7 p.m., NBC Sports Chicago
Well, Lebron James is playing at least....
To sum up:— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) March 17, 2018
No Dunn, Markkanen and likely no LaVine and possibly no Vonleh for Bulls.
And no Love, Korver, Hood, Nance Jr., Thompson and Osman for Cavs.
No wonder neither team had shootaround.
Remember when King James coming to town meant something?
It was practically a city-wide holiday in Chicago as fans gathered to watch a (usually) wildly outmanned Bulls squad put up inspiring effort after inspiring effort against the best player in the game. The Bulls didn’t always win but they always fought, embodying that blue-collar ethos the city prides itself on. Per a Joakim Noah quote via Bulls.com in 2014.
When I come to the game, I see the guy selling the newspapers on the streets. (It’s) cold outside — when he sees me driving by, he’s excited. You know what I mean? He’s excited. He’s like, ‘All right. Let’s go Bulls! Get it done tonight!’ I feel like I play for that guy. Like when I look at the top of the arena, and I look up top and I see teams call timeout, and I see the guy who looks this big and he’s up cheering up and down, jumping up and down, that’s the guy I play for. To me, that’s what this city represents. There’s a lot of hardship in here, a lot of adversity in this city, and I feel like when I play basketball I want people to be proud of their team.”
There’s been a lot of great memories in the rivalry when the David versus Goliath narrative unfolded in favor of the underdog Bulls. Like that time the Bulls ended the Miami Heat’s 27-game winning streak without Noah nor Derrick Rose playing in the game.
Or when the 5-foot-11-inch John Lucas III went off for 24 improbable points in a 106-102 Bulls win over the Miami Heat in March of 2012. Or when Nate Robinson blocked James’ driving layup in Game 3 of the 2013 playoffs (the Bulls lost the game and the series, but a 5-foot-9-inch Robinson going up and rejecting James is a lasting memory from that series).
Bulls fans will always love to hate LeBron James the player. But, the rivalry between him and Chicago has lost a lot of its fire with the old crop of Bulls heroes (Noah, Rose, Luol Deng, Robinson, etc.), parting ways with the organization and the “rivalry” becoming a decidedly one-sided affair this season (Bulls are 0-3 against Cleveland). It’s a totally new cast of characters on the Bulls side that don’t have the history with James outside of the color of their uniforms and the logo on their chest.
The matchup tonight seems like just another inconsequential date on a Bulls schedule that most Bulls fans are dying to see terminate so they can focus their attention on other parts of their life without feeling guilty about missing games. With Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen out and Zach LaVine likely out, this one could get ugly for Chicago quickly, assuming the Cavaliers actually have their foot on the throttle and don’t mess around.
But even if Cleveland wins tonight, take solace in the fact that...
And enjoy the NCAA tournament, because I know that’s what everyone is going to be watching tonight instead of the Bulls.