Left In Front – 15 May 2013 – CHICAGO Hard not to exaggerate my affection for this year’s team.
They were a feel good sports movie from start to finish. During the year as every single member of the starting lineup went down, Nate the Skate, Marco, Nazr, Taj, Marquise the Rook and skyrocketing up the Butler rocketed his way into the shining Bulls starting shooting guard until further notice.
“Captain” Kirk revitalized a career, being the steady hand guiding the Bulls to far better offense and defense when he was playing. He dominated the top guard on the other team defensively then prudently distributed the ball on the other hand, particularly working well with Mr. Boozer and giving him his best year in Chicago.
The breakthrough year culminated Wednesday night as Boozer shined the brightest when the Bulls needed him most, giving Miami more than they wanted or imagined and forcing them to fucking earn their birth to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Similarly the Masked Man had his best moment in the Bulls final game, a bright spot on otherwise frustrating second year as a Bull.
Deng quietly, workmanlike and consistently defending the other team’s top wing, hitting big shots, creating offense on his own late in the clock, rebounding and helping on D on his way to a second straight NBA All-Star berth.
Noah moved into the upper echelon of NBA Centers, offering the most unique skillset of any, able to dribble the fast break, find the open man anywhere from the floor, back his man down, hit his ugly jumper and play the craziest whirling dervish defense bouncing around the court (all under his control at this point remarkably) of any 7 foot man the NBA’s ever seen.
After taking a while to adjust in the pre-season and early months Marco really hit his groove filling in for an injured Rip Hamilton in the winter. Multiple 20 point games later and he was reliable scorer all year. He could create his own shot hit 3′s and wasn’t afraid to hit game winners, which he did more than once. A year with Thibs also got him playing poor-man’s-Hinrich-D sticking not quite like glue to his opponent but duct tape.
Nate and Jimmy Butler were the only 2 to play every game and both went to levels nobody imagined. Butler becoming a legitimate stopper troubling LeBron + scoring + rebound and Nate winning player of the week for the Eastern Conference during the regular season then hitting shot after big shot leading the Bulls back from 14 points down with what shouldn’t of been enough time left imposing his will on the triple overtime thriller.
Taj was his typical defensive rebounding machine with a couple of the most thunderous dunks the NBA season saw aside from DeAndre Jordan.
This team was the realization of what Thibs has preached since he arrived on the third coast 3 seasons ago. Learn your job in the system, be ready. One guy goes down, next guy steps up. Despite everyone complaining about losing the “Bench Mob” members Ronnie Brewer, Omer Asik, CJ Watson, Kyle Korver and Jimmy Butler, Thibs developed Macro, Jimmy, Nate, Nazr and returing Taj into a better collection of spices to mix into his lineup that led the Bulls further in the playoffs than they went the year before.
I put this sportswriting in verse together to describe Thibs:
Ending the Heat’s Streak without Noah
More than Enough to Win
Believing in Nate -> Beating Brooklyn
Prediction: Marquise Teague will be next year’s Jimmy Butler. He played a much bigger role on the Bulls than Butler did as a rook’.
15 May 2013 Update: Stacey King whose been cheering and analyzing this team all year kept it real after their loss tonight in his (delayed) post game show noting the Bulls had control of the game down the stretch they just made mental mistakes. No injury excuses about Kirk, #1 or Luol not playing, just frustration at the guys on the floor not winning like we expect.
This team is a testament to the value of high expectations and what they can (consistently applied) lead to: honor and success despite season threatening adversity.
16 May 2013 Update: Watch Tom Thibodeau’s post-game press conference for a better reflection on the game and season.