The Chicago Bulls and the Missing Link

I am a die-hard Chicago Bulls fan. In fact, for my first book, I insisted that the publisher use the Bull’s team colors for the cover.

Like many fans, I was enamored by the superhuman talents of players like Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen during the championship runs in the 1990’s. Then, the team was easy to love. They had two of the greatest players to ever play the game. They were fun to watch. They won almost all of their games. What wasn’t to love?

However, the true depths of my love for the team became most apparent in the lean years. I lived through the Baby Bulls with twin-towers Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry. I got my hopes up with the dynamic rookie season of Number 2 overall pick Jay Williams, only to have them crushed when Williams’ career was effectively ended by a motorcycle crash.

With John Paxson taking over for GM Jerry Krause in 2003, I welcomed the additions of Kirk Hinrich through the draft and signing of coach Scott Skiles. Hinrich is one of my favorite players of all time because he had a high basketball IQ and gave 110% every time he was on the floor. Skiles is one of my two favorite Bulls coaches of all time.

Some of my favorite years for the Bulls were with Hinrich, Chris Duhon, Luol Deng, and Andres Nocioni in the lineup. Then, after a few forgettable coaches, in 2010 Paxson signed Tom Thibodeau as the head coach to guide the development of players like Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Jimmy Butler. Thibs ranks as my other favorite Bulls coach.

Thibodeau won NBA Coach of the Year honors in 2011 with the Bulls. (He also won the award in 2021 with the New York Knicks). He led the Bulls to their first 50-win season and first division title since the Jordan era.

The coaches since Thibs parted way with the Bulls in 2015 have been relatively forgettable. But they have had some fun players to watch.

Jimmy Butler worked hard and became an All-Star. Sadly, his ego made him toxic and he was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves for a package that included Zach LaVine and a draft pick that would be used to select Lauri Markkanen.

LaVine has blossomed into a franchise player. He is an All-Star and an Olympian. He is one of the best to ever lace up for the Bulls and I hope last year’s trade for Nikola Vucevic and this off season’s acquisitions of Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan are proof to LaVine they are committed to building a championship caliber team around him.

The off-season acquisition of starters Ball, DeRozan, and 2020 NBA Champion Alex Caruso off the bench, has the Bulls looking liked title contenders again. They are fun to watch because they have a chance to win every game.

Backup guard Coby White is also a key part of the equation. I have always called White “Floppy Noggin” thanks to the outlandish afro he came into the league with. Even though he now sports a far more conservative look, the name stuck.

The team has had some lean years as of late, having not made the playoffs since 2017. That will change this year. In fact, I think the Bulls are two players away from being the odds-on favorite to win the title.

The Bulls don’t have a power forward on the roster. They are making do with forward by committee and that’s not going to win a title. Nor do the Bulls have a solid player to come off the bench to cover the 4 and the 5.

I’ve seen names like Kevin Love get tossed around in trade rumors regarding the Bulls. And while I would welcome him to the team, I doubt the Bulls have the pieces to trade for him. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The Bulls don’t need to add two All-Stars. They don’t even need to add one All-Star. They just need two big bodies who can defend and rebound. Journeymen like Thaddeus Young, Daniel Theis, and Taj Gibson are perfect examples of former Bulls who had the style of play the team needs now.

Executive vice president of basketball operations, Artūras Karnišovas, and general manager, Marc Eversley, have proven they aren’t afraid to pull the trigger on deals. They are also smart enough to know that the Bulls need to make a move to be a serious contender.

I will love my Chicago Bulls no matter if they are competing for a title or not, but it feels good to watch games and know that our boys have a chance to walk away with a W. I just wish it was without the gambling app commercials littering the airwaves during each Bulls broadcast, but that’s a topic for a different article.

Are the Bulls looking to make deals? That remains to be seen.

Can the Bulls win another championship with a team built around Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan? I believe that they can. I think if the Bulls make those moves, they can and will be champions this year.

Now, we just have to see what Karnišovas and Eversley do. Will they find the missing link?

Peace. Love. Trust.

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