I am a diehard Chicago Bulls fan. I’m a fan to the degree that when my first book was published (My Fractured Life), I insisted that the publisher use only the Chicago Bulls team colors for the cover.
Over the years we’ve had some of the greatest players in NBA history suit up in Bulls jerseys. Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen are two obvious Bulls stars, but the team has also sported such top tier players as Dwayne Wade, Kendall Gill, Jimmy Butler, Bob Love, Jerry Sloan, Dennis Rodman, Derrick Rose, Artis Gilmore, Reggie Theus, Charles Oakley, Ben Wallace, Kirk Hinrich, and Norm Van Lier.
The team has also had some great coaches throughout history. My favorite two Bulls coaches are Tom Thibodeau and Scott Skiles. Skiles coached the team from 2003 to 2007. Thibodeau coached the team from 2010 to 2015. Both of them were tough-as-nails coaches who worked the team hard and saw great results.
Fast forward to present day 2021. As has been the case since 2017, my beloved Chicago Bulls are not a part of the NBA playoffs. This is a point of great sorrow for any Bulls fan. With a team sporting two All Stars in Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic, it is frustrating not to be in the dance, but it does allow fans to get interested in the teams that did make the playoffs.
Thibodeau was named head coach of the New York Knicks in July 2020. He has guided the team to its first playoff appearance since 2013. There is no denying that Thibs is a great coach, and his teams are fun to watch. They are founded in tough defense and playing hard ever second of the game.
For the 2021 playoffs, Thibs had a few faces on the team that Bulls fans will recognize – former league MVP Derrick Rose and hardhat and lunch pail power forward Taj Gibson. Although recruited to give the Knicks a strong bench, when the team started to flounder in its first round series with the Atlanta Hawks, Thibs inserted Rose and Gibson into the starting lineup. That’s all I needed to hear to decide to tune in to the rest of the series.
Yes, I did what some Bulls fans would consider treason. I rooted for the New York Knicks. Thibodeau, Rose, and Gibson will always be remembered by Bulls fans for their winning attitude and tough play. If the current Bulls aren’t in the playoffs, why not root for some former favorites who have moved on to other teams?
Sadly, my enthusiasm was not enough to carry the Knicks past Atlanta. The Hawks won the series 4 games to 1 behind the inspired play of Trae Young (who is going to be a Hall of Fame player). But it was a fun series to watch, and it was refreshing to see Rose return to his former glory as a top tier point guard. Gibson is also still a great player, doing the dirty work under the rim.
I bleed Chicago Bulls colors. The Chicago Bulls will be my team for the foreseeable future, probably until my death. But it’s still fun to check in on former favorites who have moved on to other teams.
I predict that we have just seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of what Thibodeau can do with the Knicks. Not only will they be in the playoffs next year, the Knicks will make it until at least the second round – possibly further depending on if they acquire any worthwhile assets in the off season.
I also predict that in their second year under Billy Donovan, the Bulls will make the playoffs in 2022.
Wouldn’t it be fun to watch the Knicks and the Bulls face off in the playoffs next year? I would, of course root for the Bulls – but I would have the ultimate respect for their opponent. Thibs is a lethal coach when he has the tools. Perhaps Donovan will be too.
Peace. Love. Trust.
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