Do Your Job – A Fond Look Back at Thibs

Thibs at USA Basketball Game summer 2015.
Thibs at USA Basketball game at the United Center summer 2014.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what is wrong with our Bulls. While there are way more questions than answers (Why hasn’t Jimmy Butler been traded? How can GarPax still have jobs? When will we ever see 48 minutes of intensity, a la Norm Van Lier? Why is Fredberg coaching, when he belongs at the YMCA Saturday men’s league – back in Iowa?) — one thing for certain is clear.

If Thibs were still coaching our Bulls, they wouldn’t find themselves mired in mediocrity.

And we, their loyal fans wouldn’t be deleting the 9:30 p.m. CST start time games from our DVRs because we can’t bear the pain of watching yet another blowout loss resulting from a lethargic performance.

What do I miss about Thibs?

With Thibs, you knew what to expect. You had to work hard – bring it every day. He’s kind of old school – my kind of guy. No exceptions or “I don’t feel good” or “I don’t wanna play defense today.” I’ll admit, he’s a taskmaster, and far from the most chipper guy on the block. But down deep, I think he really did care about the guys. And he wanted to win. That desire trickled down to the team.

It seemed that he inspired confidence (and maybe some fear) in members of the team. There was no questioning him – or, like JB did this season refusing to take a time-out that Fredberg called. If you had indicated to Thibs that you didn’t want to take the time-out that he ordered, you could enjoy your life-long stint with the Maine Red Claws or the Fort Wayne Mad Ants (D-League teams), or maybe Yao Ming’s Chinese team would be your new home.

What probably set Thibs apart more than anything is he knew how to lead and motivate. He showed up at the office kind of like me – FILO. It’s First In, Last Out – like in accounting. In essence, he led by example – first at the office, last to leave. He would work harder for you than you.

And most of all, he knew basketball. No one ever questioned his competence. He figured out ways to win when there was only half a team, and teams with far less talent than the Bulls have now. The guys listened to him, didn’t question him. They knew he’d always come up with a plan.

Sure, with Thibs there were bad circus trips and blowouts, and more than a few meltdowns. No matter what, he worked hard, the guys played hard, and you could count on him stalking the sidelines, yelling and flailing. Oh how I miss that. I found comfort in the Thibs rants. I enjoyed seeing his latest custom suit and I relished waiting and waiting to see if he’d ever smile.

I did find one laughing Thibs video. Oh the joy this brings: Tom Thibodeau’s laugh is downright demonic.

And even more than that, with Thibs, you knew the Bulls would always be in the playoffs, and they’d make a run for it before “that other guy” LeBron put an end to the season and all of our hopes, yet again.

While I’ll never ever ever give up on our Bulls, I do question who is running this Bulls show. At least this little trip down memory lane has helped me remember happier days. The games weren’t always pretty, but we could always count on a good fight.

And we all lived by Thibs’ motto – “Know your job. Do your job.”

As the Bulls face the Timberwolves Sunday afternoon, we can look forward to several hours of sideline stalking. I, for one, can’t wait.

And we can hope Thibs will reprise some of his better lines, bringing a smile to all of our faces. I guess that’s about the best we can do at this point. And thank our lucky stars we’re not the Knicks.

PS: Fredberg – I hope you’re listening/reading.

OUT OF THE MOUTH OF THIBS

“People always talk about going on offensive runs. But you can go on defensive runs too.”

“There are no short cuts. If you want to do something special, there’s a serious price to pay. There’s no way around it.”

“You have to have core values. What do you believe in? Do you believe in hard work? Do you believe in discipline? Do you believe in conditioning? Because those are the things I know that do work.”

“You’re a sum of all your experiences.”

Credit for quotes:  AZ Quotes

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Beat the Timberwolves (sorry Thibs).

Five glimmers of Bulls hope on this New Year’s Eve

Happy New Year Bulls fans! Always wanting to see the glass half full, here is Bulls Banter’s attempt to put a positive spin on what many may characterize as a disappointing end to 2016 for our Bulls. After all, 2017 is only hours away, and with the New Year, there is new opportunity.

