You’re welcome, Mark Cuban

So the Bulls’ big winning streak comes to an end in Dallas. Sigh. I though our Bulls were going to close out the season with a 12-game streak or something.

It seemed like the Bulls had this one, at least, until the last three minutes. The other D, Dirk Nowitzki, the proud owner of a championship ring, way too many trips to the All-Star game for me to count, and logging in at seven feet tall. Well, he was a problem.

At these times, you need what they call a closer. Calling Marco. Calling DRose.

But I will take solace in the 25-point performances by Lu, Nate and Los. And Carlos is now tied with some player from Miami…not too well-known…you don’t hear too much about the guy. And he never talks to the refs, nor does he complain about hard fouls. Right, Los is tied with that one for 7th place in the League for double doubles, at 36.

And the deluge of threes caused quite a storm, especially the Nate Robinson three-pointer (should have been four really) from half-court. So I quite enjoyed the Lu and Nate three-point show.

But the lowlights were the missed free throws at the end, and letting that other D get open shots, and then failing to make a basket to tie it up in the end.

Were the Bulls unknowingly guilted into showing Mark Cuban their gratitude for his kindness in early March?

The Bulls’ plane lost an engine, and had to go for a long stay in the hospital. After borrowing the Blackhawks plane for a trip, the Hawks kind of needed it back to travel to one of their own games, you know, to play some hockey. And Cuban, for some unknown reason, loaned the Bulls the Mavs plane to fly to a San Antonio game.

I don’t know, I think the whole thing was part of some evil Cuban plot, and it seemed to have worked. The Bulls woulda coulda shoulda won that game!

But after dinner at Purple Pig last night, followed up with some bananas foster at RL, I’ve calmed down.

Ready to move on to the Pistons, and I know it’s Easter, but maybe the Bulls will just pretend it’s a random Tuesday night in April instead of a holiday, and we can get a win! Sorry, I’m unavailable to join the lineup today due to pre-planned post-Easter brunch food coma recovery time. But I’ll be watching from my couch.

Go Bulls!

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Reflections on “The Game of the Year”

Otherworldly. That’s how I would describe the Bulls’ victory over the Heat Wednesday night.

I was just hoping that the Bulls wouldn’t be embarrassed on national television, since they had established a pretty strong track record for accomplishing that throughout the year.

Please, please, let this be a close game…not a blowout.

But I believe that the Basketball Gods felt that it was time. It was time for the Bulls to show the world what they can really do – in prime time, on a national stage.

Sure, the Heat made history. But our Bulls will always be remembered as the team that took them down.

After all the injuries, the questioning, the doubting, the haters, nay-sayers, will he or won’t he watchers – it was the Bulls’ turn.

And as far as I’m concerned, the Bulls have officially arrived. If the season ended now, I would be the happiest Bulls fan in town. OK, add a Championship, and I’ll be happy X 2, so I’m in favor of adding this accomplishment to Game of the Year.

WHAT YOU THINK YOU BECOME
The season has been a struggle for them. It would be easy to give up, get down or complain. They haven’t done that. Channeling their Coach Thibs, they not only say it, but they believe it. “We have more than enough to win with (in that locker room)”

Jimmy Butler came out of Wednesday night’s victory making a slight edit, and I’m sure Thibs would approve. “We have WAY more than enough to win with.” It really does seem as if what you think you become…

OTHERWORLDLY
Getting back to the idea of otherworldly. On any given night this season, we could expect an otherworldly, or at least, stellar performance from one, or maybe two of the guys, and then something not exactly at that level from the rest. All of the pieces never really came together.

But Wednesday, March 27, 2013 brought a convergence of the highest level of play for everybody. Add in the hype, plus the Bulls fans (I’ve been hard on the fans in the past…this group has to be applauded), maybe a little bit of luck, and unprecedented energy from all the Bulls – and there’s the recipe for the success.

LIEUTENANT DANG, AKA MR. 44 MINUTES
What can you say about Lu? He matched LeBron basket for basket throughout the contest. It was raining 3s, and he ended up with 28 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals. So LeBron had maybe a few more points…blah blah.

LeBron is allegedly supposedly the best basketball player on the planet. Hmm, Lu is giving him a run for his money. And Lu is way nicer, and funnier.

