Bulls look to be back on the road to glory

Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /

Chicago Bulls fans know glory. For those of us who came up in the 1990’s watching Michael Jordan and the Bulls dominate the NBA, winning wasn’t just the norm, it was the expectation.

Many great empires in history have come to an end at the hands of an overly confident (or just plain evil) tyrant and in the case of the Bulls Dynasty, that tyrant Jerry Reinsdorf. After MJ’s retirement in 1998 the franchise and the fans who stuck around suffered through four years of coach Tim Floyd rolling out the likes of Tyson Chandler, Eddy Curry, Dickey Simpkins and a laundry list of forgettable NBA players wearing the jerseys that were, for so long, synonymous with greatness.

2002 brought hope back to the city of Chicago when the Bulls landed Jay Williams out of Duke with the No. 2  pick in the draft. Williams looked like a franchise cornerstone poised to help lead us back to the pinnacle of NBA dominance in the years to come. The next year, Williams suffered career-ending injuries when he crashed his motorcycle and while Bulls fans were glad that Jay survived and eventually healed, it felt like the rug had been ripped out from under our feet with incredible force.

Soon after this latest tragedy we fell in love with the Baby Bulls. Head coach Scott Skiles overachieved with a scrappy underdog team led by floor general Kirk Hinrich, stone-cold killer Ben Gordon and the ever tantalizing Luol Deng.

Zach LaVine and the Chicago Bulls could soon be returning to the glory days

This team eventually morphed into the Derrick Rose Bulls, peaking with Rose’s MVP season in 2010-11 when Bulls fans could feel the championship on the horizon and almost more importantly, the call for Heat-Slayer seemed to have been answered by Rose, Joakim Noah and our beloved Tom Thibodeau. As with Williams, Rose’s reign in Chicago would be derailed, in his case by 2 devastating knee injuries following his MVP season.

The fallout of the Rose era left us with a disgruntled Jimmy Butler, a front office/head coach war and eventually, Lauri Markkenan and a dunk champion with a torn ACL as the foundation of our future.

Every time we felt that we had turned the corner and could feel proud of our team again some combination of horrible injury luck or general Gar-Pax incompetence sent us sprawling back into the abyss.

Bulls fans, I stand before thee and proclaim that the pain and heartbreak of the last 24 years since MJ last wore a Bulls jersey is finally behind us. This iteration of the Bulls is an unqualified success regardless of this season’s outcome for the simple fact that we finally have a foundation we can build around from bottom to top.

VP Arturas Karnisovas and GM Marc Eversly have brought an entirely new culture and approach to the front office and Billy Donovan has stabilized the locker room and fast-tracked player development just has he did in OKC for years before coming to Chicago.

That stability has led to smart trades and signings for players like Vucevic, Caruso and DeRozan as well as the emergence of Pat Williams, Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu, putting this franchise in position to not only contend at the highest level but also to remain flexible and have staying power in the decade to come.

Next. Fact or fiction on the latest Bulls deadline rumors. dark

Of every factor contributing to the beautiful basketball and gritty defense the Bulls are playing this season none is more solid nor more critical than the emergence of Zach LaVine as a true, capital S, Superstar (yes, the player I earlier referred to as a ‘dunk champion with a torn ACL’). Lavine has elevated his defensive effort, play-making and scoring efficiency, proving without a doubt that he is worthy of a max contract in the off-season.

No matter the result, a trip to the finals or a first-round exit, this Bulls team is set up for a bright future and Bulls fans can finally sit back and bask in the glow of the LaVine sun.