Here are five glimmers of hope.

1.) Jimmy Butler. Gets the game-winning shot against the Brooklyn Nets the other night. Scores 40 in that game. He had a big old 20 points/game streak going for 12 games, which ended on that fateful Christmas Day game versus the Spurs. As in the Thibs days of old, he still does it all – even the laundry. Without Jimmy, the Bulls could be giving the Nets and the 76ers a run for their money for the worst record in the East. He’s been a revelation. It’s not by chance he continues to get better. The kid works. It will be great to see him in the All-Star game again!

2.) Fredberg (Fred Hoiberg) could be on the way out. ESPN’s Marc Stein caused a big media hub bub on Friday in his article, How Bulls’ Hoiberg ended up in the NBA’s hottest seat. Finally! What we’ve all be crying out for this past year and a half! No more Fredberg. Although subsequently, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reported differently in his article, Expect Bulls management to stay the course with coach Fred Hoiberg. As K.C. points out, if the Bulls got rid of Fred, they’d lose millions – $19M or more. So, we best get used to seeing him around, even though watching paint dry is more exciting. A girl can at least dream of his departure, can’t she?

3.) Fredberg benched Rondo during the Pacers game. Yay! He made the right basketball decision. Herein is progress. So I have nothing against Rondo, except he sometimes doesn’t really score too many points (note: the end game in basketball is to score points, and the winning team scores more points than the losing team). And he seems to move a bit slowly. So Fredberg put in MCW (Michael Carter-Williams). The kid might not score 40 either, but he’s a good defender, and the Bulls seemed to really have some energy with him on the floor. So score one for Fredberg for mixing it up – even though we can all look forward to a Rondo tantrum at any moment.

4.) It’s almost a new year. Turn the page. On to 2017. Anything has to be better than the Bulls’ 2016.

5.) The Bulls have got everyone healthy. So that’s a bonus, and hopefully, at full strength, they can propel themselves up into the top 5 in the East. After all, there’s still a lot more basketball to play!

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Beat the Bucks.

Happy New Year everyone!

10 Reasons to Be Thankful

Happy Thanksgiving Bulls fans, and Bulls Banter readers!

We have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season.

1.) Cubs win the world series. I still haven’t recovered, and neither has my heart. I am happy to say I was in CHI during this historic event. I was privileged to have been gifted a ticket to the first playoff game, when the Cubs beat the Giants 1-0 thanks to Javy Baez’s homer in the eighth. It seems I will be spending a lot of quality time at Wrigley field next season, along with many many others.

2.) I’m writing this from Tampa. When it turned from 70 degrees to 30 degrees in Chicago sometime in mid-September, I booked an emergency Thanksgiving trip to FL. Even though it’s cloudy, I’ll take the 70-something-degree weather. And I even found the basketball hoop this morning, and got up around 100 shots. #notreadyfortheNBA

3.) Bulls’ final road trip has been successful so far. With one game left to play (76ers tonight), their record stands at 3-2, with wins versus Portland, Utah and the Lakers, and losses to the Clippers and Nuggets. And none of the games were runaway losses like they were in years past. They actually competed. In fact, they coulda shoulda won both games, particularly the Denver one – where it came down to one three-pointer. But baby steps, right?

4.) The Bulls seem to like each other. Yes, there are stories of team-building exercises and fancy lunches in LA, trips to DWade’s house, a movie afternoon in Utah. In fact, Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune reported in his article, Bulls learning plenty about themselves during lengthy trip, “…the Bulls visited the Denver Escape Room, where groups of people are locked in a room and must use brainpower and teamwork to determine a way out before time runs out and they are released.”

5.) Jimmy Butler is on fire. He’s living up to his own hype. “Yeah, if I go at the game with the same mentality, like Dwyane (Wade) told me, every time you step on the floor, you gotta have the mentality that you’re the best player out there,” Butler said. “You gotta be out there to prove that point every single night, every single day in practice. That’s what I’m working to be. I want to be the first guy in the gym, the last game to leave, studying film and having a killer mentality.” [Reported in Vincent Goodwill’s article, Jimmy Butler’s battle cry: I’m the best [bleep] player in the world.]

