It’s my middle name, and it’s what the Bulls need

Posted May 30, 2015 by Cindy Joy “Cinjo” Olsen

Joy.

I will humbly credit the unofficial official Bulls blogger Sam Smith with the theme of this blog. But I will also venture to guess that his spin is different than mine, as I’m pretty sure his middle name isn’t Joy.

In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s been a bit quiet here at Bulls Banter. Some of us are having a difficult time coping with the loss. And it’s now not only the loss to the Cavs in the playoffs, leading to an early start of summer vacation, it’s also the loss of my favorite coach and yours, Thibs.

I drafted a blog last weekend, and tried to find a way to sound positive. It really wasn’t working out too well. Delete. Although we’ll have to get through some of the negative reality first, we’ll end more on a high note in this blog.

But let’s just say it like it is. Joy has been far from what I’ve been feeling this past month since the Bulls’ downfall.

It’s more like sadness, pain, angst, disappointment and woe. What’s so difficult about this year is the Bulls could have beat those Cavs. The series was there for the taking.

Why, why, oh why couldn’t they pull out a win? They were up 2 games to 1, and that pesky LeBron counters DRose’s game-winner with a game-winner of his own in game 4. It was kind of over then.

And that series, a microcosm of the entire season, seemed to be characterized by lack of joy.

Maybe too much Thibs? Too much stress from DRose going out with an injury yet again at the end of February? The effects of the dysfunction between Thibs and management?

We’ll always wonder, why, when everyone was as close to healthy as possible, did the Bulls seemingly lose their love for the game? We’ll never truly know the answer, and I’m heartbroken, and always will be, about how the season ended, about how management treated Thibs when they let him go, and about not making it to the Finals with our Bulls.

Moving to next season, it’s all about change, and about re-discovering the joy. The Bulls have been the little engine that could for all of those seasons Derrick was out. They exceeded everyone’s wildest expectations. This year, they ran out of steam.

And I will contend that Thibs (not unlike the author of Bulls Banter), finds joy in the work.

But that’s not necessarily the case with everyday folks, and even with superstar basketball players.

The players all evacuated Chicago and the Bulls practice facility for the summer just to get away from Thibs and his drills (DRose to Los Angeles area, JB holed up in a house in TX, working out three times/day in some sweaty gym, Joakim on a beach somewhere, or working out with surfer Laird Hamilton).

Let’s face it, Thibs is kind of an exception, not the rule. Most people like a little more fun and a little less structure, film-watching and Mikan drills. And maybe a bit of rest once in a while.

And you cannot entirely blame Thibs for what seemed to be a joyless Bulls season, especially at the end. Sam Smith wrote in his blog, The Thibodeau Story from Start to Finish, “In the playoffs, players often talk about that joy to the game enabling you to get through the difficult times. It seemed mostly a joyless Bulls group this season, less the issues between Thibodeau and his bosses and just that the inexorable and unforgiving nature of it all catching up to them.”

Looking back, there were definitely moments we’ll never forget from this season, and while I haven’t watched any basketball at all whatsoever since the second half of the Bulls’ game six loss to those other guys, when I’m ready, there are plenty of happy memories awaiting me on the DVR.

Here are just a few of my favorite highlights, for which I thank our Bulls.

Defeating the Warriors on their home court. The E’Twaun Moore game-winning shot against the Thunder. Derrick Rose returning – just returning. DRose returning again, and showing flashes of brilliance during the playoffs. His game-winner versus Cleveland in game 3 of the playoffs. Thibs for his fist pump following that shot. Aaron Brooks’ scoring deluges. Pau’s double doubles. Taj for being the bigger man…for putting on his tough Brooklyn game face when he became the sixth man again. Jo for trying the best he could, even though he was only a fraction of himself. (And for RockYourDrop.) Tony Snell’s three-pointers. Kirk for just trying. Thibs for smiling once. Big Naz – for always being ready. For the big win versus the Spurs. Mike Dunleavy for adding consistency and acting as a stabilizing force. For enabling me to attend my first playoff game. Nicola Mirotic for big scoring lifts at just the right times during the regular season. For the rooks, Cameron Bairstow and Doug McDermott, who were real pros. The emergence of Jimmy Butler. The pre-All-Star break win versus the Cavs at the UC, when LeBron’s hands “were too cold,” obviously leading to the loss (he he). My birthday game, with an expected win versus the Knicks, and the crowd + JB and Jo doing the wave. The December seven-game win streak (Knicks, Grizzlies, Raptors, Wizards, Lakers, Pelicans, Pacers). The game 6 playoff blowout of the Bucks. Thibs. Just Thibs.

So we all move on. The Bulls. Thibs. And yours truly. The difference is, I’ve already got Joy. Now, the Bulls and Thibs (wherever he may land) just need to re-discover it.

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Championship #7 in 2015-2016!

DRose makes “The Shot”

I’m not embarrassed to say that I’ve watched DRose’s game-winning buzzer beater over and over and over today. That’s partially because I was so nervous at the end of the game last night that I had to turn it off and just get alerts on my phone.

Don’t worry, I’ve got it on DVR and will re-watch over and over and over. ICYMI (In Case You Missed It), the Bulls defeated the Cavs 99 to 96 to take a 2-1 lead in the best of seven series.

With “the shot,” can we all finally agree that DRose is vindicated? Will “the shot,” combined with is 30-point performance finally quiet the the doubters, naysayers and negative nellies? Maybe not. Or maybe just until the next game (which by the way, for anyone who is counting, will tip off with just one day’s rest).

Why so stoic, Derrick? Why no fist-pumping, skipping, court side celebrating, or even a smile?

Some say it’s because Derrick is so confident in himself and his game that “the shot,” and a performance like that are both expected.

