October 29, 2013:
I woke up, threw on my Derrick Rose T-shirt, put on my Derrick Rose hoodie, and proceeded to walk to class.
Today was the day. Derrick Rose was coming back after missing the entire 2012-2013 NBA season following his torn ACL in the playoffs the year before.
I couldn’t wait. All summer long I was reading reports on how Rose looked better than ever, and how the Bulls were officially championship contenders again.
I was so excited that I bought a Derrick Rose “big head” that would be placed right above my bed in my room for the upcoming year. Because what better person to wake up to than Derrick Rose?
As the summer was coming to a close, the NBA season was that much sooner. I couldn’t contain my excitement. Bill Simmons had picked the Bulls to actually win the championship in his preseason predictions, which fed my ego that much more.
Preseason started and Rose looked good. Really good. His shot was improved, and he looked like he had his explosiveness back. The Bulls went 8-0 in the preseason and Rose was the biggest story.
If you are reading this article, expecting it to turn into a sad, heart-breaking memoir, then keep reading. Now, let’s get back to October 29, 2013.
The Bulls were set to open the 2013-2014 NBA season in Miami against the two-time defending champion Miami Heat. I couldn’t think of a better scenario in my head.
In my head, Rose was about to let the world know that he was back. He was going to be the Derrick Rose of old and dazzle us with an array of crossovers, floaters, and his new and improved three pointer.
Then, the game started. Rose struggled and looked like a guy who was rusty and had missed an entire season. He finished with just 12 points on 4-15 shooting while committing five turnovers. It was buzz kill, sure. I wasn’t worried, though, it was one game. He had 81 more to get back to the Rose of old.
October 31, 2013
Halloween was in the air, and Rose was getting ready for his first home game since he tore his ACL 18 months prior.
In my head, there was no stopping Rose in this one, and to an extent, I guess you could say I was correct.
Rose shot 7-23, but made the only shot that mattered; a floater with 5.7 left to give the Bulls an 82-81 victory.
I celebrated the shot as if the Bulls had just won the championship.
Do I care? No.
I hadn’t seen this dude play in over a year. I had a right to celebrate.
In the long run, this game would mean absolutely nothing. The Knicks ended up sucking, and I’ll get to what happened to the Bulls in a minute.
You already know what happened but I’m going to write it anyway. I want to make this piece as dramatic as possible.
I’m going to skip over the Bulls next game, which was a loss to the Sixers, 107-104. I’m going to skip over it because I was at the game, and it was awful. That game too, turned out to mean nothing.
Remind me again why I put myself through 82 games of this?
November 22, 2013:
It was Friday night, and instead of going out I was going to sit in and watch the Bulls play the Portland Trailblazers, because why wouldn’t I? The Bulls were 6-4 coming into this game and seemed to be getting it together. Rose started this game off hot, and had 20 points, five rebounds and three assists in the third quarter. He was actually starting to look like his old self.
Then, it happened. Again. Rose was grabbing his right knee on another non-contact injury. I was speechless. I couldn’t believe it.
Forget that the Bulls blew a 21-point lead in this game and lost 98-95. Who cares? Rose was down again and that was the only thing that mattered.
Anyway, the game ended, and the first thing I did was drive home. I didn’t want to be around anybody. I needed to drown myself in my thoughts, twitter, and my thoughts some more. I refreshed twitter compulsively, hoping to see any news on the latest Rose injury.
A million thoughts raced through my head. How could this happen again? Will he ever be the same? Why. Why. Why, again and again.
I sat in my kitchen, dumb-founded. Staring at my computer, I was preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best. The next day, the MRI showed Rose had a torn meniscus and would miss the entire season.
Bummer, to say the least.
Are you still reading this?
Are you still with me?
Keep reading because I’m not done yet. Not. Even. Close.
November 24, 2013
Two days had passed since Rose’s injury and I had pretty much lost all hope on the season.
Without Rose, there was no way they could compete for a championship. It was such a deflating injury given all that he had been through and how hard he worked to get back to 100%.