Here’s what Luol had to say about Jimmy Butler’s dunk, converted from Lu’s pass.

“The pass was unreal, right on point,” Deng deadpanned. “He couldn’t have missed it, a great play by me.”

WHAT, OR RATHER, WHO’S NOT TO LOVE?
I’m just not sure if I could get as excited about another NBA team as I am about this year’s Bulls team.

There’s no one I don’t like. It’s not all about showmanship. It’s about getting the job done. OK, now I sound like Thibs. Know your job. Do your job.

But how could anyone not like Jimmy Butler? His poster production is surging! He takes big shots, he’s everywhere on defense, and besides all that, he’s so cute! Spoken like a true 46-year old middle-aged lady fan.

Finally, Boozer is getting what he deserves. Just a little respect. Because I was there at the UC for games when my neighbors down the row booed him. And my loyal readers know how I feel about booing!

Boozer is tied for 8th in double doubles this season. He’s become a rock this year, and I like his attitude.

And Kirk with his Hinrich Maneuvers made two huge plays – when he took down LeBron, and then at the end of the game when he stole the ball right out of Bosh’s hands! Game-changing.

JUST ONE WISH
So if there’s anything at all I wish we could have done differently, other than the fact I was so nervous during the game that I almost made myself sick…it’s this. I’m just heartbroken that not everyone was there to take part in the historic game and bask in the victory. I’m talking about Jo, Rip and Marco, and D(Rose). I just wish they could have been part of the history. Certainly, we have not seen the last of any of them though.

LOOKING AHEAD
Warning – it could get a little ugly on Saturday, since our vampire Bulls are going to have to come out mid-day for a 1 p.m. start vs. the Mavs. Can we maybe skip it and duplicate the same game as Wednesday, just against a different team?

And Easter Sunday, as we recover from the brunching and lunching, it’s Bulls vs. the Pistons. Hopefully the spectators watching from home are the only ones in the lull of a food coma, and the Bulls return to the UC with their game of the year moves and mentality.

FINAL THOUGHT
Jimmy Butler said he saw Coach Thibs smile. But if you looked away too quickly, you missed it. We’re getting somewhere here. At least we have a witness to the smile. Enough of that. Must get back to the tape.

Happy birthday to me – Los Bulls win!

No Jo.

No Rip.

No Marco.

No D(Rose).

No problem.

My birthday wish comes true…and I’m sure Los Bulls did it all for me.

Just one question – did we win the Championship? Because it sure seemed like that kinda win.

Got a lot done around the house during the final four minutes since was too nervous to watch and just kept the volume on.

This more than makes up for any of the holiday losses, as well as the bottom-feeder fiascoes.

Basketball Gods on our side? Maybe just a bit. Because it sure seemed like lotsa shots were going in, even the three-pointers. No more basketball hoop coverings!

Think I best go get on my best party-wear and head out to find Los Bullys for a celebratory night on the town. Because there’s a lot to celebrate tonight.

Los Bulls beat El Heat! Streak ends in Chi-town.

Thanks Bulls, for the best birthday present ever.

And now, the starting lineup for your Chicago Bulls

Pre-game interview with Coach Thibs at the Target Center prior to Bulls vs. Timberwolves, Sunday, March 24, 2013

Reporter 1: So, who’s starting tonight, Coach?

Thibs: Don’t know.

Reporter 2: Coach, it’s 20 minutes ‘til game time. When will you know?

Thibs: Don’t know.

Reporter 3: Is it true Benny (the Bull) might start?

Thibs. That I do know. He can’t go. Couldn’t make the trip. Got nicked up at the UC last night during popcorn throwing antics.

Reporter 4: OK, what about some ringer, #20 from the East Coast? We heard he was a big star in Brooklyn? Something Olsen.

Thibs: We couldn’t get him. He’s running a worldwide eBay business now. It’s Art Olsen, but he goes by viking20.

Reporter 1 (Q2): We heard his daughter is a new up-and-comer from the East Bank Club.

Thibs: No. Not gonna work. Couldn’t afford her. Put us over the cap.

In all seriousness…despite losing Marco to an ab injury, and leaving Jo back in Chi-town to get more treatment for the plantar, the Bulls prevail in Minnescrapolis.

