three games this year and averaging 16 and 9. Without Kirk the Bulls don’t make the playoffs. His defensive presence and ability to run the offense was overlooked all season and was only noticeable when he was hurt for the Miami series. Next are Chicago’s new bench mob. Robinson, Butler, Belinelli and Gibson. Gibson had an up and down year with injuries but still played great. Belinelli outplayed expectations, serving as the Bulls’ interim closer hitting game winners against Boston and Utah and playing well all playoffs. Then there was the show that never stopped in Nate Robinson. A crowd pleaser and shot maker, he brought the UC to life multiple times this season and single handily brought the Bulls back off the bench numerous times. While he seems to be on the way out, on the behalf of Chicago, thanks Nate, you were simply great. But no one was more of a surprise than Jimmy Butler. Hardly playing any minutes his rookie season he became the Bulls number one wingman defender all the while improving his three point shooting and mid-range game during the season. He played nearly every minute these playoffs and became a respectable rebounder as well. To put it simply, Jimmy got buckets this year. The biggest question still though is what’s next? And what’s next for Rose?
It’s hard to say. Obviously everyone including Derrick expects to be back for the first game of the year which I’m fairly sure he will be. Before you go on your meme rants and Twitter rants about how he let his City down this year, think about this you so called “true-die-hard-Bulls fans.” Yes I understand Rose was cleared so he should be out there. Personally I’ve thankfully never torn my ACL and hopefully never will as it does look worse than your average twisted knee which is most of his critics have suffered. In case y’all didn’t notice, Rose is by far the most athletic point guard in league history, don’t worry, Magic agrees with me too. He needs his knees to be 100000% if he wants to keep doing those highlight dunks and layups. We forget so easily that the last season he played, every time he got injured, he would rush back to play, yet no one noticed that and look what happened, a torn ACL. We’re impatient creatures when it comes to sports, we all love the game and always want to be out there. No one wanted to be on that floor more badly than Derrick himself. Yet he had to be patient. He realized that in order to be the player he once was he had to take each step as slowly and seriously like he would when he shoots. He had to learn how to walk again, then run then sprint and so on. We were once all proud of how humble, tough and hard-working OUR superstar was. Now that he is injured we all are so quick to jump on his case. I’ll admit I was once frustrated that he wasn’t coming back. But I got over it, real quick. I realize that once he comes back, his game might be different, but he will feel comfortable going up to dunk on any white boy the NBA throws at him next year. I realize that as an athlete, if one thing is wrong with you, it will throw off your entire game. If the Bulls organization and his teammates had no problems with him sitting out this year then I am fine with it too. Because the only thing Derrick Rose has to do to gain all those people who turned on Derrick in the first place, is dribble. Once he is on that court doing his MVP-like things and making the crowds at the UC shout and cheer and bow down, we will all soon dust off our D-Rose jerseys and act like nothing ever happened. And Rose will had never cared all along what people thought of him through the entire thing. Yeah he is special Chicago, so next time you want to call him out on not playing, become the number 1 overall pick to your hometown team, carry the weight of the City on your shoulders every game, become the MVP, tear your ACL and not complain one bit, then once you’ve done all that, I will be more than happy to say that you’re right and Derrick should have been playing in that meaningless game last night. This team is on the rise and needs to make some critical off-season choices, but nothing will be more important than Derrick’s health.
He will be back, will you?