Chicago Bulls season filled with promise, ends with thud

Derrick RoseLast year after the Chicago Bulls were eliminated by the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, I wrote this ridiculously long ode to their storybook season. Yes it ended in disappointment, but the journey to get to the Eastern Conference Finals was some of the most fun I’ve ever had as a Bulls fan. I could not help but ramble on about Derrick Rose’s MVP season and the deep playoff run that ensued. Safe to say, I will not be doing the same thing for the Bulls’ 2011-12 campaign.

Honestly, I’m trying to forget about this season as quickly as possible. It started with so much hope and promise, but it quickly turned into a war of attrition as injury after injury piled up. Thanks to this season, I never want to hear the phrases “game-time decision” and “more than enough to win” ever again. Of course, we’ll probably hear that plenty next year as Rose and Luol Deng battle their way back from injuries. I guess at this point all we can do is laugh at Tom Thibodeau’s gamesmanship.

Despite injuries to Rose (FIVE of ’em), Rip Hamilton, Luol Deng, C.J. Watson and Taj Gibson, the Bulls were able to win 50 games and earn the top overall seed for the second straight year. We can thank “Thibs Ball” for this, although some may now question whether that will only lead to regular season success. But that’s a whole other discussion.

With the Bulls getting healthy heading into this postseason, we seemed destined for another clash between them and the Heat. I still questioned whether the Bulls could get past the Heat, but I figured a healthy Chicago squad would give Miami all they could handle.

Then Rose’s knee exploded and it was all over.

It was rather apparent that the Bulls were seriously affected by the Rose injury considering how awful they looked for the remainder of their 4-2 first round series loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. Losing Joakim Noah to a severe ankle sprain compounded the problem, but it was still disappointing to see the Bulls bow out to a Sixers team that is simply not very good. I’m not going to say the Bulls sans Rose and Noah were a better team than the Sixers, but Chicago certainly had their chances in the series. Alas, it was not meant to be.

And now it’s time to stop lamenting what could have been and look to the future.

That future is somewhat murky, as the Rose/Deng injuries plus the sticky cap situation loom over the entire team. There’s very little money to play with, so barring an unlikely major trade, there’s slim chance of acquiring another star. Some people will want the disappointing Carlos Boozer amnestied to free up space, but even if that happens, there still would not be much money to use on a free agent market that is not all that inspiring. And with so many question marks surrounding the Rose injury, I’m not even sure if it’s worth making such drastic changes in a year where a title may be unrealistic to begin with.

Also, the Bulls have some tough decisions to make regarding some of their own role players. Will they match whatever offer Omer Asik receives? Do they try and extend Taj Gibson? Do they exercise the team options on C.J. Watson, Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer? I’m sure the Bulls would like to keep these guys around, but it would not be surprising to see a completely different “Bench Mob” next year.

This will be quite an interesting offseason for the Bulls, although I’m not really expecting much to happen. Ultimately, there will probably be a few new faces on the roster next season, but the core will remain the same. The hope will be that the team can tread water with Rose and Deng out, and then perhaps they can make a run when those two guys come back healthy. This team at full strength is still very good, so we may just have to hope they catch lighting in a bottle.

Like Kevin Garnett, anything is possible.

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Can the Bulls win a title without Derrick Rose?

Derrick RoseOn Saturday in Game 1 of the opening round of 2012 NBA playoffs the Chicago Bulls began what they hoped would eventually culminate into a championship run.  Those aspirations quickly went out the window when the reining league MVP, Derrick Rose, suffered a torn ACL that will cost him the rest of the NBA season; or did they?  Can the Bulls still win an NBA title without Derrick Rose?

Rose was injured while trying to jump off his left foot as time was running out in the Bulls 103-91 Game 1 victory against the Philadelphia 76ers.  The injury puts a serious damper on the Bulls title hopes but don’t count them out just yet.

