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.”