Thursday, May 14, 2015

These Bulls. My Bulls.

In a perfect world, hope is indomitable. Robust, like a seaside boulder that has resisted eons of crashing waves. 

In the real world, hope is battered and brittle; held together by a patchwork of duct tape, baling wire and chewing gum.

Such is the state of mine as the 2014/15 Chicago Bulls take on the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight in game 6 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

With the Dallas Cowboys reduced to Jerry Jones' personal ATM, only the Chicago Cubs can compete with the Bulls for my sports-based affections. This is the reason I am on the verge of a sports-related hernia. 

I am pulling for them. Hard.

But since Derrick Rose's cataclysmic knee injury three years ago, the Bulls have been a franchise on pause. A franchise with one foot on the gas and another planted firmly on the brake. The protracted is-he-or-isn't-he drama and the accumulated weight of unfulfilled potential has strained the organization. 

Deeply.

There are persistent rumors of a front office rift between GM Gar Forman and coach Tom Thibodeau. An unending succession of critical injuries. And that suffocating mantle of Great Expectations. Not only must Derrick Rose get healthy and regain his MVP form, but the Bulls must win when he returns, and win big. 

Waiting for Derrick wasn't a game anyone wanted to play, but it's the hand these Bulls were dealt.

After an up-and-down season rife with signs the Bulls might be tuning-out Thibodeau, it's do-or-die tonight after losing the pivotal game five. And teams falling behind three games to two go on to lose those series eighty percent of the time.

The weary Bulls may win one more tonight, a going away present for what is likely their coach's final game in Chicago. But like an airplane that has seen too many takeoffs and landings, the Bulls are a craft suffering from metal fatigue.

The future is more uncertain than bright.

It may very well be time to retool, leaving these Bulls to join the Lenny Wilkins-era Cavaliers of Mark Price, Larry Nance and Brad Daugherty and the Don Nelson-era Bucks of Sidney Moncrief as one of the best to never get the rest. 

But first, I need to make an appointment with my hernia guy.

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