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This Week in the Bulls: Only Covid can stop the Bulls

This Week in the Bulls is back on a week ruined by Covid.

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Miami Heat Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

This time last week, the Bulls were sitting in second place in the Eastern Conference and carrying on with their schedule despite having five players in health and safety protocol. The number of players in protocol doubled this week, and the Bulls became the first team in the league to have games postponed for a Covid outbreak.

Ten players with positive tests. Ten! Covid even sidelined an announcer (Stacey King), and the backup announcer (Bill Wennington). Stanley Johnson signed via the Hardship Exemption on Thursday and was in protocol by Saturday before he ever played a game.

Thankfully the NBA made the right call to postpone Tuesday’s game against the Pistons and Thursday’s game against the Raptors, but this very much still felt like a shit week. I’ll let Zach take the first word here.

Please notice the date on that tweet. It’s from April 2020 aka last season aka the first time Zach tested positive for Covid. While regular nerds like us feel inconvenienced by not being able to watch the Bulls this week, imagine how Zach must feel.

A year ago, our dude had never even won four games in a row before. In the time since, he captured an Olympic gold medal (earning a somewhat surprising spot on the team), saw the Bulls bolster the roster around him with veteran signings, left his agency to join Klutch Sports in anticipation of a max contract extension, and then sees the Bulls rise to the top of the East.

Now he’s back in protocol with the rest of his teammates wondering when the hell this squad will get out of this.

The thing is that this shit sucks for everyone. This was an extremely hard week to read the news and keep up with friends. A couple of my close friends in Chicago tested positive. My buddy in New York has it. My cousin’s two kids under five both have it. My uncle in his 60s got it (and thankfully cleared it). All of these people have been careful since the pandemic started, but fuck, we’re 21 months into it and at this point contracting the virus almost feels inevitable.

If you felt like you were cracking mentally this week, I don’t blame you and I can relate more than a little.

A few days ago, I published a piece urging the NBA to take a break for the 10 days leading up to Christmas. The league was never going to do that, of course. The main objective of this season has always seemed like getting the schedule back on its normal track, which sounds fine and good until you realize the pandemic is very much still here. The alternative is letting the Bulls pass the virus to whoever they play (the Nets and Knicks both had outbreaks this week), and letting those teams pass the virus to whoever they play.

As always, I’m still more concerned about the regular ass people these players are interacting with on a daily basis — family, friends, team employees, stadium workers — who aren’t ultra physically fit young people.

How far is the league willing to go to get in all 82 games? Vooch has an idea.

There’s nothing funny about a pandemic that has killed more than five million people around the world, but we’re long past the point where humor has become a defense mechanism after so much depressing shit.

Let’s lighten the mood a little bit.

Jasmine shoots better than DeRozan in the clutch. Also the jersey patch is what really gets me on this one.

Ahhhh, well.

Not Cuppy Coffee!!!

Let’s get a Knicks joke in here.

That’s more like it.

I fear we’re going to look back at this week as a pivotal moment regardless of how this Bulls season ends. If the Bulls pick up where they left off and keep winning, the story will be that they overcame an outbreak to continue this charmed campaign. If anyone’s individual play slips significantly coming out of protocol, we’ll say Covid ruined the season.

The pandemic was always going to be a huge variable this year, and the Bulls have now been hit harder by it than any team in the league. Everything (still) sucks. Please take care of yourself and your people.

Bulls protocol update

Here’s the latest on the players in protocol.

Man, it’s still going to be a while before the full squad is back. [/In my best ‘this shit sucks’ voice] This shit sucks.

Meanwhile, the next game on the schedule is home against the Lakers on Sunday. The Lakers have their own outbreak going on right now with five players in protocol as of yesterday. Fortunately the NBA did the smart thing and .... pushed the game back a few hours.

Is this game actually getting played? There’s a clear motivation from the league’s perspective to keep the schedule moving. We’ll see.

DeMar and Zach are money in the clutch

One of the big storylines of this season has been how great DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine have been in fourth quarters.

I know this. You know this. Anyone paying attention knows this. It’s still nice to see the numbers back it up (via Synergy Sports).

Lonzo and AC are the Zach and DeMar of defense

/Tony Allen voice: “FIRST TEAM ALL-DEFENSE.”

I really need Caruso to bring back this classic.

Let’s end on some positivity

1)

2)

3)

Not sure if that last one had the intended effect.

Stay safe, everyone.