Since 1998, the Bulls have made the playoffs just five times, and made it past the first round only once. One word to describe their first round exit this past Wednesday night: Bittersweet. No one wants to see their team lose, especially at the hands of your LEAST favorite team with your two LEAST favorite players, but for the first time in a while, this Spring brings a sense of anxiousness & hope to fans. This summer, Reisndorf will have plenty of dough in his pocket to toss around and go land someone who's name doesn't make you say, huh? since MJ left. Here's a few of the few Bulls season scoring leaders over the past 12 years: Ben Gordon, Jamal Crawford, Jalen Rose, Marcus Fizer, & Toni Kukoc. It would almost seem uncharacteristic to a Chris Bosh or Dwayne Wade wearing a Bulls uniform. Im not at all bashing the Bulls style of play, it's actually one of the reasons why I still follow them so closely (as opposed to jumping ship in '88 when MJ and Phil Jackson left with everybody else). The single positive thing about being a bad team is that you get high draft picks in return. The Bulls have actually been one the best drafting teams the past decade, including some forgotten names like Ben Gordon, Elton Brand, Jay Williams and LaMarcus Aldridge. And in 2008, the only thing the Bulls beat were the odds when they defied a 1.7% chance to land the #1 overall pick (which would bring home Derrick Rose). This season, the Bulls starting lineup featured five players all drafted by John Paxson. Granted, Rose remains the only guy above the radar, but that's what makes this summer so intriguing. With such a strong core, Paxson could go get somebody that could resurrect the entire franchise. The Bulls have been desperate for a low post scorer in Bosh since the disappoints of Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler. But a elite threat in Dwayne Wade would make the Bulls back-court the best in the league, hands down. So what will Paxson and Reinsdorf do? At this point; I don't even care. Just something to hold on to will suffice.
Maybe it goes against the traditional attitude of being a 'fan,' but the Bulls will not move on to the second round yet again. Down 3-1, they are still alive in the series, but just barely. To win they would need to win 3 straight, including 2 in Cleveland. They have no answer in stopping Lebron, and no one besides D-Rose to give the ball to when you need a bucket. Noah has shown drastic improvement and been a force down low (23 pts. 20 reb. on Sunday), Deng has been solid all series. Hinrich, who I coined as the 'catalyst' of the team, has been inconsistent. The fact holds true though, when Captain Kirk plays well, the Bulls win. In a must-win situation on the last day of the season, Hinrich went for 30 and the Bulls looked flawless earning their spot in the playoffs. In Game 3 of the Cleveland series, he once again stepped up scoring 27, and the Bulls again looked like a playoff team claiming their first and so far only win. The one positive thing for Bulls fan is they are going to continue to improve. They have a very strong core group including Rose, Noah, Deng & Hinrich, and don't forget they've freed up a significant amount of cap space to land a big time free agent this summer. To me, they have 2 ways they can go: 1. Sign F/C Chris Bosh and address the much needed offensive low post present. The combination of Noah/Bosh would be one of the best front courts in the NBA. 2. Move Hinrich (which has been tested ever year) and sign D-Wade. A back court combo of Rose & Wade WOULD be the best in the league no if's and's or but's about it. Think about that lineup: PG Rose, SG Wade, SF Deng, PF Gibson (rookie who can hit the 15-footer that showed solid improvement the whole season) C Noah. That completely changes the look and/or style of play of the Bulls, but it just might work. Either way you look at it, the future is bright. So have no fear Bulls fans, only hope. Hope that Paxson and Reinsdorf don't screw up this summer, and can land the franchise's first big-name free agent in a very long time.
