Why I love my Bulls (the season in review)

For establishing themselves as the streakbusters…breaking the Heat’s 27-game win streak…then breaking the Knicks’ 13-game win streak…for winning a round one playoff series no one gave them a chance to win…for bringing us one of the MOST spectacular playoff games of all time, the triple overtime win against the Nets in game four…solidifying Nate Robinson as the biggest 5 foot 8 force in the NBA…the emergence of Jimmy Butler, who played five 48-minutes games in the playoffs, after playing limited minutes in last season’s playoffs…for being stand-up guys…for all of the players and the coach presenting a supportive and united front to the media about Derrick Rose being out…for embracing the next man up…we have more than enough to win with mentality…for bringing back Rip Hamilton in the final Heat playoff games (where he should have been playing all along)…for battling through the pandemic game, IVs, barf buckets, chills and all…for Joakim’s miraculous recovery in the Nets series; without him, there would not have been a series…for Jo’s guarantee they’d win game 7 against the Nets…for winning game 7 against the Nets…for winning my birfday game against the giants (oops, I mean Pacers)…for Marco hitting numerous game-winning shots throughout the season…for Luol Deng and Joakim Noah being named All-Stars…for inspiring me to take basketball lessons and write a blog…for Carlos Boozer being the player the Bulls need him to be, and quieting the nay-sayers…for Luol Deng remaining the glue…for Coach Thibs smiling – once (Jimmy Butler saw him)…for making it a game as they lost to the Heat in the final game of their round two playoff series…more importantly, for stunning the Heat in the first game of the series, when no one said they could or would…

I’ve had a hard time, these past few weeks, as I’ve mourned the final losses. I wanted the season to go on and on and on. And I wanted to watch the Bulls defeat the Pacers, oops, I mean, Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals and then go on to win the NBA championship. I guess it’s just not yet our Bulls’ time.

But one thing for certain is clear: it was a most memorable season, and one I’ll never forget. There’s a lot to look forward to next year. And given how the Bulls prevailed, despite the trials and tribulations of this season, one has to believe great things are in store. The rest of the NBA best watch out. Just think about what will happen when the Bulls have their full lineup of healthy players. And me taking my lessons and writing my blog and being their #1 fan. Now that’s a winning combination!

Can you say Championship #7?

Thanks for the memories.

See Red, and Go Bulls!

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Proud

Here is what Jo and Carlos had to say during the post-game press conference as their season came to a close:

“I’m proud of the character of this team.” – Jo

“I’m proud of my guys. We’ve got warriors here.” – Carlos

That kind of sums it up. I’m proud of our Bulls, and extremely proud to be a Bulls fan.

In an upcoming post, I’ll take a look back at highlights from this season of unexpected, memorable ups and unfortunate, forgettable lows (actually, I’ll skip the lows, I’ve erased them from my memory), and revisit the key outcomes that will help lead the Bulls into championship position next season.

Thank you, Bulls for more than exceeding expectations.

“We wouldn’t go away.” – Coach Thibs

And I, for one, am glad about that!

But I just don’t think I can start watching baseball.

Oh, how I miss my Bulls – already!

Nothing left in the tank

Our Bulls didn’t bring it to the UC tonight. I think the League sabotaged the home team with this early start time. You know what happens when the games don’t start at 7 p.m. local time!

Or maybe it’s just that everyone’s given all they had, and more, just to get here. The energy wasn’t there tonight, from the minute the game started.

And neither was one of those very important components in basketball – the ability to make shots.

So not the best day (night) at the office, but I found a few silver linings. And to cheer myself up, once I’m finished with this unfortunate blog, I’m going to eat some frozen yogurt I bought earlier, and we’ll hope our Bullys can pull off a “Miracle in Miami” on Wednesday.

Silver Linings from Bulls Loss to the Evil Heat in Game 4 of Round 2 of the Playoffs

1.) Return of RIP! He got a big three when he came in, and except for the mis-guided pass he just sent to a Heat player, his passing was stellar. Everyone’s reporting the crowd gave him a big old welcome…that seems to be the last time we heard the crowd. Right, that was in what, Q1? Not too much else to cheer about.
2.) No one else got injured.
3.) I didn’t take out a loan to buy a ticket to the game. Will use the $$$ to buy some fabulous shoes.
4.) No barf trash cans needed, although with the 26% shooting, I guess all attendees coulda used one.
5.) Gave Nets run for their $$ when it comes to putting the crowd to sleep.

