In the aftermath of the Chicago Bulls’ 104-94 loss to the Miami Heat Friday night, the Bulls did a lot of complaining about the officiating. Tom Thibodeau said the Bulls were “well aware of what’s going on” and said flat out “we’re not going to get any calls.”
This comes on the heels of game two, where Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah were ejected during an embarrassing 37-point loss, mainly for arguing calls.
It’s also complete BS.
Were there bad calls made against the Bulls? Of course there were. Jimmy Butler got tagged for at least one weak reach-in foul, and Noah got hit with an over-the-back foul in the final minutes that was horrible in real time and even worse in retrospect. But there were more than a few instances of the Bulls benefitting from bad calls.
Let’s start with Nazr Mohammed’s ejection, shall we? Thibs said after the game that LeBron flopped and Mohammed didn’t deserve his ejection.
Matt Moore of CBS Sports’ Eye On Basketball broke it down, and if you watch it in slow motion, there’s no way it was a flop. You know why LeBron fell? Because he was caught completely off guard, was off-balance and got shoved by a 7-foot, 250-pound athlete. LeBron may be huge and ridiculous, but unless he’s secretly the Hulk, he’s not going to magically stay on his feet there.
Also, that was a pretty terrible technical foul on LeBron right before Nazr shoved him. Let’s be honest, he didn’t deserve that.
OK, now that you can’t blame the refs, let’s go down the list of what we should blame instead.
Blame the Heat for employing the best player on the planet. Blame Norris Cole for randomly losing the ability to miss when the playoffs started. Blame Chris Bosh for playing one of his best games and for being really, really good at his job.
Blame whoever screwed up Luol Deng’s spinal tap. Blame whatever happened to Kirk Hinrich’s calf. Blame happenstance for what happened to Derrick Rose’s ACL. Blame Daequan Cook for being a three-point specialist who can’t make three-pointers. Blame Rip Hamilton for dying at some point during the season. Blame Vladimir Radmanovic for being Vladimir Radmanovic. Blame Marquis Teague for being thrust into a role he was never supposed to play this year. Blame Kyle Korver’s Trade Exception for not contributing this year.
Blame Jerry Reinsdorf for being an awful cheapskate of an owner. Blame John Paxson and Gar Foreman for blowing up the Bench Mob to save money and paying the luxury tax anyway. Blame GarPax for paying $4 million this year and next for Kirk Hinrich’s services and intentionally hard-capping themselves in the process.
Blame Nate Robinson for being 5’7″ and thus unable to credibly guard pretty much anyone. Blame Marco Belinelli for being this important to the Bulls despite being mildly awful at basketball. Blame Carlos Boozer for being Carlos Boozer. Blame Taj Gibson’s knee for not being 100 percent.
Blame Joakim Noah and Jimmy Butler — actually, don’t do that. Blame Jo for losing his cool a couple of times the last two games if you must, but those two are as close to blameless as you can possibly get.
Blame Tom Thibodeau for playing guys too many minutes, I guess, although I’m not sure it would have changed too much. Maybe Hinrich would have been healthy? I don’t know.
Bottom line: the Bulls are frankly lucky to have made it this far. They’re without two of their three best players plus two more guys who started on opening night. (I’m including Rip here, since he’s apparently dead, as mentioned above.) They’re facing the best team in the league, who happen to be the defending champs and happen to have the best player in the world.
So sit back, relax and strap it down. Anything that happens from here on out is gravy.
And game four is gonna be a hell of a ride.