The Chicago Bulls are the ultimate underdogs, grinding and fighting against fate, overcoming injuries, playing one-handed, one-legged, or through any kind of illness, and still being able to achieve big things. These heroic stories are inspirational. Happy endings are only supposed to be found in bad sports movies.
Or are they?
Watching the Bulls seal their victory in the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs against the pathetic Brooklyn Nets was not only a phenomenal sports experience (though the low block game with tons of fouls can be painful to watch sometimes), it was a reminder of what is great about sports. And, after they surprised the Miami Heat, the defending NBA champions with the four-time MVP, LeBron James on their roster Monday night, it must have hit everyone; this might be something big.
I know, I know, it’s just one game and only fools that haven’t really seen any of Miami’s fourth-quarter turnarounds this year think the Bulls will actually win the series. But they have left their footprints in American Airlines Arena already. This team, led by a coach preaching team effort, is a reminder of everything we love about our favorite game.
Watching Nate Robinson throwing up into a trash can during timeouts against the Nets or watching Joakim Noah limping, or Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng dealing with injuries, and of course Derrick Rose still not playing is what you see with the Bulls. The group of guys Bulls head coach Thibodeau is forced to use, second and maybe third and fourth options in the rotation (Marquis Teague is just not your typical sixth man) are an inspiration to everybody who has ever dealt with disbelief. These Bulls have shown that everything is possible and they keep shocking the basketball world night in and night out.
It’s clear they might not have enough skill and they could soon run out of juice to compete against the Heat. But let’s play the “What if” game a little bit. What if they lose the next game and then shut down LeBron James in Games 3 and 4 at home as they did a couple of times in the regular season, like when they snapped Miami’s 27-game winning streak and, of course, in the first half of Game 1 when James scored only two points? Chicago can then take a 2-1 or even 3-1 lead in the series and you can bet that Noah, Robinson and Jimmy Butler would rather die on the court than let that chance slip away.
These Bulls have a great chance to achieve something big here. They reminded the Heat that no one in the NBA plays them any tougher. “I’ve played on some tough teams, but this one, there’s something a little different, something special about this group” said Nate Robinson.
What if he’s right? As LeBron himself pointed out, this is what playoffs are all about.
There are many who think Derrick Rose is not coming back this season. However, what if he decided to shock the world and jump right into the Miami series which the Bulls (in our scenario) will lead 2-1 or 3-1? He can talk about that “muscle memory” all day but I don’t believe he can sleep peacefully after he saw how his shorthanded teammates sacrificed their bodies to make history out of nothing, while he is cheering them on from the bench.
To be clear, I love D-Rose. I love his game, his personality, his attitude, everything. I even love his latest signature shoe, the one everyone is ranting about. (Yes, I saw Kevin Ware’s injury and no, the shoes are not cursed). But if the Bulls get any closer to that sensation of forcing Game 6 or possibly Game 7, he has to rethink his values or at least shed a tear publicly one more time to make everyone sure that there really is nothing he can do.
Let’s hope the Bulls can win Game 3 at home. Then let’s play that ¨What if¨ game once again.