Dear Bulls Nation,
I am sorry. It appears that my continual bad luck at predicting the Bulls to do well has reached even new depths that I didn’t think were possible.
After an embarrassing 113-90 home loss to the Atlanta Hawks Wednesday night, the Bulls currently sit at 27-25 overall, and are sitting as the seven seed in the Eastern Conference. They’re only a half game up on Charlotte for the eight seed, and the Hornets have beaten the Bulls three out four times this season.
When I wrote my blog approximately five weeks ago titled “Why Derrick Rose is the Most Important Player Currently on the Bulls,” the Bulls were 22-12 and on a six game winning streak. Five hours after I published it, the Bulls were blown out by the Hawks. Five weeks later, and they’ve gone 5-13 and lost Joakim Noah, Nikola Mirotic, and Jimmy Butler to injury. Derrick Rose sat out with “general body soreness” the other day. No other comment is needed.
To put it simply, the Bulls are a dumpster fire right now. Nobody seems to be giving any sort of effort. They’ve blown nine fourth quarter leads this year. NINE! They needed 53 points from Jimmy Butler to beat Philadelphia. PHILADELPHIA! THE 76ERS! WHO HAVE EIGHT WINS!
The Bulls just went on a 7-game road trip, where they played one team with a winning record, and went 2-5 overall on the trip. The two wins? The LA Lakers and the Sacramento Kings.
Butler is now out a month after straining his knee. I guess having to carry the team offensively puts some wear and tear on your knees (SEE: Rose, Derrick, 2012).
Mirotic had an emergency appendectomy and hasn’t played in the last two weeks. I thought him getting hurt might help the Bulls since Mirotic hasn’t played well at all this year, but it actually made the team worse. Go figure.
I feel bad for Joakim Noah. He has given his blood, sweat, and tears to this organization for nine great seasons, and for him to hurt his shoulder in a contract year is really unfortunate. His career in Chicago is probably over, and it’s ending on a sour note.
Hey! Mike Dunleavy is back! That’s going to really open up the offense more! The Bulls are 0-3 upon his return.
Rose sitting out with “general body soreness” is something I can’t even justify. I’ve been one of Derrick’s biggest supporters the past couple of years. He honestly is an incredible “what if” story because he had ascended to be the best point guard in the league before all his knee problems. Even in the past few months or so, you’ve seen more consistent play of the “old” Derrick Rose, hence why I wrote that blog back in early January. But to just be like “I’m sore, so I can’t play” is completely unacceptable. That shows that he doesn’t care about his teammates whatsoever and isn’t willing to put up with the grind of the NBA season anymore. Hopefully he can heal over this All-Star break week.
Who’s to blame for all of this? I feel like some of it has to fall on Fred Hoiberg’s shoulders. Simply put, the players aren’t buying into what he’s saying, and the effort on the court shows it.
But the people you should chiefly blame are Gar Forman and John Paxson. They let their egos get in the way of what their players wanted, and they fired Tom Thibodeau at the end of last season. At least with Thibs, you knew the players were going to give an effort day in and day out. They wouldn’t have lost games to Minnesota (twice), Brooklyn, Phoenix, or Denver under Thibodeau because, simply put, he wouldn’t let them lose those games. That falls squarely on Forman and Paxson, as they brought in a guy that just doesn’t have the trust of the team.
Is this season worth salvaging, or do you just keep on sliding and hope the ping pong balls bounce your way? That’s the question this team faces in the next two months. For as bleak as the outlook of this team appears, the 3-8 seeds in the East is a log jam. If they decided they want to actually show up and care, they can still potentially be the three seed and (potentially) avoid Cleveland till the Eastern Conference Finals.
But what has this team shown you to say that they’re going to do that? As a Chicago sports fan, I’ve never gone through a season with a team so frustrating as this one. Because you see the talent. You see the wins over Cleveland (twice), San Antonio, LA Clippers, Oklahoma City (twice), and Memphis, and it makes you know that this team can hang with the best in the league (minus Golden State). Those losses against the bad teams, though, have been downright brutal, and it just seems like this team doesn’t care at all about the game of basketball.
So long story short, I’m sorry, Bulls Nation, for publishing my opinions of hope for the Bulls when they were 22-12 on the season. Let’s hope this contradicts those words from last month and this team makes a run to the Finals. But, in all reality, you know that’s not going to happen.