What a difference a year makes.
Almost a year ago to the day, I found myself in Duck, Outer Banks, NC taking in the Bulls first round playoff game vs the 76ers during the Olsen family vacation.
We all know what happened during that game. You, me, we, the basketball world lost DRose for a year+ to a torn ACL.
This year, positioned in the living room of the same condo in Duck watching the same less-than-fabulous TV, the results were thankfully completely different.
The Bulls defeat the Nets 142 to 134 to take a 3-1 lead in their first round playoff series.
In true Bulls fashion, they did it collectively. They found a way. At Mr. Robinson’s playground, you play by different rules. In Nate World, he scores all the points.
Or, at least that was the case on April 27, 2013 in the fourth quarter as he proceeded to single-handedly score 23 points to save the Bulls from a 14-point deficit and bring them into OT.
I was here at the condo in Duck watching the game by myself while the rest of the crew went out exploring, although they re-joined me with less than three minutes in the fourth. At that point, we began brainstorming titles for the blog, which was to have described how the Bulls lost game four, and ended up all tangled 2-2 with Brooklyn. I was less than thrilled about having to come up with a title for yet another loss.
We were going to call it “I should have gone to the dunes.” That’s where Art, Bette, Kevbro and sis-in-law Casey spent the afternoon. I guess they were hang gliding. Or maybe just buying tee-shirts at the gift shop.
Oh ye of little faith. Note to self: You’re a Bulls fan. And when you’re a Bulls fan, anything can happen. One night, you lose to a bottom-feeder. The next night, you bust a streak.
Or bust two streaks.
Or, on a Saturday afternoon in April, 1 p.m. CDT start and all, you decide to bring the basketball world a performance nothing short of epic. Or historic. Or heroic. Try all three.
The heroics came from everyone, in all ways, and from all sides. One-footed Jo really out-performed in the OTs, with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
Coach Thibs used one of my favorite words when he spoke about Jo: “He’s sort of mucking through right now because he hasn’t practiced a lot. He’s doing it on will.”
Captain Kirk played 60 minutes, and I’m just reading now that he had to get an MRI for the injury that I guess he’s been playing with these past few games. He racked up a double double, with 18 points and 14 points.
Big Naz evidently had two monster plays in the final OT. But I missed those. It’s reported that he grabbed a missed Boozer free throw to make a timely basket.
Here in the Outer Banks, when you have a 6 p.m. rez at Bette’s favorite restaurant, the Collington Cafe, you are not late and the car departs at 5:30.
So yours truly missed the final OT.
But this was The State of Nate. If it weren’t for him, there wouldn’t have been a first OT.
Other key contributors all deserve accolades as well. Jimmy, Carlos, Luol, Taj. Remember, there’s no I in team.
Does the fact that Jo was at the Berto Center (Bulls practice facility) shooting baskets late Friday say anything about the team’s character?
Or equally impressive, the fact that Coach Thibs was still at the Berto Center at the time to witness Jo practicing?
When it comes to the Bulls, it’s not a good idea to write the headlines, or the story prematurely.
The Bulls are writing their own history, and I’m going to be here to watch it. Glad I didn’t go to the dunes.