by Yusuf Gadlin
This by far has been one of the most difficult times to be a Chicago Bulls fan. I can’t lie, I was expecting a NBA finals berth. Instead, I’m contemplating should I ever invest my time in a Bulls season again. From rumors about the job status of Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau to the uncertain health of former MVP Derrick Rose. From pondering if Joakim Noah will ever be the same to wondering if Taj Gibson will be traded this coming off season. From wondering “why didn’t the bulls establish this season as Jimmy Butler’s team ?” to hopelessly thinking about how great LeBron’s Cavaliers will be next year.
By far, this was the most stressful season ever.
All of the stars were aligned for the Bulls to make a deep playoff run. Instead, they got ran out of the United Center after being eliminated in six games to the scrappy Cleveland Cavaliers. The Bulls unforgivably gave up or gave in to the Cavaliers will. This is shocking because the bulls previous body of work shows that they were the toughest team in basketball the last 5 years. It was guys like Ronnie Brewer, C.J. Watson, Omer Asik, Nate Robinson, Marco Belineli, That was the soul fabric of the Bulls toughness mixed with Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah. But it was Bulls management that fiddled with the teams D.N.A. and incorporated offensive minded, and I hate to say it “Soft” players such as Pau Gasol , Mike Dunleavy, Aaron Brooks, Nikola Miortic, that eventually sucked the toughness right out of the Chicago Bulls.
The Bulls struggled all year long trying to find a identity once they found out they lost the key ingredient that made them who they were. But the only thing they found out about themselves is that they don’t know who they are. They don’t know if Jimmy Butler should be the new voice and leader of this franchise. They don’t know if they should continue to build around a often injured Derrick Rose. The Bulls Organization didn’t even know if they wanted to keep the best coach they’ve had since the great Phil Jackson. It is this type of indecisiveness and indecisions that is stopping this Bulls team from being all that it can be.
Leadership is clearly hindering the Chicago Bulls.
Somebody within the Bulls Organization should have made it clear that for this year, this team belonged to Jimmy Butler. Butler has worked his ass off to win the Most improved player award and has been Tom Thibodeau most reliable player the past three years. Butler has displayed maturity, great work ethic, and more importantly a player worthy of the Max contract that will be coming his way this summer. At the very least Butler deserved to be the number one option and Derrick Rose should have accepted a facilitator role seeing how he battled his way back from numerous injuries. That didn’t happen, as Derrick seemed to be out to reclaim his top spot and city of Chicago at the team expense. Derrick Rose showed flashes of brilliance this season and signs that he’s still capable of being the best point guard and basketball. However, Jimmy Butler displayed growth and proved he too is capable of being the best shooting guard in the Association if given more responsibility or scoring opportunities.
It is disappointingly clear as LeBron James dominated the Atlanta Hawks in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals that the Bulls were the Cavaliers toughest opponent. The Bulls should have eliminated the Cavaliers easily due to the fact of the devastating injuries Cleveland suffered throughout their playoff run. If the rumors of Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose beefing in Game six are true, then shame on them for letting their egos destroy a opportunity they may never see again. Something clearly went wrong as the Bulls surrendered on their home court. The Bulls cried “Uncle” as the supporting cast of the Cavaliers dominated this series, and for that, they lost respect in the eyes of some Chicagoans. The Bulls have made winning a Championship in the LeBron James era seemingly impossible now. With Kevin Love possibly coming back to the Cavs next year, a healthy Kyrie Irving rejoining the fold, and not to mention any valuable free agent willing to take a pay cut to play with LeBron, you almost have to think about pressing the reset button on this franchise.
This Bulls did entirely too much talking this year as they repeatedly talked about giving a defensive effort they never gave. They knew this year was the year to win it all or at least lose in the NBA finals. And with the injuries that threatened to derail the Lebron James train, the writing was on the wall to play with a sense of urgency. The Bulls chose to play lackadaisical as if these opportunities grow on trees. I will never understand it, and I have to question if the Bulls will ever win a seventh Championship anytime soon.