Kobe Bryant to me is still the best player in the league. Lebron will surpass him soon enough, but not just yet. The reason "King James" is being handed the crown so unanimously nowadays is because we haven't really seen the Kobe Bryant that turns machine/robot-like in the fourth quarter. For the Lakers, a lot of speculation and questions have came about entering the post season. There was no doubt they were going to head to Western Conference, but many have started to doubt the on-court chemistry and wonder if they might be vulnerable come second or third round. People are questioning whether the Lakers can hold it together, and if Kobe Bryant can find that flawless dazzle in his game once again. After watching tonights Game 2 matchup vs. the Thunder, I started to wonder; who needs this series more? "It" being not just a win, but a dominating, convincing, statement-making performance. The obvious answer might seem to be the Lakers, but I'm not so sure. One reason being the Lakers have no chance without Kobe. Zilch. And not just any Kobe Bryant,they need the 4-quarter closer from last seasons title run. Kobe needs this more than the team, which seems odd to say but it's true. Kobe needs this not just for a 5th ring, but for his legacy as well. I'm a huge Kobe fan and a true Lebron "hater," but Kobe's reign is slowing slipping away. Lebron is at his peak and in the heat of his prime, and #24 needs to harness this post-season to remain the face of the league. Yes he's already in the Hall of Fame, but two years ago there were comparisons landing him in the top 5, and some even going as far as best ever. This season, Kobe has uncharacteristically seemed to play under the radar, and needs to remind people who the "Black Mamba" is this post-season. If Kobe wants his rightful place in history, the time is now. Just think about it...this season has been coined as 'Bron 'Bron's year to finally get a ring and officially take the throne. Just imagine If Kobe could steal the thunder (no pun intended) of the 2010 playoffs, battle through the grueling Western Conference to secure another championship, and do it 'his way' again; oh how the tides could shift suddenly....and wouldn't It be great?
Through many trials and tribulations, and as much adversity as one team can endure, the Chicago Bulls have sealed their place in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Needing to win out their final two games against playoff caliber opponents, the Bulls did what many doubted they could. Over the final weeks, they were devastated with injuries including four of their starting five. When starting Center Joakim Noah went down with plantar fascitis, the Bulls went 0-12. Upon his return, the Bulls finished the season well above .500, and earned a first-round playoff matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Facing Lebron James and the Cavs takes much of the excitement away from the exciting late-season run, however they made it nonetheless and need to maintain strict focus entering Saturday's series opening game. Most people predict the series to be a sweep (of the Bulls of course) however I must remain faith in my team. They were overwhelming underdogs last year when they faced the Celtics in round 1, and it went all seven games and panned out as one of the best opening round series ever. Lebron is going to get his and there's nothing really the Bulls can do to stop him. However Deng is a good defender, and has the size and length to maybe make Lebron's points a little tougher to get. Derrick Rose has emerged as a star, and Noah is likely to win most improved player of the year. The Bulls can only hope that they play nothing short of stellar basketball, and that the other role players can pick up the slack and be difference makers. Yes, the Cavs are the most probable to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals, and most people aren't paying a lick of attention to this series at all. And maybe it's just the fan in me ranting and raving about my team, but I'm excited about it and am interested to see how the Bulls can respond to all the hype the Cavs are receiving. An upset of this nature would be one of the biggest in the history of the franchise.
In the game of basketball, statistics are everything; or at least everything in terms of earning awards like Most Valuable Player (MVP), which I for one find totally bogus. Before I continue, take a look at these two stat lines.
Contestant number one: 29.6 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 2.7 apg.
Contestant number two: 29.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 8.2 apg.
Granted, the second person averages more assists per game, but other than that the stats are merely identical. In addition, contestant one has a higher free throw percentage and turns the ball over less, although those numbers don't show up on paper as much. That there lies the problem with the NBA and many other sports as well when it comes to naming a season MVP; it's all about the stats. Most valuable player does not mean the best player in the league. It means the most important and significant individual to his prospective team. It's the person that might not score the most points every night, but the one that is vital to his or her team's success. And in the NBA this year, that person is Kevin Durant....to read why Kevin Durant is the rightful MVP of the 2010 NBA season, click here
"To be successful you have to be selfish, or else you never achieve greatness. And once you get to your highest level, then you have to be unselfish. Stay reachable, stay in touch, but most importantly, never be afraid to fail." -MJ