6.) The Bulls are fun to watch. In fact, you could say – they’re WatchaBulls. I don’t have to look away as much, resort to cleaning up the kitchen, organize cabinets or get a head start on my taxes. They have my attention, they play hard, keep it close.

7.) The Bulls are going to make the playoffs. Prior to signing DWade, there really hadn’t been any hope. To say that his signing was a game-changer could be the understatement of the year.

8.) No major injuries so far. If Dougie McBuckets would stop getting concussed, it could prove beneficial for all, and mostly him.

9.) Taji Woo. I had written prior to the start of the season that I was worried about my favorite player, Taj getting lost in the shuffle. I am thrilled he’s where he should be – in the starting lineup, and leading the way with his “hard hat lunch pail” approach.

10.) Health, family, friends, work, money enough to travel once in a while, and the promise of an exciting Bulls season, with the realistic hope of Bulls basketball at least until May…maybe June.

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Beat the Sixers.

From likability to winnability

Your No. 1 Bulls fan has been remiss this summer. She has been so busy watching the Cubs dominate major league baseball, that she neglected to blog about the new-look Bulls.

But all of this Cubs-watching has given her something to talk about. And that is: likability.

I think part of the reason I started following the Bulls back in 2012 was because the guys were so likable. How you could help but love Luol Deng or Taj Gibson? Joakim has always been a fan favorite – when he’s playing on your team. (It’s not going to go well for me this year with him on the Knicks).

Derrick, pre-playoff ACL injury was actually likable.

The Bulls back then were the equivalent of today’s Cubs. Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, all-smiles Dexter Fowler, Grandpa Rossi, the wacky coach (Joe Maddon). They’re a team you can’t help but love.

But after too many years of disappointments, it’s “No More Mr. Nice Guy” for our Bulls. In acquiring players we all used to love to hate – Rajon Rondo, and DWade (former enemy No. 1 given his Heat championships and affiliation to “that other guy” (LeBron)) – the Bulls are evidently going to try to win.

Before they got DWade, let’s face it, the idea of watching the Bulls this season wasn’t even that interesting – even to their No. 1 fan.

But now, it seems as if people will tune in, if only to see how Fredberg (Coach Fred Hoiberg) can make this all work.

The talk here in CHI has focused a lot about leadership, or lack thereof. Derrick was a reluctant leader. Joakim – bombastic (to quote the Bulls’ unofficial official Bulls blogger). JB evidently caused a lot of dissension last year by anointing himself the leader – when evidently his actions didn’t back up his leadership position.

It’s a new chapter this year – with these savvy vets, who have done something, and won something – won NBA Championships.

“I expected him to come in and have great leadership qualities,” Hoiberg noted about Wade. “He’s gone above and beyond what any of us have expected. He’s just another smart basketball player. “*

“When you have guys who talk, especially at the defensive end, that organizes your defense,” said Hoiberg. “He and Rondo are great at that. Jimmy is great at that. Taj (Gibson) is a talker. Robin (Lopez) is a talker. Wade makes players better. That’s the sign of great players, when you can make the guys around you better.”*

Hopefully, we’re all open to sacrificing a few points on the likability scale if it means the Bulls return to their rightful place atop the Eastern Conference. If only those pesky Cavs, and Raps, and Celtics would just go away.

My only concern with the season, other than the fact that I can’t afford a Row B ticket behind the Bulls bench for the Bulls/Knicks game – is Taj. He’s the forgotten Bull. Yet is often reported that he’s one of the best teammates, and hardest workers – aka “hard hat, lunch pail.”

A September 30 Chicago Sun-Times article titled Taj Gibson ready for any role needed except finger pointer had an interesting quote about Taj from Fredberg:

“Taj has been great,’’ Hoiberg said. “He’s one of those guys that goes out and does everything that you ask of him. He’s in great spirits, he’s a positive force. Always trying to do what you tell him to do. And again, when you have a veteran guy that’s been around the league as long as he has, played a great role especially in his position, then he can teach guys like Bobby [Portis] and Cris [Felicio] and also Paul Zipser. They see your vets working hard, and Taj is one of the hardest workers on this team and he always does what’s asked of him.’’

Not wanting Taj to be the forgotten man, I sent him a tweet the other night. I’m sure receiving a tweet from the author of Bulls Banter, a fellow Brooklynite really lifted his spirits. (And so we begin Bulls Banter, 2016-2017 with the first in a series of sarcastic remarks which are meant to add levity to what sometimes can become a heart-wrenching season.)

For what it’s worth, here’s my tweet:

taj

Here’s hoping that Taj, and JB, and DWade and Rondo and Robin Lopez, and the many other players steal our hearts with their wins, although I wouldn’t mind liking them along the way.

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Beat the Bucks.

(*) – From Sam Smith’s blog, Bulls veterans taking the lead

IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING – BULLS 2016-2017 ROSTER

J.J. Avila

Jimmy Butler

Isaiah Canaan

Spencer Dinwiddie

Cristiano Felicio

Taj Gibson

Jerian Grant

Vince Hunter

Robin Lopez

Doug McDermott

Nikola Mirotic

Bobby Portis

Rajon Rondo

D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera

Tony Snell

Denzel Valentine

Dwyane Wade

Thomas Walkup

Paul Zipser

(Wait, they forgot Cinjo)

In a Season of Life Lessons, Gonna Be Some Changes Made

Today is the last day of April.

Right about now, I’m typically in the Outer Banks with the folks, enjoying the beauty that is OBX, my family’s company, a lot of good food and sun. And most importantly – watching some Bulls playoff basketball.

OBX was where I arrived a few days after DRose suffered his first major knee injury vs. the 76ers…and I think I cried when I found out he, and then Jo, and the season were done.

It’s also where I watched the Nate Robinson triple OT game for the ages…for three hours, on a tiny TV, and had a hard time leaving for Mom’s birthday dinner when the game wasn’t over. But it was her birthday. And we had a rez at her favorite restaurant, the Colington Cafe.

There was no trip to OBX this year. But the way the season ended was as painful as ever – just without the trauma of a DRose injury.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been more than two weeks since the Bulls were finally put out of their misery at the UC on April 13 vs. the lowly 76ers. I’m not sure who won. It didn’t matter for either team. It was like the season couldn’t conclude fast enough.

And the takeaways from this season are more about life and life lessons than I hoped to ever have to report. While I had a hard time watching any of the games at the end of the season, I did tune in to the GarPax end-of-season press conference following the aforementioned 76ers game.

Pax said the team lacked collective fight. While I’m not a big GarPax fan – Pax really nailed it. That’s certainly what characterized the teams from the Thibs era. They fought. They played together. They showed determination and will to win when they should have given up. That’s all I want to see from my Bulls.

Instead of victories and playoffs and exciting, exhilarating, inspiring games, and a season ending on a high note, all we have to show for it this time is a big old list of life lessons.

I’m almost 50, and sometimes, I don’t feel like learning the lessons all over again…but I guess we can’t always get what we want.

And here are those life lessons, courtesy of your 2015-2016 Chicago Bulls:

Don’t lie (as in Fredberg lying about it being Jo’s idea to come off the bench).

Let’s all get along and play nice (something the Bulls didn’t do at all this year).

Give it your best (after the All-Star break, it seemed to be more like everyone’s worst).

Be humble (as in – Jimmy Butler, you’re way too big for your britches. Have you forgotten – you’re from Tomball, Texas).

There is no I in team (Jimmy – this one’s for you too).

Be enthusiastic (once Joakim was out for the season, the Bulls ship was sunk. There was no enthusiasm whatsoever. And Jo was deflated himself after being relegated to a secondary role. And, the Bulls could have used a little more Nate Robinson and little less Pau Gasol).

There are going to be disappointments in life…it’s how you deal with them that matters. Ah yes, I’m still trying to convince myself of this one. I know it’s true. So me, you, Derrick, Jimmy, Dougie McBuckets, Jo, Fredberg, and all the rest of the team need to use our summer vacation to figure out how to make things better – at work, and at life.