Others, like me, tend to believe that he doesn’t want to give into any kind of emotions for fear that once he turns them on, they can’t be turned off. Tears of joy? That’s what I was thinking, but then I’m just an old sap anyway.

The game-winning buzzer-beater was so much more than just a “shot.” It was a defining moment, and once and for all re-established DRose as a superstar, and one of the greatest players in the NBA.

“That’s his greatness,” said Thibodeau. “There are not many like him. As a matter of fact there are not any that combine the speed, the quickness, the power and he is shaking the rust off.”

After both Jo and Derrick survived the massive post-shot hugging and leaping (which is probably not highly recommended given an undisclosed injury to Jo which is preventing him from getting lift to the basket, but far be it for me to judge), this is what Jo had to say:

“Derrick’s gone through so much over the last couple of years. So much adversity, so much pain not being able to play basketball games. He’s somebody who has a lot of confidence in himself, more than anybody I’ve ever been around. I know he’s special. I just feel great right now he hit a huge shot for us. But we are not satisfied. We just need to stay hungry, stay humble and be ready for a huge Game 4.”

It was a one-in-a-lifetime moment that will go down in history. In my estimation, the combination of Derrick’s stellar performance, capped off with “the shot” is a turning point.

Derrick really is Derrick. Yes, indeed – “He’s Back.”

The Bulls, after a three-year struggle, are finally in a position to do something special. To have the character, fortitude and confidence to persevere through two and a half or three (I lost count) years of lonely, tedious and painful rehab like Derrick did. Well, you’ve got to respect that.

He deserves this moment, and many more. I want to go to the Eastern Conference Finals as much as the Bulls, and from this vantage point, the odds seem to be in their favor.

But if last night’s game, with that shot was the end to the season, I could live with it. In fact, I would count this season as a success.

I realize I’m out-numbered when it comes to that sentiment, so I’m also going to be more than happy when the Bulls face their other arch-nemesis Wizards in the next round (unless Hotlanta finds a way to turn the heat back up).

And facing the Clips or Warriors in THE Finals wouldn’t be too bad either.

Footnotes:

1.) Congratulations to Jimmy Butler for winning the NBA Most Improved Player award, which seemed to have gotten lost given the game 3 storyline.

2.) Taj Gibson was a beast, and some say, the best player in the game last night. Stealing a page out of JB’s playbook, he did it all, even the laundry. With Pau potentially being out with the hamstring injury, we may see Taj in the starting lineup. And yes, he’s from Brooklyn.

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Beat the Cavs.

Next stop Cleveland

It took more than a minute (six games to be exact), but the Bulls finally sent their pesky neighbors from north of the border, the Bucks, on their summer vacation.

And the Bulls dispatched said Bucks in nothing short of record-breaking fashion. Not only did the Bulls lead from tip-off of game 6, they led by UConn women-like figures: 24, 34, 40. Final score: 120 to 66.

I tweeted during the game that Thibs must have flown in the Huskies to spend some time with the previously “hapless” Bulls. A 54-point margin of victory. Well, I didn’t expect that.

It was my hope the Bulls would just win. By two points, or even one. Otherwise, I was going to be dialing 911, and/or spending some quality time in therapy.

The Bucks were the obvious underdogs in this one. It was supposed to be Bulls in 4, or maybe 5. Giving credit where credit is due – they were a good test for the Bulls, who seemed to have taken them for granted.

“If it was up to us, we would have been good with 4-0,” Derrick Rose said. “But the two extra games, you’ve got to learn from it. I think it’s going to help us get in a better groove. We’re playing against great competition.”

Now, the Bulls are on their way to everyone’s favorite spring-into-summer vacation spot: Cleveland. In Thrill-waukee, Bulls and Bulls fans were advised to “Fear the Deer.” Is the Cavs’ motto just “Fear LeBron?”

Tables are turned in this series, with everyone picking the Cavs in 6 or 7. Same story, different year. The Bulls are the underdogs.

But one thing for certain is different. The Bulls are at full strength.

The Cavs: not so much, having become Loveless a few weeks ago courtesy of Kelly Olynyk. And J. R. Smith is suspended for a few games thanks to some of his usual antics. He just took his show from New York a little west to Ohio.

Could this finally be the Bulls’ time? If they played the way they did in games 4 and 5 of the Bucks series, they’ll prove the pundits right. It will be a short series with LeBron and company prevailing.

If they play the way we know they can, the Bulls will find themselves in the Eastern Conference Finals, where I will be joining them at the UC for at least one game (savings account permitting).

Following the Bulls’ rout of the Bucks on Thursday, Jo said: “I never thought I’d say this, but I’m very excited to go to Cleveland.”

Knowing that this could be the Bulls’ final chance to de-throne the hated king, at least with this group of players, and with this coach – makes this series especially significant.

For once, the tables are turned, and everyone is healthy. Last week, when speaking of the Bulls’ injury report, someone tweeted: “You don’t see this too often: ‘The Bulls have no injuries to report.'”

They do have someone in street clothes – their never-really-used rookie, Cameron Bairstow, and that’s because they would have too many active players if he dressed.

“The story line is flipped,” Dunleavy said. “We certainly have empathy because we’ve been in that situation before. They’re a really good team and they lose a great power forward and probably fill in with a guy who is the best power forward in the game when he plays it.”

“However the basketball gods have it, we have to take advantage,” Taj Gibson said. “Every year, we’ve had guys down,” Gibson said. “But we never gave any ifs, ands or buts.”

Let’s hope the UnstoppaBulls show up, and the ImposterBulls stayed back in Milwaukee at the Brat Stop.

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Beat the Cavs.

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