A masked man, a buzzer-beater, and a player’s coach

The Bulls played their final preseason game last night (Friday, October 23) – in Lincoln, Nebraska, of all places – versus the Dallas Mavericks. It was considered a Bulls “home” game, even though it was away from the United Center, and I heard tickets sold out in 20 minutes.

So a sold-out show for our Bulls in Nebraska, of all places. The enthusiastic fans were all there to see their favorite player, who received several standing ovations, and won the game with a buzzer-beater – Dougie McBuckets. (He went to school at Creighton, in Omaha, where his Dad is the basketball coach, and he is evidently a celebrity in NE).

Somewhat lost in the shuffle, with less of a spotlight shining on him than he might be used to, was none other than the masked man, DRose. While he might not say the brightest things, and seems to have taken a page from the PR playbook from the team’s owner, Jerry Reinsdorf (see below), he didn’t disappoint with his play.

In fact, with DRose in the game, it’s like watching a different team. A really good team. Like the Bulls team we’ve wanted to see for so long. His words might not be poetry, but his play on the court is.

“Whenever I see lanes I’m driving,” Rose said. “As soon as I step up, I’m hitting whoever is open and just trying to play basketball. I love the way the offense is. Coming down we’re not thinking about what we are running. Coming down, start with a pick and roll and then that pick and roll opens up everything else.”

And in other dramatic team news, it looks like the starting lineup is coming together – DRose, JB, Pow! Pow! Pow!, Nikola Mirotic and Tony Snell.

The drama about Joakim coming off the bench seems to have subsided, and with the Jo + Taj pairing, the energy level and defensive prowess will be through the rough. It really won’t be a second unit. It’s like a second starting five.

“We’ve talked,” Hoiberg said of discussing the possibilities with Noah. “We talk about everything that he’s done. He was great, he was excited about playing with Taj last game. I think those two have a very good chemistry out there together. And [Noah] was the one that talked to me about that, about how well he feels he and Taj play together out there on the floor.”

Taj was the Bulls’ leading scorer, with 16, and he kept Stacey King’s poster machine in business with a variety of dunks.

This new-look Bulls team, led by a coach some may describe as “a player’s coach” is anything but Thibs-like. Players getting rest days before the season starts, yoga in lieu of practice, or even better, no practice! Players shuffling in and out of the lineup for five-minute stints. No one playing 48 minutes, not even 40, or 30.

And the audacity of Coach to sit down an entire game, with no sideline stalking and flailing.

Has the world ended? Am I am living in another reality?

It’s our new reality. One in which the Bulls win! And not just regular season games. The playoffs and beyond.

I hope LeBron is available for the home opener on Tuesday, as 1.) We want to beat the Cavs at full strength 2.) It wouldn’t be the same if all of the UC fans didn’t get to boo him incessantly.

See Red! Go Bulls! Beat the Cavs.

On another note – while I love the Bulls, I don’t get Jerry Reinsdorf. He and DRose are stealing each other’s plays when it comes to saying the stupidest things!

“The impact on the community of winning a World Series was far greater than winning a basketball championship,” Reinsdorf said. “It was far greater than winning a Super Bowl. Baseball is the one sport that spans generations. Everybody remembers their first baseball game he or she went to and who they went with and who was playing. You ask people about basketball or football, they don’t really remember their first game. Everybody remembers their first baseball game.”

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Thibs is gone, and so is the Bulls’ defense, and it’s a Cubs kinda town

Thibs is gone, and evidently, so is the Bulls’ defense. They might score 150 points/game this year, but as we’ve heard so many times before, “defense wins games.”

I felt a little bit better when I saw that the Bulls’ pedestrian 2-3 record was outpaced by the preseason record of those other guys (the Cavs), who late last week, stood at 0-5. [Just checked, they’re 0-6 now…how I love the way that looks in the Conference standings.]

And the Knicks are at 4-1. I think the world could be ending.

And who has time to watch the preseason tilts anyway, with the CHI-town Cubs madness. Unfortunately, as of late, the Cubs haven’t found a way to beat the Mets. Surely Wrigley Field, and the hometown fans will help change things around, and we’ll all be singing “Go Cubs Go” for many more nights to come.

Meantime, the walking wounded (Chicago Bulls) are making their way back to the court. I read that Dun Dun was taking set shots (that sounds familiar – I’ve been doing that for months now, given the stress fracture in my ankle). DRose stole a page out of the Rip Hamilton playbook, and got fitted for his mask. And I’m headed to the doctor this morning, and hope to re-join the team soon.