It was hard to cheer for the Bulls this year. They didn’t seem to like one another, and playing together was more like a chore than a joy. We all know how I feel about the dismissal of Tom Thibodeau, and the effect that had on the team. But no one could have predicted how lifeless, unenthusiastic and heartless our Bulls were to become this year.

While this is far from an enthusiastic blog…Bulls Banter still lives and breathes her Bulls. While in Miami last weekend, a hotel staff member asked her to “step back” so he could get a better view of her red Nike basketball kicks. She also proudly wore her Bulls tank tops for morning walks (due to the high temps – no Bulls sweatshirt was required).

The cab drivers all heard my Bulls sob story, and in a strange turn of events, Bulls Banter is endorsing the Miami Heat for Conference Champs. Any team with Luol Deng gets my vote. Said cab drivers were oh so pleased to hear about my new-found (albeit temporary) Heat endorsement.

And now, it’s on to the 2016-2017 season, when the Bulls will re-group, and hopefully come back as the team we all used to love. I know the Bulls can win us over again.

To become the NBA champs, one thing for certain in clear, in the words of Bruce Hornsby:

Gonna be some changes made

Can’t keep on doing what I’ve been doing these days

Look in the mirror I see a clown’s face

Gotta take it off, gotta get myself straight

Gonna be some changes, some changes made

Can’t keep on doing what I’ve been doing these days

Better figure out something

Things are looking grave

Gonna be some changes, changes, changes made

See Red! Go Bulls! See you next season.

Behind their starting lineup (and JB’s return), Bulls defeat Rockets 108 to 100

JB, DRose, Pau, Taji Woo! and Dunleavy. That was meant to be the Bulls’ starting lineup.

And last night, in the 61st game of the season, the group made its first appearance together. Prior to that, the most we saw the group together was on the bench, most of them in expensive tailored suits (except maybe in the case of Dun Dun).

And it was not too shabby of a performance at that. The Bulls exhibited the characteristics we used to take for granted in the Thibodeau era – energy, togetherness, enthusiasm, resilience, heart, love for the game, and even some swagger. And it seemed like they might actually be having some fun.

While the 1-2 record so far in March (with losses on the FL trip – to the Heat and Magic) is still not up to par, if they can build on the momentum from the Rockets game, and stay at full strength, let’s hope they’re playoff bound.

Rose even said, “Every game for us is a playoff game.” The Bulls are 1/2 game ahead of the Pistons for the final (eighth) spot.

Before this win, I was besides myself about the Bulls. The next blog was to have been titled, “Broken Bulls.” Thankfully, no one has to experience that tome.

When it’s a case of having less talent than other teams, the players keep saying there’s not a lot of room for error. Were they overachieving all of those years under Thibs, simply out of fear? Why has this season been so difficult, with losses to teams the Bulls no doubt should have beaten.

I guess there’s a life lesson here somewhere…although sometimes, one doesn’t want to apply these learnings to one’s own situation. When you realize you’re not the smartest, nor the most talented, not the best player or anywhere near the most likely to succeed…how do you respond? How do you overcome and achieve success? As the Avis commercial used to say, “We try harder.”

Nothing’s changed for our Bulls. They have to try harder, and work harder, but now, at least they have all the pieces to help increase their chances of success.

While I was trying to beat JB back onto the court, he made it first. I will continue rehabbing this old knee, with the torn meniscus and strained ACL. At least my therapist is a fan too, and was at the UC, section 205 to enjoy the win vs. the Rockets.

Everyone’s likely a bit more excited to see Jimmy back than the likes of old Cinjo. He had 24 points, 11 rebounds and six assists.

“He gives everybody else confidence,” Mike Dunleavy said.

“You see the impact Jimmy has just because of his ability to make life difficult for the elite wing players in this league,” Hoiberg said. “When he got in foul trouble, you saw James Harden go off. He just gives you that great physical presence out there that can stay in front of guys.”

He’s back…

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Beat the Bucks.

