A week ago today, I attended my first ever NBA playoff game. I wrote about hope and joy in my last blog. Here is where the love comes in. And it was also a night of firsts.
I LOVED being at the UC for the Bulls’ first playoff game of the season, where they took on (and defeated) the Milwaukee Bucks.
It was the first playoff game for me — ever.
And it was the first playoff game for DRose since April 28, 2012, when he suffered the ACL injury that caused the world, at least the Bulls basketball world – to stop.
It’s three years later.
It’s also hours, weeks and months of excruciating (and boring) rehab later. During that time, Derrick had to overcome doubters, deal with haters and naysayers, and survive countless work outs. He also worked on his game, and along the way, became a better leader.
That’s the Derrick I got to see last Saturday night.
“I love this player,” said Rose, who rarely refers to himself in the third person. “This player is better.”
Following the game 1 win, Joakim said this, in reference to having DRose back: “I think it was special to all of us. Derrick played really well, and I could just tell before the game he was just — it was like more for the love of the game, you know? It was just good to see him out there competing the way he was competing. It felt really good.”
The Bucks haven’t been a pushover. In fact, they’ve actually lived up to their slogan – “Fear the Deer.” In game three, when the Bulls had only managed to score 11 points by the end of the first quarter, and then were down by 18 in the second…I began to really fear the deer. A lot.
But this team is not all about Derrick. Jimmy scored a career playoff best 25 in game one, then bested that with 31 in game two.
Dun Dun had some huge three-pointers in game three, as did The Snelly Cat. Jo might not be putting up a lot of points, but the “Windex Man” is cleaning the boards, and Pow Pow Pow Pow Pow seems to be strolling through the park on a Sunday afternoon with double doubles.
The fights previously reserved for the “tougher” teams like the Knicks and Nets have moved here to the Midwest, with the unlikely opponents located right in the Bulls’ own backyards up I-94. That it’s WWF on a Monday night at the UC vs. the Thrill-Waukee Bucks – well, I didn’t see that one coming.
What I do see coming is round two in Cleveland, but we’re not supposed to think about the Cavs yet, as we get ready for game four versus the Bucks.
Beat the Bucks, and fear the deer, at least a little bit.