In other news, Coach Hoiberg is channeling his Phil Jackson and/or Jake Arrieta, and had the team doing yoga the other day. When the magician and the pink flamingos show up in the Bulls’ locker room, I’ll take it as a sign the Bulls are on their way.

Until then, we’ll root for the Cubbies, hope the Bulls find their defense, and count on all of the Bulls’ stars making it back onto the court before the October 27 home opener.

See Red! Go Bulls! Beat the Hornets (or whatever they’re called this season).

Preseason takeaways

The Bulls are back, and so is Bulls Banter. It’s been a long five months, and the Bulls’ preseason couldn’t get here fast enough.

And so the quest for Championship #7 begins. Everyone here in CHI, even the players, like Jimmy Butler (JB) are saying – we’re basically the same team, just with a different coach.

While I already miss Thibs, and the sideline pacing, arm flailing, and overall intensity, it is a bit refreshing to see Hoiberg sitting in a chair with the rest of his staff and the players.

It’s going to take some time to get used to this not-so-new-look Bulls.

With two preseason games behind us, here are a 10 random takeaways.

  1. Running with the Bulls – It looks like the Bulls will need to petition Adam Silver to let them transfer to the Western Conference, what, with all of the running up and down the floor.
  2. Rest? No, I’m not familiar with it. Could go into a bit more detail? – After helping lead the Spanish National team to victory in EuroBasket, and helping to secure their spot in the 2016 Olympics, Pau Gasol (Pow, Pow, Pow) sat out the first two games. In the Thibs era, Taj Gibson (Taji Woo) likely would have played about 40 minutes/game in the preseason. But he’s been hanging on the bench with Pau, continuing to “rest” following ankle surgery this summer.
  3. Hoping a little tension goes a long way – If you’re not here in CHI, you may not have heard or read about it, but it seems as if Derrick Rose (DRose) and JB are not the closest of friends. The media is likely making something out of nothing, but hey, if JB isn’t thrilled with DRose’s work ethic, or lack thereof, maybe that’s just what the Bulls need to help accelerate them to the next level.
  4. It’s raining 3s – In their preseason opener, the Bulls shot 39 3-pointers. My statistician has informed me that during Thibs’s entire tenure, the most 3-pointers the Bulls every put up in a game was 33.
  5. Injuries, injuries, go away, and don’t come back another day – When I got the alert on my phone that DRose was scheduled for surgery, I figured it was from another year – pick a year, any year. Starting the season without DRose, plus Mike Dunleavy, Jr. (Dun Dun), who had back surgery, and Taj…well, we’ve heard it all before.
  6. Kid’s stuff – Yes, it’s only preseason, but Hoiberg plays the kids. Doug McDermott (Dougie McBuckets) tied JB for points scored in the Bucks game (23). And Bobby “Crazy Eyes” Portis, the rookie is getting playing time, along with Tony Snell (TSnell) and second-year man Nikola Mirotic.
  7. A little healthy competition – The Bulls, and their United Center neighbors, the Blackhawks, are both facing some competition in the viewership department, stemming from a very unlikely source – those darn Cubs. With the Cubs having failed to make it to the playoffs since 2008, the Bulls never had to wonder if anyone would show up to their games. Same with the ‘Hawks. Now, not so much. With the Cubs playing their third game against the Cardinals on Monday, it looks like Anthony Davis and the Pelicans will have no trouble getting tickets at the UC for 100s of their closest friends. Bulls who? It’s Cubs October madness!
  8. Blame it on the altitude (again) – The Bulls cannot find a way to win in Denver, nor in Boulder, where they faced the Nuggets for their second preseason game at a “neutral” site (University of Colorado). The Bulls’ new-look offense didn’t look so new. In fact, it was reminiscent of oh so many Western Conference games from the past few years, complete with basket covers and all.
  9. The more things change the more they stay the same – On a personal note, I impressed even myself with my season-over-season consistency. First, I excel at falling asleep during the third quarter and having to watch a replay the next night (Bucks). And second, I know when to make the call on “unwatchable” (Nuggets) games. That one didn’t warrant a replay.
  10. It might not look like a championship team yet, but they’re just getting started, and half the team is busy resting or recovering. Just wait until they’re in full force. And with Hoiberg’s tendency to play younger, I mean, less experienced players, I’ve got a shot at a reserve spot.

In all seriousness, See Red! Go Bulls! Beat the Timberwolves.

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