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.


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.

Taji Woo leads Bulls to victory against Pacers in 15-round slugfest

The Bulls and Pacers agree they don’t like each other very much, but no one wants to admit that they’re rivals. Can you be rivals when just one team (the Bulls) feel that way and they other doesn’t?

It’s the same with those other guys (the Heat). They don’t want to admit the Bulls are rivals, but rather, say things like “we don’t like each other very much” or “we’re headed into enemy territory.”

But to me, it seems that these are two of the biggest rivalries in the NBA this season, and they’ve been brewing over the past several years. Last season, when the Bulls went to MSG, it was always the “Friday Night Fight,” but it’s hard to consider the Knicks rivals when they’re too busy choosing between an April 17 departure to Hawaii or Cancun. Or perhaps their new president will hold a retreat at his Montana estate for bonding and the like.

The Bulls came to play last night. On the first play, Jo knocked the ball away from Hibbert. And it kind of went on from there. Oh, and Jo is going to have to get treatment for all of the clapping.

Jimmy Butler, the new Ironman must have needed a bit of rest, and he got it with his three fouls, but that didn’t stop him from drawing a technical, along with his sparring partner, David West for some animated “chatting.”

But Taj really led the team to victory. He fouled out during the last game at Indiana, and then proceeded to accuse the Pacers of flopping. He was not a happy camper.

But in this game, his dunk off a Jimmy Butler miss and subsequent celebratory stalk down the length of the court kind of signified his overall performance. It was like that on every play. Taji Woo led all scorers, with 23, and grabbed eight rebounds. And that’s coming off the bench!

As Bulls radio play-by-play man Chuck Swirsky said post-game, “Just give him sixth man of the year right now.”

Great to see Taj get interviewed here: NBA Arena Link: Taj Gibson March 24, 2014. It’s not TMZ, but it’ll have to do.

As always, though, they needed everybody to get the 89-77 victory over the Pacers. Captain Kirk, bloody lip aside, grabbed the ball right outta Paul George’s hands, and he was just relentless, with 18 points.

While Jo might not have been in the spotlight quite as much given “Monster Taj,” he was no slacker. Jo had 10 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, four steals and three blocked shots in 35 minutes of play.

What? Only 35 minutes. Has Thibs forgotten how to count? Nah, foul trouble for Jo too.

Taj: “I was feeding off of Joakim. It’s a part of the game when you play a rival. I was just having fun.”

See, Taj admits it’s a rivalry. Call it what you will, Pacers. See you in the second round, or better yet, in the Eastern Conference finals.

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Beat the Trail Blazers.

Game Notes: Stacey King had the both the poster machine AND the flop machine running during the game.

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