It's taken me awhile to get over the loss that the Bulls suffered against the Celtics last May 3, 2009. While everyone in the country had Pacquiao and Hatton on the mind, I was more worried about the defensive adjustments that the Bulls will make to counter Boston, how this young squad will react to a game 7 in the Boston Garden, and if we would be able to shock the world, and send the defending champions home on a stretcher. I wanted to believe that this team could do the almost impossible.
I wanted a miracle, but all I witnessed was reality.
The reality that the young Bulls(I REFUSE to call them the Baby Bulls) were mentored by a rookie head coach who only had two kinds of plays; Isolation for Ben Gordon, Salmons and Rose, as well as the screen and flash by Ben Gordon to take a three point shot in the end. That's it.
The reality that our frontcourt just couldn't deal with the beefiness of Perkins and Big Baby, although heart and athleticism are totally different matters.
The reality that Ben Gordon was giving up as much points as was scoring them for our squad. And that his assassin's mentality would come back to haunt us in the form of hasty and ill-advised shots.
That reality that although the keys of the squad were handed to Derrick Rose, he needs to learn how to take it to the next gear. And then push himself even more.
These were the different realities facing me as I lay awake at night, pondering how this amazing series-- and season had finally come to a close. As I dwell on the memories that began October of 2008, it dawned on me that while the reality of this loss would hurt, there was a flipside to it. The miracles that happened during this amazing run.
The miracle that is Derrick Rose. Just D-Rose. That we beat 1.7% odds to be able to pick him, as if the basketball gods deemed that we needed a savior. How he carried the hope and expectations of the whole season, and exceeded them with fearless abandon, and a humble attitude that defies logic. Rose is the heart and soul of our squad, and the city of Chicago will go as far as he can take us
The miracle of Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah growing up right before our very eyes. Call TT
dumb, and Noah goofy. Make fun of them all you want, and tell everyone that these two will never amount to anything in the NBA. But I will show you game 1 of the NBA playoffs showcasing Tyrus' concentration and vastly improved jumpshot. I'll show you Noah's defensive instincts going for the steal and dunk over Paul Pierce that caused the United Center faithful to damn near tear the roof off. Tyrus' overwhelming athleticism and Noah's fiery passion made the defending champions quake in their sneakers and look over their shoulders at all times, and we should be proud of all they've been able to accomplish. It's no certainty that we'll be able to see these two grow together, but at least we'll have this season.
The miracle of Ben Gordon's cajones. A man who can singlehandedly turn a game around with his steely determination, and array of shots over all defenders. Although this series did nothing to erase his stigma as a one-dimensional player, he will forever be remembered as our premiere shot taker and shot maker, who brought us from the brink of losing countless times. Plus, he invented the "monocole" and revived the "cajones." If he's not around anymore next season, we will be feeling his loss in numerous games.
The miracle of Vinny De... Oh I'm not even going to try. let's just move on.
The miracle of John Salmons and Brad Miller (and being freed of Hughes!!). How these two helped compensate for Luol Deng's absence, and then some. Brad Miller helped us out immensely as our first big off the bench, providing crisp passing and a reliable jumper. Although he's past his prime, and is prone to making some dumb plays, he was a huge part of our team. And who can forget Game 6, as he scored a trey and a three point play to help setup a classic finish. No matter what deficiencies he may have, I want him on my squad.
John Salmons gave us an additional scorer who was not afraid to take huge shots. I just regret that he was slowed by an injury in the playoffs, because throughout the regular season he was a deadly shooter. Having him on our squad assures us that we will be okay in the 2-guard spot in the unfortunate occurence that BG7 leaves our squad.
There's so many more miracles to be thankful for: Hinrich standing up to Rondo, Rose's block on Andre Miller, Salmon's 38 pt explosion vs the Celtics,Tyrus' stretch of consecutive double-doubles. And the whole Playoff series, which will be remembered as the greatest first round series of all time. So many fun memories that will be a foreshadowing of more miracles to come.
As I think about the Bulls' run this year, I realized that the reason why I loved this season so damn much was because we are witnessing something GREAT that is to come. It's like watching a child ride a bicycle for the first time. Seeing him fall and hurt himself kills us to no end, but the pride we feel when the child figures out how to bike properly pleases us to no end. I realized that in a few years, when the Bulls be regarded as a perennial contender in the East, I was a part of the change.
Forget the Ron Mercer, Jalen Rose, Ben Wallace days, because it's only going to get better starting now.
And that's the biggest miracle of them all.
LET'S GO BULLS!!!!!