So there’s a big two-game win streak going on here in the Central Division, almost rivaling some other Eastern Conference win streak.

Evidently, one streak will be broken on Wednesday.

If my Bulls and your Bulls can do it collectively again vs. the hated Heat, there’s a fighting chance.

All we need is Nate with 22, Jimmy G (G is for Gets) Buckets with 20, Lu with 17 and his monster defense, The Booze Cruise with another 19, Taj with a double double again, Kirk running the show and Naz protecting the basket.

And, oh how sweet it will be if Jo and Marco re-join the team. But if not, it’s OK, because here are the Bulls’ not-so-secret keys to the game, courtesy of Coach Thibs.

It’s all about:
Next man up.
We’ve got more than enough to win.
Know your job and do your job.
We have to do it collectively.
Unite and inspire.

Let’s go Bulls! Beat the Heat. It’ll be the best birthday present ever.

The streak continues

No, I’m not talking Heat or Nuggets.

Slightly lesser-known, and not garnering quite as much coverage, it’s the three-year consecutive win streak whereby the Bulls beat their opponent for my birthday game!

Year 1: March 25, 2011 – Bulls defeat Grizzlies 99 to 96.
Year 2: March 24, 2012 – Bulls defeat Raptors in OT 102 to 101.
Year 3: March 23, 2013 – Bulls defeat Pacers 87 to 84.

I had to revise my birthday wish list on the fly, from “All I want for my birfday is The Return” to “How about I’ll just take a win.”

Got to the UC parking lot around 5:26. Gates open at 5:30. Got to watch DRose warm up for about 40 minutes.

When the Bulls took the floor aroun 6:30ish prior to the 7 p.m. CDT start, I had to call security. Where’s Jo? What did you do with Jo? Searching. Looking. He is usually jumps rope pre-game. Couldn’t see him anywhere, and he’s pretty hard to miss. Figured his hair was taking longer than usual to fix, or his tummy didn’t feel good or something.

Since my neighbors further down in row F of section 106 were no help, nor was the couple behind me, took to iPhone and quick google search revealed the unthinkable. The plantar’s back! Jo had to “take a seat.”

Well, he didn’t take that seat in the UC. I guess he was getting more treatment in the locker room, or wherever it is the players (aka half of the Bulls starting lineup on any given night) hang when they’re injured and doing their jobs, which according to Thibs, at that point, is to get treatment and do their rehab.

The theme of the night – “Next man up.”

Calling Nazr. Nazr Mohammed.

Is there a Daequan Cook in the house?

So the little-known, lesser played heroes of last night’s game were Nazr and Daequan. Nazr’s a beast, and although he has a reputation for being an “old man” (I think he’s 35. Sigh), and not so quick on his feet. Umm, other than Rip (you remember him – he used to start, former UConn player, now suffering back problems), the only other Bulls player to have won an NBA championship is Mr. Mohammed.

I like this guy. He rocked it, and then Daequan. What can I say? I get so excited when the kid scores. Fitting, I would say that he really cooked last night…given the giveaway for the first x-thousand fans to enter the UC was a Bulls oven mitt. Yes, I’m the proud owner of said oven mitt, which will come in handy for all of the cooking I do (that’s a joke).

But Daequan was on it, on offense and defense, made key shots. He even sacrificed his body.

Play was supposed to be taking place on our end of the court, but then all of a sudden, Kirk and some of the other guys abandoned play down by us, and for some unknown reason, sprinted down to the other end. That’s because they finally realized they had left their teammate, Daequan lying injured, with the cheerleaders (not sure he minded), a cameraman and some equipment. And it seemed like a pretty long time he was on the floor, with the guys surrounding him.

Poor Daequan. Add him to the list. Thigh injury.

Luol and Los. What can you say? Lu was back to his old tricks again, with 20 points and Carlos had 18 and some kind of dunk over one of the 7-foot Pacers. They all seem to be 7 feet tall, so not sure which one it was.

So the game ended with us hugging and high-fiving our neighbors. The lady next to us. The 10-year kid and his Dad behind us. The 40-something “kid” and his Dad in front of us. It was a big love fest.

The birthday win streak lives on! And while the Bulls didn’t quite pull off a 68-point win ala UConn women, we’ll take the W. At this point, any kind of W will do.