Rose only played in 39 of the Bulls 66 games this season.  Despite his injury plagued season, the Bulls managed to secure the best record in the NBA without their best player.  Chicago plays exceptional team basketball; a lost art in the NBA.  Even in Rose’s absence the Bulls are the second best team in the East which puts them in the conference finals at worst.

The Bulls probable opponent in the Eastern Conference Finals would be the Miami Heat.  The Heat are a Jekyll and Hyde NBA persona.  You never know which one will show up.  If the Bulls are fortunate enough to catch the Heat off their game then they could very well advance to the Finals and as everyone knows, once there anything can happen.

The bottom line here is that the loss of Derrick Rose is a tremendous blow to the Bulls championship aspirations.  Despite Chicago having the best record in the NBA during the regular season with Rose missing almost half of the games, the NBA playoffs are a different beast.  I don’t know whether or not the Bulls have enough without Rose to beat the Heat four out of seven games with so much on the line.  But know this, if any team can, it is without a doubt the Chicago Bulls.  We’ll just have to watch this one play out.

Top 5 Bulls of all-time: Pippen surpassed by Rose?

Jordan and Pippen

Jordan and Pippen

The Chicago Bulls have been an NBA franchise since the 1966-67 season.  Until the mid 80’s the Bulls had been little more than a mediocre franchise at best.  That all changed with the drafting of a 6’6 Guard from the University of North Carolina in 1984.  The Bulls would win six NBA titles in the 90’s and with Derrick Rose leading the way, again appear to be on the verge of dominance.  Here are the Top 5 Chicago Bulls of all time.

1.       Michael Jordan:  From North Carolina, a 6-6 Guard, Michael Jordan.  Jordan is arguably the greatest player that has ever stepped on a professional basketball court and without a doubt he is the No. 1 Bull of all time.  Jordan had it all: explosiveness, athleticism, creativity, length, defense, offense.  You name it, he had it.  He is the all time scoring leader for the Chicago Bulls with 32393 points.  Jordan averaged just over 30 points throughout his 15 year career and was the focal point during the Bulls six championships in eight seasons.  Jordan was also named league MVP five times during his 13 seasons with the Bulls.  By far the best closer in the history of the NBA.

2.       Scottie Pippen:  Every Batman needs a Robin and that’s what Scottie Pippen was to Michael Jordan.  Pippen played 12 of his 17 NBA seasons with the Bulls and as he and MJ formed one of the greatest tandems in NBA history.  Pippen averaged 18 points per game during the height of his Bulls career.  Capable of taking over a game offensively, Pippen was also known for his shutdown defense.  He was a first team NBA defensive player three times.  Pippen was a hybrid.  He had exceptional ball handling skills for a small forward and was often used as a point forward.  It’s debatable as to whether or not Scottie Pippen would have had the success he did without Jordan but the fact remains that he was an intricate part of those six Chicago championship teams.

3.       Derrick Rose:  This is no disrespect to Chicago Bulls’ players of the past but basketball royalty doesn’t come around often and Rose has that lineage.  In only his 4th season in the NBA, Rose has already won Rookie of the Year honors and a league MVP.  Only one other player on this list accomplished both of those and he sits at No. 1.  At a generous 6-3, Rose possesses explosive leaping ability and is fearless when he attacks the rim.  Rose is averaging just over 20 points and 6.8 assists per game in his young career.  In the 2010-11 season Rose led the Bulls to the NBA’s best record.  Despite being outplayed by the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, if Rose can stay healthy he will lead the Bulls to multiple Championships.  Again, the only other player on this list to do so sits at No. 1.

4.       Jerry Sloan:  A 6-5 Guard/Forward, Sloan was the cornerstone of the inaugural Chicago Bulls team.  During his 11 NBA seasons, Sloan played 10 with the Bulls.  He averaged 14 points per game over his career, appeared in two All Star games, and was named to the NBA All-Defensive team six times.  Sloan led the Chicago Bulls to numerous playoff appearances and in 1975 to their only divisional title before the Jordan.  Sloan would later coach the Bulls for three seasons in the early 80’s taking them to the playoffs in his second season.

