Because of Derrick Rose.
An uproar of tremendous proportions occurred when Rose himself admitted to ESPN's Rachel Nichols he would be willing to sit out the entire year if he isn't "ready to play."
Some mistook his sentiments as a foregone conclusion that he was done for the year when in reality, he was just emphasizing he wouldn't return to action until he was fit to do so.
What's wrong with that?
If it takes all season for Rose to heal, then so be it. Chicago is better off remaining patient and enduring the trials and tribulations that come with playing without its franchise star this year than it would be rushing his return and risking further injury.
Is exuding such patience a sacrifice?
Yes, but only to an extent.
Because, with or without Rose, the 2012-13 crusade still holds purpose for the Bulls; without or without him, Chicago is a contender.
Though the team is far from as powerful as it would be with him, the Bulls are still deep enough to make plenty of noise, still talented enough to make a championship push.
Most importantly, though, they're still led by the inspiration that is Rose.
Through and through, Rose's path to complete rehabilitation has been nothing short of uplifting. His determination, refusal to quit or personify anything but optimism has undoubtedly been instrumental in his team's quest to move forward.
Not only has the talk of him being the missing link likely to have placed a lethal chip on their shoulders, but according to head coach Tom Thibodeau (via K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune), they're also bearing witness to how hard he is working firsthand:
If it better serves us to have him here or someplace doing rehab, we’ll do that. He’s around the team plenty. We see him and he’s working extremely hard so he’s giving all that he can give at this time. At some point, he’ll rejoin us and we’ll move on from there.
Having Rose around the team is of the utmost importance, because he serves as a reminder of what the Bulls are ultimately striving for.
Rose has never been a touted vocal leader. He has always let his on-court accolades and fearlessness do the talking.
Now, however, he has let his rehabilitation, his perseverance, do the talking.
The point guard is constantly working out and ensuring he can return to the court as healthy and soon as possible.
And you better believe his teammates have taken notice, have seen him going to great lengths to ensure the healing process yields the correct results.
How is that not supposed to inspire them? How is their leader remaining a part of the team despite the opportunity to remove himself not encouraging?
Yes, this is a Chicago team that is not stranger to playing without Rose; it went 18-9 without him during the 2011-12 regular season.
But now it's also something more.
This injury could have destroyed their team's chemistry. The term "indefinitely" could have sent the Bulls into a perpetual funk.
Are the Chicago Bulls still contenders?
Yet it hasn't. They opened up the 2012-13 season with a strong showing, under the notion that they have something more than a championship to play for—they have Rose to play for.
In turn, he has them to support, has them to use as his inspiration to regain form, to return to the hardwood.
"I’ve got my teammates and the franchise behind me,” Rose told Adam Fluck of Bulls.com. “The whole organization is behind me, so I’m good."
And he, likewise, is behind them, which is why the Bulls aren't a Rose-less entity—they're still a Rose-led, a Rose-inspired team.
And a very dangerous one at that.