April 26, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls shooting guard Richard Hamilton (32) talks with head coach Tom Thibodeau during the first quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE

It's Rip Hamilton Time for Chicago Bulls

When he signed with the Bulls, it was with the understanding he’d be the answer as Chicago’s No. 2 scorer who would compliment Rose. However, no one could have predicted how valuable Rip Hamilton really is –no one.

He's far more valuable now then the Bulls ever thought he'd be, but now Rip Hamilton needs to truly earn every penny of his contract. (Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-US PRESSWIRE)

But with 1:22 left to go in Game 1 the unthinkable happened. But now the process of moving on begins and Rip Hamilton is the guy who will lead the Bulls.

There is no other player on this roster more suited to fill the roll of leader then Hamilton. He’s lived in the house before, the playoffs, and the experience we knew he was bringing to the table is now far more valuable then we thought it would be. If the Bulls want to put their championship season back on track, Hamilton is the guy that needs to take charge.

Rip knows how to win in the postseason, he has the experience that no one on this team is in possession of. The only other guy on the roster with a ring is Brian Scalabrine and Tom Thibodeau’s ring not only came as an assistant but he can only do so much as the head coach.

Hamilton will be on the floor with these guys, and although he won’t be directing traffic he can influence it.

C.J. Watson will be starting in place of Derrick Rose until Rose returns next year and he’s done a fine job filling in when he needed this year. But that was the regular season.

The Bulls went 18-9 without Rose but they were playing with the understanding that he’d be back in due time. This will be the first time all year that the Bulls will be playing knowing there is zero possibility that Rose will return for the next game or the next series.

In addition to that, the playoffs are a different monster all together. The pace is different and the stakes are higher. Hamilton has thrived under these circumstances (playoff circumstances) and he can channel that knowledge to the rest of the Bulls.

When Rose went down in the regular season, Chicago didn’t need a leader, they needed to bide their time until Rose came back. But he’s done, finito, gone, not coming back. For the first time all year the Bulls need a new leader. As much as Watson has flourished at the point in Rose’s absence, he’s not going to be able to carry this team and lead them the way Rose did.

The closest guy to that is Hamilton with Joakim Noah being a very close second. But Hamilton’s been there, done that attitude is just what the Bulls need right now. The future begins tonight without Derrick Rose and if the Bulls don’t have leadership, they won’t go anywhere.

That’s the reason people are counting them down and out. Yeah, mostly the pundits are down on Chicago because they lost their leading scorer but they lost their leader. Most people aren’t willing to look at the situation, it’s easier to write off the Bulls.

Is Rip Hamilton the best replacement for Rose? No. But is he the best that the Bulls have, definitely. He’s also not the worst option either. Rip was having a decent Game 1 and that would have been the headline had what happened no happened. But that doesn’t mean it’ didn’t happen for Hamilton.

Rip get’s Jrue Holiday tonight and probably the rest of the series. This is a matchup that Hamilton is going to thrive against, or at least it appears so. This is the perfect opportunity for Rip to step up, take control and lead this team to where he’s been before.

An NBA Championship.

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