An assessment of the Bulls from someone younger and wiser

So I was none too happy that the Bulls lost to the Heat on Monday, and my displeasure was compounded by the fact that two days later, another player was added to the injured list. (Note that IF the Bulls have to lose to anybody, I’ll take the Heat given I love Luol Deng, and that other guy has since left to run the show elsewhere.)

When I found out the Niko Mirotic had an emergency appendectomy, it was like the sky had fallen.

Adding up the injured Bulls requires someone with math skills beyond my elementary level: Jo, Dun Dun, Hinrich, Moore, DRose. I mean, I realize the 76ers of the west (the Lakers) were the next opponent, but still.

The only thing to do when such upsetting news hits social media is obviously to text your bro. Kevbro, eight years my junior is younger and wiser than me. He texted back:

“As long as they can make the playoffs and be healthy then and have some luck there is always a chance they can go pretty far.”

I told him that’s what I love about him – he always sees the bright side.

And things are beginning to look up on the health front. Dunleavy had his own bright idea to get some practice in while the Bulls are on their Disney on Ice road trip away from the UC. He’s adding himself to the Warriors’ D-League team.

“My brain works in thoughtful ways. They were trying to figure out, looking at the schedule and realizing I’m not getting much practice time and we got some guys hurt, limited on bodies; we started to think outside the box and I threw that out there as just a good opportunity.”

And E’Twaun Moore not only returned to the lineup vs. the Lakers, he got his first start as a Bull! Chalk one up for Fredberg, and being willing to switch up the starting lineup – with three guards, and for giving ET a chance.

I love this kid. And like others on this Bulls teams, and other NBA teams, it hasn’t been a walk in the park for him.

“I definitely fell from a high end in the draft, but that did nothing but motivate me,” said Moore. “The things that are disheartening that upset you, that’s fuel to keep you going and getting better. I grew up in a project, assisted government housing, tough neighborhood. Things weren’t always good. So adversity was something you always had to overcome. That prepared me for when things get hard I fight right through it. I always remember those times; those times drive me and motivate me to go forward.”

“Starting, that’s crazy,” smiled Moore. “I just stay in the gym, just stay ready; if it’s two minutes or 20 minutes I try to stay ready and keep working. My name is called I’m ready. I wouldn’t be surprised if the coach went back to it (vs. the Clippers) because it worked tonight (vs. 76ers West); it works, keep doing it. I was pleased, definitely happy; been a while since I started. So it was pretty cool.”

And finally, our optimist, Kevbro is going to be really excited about this one: it looks like DRose and JB have turned a corner. Some of the sports commentators have recently been reporting that the two stars had a meeting, leading to an “ah ha moment.”

I guess they’ve realized that maybe if they join forces, they can actually be better than best.

“This is new for me as it’s new for him, playing with an elite guard,” said Rose after Thursday’s win. “We’re young. The way he’s been playing has been great. I want him to shoot more. But I love his shot selection, the way he’s driving into the lane, getting fouls; it helps our team all the way around.”

“We were talking about that, laughing about it before the game, saying how the more games we get under our belt the more comfortable each other is going to be,” Butler said after the game about he and Rose. “It’s crazy because I love playing with him; he’s super aggressive and taking some great shots. That’s what we need. As long as I follow his lead on that style of play we are going to be really good.”

So now I’m feeling a lot better about our Bulls, and it’s all thanks to my not so little, but oh so smart bro.

So let’s get this done. This afternoon, the Bulls face new-look Lob City, as they take on the Clippers sans Blake Griffin, who is busy looking for other staff members to beat up.

They’re on the path to improved health.

And, they bring a fierce, fully (sorta) aligned backcourt with DRose and JB.

Things are looking much brighter for the future NBA champs.

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Beat the Clippers.

Note: All quotes sourced from Sam Smith, the unofficial official Bulls blogger.

10, oops, 16 reasons to be excited about the Chicago Bulls

Since we last convened here on Bulls Banter, our beloved team has been on a tear. In fact, following the Christmas miracle OKC victory, other than one inexplicable loss to the Mavericks, the Bulls have gone on to win every game since then.

