Chicago Bulls fans, had you had this Bulls team in the early 2000's, you'd be cruising to an Eastern Conference championship series, but unfortunately this team was put together just as superstars were turning into Transformers—or, if you're a huge loser, Power Rangers—and forming mega-teams.
Now, I'm not saying the Bulls cannot compete with Miami, Boston or, your new superstar powerhouse, New York, but it was a lot easier to beat guys like LeBron James when he didn't have Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh next to him.
And even that was difficult.
Unfortunately, three teams hold eight of the top 10 players in the Eastern Conference, which makes for a very top-heavy conference.
The Bulls have silently gone about their business, but there is no denying that facing a Miami team featuring James, Wade and Bosh or a Boston team boasting Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett and now a New York team that stars Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire (with Chauncey Billups) in a seven-game series will be a challenge most gambling men would bet against the Bulls.
The good news with this Anthony trade is that New York didn't merely add him to their roster—which they would have done if they signed him in free agency—instead, the Knicks had to give up some talent in Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton and Wilson Chandler.
Although if giving up that talent and contracts means being able to make a run at Chris Paul next year and/or Deron Williams in two years, God help us all.
The bad news is no team is going to want to touch the Knicks in the first round of the playoffs this year. And who do you think, as of now, has a date with the Knickerbockers in the first round?
Your Chicago Bulls.
The Knicks are five-and-a-half games behind Atlanta and, I believe we can all agree, although they are just two games up on Philadelphia and four games up on Indiana, neither of those teams will catch them now. On the other side, the Bulls are three-and-a-half games up on Orlando and two games behind Miami and Boston at the three seed.
The fourth seed never looked so beautiful.
Unfortunately for the Bulls, they put together a great team just as the Eastern Conference slowly became stacked when the franchise had nearly a decade to dominate mediocrity. Bad timing.
But hope is not lost. As long as Derrick Rose continually plays like an MVP, the Bulls have a chance to beat anyone on any given night.
But, can they beat anyone in a seven-game series is a question the superstars on the Heat, Magic, Celtics and Knicks have already answered in their careers. Rose has not.
On the other hand, with the way Rose has progressed, it's as if the Bulls added a superstar to go along with Carlos Boozer...right?
Or maybe I'm grasping at straws trying to paint a picture where the Bulls don't continually fall in the second round of the playoffs in the next three to four years.