Kidding around is the only way I can handle the loss.

In all seriousness, I love our Bulls. Always have, always will.

It’s not over ’til it’s over. See you in Miami.

Coach Thibs – I’m available. And I’ve mastered the pump fake.

We have more than enough

The Bulls have more than enough heart.

But do they have enough mental fortitude to withstand what has become 55 zillion strikes against them? That is, can they keep their heads in it and win this series?

If it’s not the injuries, the illness, the hospital stays, now it’s what seems to be some kind of (shocking) favoritism being shown to that other team.

Let’s face it. The NBA does NOT want our Chicago Bulls to get anywhere further than this. Are they OK with the Bulls having made it to round two?

Well, maybe. Because the Nets would have put all of us (the fans) to sleep, that is, if the players didn’t fall asleep themselves, either on the court or on the bench. Snore. Yawn.

With the Bulls, there’s not too much chance of dozing off. In fact, the drama, the show, the Friday Night Fight in Chi. Well, the NBA probably says, “bring it” to all of that.

Some are claiming it’s all rigged. Zero personal fouls on LeBron James? What? Seriously? What game was Joey Crawford at? The Friday night YMCA men’s league?

Bulls personal fouls: Jo-6 and Marco-6 (that’s called fouling out I do believe), Jimmy-5 (including the “phantom foul” at the outset, where he got called for basically standing too close to LeBron), Carlos-4, Nate-3. Remember, no math whiz here, but that adds up to 24.

A total of 8 fouls assessed against the Heat starters, and zippo on LeBron.

Call the cops.

Despite all of that, the game was 100% winnable. The Bulls coulda woulda shoulda had that one. Tied at the end of the third quarter, with each team taking its turn with the lead.

So the Bulls let the refs get the best of them. They lost their composure, for the second game in a row.

The theme for the Bulls this year has been more than enough to win with in that locker room. And I know and you know the Bulls have more than enough to win with in their hearts. Now, it comes down to their heads.

Not to make excuses…ah, what the heck, I’m going to make excuses. The Heat’s biggest injury is that Dwayne Wade has a boo boo on his knee. DWade, I’ve got a Band-Aid here for you.

I’ll exceed my word limit if I list the injuries to the Bulls’ roster. Reinforcements in the form of Scottie Pippen and Mayor Rahm Emmanuel (he’s taller than Nate, you never know) were both sitting court side. Hmmm, why didn’t Thibs yell for them?

Thibs is playing second and third string players as starters, and rotating in the rookie and Taj Gibson, and my man Big Naz (when he hasn’t been tossed from the game).

No matter what happens, and no matter how hard the NBA tries to take the series from the Bulls, we know one thing for certain is sure.

They will never, never, never, never, ever, ever give up. I respect, admire and love them for that.

And I should channel Coach Thibs and recognize that how I handle the losses says a lot about my character. So I guess the crying, stomping, complaining and making excuses has to stop right now.

America has learned not to underestimate our Bulls, undermanned, shorthanded, and all. Down 2-1.

No problem. On to the next game. Do your job. Next man up.

Mental, physical and emotional toughness. Head and heart.

FAVORITE MOMENT
Joakim Noah “applauding” Bosh when he was yelling at Chalmers for whatever Chalmers had evidently done wrong most recently. Conversely, the Bulls all huddle up together in the middle of the floor for their own conferences. There’s no yelling.

I dunno, which is classier?

FASHION NOTES
On a fashion note, whassup with DRose and Captain Kirk and their pocket squares? For a minute, I was going to give Booz a shout out for his post-game press conference attire. But I just watched the video and realized he’s wearing a shirt with a pattern like a picnic tablecloth.

Ah, I’ll let that go. More importantly, he was the new-and-improved Carlos we love, with 21 points. The Bulls will need more of the same on Monday.

See you back here then for the victory blog.

See Red, and Go Bulls!

Just tryin’ to keep it interesting

And that’s probably all I’m going to say about game two of this series.

As one of my pals tweeted earlier, this is just a calculated strategy to get Bulls fans amped up for game three.

Certainly hope that’s true, because I was already going to buy my ticket for the Bulls vs. Pacers Eastern Conference Finals. That’s called getting ahead of yourself.

Anyhoo, as you can imagine, your faithful Bulls Banter blogger has seen better nights…just like our Bullys.

On the upside, the post-game press conference is sure to be entertaining. As if the game wasn’t enough.

