Bulls Should Remember, Not Forget

The NBA season and the Bulls’ playoff run both had one thing in common: they were way too short. Sure, every team had to deal with the condensed schedule and minimal days off. But it really seems like the Bulls bore the brunt of it. As many have said, the 2011-2012 season should have a big asterisk next to it, with everything that befell this unlucky once-golden Bulls team.

And with the NBA Championship series on the horizon, watching the Bulls fight to advance seems like a distant memory. But as with all failure and disappointment, and as much as the Bulls would probably like to forget about this season, there are lessons to be learned and no one is innocent. So, now that fans have hopefully become somewhat numb to Bulls playoff talk, let’s take a second to decompress and reevaluate the situation, calmly and rationally.

Now, as I said before, the lockout-shortened season really screwed a lot of people over. The Bulls often played five games a week, which is insane when you factor in travel and whatever preparation they were able to fit in. Plus, it really didn’t help in terms of injuries. The Bulls were plagued with injury after injury, and it makes me sick to think that the NBA overworked and wore down its players for the sake of making more money. The Bulls were never able to establish any sort of rhythm going into the playoffs, with Derrick Rose logging some, but not enough time toward the end of the season after coming back from one of his many injuries.

The Bulls need to realize that they are at a crossroads, and a championship is no longer in the near future. Derrick Rose should get all the time he needs and then some, because what’s the rush? It’s not like he’s going to forget how to be Derrick Rose. The same goes for Luol Deng. There seems to be a lot more pressure on him to return as soon as possible, mostly because of his controversial choice to participate in the London Olympics, but also because of the loss of Rose. I think people need to look at the situation as if Rose was healthy, and give Deng the same courtesy of making a full recovery at his own pace, because in reality, the Bulls have nothing but time.

Speaking of controversy, many people not pleased with a lot of the choices Tom Thibodeau made in the playoffs, namely that big ‘what if?’ with just over a minute remaining in Game 1. And while I still don’t blame him for Rose’s injury (I think it would’ve happened eventually) I believe he should be held accountable for some of what happened. On top of playing a shortened season, I often wonder if he pushed his players too far. I think that his no-nonsense style of coaching led him to be too stubborn at times, and as a result the team failed to adapt to certain situations. I’ve always had a lot of faith in Thibs, but if the Bulls want to find any kind of success next season, they’ll have to do more adapting than ever without their two All-Stars.

The Bulls really can’t just try to forget and move on after that final buzzer. Of course, next season is a clean slate, but that slate looks a lot like the one they finished with last season. And though there may even be some new faces on the court, the team’s strategy should still be the same: remember last season, take the good with the bad and adapt, adapt, adapt.

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