Several exhaustive end-of-season profiles of the Bulls have already been written – see the excellent 'End-of-season awards' post by T-boogie, or the post by rainman. I was struck, however, by the way that these profiles ignored what is perhaps the most important and involving question of these playoffs:
Are the Bulls pirates, or ninjas?
Oh, laugh if you must! But this question is one of the gravest importance. For only those who are ninjas have the perseverance and commitment in the off-season required to come back in the next stronger than ever before ... but only those who are pirates share the rock and get open shots.
Since the Bulls are a collection of players instead of a team [and nowhere is this more evident than when watching them play “offence” or “defence”], I'll analyze their affiliations individually before giving a final observation of how they play as a team.
Where better to start than Derrick Rose? Rose is the golden child – the captain of the ship at this point [sorry, Kirk, and Star Trek references everywhere]. Rose tries to share the ball – he's passive a lot of the time, not talking, waiting for his moment to strike. And then, when he strikes … it is often fatal. Though Rose needs to work on his finishing move at the end of games, and sometimes gets nervous and misses, this can be chalked up mainly to his status as a ninja-in-training.
Ben Gordon's called an 'assassin'. A lot. Ninjas assassinate things, nd Ben Gordon assassinates things - the only difference is that BG [usually] isn't ritually disemboweling people, instead settling for killer threes. He goes forward and attacks. People see him coming, and yet he still surprises them, doing things they thought were impossible. This was the easiest judgment to give by far.
John Salmons is very self-focused – his game is brood-y. He is a lone fighter, taking the ball and then jab-stepping his way into … something. [Originally I thought he was doing a Luol Deng impersonation, but he hits his jumpers.] Because of the deceptive speed and craftiness that Salmons uses to get his shots off, and his ability to hit daggers in crunch time, I have to say that Salmons is, again, a ninja. If he was an actual ninja, he would wander around in a stealthy boat and drink a lot, though. He may become a pirate at any time.
Tyrus Thomas is definitely stealthy – he's normally not even there! Especially when we need young, talented power forwards. I would say more about him, but I can't find him on the court at the end of games. He gets replaced, and then we lose.
Joakim Noah is a pirate. He likes recreational drugs [alcohol or otherwise] and partying, and his game is entirely team-focused. If Joakim was a lone ninja, he would be assassinated immediately. And look at his hair! That's hard to hide. Luckily, Joakim being a pirate means that he shares the ball with his teammates and retrieves key rebounds from the deep seas of Davy Jones' Locker, but unluckily, he isn't a scoring threat. That's all right, though. Everybody needs a pirate or two.
Kirk Hinrich is defensively-oriented and can guard a bunch of people. He's an everyman – therefore he's a pirate! Kirk also can not assassinate anybody or any team to save his life, though in the last half of Game 7 against the Celtics he did what he could to disprove that theory, meaning that this is an open question. Will Kirk take off the eyepatch and have a ninja mask under it, or will he be forced to switch ships [hopefully so he can instigate a mutiny wherever he goes so the Bulls have clearer oceans, but I digress]? Only time will tell.
Brad Miller is a pirate. Looking just at his final three-pointer would make you think that he's a ninja, but he's just not efficient or athletic enough to be in the business anymore – maybe he was a former ninja, but it's hard to tell the way that he attacks now. Underhanded layups and the same love of recreation in all its' forms that Noah has – he's even missing a tooth! Miller may as well wear an eyepatch and go “arrrrrrr!”.
Lindsay Hunter is the wise old sage who sits at the end of the bench and helps the young ninjas learn how to assassinate things - he improves their defense and awareness with drills such as 'dribble the basketball through cones' and 'avoid the knives as you hop on bamboo sticks [the secret origin of Derrick Rose's infamous apple-peeling accident]. He's an old, clever ninja, who can't really kill anybody anymore, but has enough moxie to be useful.
Anthony Roberson, Aaron Gray, and Lindon Johnson are the stereotypical disposable people at the end of the bench – since Aaron is so animated on the bench, though, I have to say that he's a pirate. Since there are far more easily killed ninjas than pirates, though, the other two are most definitely ninjas, Linton Johnson being that hapless and well-meaning ninja that a good ninja takes with him to battle only to see him die in a tragic way.
Jerome James is a fat ass, and is therefore a pirate. I don't think he would be able to get a ninja suit on, but maybe with a little inspiration this can be worked around.
Tim Thomas is a person who I refuse to believe exists, so I am unable to comment on his leanings. Demarcus Nelson didn't play this year, but I am assured that he is a ninja in training by those who know better.
Vinny Del Negro is so unused to being off of his ship for prolonged stretches that he attempted to force the team to attend his own Super Bowl party - he is a pirate, and a damaging one at that. Luckily[?], his lackadaisical camaraderie has not infected the rest of the team.
In conclusion, I have to say that this team is mostly composed of ninjas. While there are a couple pirates, they have not been able to sway the ninjas, who continue to destroy. Certain ninjas had additional incentives this year to attempt to work outside of the team structure as well, which could not have helped VDN's mission to create a scurvy crew to take over as the Minnesota Vikings of the NBA. It can be reasonably assumed from the data that Vinny Del Negro attempted to turn the Bulls into pirates, and then one of them [most likely Ben Gordon] abducted his child, threatening their lives unless he would allow them to do their own things.
The Bulls appear to have Real Ultimate Power, but I would not get in to a ship piloted by them – it would most likely be torn asunder from the awesome fury of the sword battles. Heed this advice well the next time you have a chance to be driven around by a Bull – it could save your life.
A Bulls group picture, showing the team's true identity, is available here.