As a Bulls fan, I could not be happier. Briefly glancing over the league, I am thankful for what I have to cheer for. Far from trying out Reggie(Boston), figuring out whether our team will lose its best player for peanuts in the near future(Lakers, Wizards), putting this season's hopes on the resurgence of fat people knees and replacing Flash with Mr. Fake Triple-Double(Heat), we have a team that has been kept together with young talent, veteran leadership, and responsible finances. Few teams have a better top to bottom organizational structure, from the owner to the standing room only seats. Even fewer teams have the talent that is as good as likely to improve.
Tempering enthusiasm with ambiguity, I dare say that as Bulls fans, we are sitting very pretty as the season arrives. If you look around the league, only a few teams strike me as good to cheer for in the near term(San Antonio, Phoenix, Dallas, Boston and Cleveland), but none of those teams are likely to improve soon. Lebron needs a sidekick but they have no money, Phoenix and Dallas can't get over the hump that San Antonio has built and aren't getting any younger, Boston's time bomb is audible from the moon and San Antonio is probably on the decline from their pseudo-dynasty.
In my mind, Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah are the most important players for the contribution of an X Factor. Every championship team may have superstars(the causal relationship is debatable), but more than that nearly all championship teams have moxy. Not misplaced arrogance vis-a-viz Spreewell or Damon Jones(who actually thinks being better than Larry Hughes still means something), but the confidence in their play that oozes out of them. This confidence is contagious, and I have seen this out of Ben Wallace in Detroit, and in his few dominant performances last year, but it is still rare. In Tyrus, we saw what basketball fans often refer to as "flashes", times when a player's true potential, while being invisible to themselves, is apparent to everyone else. Tyrus' enthusiasm at various points reminded me of exactly what's missing about this team: confidence. This team is one of the best in the league(top 5 is no stretch), and doesn't play like they know it. Joakim has confidence to go around, and Tyrus' youthful enthusiasm that characterized his college career took most nights off. Most nights. The other nights reminded us of the confidence that all great teams have.
The first game of last year demonstrated the character of our team more than any other game. They showed themselves that they could compete with anybody that day. Then they forgot again, losing the next game to Orlando by 15. This team has been noted by scouts and writers as occasionally playing down to their competition. I attribute this to not realizing that they are playing down, not realizing that they should beat the Nets, especially when the game means something. Confidence might help avoid going down 0-3 by simply playing without passion. The team needs moxy, and who better to give it than players that have nearly too much, Thomas and Noah. Play the kids(when their ankles work again), and let's step on their throats, guys!
As evidence of tenacity and the Bulls' tradition of raw competitiveness, watch this video, paying special attention to #8.