See you in Chicago for game three.

Big three come up big in Miami, steal game 1

So the big three – Nate Robinson (27 points), Jimmy “48 minutes” Butler (21 points) and Joakim Noah (13 points) were too much for that other team. It must be difficult to get psyched up for a game, after suffering through an eight-day break in the cold, dismal Miami weather.

Discard your brooms naysayers and haters, it isn’t, nor was it ever going to be a sweep. And yet another streak comes to an end. The Heat had won 12 in a row. LeBron, these are the Bulls, not that team from north of the border (Bucks).

While Jo hadn’t guaranteed this one, he’s probably wishing he had, so he’d be two for two.

The battle of talent vs. toughness moved from Brooklyn to Miami, and toughness prevailed once again.

Ever looking to add to the banged-up storyline, this time Nate exchanged his barf bucket for some time in the locker room getting 10 stitches on his lip. Then he proceeded to return in the second half to score 24 of his 27.

Note that the MVP only scored 24 total in the game, and just two in the first half. I’m becoming quite fond of these stats and numbers. Because boy, do they make our Bulls look good.

And the big three (Nate, Jimmy and Jo) got more than enough help from the likes of Marco, Taj and Carlos.

The Bulls did not get the memo. Or, somebody forgot to tell them they were supposed to lose.

It’s a story of contrasts.

The team with the MVP, the original big three, “Hollywood” as Jo likes to say, with their YouTube videos and pre-game antics, healthy save for Dwayne Wade’s bum knee.

I’ll raise you a guy in a hospital bed, two flu-ridden players, one recovering superstar (you may have seen him on the bench in sharp suits), a guy on one foot, a barf bag and some stitches.

The biggest competition here seems to be who can put together the worst outfit for the post-game interviews. I’ll give game 1 to Dwayne Wade, with his v-neck shirt (which seemed to be adorned in a pattern of New England-like fall leaves) and tan blazer. But Nate the Great, as always, is up for any challenge. His blue polka-dotted shirt sure came close.

Talent vs. toughness. I say toughness prevails in six games. And Jo, I’m not just someone watching NBA basketball games from my couch. I’m a player too (six months of lessons at EBC, CMO!). So I think my opinion counts.

See Red, and Go Bulls!

Jo Show heads from Brooklyn to Miami

The Bulls pull off an unprecedented game 7 playoff win vs. the Nets last night, defeating Brooklyn in the cushy new Barclays Center 99-93. In retrospect, we should have expected nothing less.

After all, Jo guaranteed the win following the Bulls’ loss in game 6, despite the fact that the team was headed to hostile territory. And despite the fact that Luol and Captain Kirk were both out.

I wanted to believe him, really I did.

But even me, Cinjo, Bulls Banter blogger and #1 Bulls fan was skeptical. But I should know better than to question Joakim. He believes, His teammates believe. Coach Thibs believes.

And in Brooklyn, they delivered. Put all of the clichés together, and you come up with next man up do your job we need everybody we have more than enough to win with.

I’ll bottom line it for you – I was nervous. Yes indeedy, I was very nervous about this game. I guess it was fortuitous that a dinner I had scheduled with my pal MOC about two months prior was still a go for 7:30 p.m. CDT. I figured if the Bulls season ended in Brooklyn, it was just as well that I didn’t have to watch, but rather enjoy a lovely evening at Tuscany restaurant in Kenosha, WI with Michelle.

Arrangements were made with my brother, Kevin “Kevbro” Olsen to provide key updates via text throughout the night. When the texts started coming through during halftime, end of Q3, and after that, and the Bulls were consistently leading, well, I guess my “dinner in Wisconsin strategy” seemed to work.

Listened to some post-game coverage on the radio during the drive home, then watched the game replay on Comcast SportsNet from 12:30 until 3 a.m. In keeping with tradition, fell asleep during the third quarter. You’ve gotta gimme a break here…I’m not used to the all-night rages any more, even if it’s only lying on the couch watching Bulls basketball.

Jo’s transformation from game 1 to 7 of this series is nothing short of remarkable. Here’s a guy who was obviously despondent prior to the start of the series. Despite conducting every kind of treatment possible on his foot, followed by chants and séances, it didn’t look like he was going to be ready to go.

The kid could hardly walk down the street for a stroll, and seeing him run up and down the court in game 1. Well, for me, that was extremely difficult to watch.

