Why Chicago Bulls Fans Should Not Give Up on the 2013-14 Season

Jason S. PariniCorrespondent IIJanuary 3, 2014

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - DECEMBER 19 :  Joakim Noah #13 of the Chicago Bulls dunks the ball against the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Chesapeak Arena on December 19, 2013 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER:  User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice:  Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Richard Rowe/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Few days in the history of Chicago sports were as dark as that of April 28, 2012.

The Bulls were less than a minute away from defeating the Philadelphia 76ers to take a 1-0 series lead in the first round of the playoffs when the Bulls quickly learned that they were actually miles away from winning anything.

As Derrick Rose crumpled to the floor, the visions of a seventh NBA championship for the Bulls fell even harder.

Any Bulls fan doesn't need to hear what happened next, as Rose went another 549 days before taking the court in a Bulls uniform again on Oct. 29, 2013. Chicago could smell the roses of another championship to open this season and avenge its losses to the Heat.

The joy of Rose's return and the Bulls' competitiveness, however, was short-lived, as he played in only 10 games before going down again with a torn meniscus and ruled out for the remainder of the 2013-14 season.

After going 5-5 with Rose on the court in 2013, the Bulls have gone 8-13 and sit as the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference.

The Bulls' season so far has been as inconsistent as the Chicago weather. After beating the defending champion Miami Heat by 20 points on Dec. 5, the Bulls lost three in a row to the Pistons, Bucks and Knicks.

So why should Bulls fans not give up on the 2013-14 season?

Let's start with the possibility of Derrick Rose returning. As recently as Dec. 5, the Associated Press reported that if the Bulls do make the playoffs, Chicago's own superstar may be back on the court to lead the team in the postseason.

Regardless of if Rose returns for the playoffs, his return to the bench alone may be a morale boost to the injury-depleted club.

Besides Rose's devastating injury, key players Jimmy Butler, Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng have all been out recently for Chicago. Deng missed much of December with a sore Achilles and finally returned on New Year's Eve in a loss to the Raptors.

Bulls fans should also be quite grateful that their team is in the Eastern Conference. Only the Heat, Hawks and Pacers have records above .500 in the East, with the Raptors sitting at exactly .500 going into Friday's games against the 14-15 Washington Wizards, who are the fifth seed. Yes, the Wizards are indeed the current fifth seed for the playoffs.

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - NOVEMBER 25:  Two Chicago Bulls fans send their well-wishes to injured Bulls player Derrick Rose as Chicago takes on the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena on November 25, 2013 in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly ack
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Rose's absence has few positives, but it does give other players the opportunity to step up and make an impact. Forcing young players such as Tony Snell and Jimmy Butler to step up offers them the chance to learn how to be significant contributors in the NBA.

The 2013-14 campaign isn't lost for the Bulls. Luckily for them, they can back into the playoffs with a practically abysmal record and still become contenders if Rose returns for the playoffs. Even if he doesn't, the Bulls have plenty of time to right their ship.

Let's not forget, it is still only the beginning of January and 51 games remain for the Bulls, with the return of regular starters Deng, Hinrich and Butler being a step in the right direction. The Bulls took another good step forward on Thursday night by winning their first game of 2014, with a 94-82 decision over the Boston Celtics at home.

If any fan base can endure through the troubles of this season, it is the fans of Chicago. After all, this is the same city with a team that hasn't won a baseball championship in over a century.

Stay faithful, Bulls fans. There's a lot of basketball to be played and a lot of positive scenarios that could still happen in the near future for the Bulls.

Then again, at least there's still one guaranteed winning team which calls the United Center home. Thanks, Chicago Blackhawks.