The first game without Rose was a 121-92 loss in Los Angeles to the Clippers. After this, the Bulls had lost 10 of their last 13 games. The season seemed lost.
Three weeks later, in a money saving move, the Bulls traded Luol Deng for (gasp) Andrew Bynum, who they would proceed to waive shortly after. Deng had been a Chicago Bulls favorite for 10 years and was a warrior for the Bulls.
After Deng was traded, I then gave in that this Bulls team was going to tank for the rest of the season.
But then something weird happened—they started winning. The Bulls went on to win 7 of their next 9 games and found themselves at 20-20.
This team wasn’t tanking. No way. Not as long as Tom Thibodeau was around.
Or Joakim Noah. Or Taj Gibson, for that matter.
With no Rose, and no Deng, the Bulls needed to find some sort of a spark on offense. D.J. Augustin stepped in and played the roles of C.J Watson, John Lucas III, and Nate Robinson, respectively. (P.S: I promise that’s the last time I’ll mention Derrick Rose in this article. Actually, I lied. I can’t keep that promise).
Joakim Noah, for the second straight season took on the role of being the leader of the Bulls. Noah had the best year of his career in 2013-2014, averaging 12.6 points, 11.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game.
He finished with 4 triple doubles on the season, and for a center that is straight up ridiculous. Noah’s historic season was topped off with him being named defensive player of the year, an award he dedicated to the passing of his late coach and mentor Tyrone Green.
Taj Gibson joined Noah and became the Bulls defensive anchor. Gibson averaged 13 points and 6.8 rebounds off the bench, and all signs point to him winning the NBA’s 6th man of the year award.
It was guys Noah, and Gibson that made the Bulls regular season so damn fun to watch at times. They exemplify every thing the Bulls are about, with their heart and toughness.
I could write about this team for days, but for all intensive purposes, I won’t go into every single detail.
Are you seriously still reading this?
April 20, 2014
The regular season was over, and the Bulls finished with a 48-34 record, earning them the number 4 seed in the Eastern Conference and a series against the Washington Wizards.
Naturally, I was so excited for the playoffs. In my head, the Bulls were going to out hustle, out couch and beat the young Wizards backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal.
After that, the Bulls were going to beat the slumping Pacers in the second round and earn a chance to play the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Blah. Blah. Blah.
But then, reality sunk in. Game one came along and the Bulls would lose 102-93 after going on a late game offensive drought. Then the same thing happened in game two, as the Bulls fell in overtime 101-99.
After stealing game three in Washington, they would go on to lose the next two games, effectively ending their season, and my hopes and dreams.
If you look at the two teams, the Bulls really did not have any business winning the series. They were overmatched by a hungrier, young, athletic team and it showed. Kirk Hinrich, D.J, Augustin and Jimmy Butler couldn’t keep up with John Wall, Bradley Beal and Trevor Ariza. Not to mention, Nene dominated Joakim Noah all series long, averaging 17 points and 6 rebounds in four games.
As I sit here and pour my heart out to you, another Bulls season has passed.
OK, seriously, are you actually still reading this?
Next season, I have a strong feeling that this Bulls team will be a lot different. Carlos Boozer will almost certainly be amnestied, and Derrick Rose will be back.
Yeah, remember him?
With rumblings about Carmelo Anthony coming to Chicago, the Bulls should do whatever they can to get him. Anybody on this team should be available except Rose, Noah, Gibson, and possibly even Jimmy Butler. The Bulls desperately need another scorer to pair with Rose, because you just don’t know what to expect with him after he’s missed so much time.
I’m almost done. I promise.
I’m proud of this team, and all they accomplished this past season, even it was just regular season. They left it all out there. There just comes a point where you need superstars to win, and the Bulls had an expiration date this year, and I knew it.
Seriously, I’m not that delusional.
April 30, 2014
I can’t believe you made it through this entire article. Get well soon, Derrick Rose. Here’s to hoping Adidas doesn’t organize another “The Return” campaign. Please.
See you all next year.