Later today, on to the Timberwolves. No DRose, no Jo, no Rip. Not sure about Daequan, and Kirk got dinged up again last night (surprise). So, short-handed, but it’s next man up.

Eagerly awaiting the change to “Next man or woman up.” Remember, Cinjo is waiting in the wings, especially after practicing spin moves, over and under (hook shots) and the Euro Step at her basketball lesson yesterday.

And then there’s “that other team,” Miami on Wednesday. Quite a birthday week. Let’s hope last night’s win was not my final gift this birfday season.

Portland loss – only one explanation

Spoiler alert.

This is not a happy blog. For anyone not in the mood for this unfortunate reality, please check back on Sunday, when I promise to bring back the chipper.

There is only one plausible explanation for last night’s unexpected loss to the Portland Trailblazers. The Bulls are saving everything they have for my birthday game this Saturday.

As my loyal blog readers know, round two of my Bulls obsession began after I attended a “birthday” Bulls game, where DRose played, and no surprise, they won. Second year, Luol Deng hit the game-winning shot in OT.

So the streak will continue. The Bulls are conserving their energy for tomorrow night vs. the Pacers, and this blogger will pull herself together for the next post, with a “happy blog.”

I’ve read a few of the articles this morning, since I could only muster up the strength to watch the first half last night. I just cannot stand to watch my poor Bulls struggle like that.

The consensus, from KC Johnson and the usual suspects is that they have just run out of gas. Nothing left in the tank. From the injuries, to playing roles other than the one you’re supposed to be in, to will he or won’t he.

It’s just way too much. I still contend that the turning point was the loss to the Nets in January. Up until then, the Bulls had surprised everyone (well, we won’t count games in/around holidays, aka Christmas, New Year’s), and exceeded expectations.

The sheer desire to succeed, hold down the fort until you-know-who returned, fear of Thibs, a work ethic like no other NBA team. These seem to be some of the factors which added up to what started out as a fine season.

But since then, the wheels seemed to have fallen off, and the bus just doesn’t seem to be headed in right direction. Likely, I’ve totally botched several analogies here, but you get my drift.

We’re proud here in Chicago. We’re not going to boo you, our beloved Bulls, like they do to the home teams in NYC or Philly when things aren’t going our way.

No matter how this season turns out, for what you have accomplished, for those unexpected and surprising nights when you beat the likes of those “bottom feeders” like the Celtics, Knicks, Heat – we thank you.

Even if the summer starts a little early for you, and for us, “they” are saying just wait until 2014. That’s a long time to wait, so for now, I’m going to be at the UC, seventh row, for the birthday game, and while I hope the win streak continues, I will applaud you no matter what.

And what’s really important in life? Bulls domination certainly as top of my list.

But recent real-life concerns, such as the passing of a friend, just 46 like me, demonstrate what’s truly important. As Lin Brehmer, everyone’s best friend in the whole world (WXRT morning deejay) says, “It’s great to be alive.” So today, I’m grateful I’m here.

Matt Suhar, you will be missed.

Heartbreak and heart attack at the UC

Luck of the Irish was not on our side tonight, despite the green uniforms.

Heartbreak for the Bulls and their fans with the one-point “loss” to the Nuggets, and a night at the hospital for Coach Thibs to recover from self-induced heart attack during fit over goal-tending call (aka Jo’s game-winning basket).

Wait…the Coach’s press conference is on. Thibs is still with us. But I think he is going to get tossed out of the League…he’s the opposite of happy. He is no fan of the officials.

So we got one stolen from us at the UC.

Despite an awful second quarter, the Bulls fought like I’ve never seen them fight before in the second half. When they cut the Nuggets’ lead down to four, I almost cried (tears of joy)! And I confirm that I’m crying now (tears of sadness/madness).

Luol I think had three minutes of rest, and Nate maybe seven. Nate scored almost as many minutes as he played.

And how about Jo? Sporting a new updo, he blocked shots, stole the ball, made key baskets, fired up the troops.

And depending on who you ask – made the game-winning basket.

So Bulls, thanks for an amazing game. You won it, even though the officials robbed us.

We try harder

So at the “emergency” team meeting Thibs called on Thursday to address the previous night’s 42-point loss, the theme of his speech is reported to have been summed up with just one word:

Try.

