With attention on the baseball postseason, the Jay Cutler era of Chicago Bears football, and even the denial of the Olympics to Chicago, the most overlooked aspect of Chicago sports has undoubtedly been the Chicago Bulls. That folks, is a shame.
How soon we forget about one of the most compelling first round NBA playoff series in recent memory between the Bulls and the Boston Celtics a season ago. Surprisingly though, after the Bulls were eliminated from that amazing series the team was forgotten amongst most fans.
The NBA draft came and past and not much excitement was expressed about their rookie draft choices. Since, the closest thing to a reminder that the Bulls even existed was the similarities between the Cubs downgrade of a season to that of the Bulls during the post-Jordan era.
To remind all that have put the Bulls in the back of their mind, there is much to be excited about this season. Although the Bulls offseason consisted of what most other NBA teams’ did as well, freeing up cap space to prepare for the monumental 2010 free agency class, they did improve themselves from the playoff team they were a season ago and have attempted to upgrade themselves to the top of the Eastern Conference.
Since most people likely don’t know, the Bulls 2009 draft choices, both of which were first-rounders, were 16th overall pick out of Wake Forest James Johnson and the 26th overall pick Taj Gibson from USC. Both are listed as power forwards and are practically clones of Joakim Noah and Tyrus Thomas.
Although at first thought it may seem ridiculous that the Bulls would draft two players in the first round who are strikingly similar to young players already on their roster, the two rookie forwards add important depth to the Bulls’ bench and significantly improve their post play both defensively and offensively.
Arguably the Bulls greatest weakness last season was on defense where they allowed 102 points per game. Keep in mind though; they were on the brink of considerably improving their overall record as they lost nineteen games by only ten points or less.
With much firepower on offense coming from their guards including last season’s rookie of the year Derrick Rose, long-time Bull Kirk Hinrich and the high-scoring John Salmons—the man expected to be the replacement for the now Detroit Piston Ben Gordon—as well as an improved defense and less turnovers and the Bulls could be one of the big three in the Eastern Conference this ’09-’10 NBA season.
Other statistics to keep in mind as the season begins, the Bulls were tenth in total rebounds and third in blocked shots last season and with the addition of the before mentioned rookie draft choices on top of the returning players, those stats will likely only go up.
Now that I’ve hopefully reintroduced many to the Chicago Bulls and expectantly created some excitement surrounding them as well, keep in mind that the Bulls season opener is only a week from Thursday at the United Center against a strong San Antonio Spurs squad.
Also, we all can look forward to a rematch of that amazing first round playoff series in the second game of the season, a week from Friday, as the Bulls travel to Boston to take on the Celtics.
Since so far this Chicago sports year we’ve been let down by both Chicago baseball teams as well as had our Chicago Bears' divisional championship pursuit dampened by the Minnesota Vikings refusing to lose—not forgetting the NFL season is still young, of course—the Chicago Bulls will be a much needed additional sports outlet to root for and to help maintain our championship contending dreams somewhere in the sports world.
For that reason, please don’t forget about the Chicago Bulls.