I wanted the headline of this post to be "Kurt Thomas takes his talents to South Beach." But that will have to wait until, um, never. The Bulls season is over. And the hated Miami Heat move on to the NBA Finals.
Last night, I attended Game 5 at the United Center. It was an amazing experience to be in the building during an Eastern Conference Finals game. So real, so raw. And so great to not have to listen to Reggie Miller and Steve Kerr. The crowd was loud and proud all game long and then we all collectively went to the bathroom and came back with the Heat up with seconds remaining. What? What happened? What did I miss? (Ed. note: While we're on the subject, I've never heard a men's bathroom so quiet after the loss last night. Just quiet reflection when we stood in line for the urinals)
But as I wrote earlier this week, this is how it was supposed to be. The Chicago Bulls are a young team with a young superstar. If you want to make it in the NBA, and I mean elite status, you have to pay your dues. If you love Chicago basketball, there really is only one way to write this story. The MJ way. Anything else would be a fluke. It's like the Bears. We only settle for domination, otherwise it's bittersweet success. It's unfortunately our hang up as Chicago fans. We only know what we've experienced in the past. Like MJ, Derrick Rose fell to the hands of a superior basketball team that schemed to take his game away (remember the Jordan Rules). And now Derrick Rose has a summer to figure it out and counter. It's that chip on his shoulder that could provide a mental edge to push himself over the hump.
And when it happens, it will be right. It will be Chicago basketball. And I can't wait to be there as a fan.
That being said, this is a huge off-season for the Chicago Bulls. The team deficiencies are now papered all over Eastern Conference locker rooms. Next year, everyone will attack the Bulls in the same way. Let's be honest, the "let's play our big man on D. Rose" strategy is only going to work for one team. But they will try. So if we want to get past the Heat (and not to mention the Knicks, Nets, Celtics, Pacers, Magic and Hawks), we will have to tweak.
Gar Forman, you will now need to earn your GM of the Year award. If you sit on your hands, I will personally come up to the Berto Center and take back your trophy. Hiring away the Utah Jazz and getting super lucky in the NBA lottery does not make a good GM. Prove it this summer. Who's going to be the new Pippen?
- Hire an assistant coach that's offensive minded. It seems Thibs biggest deficiency is that he is all defense. Because of that, the Bulls don't seem very advanced in their offensive sets. We run plays for Kyle Korver. Really? May I suggest raiding Phil Jackson's squad for Triangle offense gurus?
- Trade your babies. We famously passed up a would-be trade that would have sent Deng and Hinrich to LA for Kobe Bryant. Whether this was real or not, John Paxson did tell us that Deng was too valuable for that kind of scenario. Not anymore. I'm sure Doug Collins and Jerry Krause felt the same way about Charles Oakley, but he had to go. I believe any deal that would bring D. Rose his very own Scottie Pippen/Dwyane Wade would be huge for this ball club. Nobody is untouchable, sans Rose and Scalabrine.
- Pick up anyone in free agency who has hit a big shot in the 4th quarter. Anybody. Backups in Milwaukee, small forwards in Golden State. Just someone who can knock down the jumper and stem the tide once in a while. And while we are on that subject, how much does Boozer get paid to sit on the bench in the 4th?
- Upgrade the in-stadium entertainment between time outs. Right now, the "Old Time Rock n Roll" break and the Blues Brothers shtick is so old that it lulls you into passive cheering. Therefore, the players have no energy to feed off of and they blow 4th quarter leads. That's not on the players. That's on the mascots, trampolines, fat dancers and Dunkin' Donuts. And can I please ask for a risk/reward assessment on having Benny the Bull strung up, flying in mid-air? The audience doesn't really care and if something went wrong and fell to his death, the game would be postponed. So think about next year, just don't put him up in the rafters.
So that does it. What a year for the young, upstart Chicago Bulls. Looking back to last summer, it would have been a dream to think of our squad playing in the Eastern Conference Finals. We did. And it was the most exciting basketball this town has seen since June, 1998.
I, for one, say we let football figure out its finances. Take a year off and broadcast Derrick Rose in the gym. Just taking jumpers and free throws.
Finally, a twist on the ole' Lebron James hatred. This t-shirt flips it. Ah, they put a twist on it: