Oh so many reasons to be proud.
Last night, the Bulls defeated the Bobcats (sorry MJ) 103 to 97, their fifth straight victory and currently tied (with Denver) for the longest win streak in the NBA. Not sure how many more times we’ll be able to say that…so best lead with it.
Seven players were in double digits, and that’s without Jimmy Buckets (JB), who couldn’t go due to the thigh injury he suffered in the Milwaukee game the night prior.
Everyone is stepping up. Dunleavy started in place of JB and scored 17.
Cartier Martin signed his 10-day contract on Friday, got off the plane then went to United Center North (the Bradley Center), where he sat on the bench in Thrill-waukee. I guess that’s how he learned the plays.
Last night, Thibs put him in in Q1, time he used to get acclimated. Then in Q2, he made two threes, and finished the game with 11 points.
And what can you say about DJ Augustin? With 20 points, and with his moves, he’s challenging Nate the Great for his Energizer Bunny title.
Stacey King’s poster machine was running continuously, with at least two Taj posters, a Boozer, several Jos and maybe even a Benny the Bull.
Oh, and the Bulls scored 100 points, so all of the fans at the UC got a free Big Mac.
Proud doesn’t begin to describe it.
This was not the way the story was to have been written at the start of the season.
We hadn’t heard of DJ or Cartier, and Luol Deng was going to be accompanying an overly enthusiastic Joakim to All-Star weekend to represent the Bulls for the second year in a row.
DRose was to have been the League MVP.
The Bulls were definitely to have made it to the Eastern Conference Finals…with high hopes of THE Finals after that.
The reality is somewhat different than anyone had predicted, and unlike last season, there was no time to prepare. No Nate the Great. No Marco Belinelli. No unexpected expectations to exceed…
No one was ready for this, and that’s why you, me, the players, and especially Jo, well, everyone needed more than a minute to respond.
But after last night’s victory, Joakim broke his silence, and his commentary is being described by the media he ignored for so long as a soliloquy.
“I’m proud of this team,” said Noah. “We’ve been dealing with a lot of adversity over the year. (But) people know when they come to play Chicago no matter if four guys are on the court we’re going to go out and give everything we have and go hard. When you say Chicago Bulls you are in for a fight. I’m proud to be a part of that. It’s always going to be like that.”
“(But) like I said, there’s more to me than winning and losing games,” said Noah. “I’m proud of the way we’ve been fighting, the resilience of the team so far. “Let’s see what happens. Go into the playoffs with a high seed. I think these are realistic goals for us. All I can do is help this team stay focused on the next game, the task ahead. Be out there on the court and be a good leader, keep everyone’s energy level high and focus on the task at hand.”
“I feel when I come to the game and see the guys selling newspapers on the street; it’s cold outside,” Noah said. “He sees me driving and he’s excited. He’s like, ‘Let’s go Bulls. Get it done tonight.’ I feel I play for that guy.”
“I look in the arena when the team calls a timeout and see this guy who looks this big jump up and down (in the upper deck, 300 level). That’s the guy I play for,” reiterated Noah. “To me, that’s what this city represents, a lot of hardship, adversity. I feel like when I play basketball I want people to be part of their team.”
To read more of Jo’s comments, take a look at Sam Smith’s (my idol) blog, Bulls get fifth straight win over Charlotte, or one by Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago, titled Joakim Noah breaks silence on deal.