 5.       Bob Love:  An ambidextrous 6-8 Forward, Love played with the Bulls from 1968-76. Love averaged almost 19 points a game, to include six consecutive seasons of more than 21 ppg, in his nine seasons with the Bulls.  Despite no championships, Love was a three-time all-star player with the Bulls and had his No. 10 jersey retired.  He is only one of four Bulls with retired jerseys.  The other three are on this list.

Aaron Moon is the CEO and a Featured Journalist for The Sports Blitz. You can contact Aaron on facebook or follow him on Twitter @DA_Bear_Truth. Contact Aaron directly by emailing him at

Chicago Bulls: Lucas steps into the spotlight

The 2011-2012 version of the Chicago Bulls certainly has it’s share of stars.

From reigning MVP Derrick Rose to the newest addition, three time All Star and one time NBA champion Richard Hamilton, the Bulls are for sure on e of the deepest teams in the league and seemed poised to make a big playoff run.

But every team has it’s bench players that can also not only serve as occasional role players or towel waving cheer leaders from the bench but can at times step up for their teams in ways that make them valuable signings rather then just another forgotten NBA practice player.

John Lucas III is rapidly becoming one such player for the Bulls, proving himself worthy of playing time after he scored twenty-eight points to go along with eight assists and eight rebounds in forty five minutes of action as the Bulls pushed past the Wizards 78-64 with starting point guard Derrick Rose and backup guard C.J. Watson both out for the game with injuries.

Although it was not the best shooting performance as Lucas made eleven shots out of Twenty-eight attempts, it does show that Lucas does indeed have real NBA level talent at the position.

Lucas has often been the butt of jokes for Bulls fans who have doubted his presence on the roster as anything more then a practice player. Most will forever recall the two missed free throws he put up in a close game with the Denver Nuggets during his first run with the Bulls in 2010. But he has begun to write the next chapter in a basketball career that has had both diversity and hardships.

John Lucas III is the son of former NBA player and coach John Lucas II, who battled through cocaine addiction and alcohol abuse during an NBA career that lasted more then a decade and a half. It is not hard to imagine that being the son of a man with such perseverance and a hard fought for positive legacy has helped shaped John Lucas III into a man who will not give up when the road gets bit bumpy.

Lucas III also had the misfortune of being closely tied to the Baylor University Scandal in 2003, in which one of Lucas’ former teammates, power forward Patrick Dennehy, was shot and killed by another Baylor basketball player, forward Carlton Dotson.

Despite a transfer to escape the fallout of the scandal, which included allegations of marijuana and alcohol abuse by the Baylor basketball team while the coaching staff looked the other way, even more challenges confronted Lucas after his college days were over.

After striking out on draft night in 2005, Lucas III was picked up by the Minnesota Timberwolves for their Summer league team and training camp roster but did not make the cut for the regular season, playing only two games that year for the Houston Rockets after being called up form the Tulsa 66ers of the Development League.

From there he played in Italy before returning to the Rockets on a three year contract, then again heading back to the Italian league in 2007. From there it was a road well traveled with appearances for the Oklahoma City Thunder, Miami Heat, the Spanish ACB League for TAU Ceramica as well as a stint in China in the CBA.

It was then that the Chicago Bulls began signing him and waiving him throughout 2010 and 2011.

As Lucas said his role in the world of pro basketball has always been ‘a fight’, but it appears that after a long hard road that has meant playing around the world as well as struggling to make an NBA roster, Lucas might have finally found a home as well as a team that has allowed him to get past his hardships and begin to live the dream of being a useful member of an NBA roster.

With Rose and C.J. Watson both being listed as day to day it would seem that this will not be the last we see of Lucas this season for the Bulls and if Wednesday night’s performance was anything to go by it may be awhile before he ever again is short of work or time on the floor, towel waving be damned.

Thomas Willam Spychalski is a freelance writer for hire who co-edits the UK cult website Cult and has been published at such sites as Kasterborous, Whotopia and is also working on breaking into fictional works as well as a long term non fiction book project on the Amityville Horror.