Yes, that’s six games in a row. It looks like our Championship team is finally coming together, and there are oh so many reasons to be excited.

1.) The Bulls have beat legitimate, contending teams in the past three weeks, including one of them (the Raps) twice. The others, in addition to OKC, are the Pacers and Celtics.

2.) The Bulls did not disappoint during my first appearance at the UC this season, with a convincing 108 to 81 victory over the Knicks on New Year’s Day. Evidently, the Knicks’ record-setting (in the wrong way) 8 points in the fourth quarter, which in part caused the game to be described as “The Great Chicago Fire” by NYC media, helped to ignite the Knicks’ recent resurgence. Happy to help the Knicks…I guess. All I care about is the Bulls got the W. Read more here: How Knicks’ rebound was ignited by a feisty 1-hour film session.

3.) Jimmy G Buckets (the G stands for Gets) is not only doing the laundry now, he’s also sewing the clothes and manufacturing the washing machines. His 40 points in one half, breaking Michael Jordan’s record—was nothing short of magnificent.

4.) In this video, I’ve labeled simly as Squad, you can see how the team came together following the win in Toronto and JB’s performance. “I think we all got a lot of love for each other,” Butler said. “Everybody wants to see everybody be successful. That’s why we’re winning games. We’re buying into any given night. It could be anybody that’s scoring. It could be anybody that’s got it going. You get the ball to them and they’ll take us where we need to go. But that’s special just showing how much everybody wants everybody else to be successful.”

5.) The Bulls are finally following my lead with their fast breaks. What I’ve been practicing with my coach at the East Bank Club this past year closely resembles what the Bulls were FINALLY able to pull off versus the Celtics the other night: Watch the Chicago Bulls run a full-court fast break without taking a single dribble. (Bulls management – you can pay me later.)

6.) With Placido Domingo (one of the Three Tenors) in the Bulls’ court, how can they lose? He was at the UC for the Celtics game this week, and in an interview with Chuck Garfien of CSN, had this to say about his friend, Pau Gasol, “He is playing beautifully for the Bulls. There’s a lot of possibilities to make the playoffs and something happening.” Article and Interview with Placido Domingo.

7.) The emergence of Bobby “Crazy Eyes” Portis, who has stepped in for Jo since he’s been sidelined due to a shoulder injury.

8.) It looks like DRose and JB have figured out how to play nice. And it’s the only way the Bulls can beat those other guys (the Cavs), or the likes of the Splash Brothers. Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler: Rising together, debunking myths.

9.) Staying ready. Tony Snell, who had been taken out of the starting lineup got sent back in for the December 28 home game versus the Raps. He scored 22 (tying with Pau for leading scorer), including 19 in the final 18 minutes. “I’m staying ready every day,” Snell said. “I make sure I’m staying ready at all times.”

10.) The bench. For a few games there, it was the Aaron Brooks show. Add E’Twaun Moore and the rook (Bobby Portis), and you’ve sure got a lot of weapons. “We have a bunch of looks,” Brooks said with a laugh. “We have a bunch of looks on this team, and you never know on any given day…there’s a lot of talent of this team. Guys just got to step up when their name is called.”

11.) Hey, wait, what about us? Remember, we haven’t even seen Mike Dunleavy Jr. play yet this season. And Jo is set to return sometime this week. Wonder how Coach Fred is going to find minutes for me once I get added to the roster…

12.) Games, games and more games. If you were hoping to watch some Bulls basketball, you’re in luck. You best renew your NBA League Pass subscription straight-away. Today, there’s a “matinee” versus the Hawks at 4 p.m. CST. And then, it’s “4 in 5.” Yes, we get to enjoy Bulls games Monday (Wizards), Tuesday (Bucks), Thursday (76ers…I’m scared, now that they have Ish Smith + Elton Brand), Friday (Mavs). Around Friday, we’ll certainly be calling for baskets…oh Betty.

13.) Fredberg is finally taking off. Here in CHI, the sportscasters have taken to calling the new coach “Fredberg.” After all, they need something to jazz up the morning programs, and it’s complementary to GarPax and all. While things seem to have gotten off to a slow start, it looks like the Bulls have turned a corner. I guess JB’s tirade, then John Paxon’s speech during the subsequent team meeting have helped steer the Bulls ship.

14.) We’ll never forget you, Thibs. Following the Celtics win, a reporter asked DRose, “What’s been the key to the offense?” Derrick’s response: “I think it all starts with our defense. Because without defense, you can’t get out on the open floor or play that up-tempo type pace we want to.” Following the Bulls first defeat of the Raps on December 28, their coach, Dwane Casey said, “They’re still a defensive team. They still have remnants. The core is still there. The DNA is still there. It’s been beat in them, so to speak, which is a good thing.”

15.) Taj Gibson finally gets the starting spot he deserves, and the Bulls are 8-5 since he entered the starting lineup. “He has been really solid,” Fredberg said. “He’s a very versatile defender and you can switch him out onto perimeter guys. He has great length, contests shots, he’s a very good offensive rebounder — he’s just solid.”

16.) Second in the East. DRose is healthy. JB is on fire. Pau is a double double machine. The bench can beat most starting lineups.

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Beat the Hawks.

Me at Bulls vs. Knicks on January 1, 2016. Bulls win 108 to 81.
Me at Bulls vs. Knicks on January 1, 2016. Bulls win 108 to 81.

A Christmas miracle in OKC, followed by a disappearing act in Dallas

All I wanted for Christmas was for the Bulls to win games.

I sure got my wish on December 25, when the Bulls convincingly beat OKC. The proper terminology, when one team leads the entire game, is – wire to wire. I’m getting so fancy now that I’m coming up on three years writing soon-to-be-award-winning Bulls Banter.

So not only did the Bulls manage to win an away game on national TV, on a holiday, with an odd start time (1:30 p.m. CST) and wearing alternate (Christmas) uniforms, it was a wire-to-wire victory.

Everyone seemed to contribute in that game. The Bulls remembered how to play together, and the offense and defense both seemed to click (for the most part)…I’ll let the turnovers and bad passes slide given the significance of this win.

It sure is good to be on the victorious side of a contest, for once, and especially on a national stage.

Whereas I would typically feature a few quotes from our beloved Bulls players, in this case, I find it oh so satisfying to showcase the opponent trying to figure it out.

Kevin Durant: “”Man, we didn’t have any energy to start the game or to start the third quarter. And they got us.” When asked why, he replied, “I have no clue, man.”

Durant then said: “We just made dumb plays all night.”

Russell Westbrook: “Just didn’t play hard enough. We’ve got to play harder if we want to win games.” [Author’s note: He is sounding like a rocket scientist.]

One of my favorite moments of the game took place at the viewing party at my folks’ place in Orange, CT. When it got close at the end, and the Bulls really needed to score, I was screaming, “Somebody, anybody, get me a basket.”

My Mom rushed in from the kitchen to the den carrying a bread basket.

Whatever it takes.

The fact that the Bulls seemed to have forgotten how to play defense en flight from OKC to Dallas is a mystery to me. Poof! It was a disappearing act.

But I sure felt a lot better when I got up this morning and saw that those other guys (Cavs) got blown out by Portland 105 to 76. This warms my heart.

And Indiana lost too. He he ha ha ho ho ho.

In other basketball news, I was thrilled to see that the 76ers got their second win by beating the Suns, although it looks like their coach might be on his way out. Could Phoenix be Thibs’ next stop? He could do with a little sun anyway.

Looking ahead, we’ve got lots of Bulls basketball this week, three games at the UC, and one is sure to be a Bulls victory with their #1 fan, Cinjo in attendance (Bulls vs. Knicks on New Year’s Day). That game is preceded by Oh Canada! (Toronto Raptors) on Monday night and those pesky Pacers on Wednesday.

To end on a high note, I’ll leave you with JB’s post-game assessment following the Bulls’ loss to the Dallas Mavericks: “Lots of positives. We competed from start to finish. We’ll learn from this. It’s tough after playing like we did [against OKC], but that’s why we’ve got 82 of them. We’ll be all right.”

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Beat the Pacers!

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