Fast forward to game 6, the pandemic game, with the trash can barf buckets, and I guess Jo’s labored lumbering took second place.

Jo delivers a double double, with 24 points, 14 rebounds and 6 blocked shots. His enthusiasm helped to propel the team to an unexpected, unprecedented, hard-fought, well-deserved victory. Marco Belinelli matched Jo in points, with 24. Carlos Boozer adds 17. Nate the Great added 12, and Jimmy “48 minutes” Butler chipped in 9.

Daequan Cook, rookie Marquis Teague, my man Big Naz and Taj Gibson all contributed big-time.

So lesson learned here. I’m going to listen to Jo from now on. He said it was hostile in Brooklyn. Well, maybe not so much, with his entourage (Mom, sis, pals, friends) there in the stands for him, and a pretty good Bulls contingent in their “See Red” shirts. Add on the Brooklyn Nets fans, who boo the home team more than the Knicks. Ah, NY rivalries…a thing of beauty.

The Bulls head to the most hostile of territories on Monday. The Bulls’ fiercest rivals, some other team, not too well-known, and NEVER talked about – I think they’re called the Heat? Yup, they’re next up.

Different big stage in a different big city.

Same Bulls team.

TBD starting lineup.

Same win guarantee.

Go Bulls.

Note: This blogger sends well wishes to our warrior and truest of all competitors, Luol Deng for a speedy recovery. And, to Captain Kirk, may your bruise heal quickly, as we need you back to run the show.

It’s not the size of the dog in the fight

As I watched the Bulls give everything they have last night (and more), this came to mind:

“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”

Did the Bulls lose game 6?

Yes?

Did they go down fighting, like they have all year?

Absolutely?

Was it close?

Just a three-point loss, 95 to 92.

Indeed, Bulls fans everywhere are disappointed. Yours truly is exhibit A. But the Bulls’ performance in game 6 vs. the Nets is a true testament to the kind of guys they are.

Folks, we’ve reached new levels of short-handed. We’re playing with our third-string point guard (Nate). One All-Star has one foot (Jo) and one All-Star (Luol) was sent home to bed after spending the day getting fluids via an IV. This was following a trip to the ER the day prior for a spinal tap.

Forgot to mention that Nate was barfing into a trash can on the bench during time outs, bringing a whole new dimension to Thibs’ game plan.

“A couple of times I had to throw up during the game, but I didn’t know if they’d call a foul on me if I threw up on Deron Williams. I’ll have to check the rulebook on that one,” Nate said.

Marco and Jimmy really stepped up, and Jo is beginning to seemingly move up and down the court more easily. It’s probably an optical illusion. And Boozer, again, valiant. If only the pesky Nets would get out of his way and let him shoot! CMO!

Now many will fault Coach Thibs because made minimal use of the bench players. And do I feel badly that our UConn man Rip hardly played, and that Nazr didn’t get many minutes? Absolutely.

But given the fluid nature of the starting lineup (Thibs used seven different lineups against the Nets. The Nets used the same lineup for all games vs. the Bulls), he’s already got most of his second unit on the floor at the tap anyway.

I have to vehemently disagree with TNT analyst Charles Barkley’s pre-game statement about “I don’t care how sick you are, you’ve got to find a way to play.” [paraphrased]. Well that’s fine, Sir Charles. Does possible viral meningitis excuse Luol? And, perhaps Nate puking throughout the game will suffice? Honestly! [Note – I understand Luol does not have meningitis.]

But I actually do agree with Barkley on one point. That has to do with the fact that the Nets should be winning by lots more points than three given they’re playing healthy, and with limited injuries. Yet they seem to just kind of saunter along, like it’s a walk in the park. I guess the Bulls should be grateful for this lackadaisical approach.

I couldn’t be more proud of my Bulls. For fighting, never giving up, believing in each other, and for bringing fans like me, you, us an unbelievable, unexpected season of amazing victories and milestones.

So about Saturday’s game 7. This fan has a long-standing dinner engagement set for Saturday evening, so she’ll miss most of game 7. It could be better that way, because no matter the outcome, I’d probably send myself to the ER anyway. Heart attack brought on by too much excitement.

This year was to be the one I made it to the UC for my first playoff game. I still believe it can happen, although the Bulls may need some reinforcements to make it out of Brooklyn to Miami on Saturday.

Scratch that. We have more than enough to win with. Way more than enough.

See you at the UC for round two next weekend.

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