And try they did, as the Bulls faced the Warriors in Oakland last night.

Our Bulls are back. That’s the kind of Bulls team about which I can get excited. That kind of Bulls basketball, you can be proud to watch on ABC, TNT, NBA-TV. I think I dozed off for a few minutes, and when I awoke, a bit confused, I figured they were showing highlights of yesteryear. Of some other Bulls team.

This couldn’t be the ’12-’13 Bulls?

Today I got my Bulls shirts back out, and could wear one proudly to the Club. No more hiding.

And I had been thinking, since Wednesday, that growing desperate; our Bulls had concocted a rather surprising strategy. That being to see just how dismal of a performance they could employ in order to guilt Mr. Rose to re-joining them. They certainly achieved that goal on Wednesday.

In fact, they had done a pretty darn good job of it through February, culminating with the nightmare at the Sleep Train arena.

Since even the 42-point loss and all-around embarrassing play were not enough to incent DRose to enter the lineup, I guess our Bulls figured they would just do the next-best thing – destroy the Warriors.

In retrospect, it was the right thing to do. They chose to win. They did more than try. They outworked them. There’s been this theme about intensity, especially as of late, but throughout the season, and always with the Bulls. Whether it was Norm Van Lier pleading for 48 minutes of intensity. Or on the opposite end of the spectrum, more recently – the Bulls’ lack of it.

Intensity sums it up.

Warriors Coach Mark Jackson had this to say: “Got outworked…We did not meet their intensity and that is the disappointing part of it because the fact of the matter is, we are not going to win ball games if we don’t do that.”

Hmm. It seems like Coach Jackson stole Thibs’ lines from the post-game press conferences these past several Bulls games.

I, for one, wouldn’t have minded joining the Bulls on the charter back from sunny CA to this lovely snowy Chicago St. Patrick’s Day celebration Saturday. Because I venture to say that was a pretty joyful group of lucky Irishmen on the four-hour flight (everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, right)?

Luck of the Irish?

If so, let’s hope it continues.

And if not, let’s hope our Bulls keeping trying.

PS – Countdown one week until the birthday game. Watch out Pacers.

California nightmare

So it’s the morning after the nightmare that was. The Bulls lost by more than I can count to the lowly Kings.

As you can imagine, I’ve got a lot to say about this one.

But it’s 6:30 a.m. CDT, and I’m getting ready for work. Someone has to make the $$$ to try to up the savings account since funds keeps getting depleted to purchase Bulls tickets. However, given recent happenings, my savings may once again start to reach targeted levels.

Just one word.

NIGHTMARE.

So here’s my update on March 15.

I’m still in denial, and haven’t been able to watch any post-nightmare coverage. But I’ve been so busy with work anyway, so that’s all worked out.

When I turned off the TV, the Bulls were down by 20. When I went to bed, it was 30. I just read this morning in the Trib that they lost by 42. I conducted a few quick online searches and found out that lotsa teams have lost by way more than that, so I don’t think the Bulls set any records.

But it sure seemed like they were trying.

The only way I can get over this is by making fun of the entire situation. So, here’s my top 10+ list as to why the Bulls lost by 42 points to the lowly Sacramento Kings (minus their star player):

10. Kings secretly destroyed all computers, TVs, electronic equipment so Bulls unable to watch game tape.
9. Bulls dysfunctional after sudden departure of Lou Amundson.
8. Too much time in the CA sun.
7. Jo and Los both upset with way hair turned out, putting entire team on edge.
6. Benny the Bull not cleared for the trip, leading to uneasiness across entire team.
5. Cinjo also not cleared for trip. Without her cones, and dribble / shooting drills, team neither unable to protect the basketball nor to get any baskets.
4. Bulls wanted to personify the name of arena where game was played – Sleep Train. Or better yet, Get on the Sleep Train.
3. Growing jealous of Heat’s 20-game winning streak, looking to set record of their own in form of biggest loss of the season.
2. Jo had entire team, including Thibs out for an all-rage night prior to game.
1. Spent all day watching covering of new Pope.
1a. Trying to sink down lower in Eastern Conference so they can start their summers early, either by losing to the Heat in Round One, or just departing before the post-season.
1b. Saving themselves for a big win at Cinjo’s March 23 birfday game.

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