Two games. That's all it took for me to believe this Chicago Bulls team is for real.
Two of the best post-Jordan era NBA games I've ever seen, and I'm officially man-smitten. So much so that I'm ready to make the following epically bold prediction: the Bulls will win this series.
One more time for dramatic effect: the Bulls will defeat the heavily favored, defending NBA Champion Boston Celtics to advance to the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.
Chances are you don't share my Cubs-fan-esque optimism, so allow me a moment to explain.
As a former Bulls beat writer for The Heckler, it was my job to watch each game and make fun of everything that was wrong with the team. Now, as a writer and producer for The Chicago Sports Week in Review, I've traded printed sarcasm for lampooning via video. But for all that's wrong with this Bulls team (I'm looking at you, Joakim Noah), if the past two games tell us anything, there is so much that is right.
Take, for example, the record-tying 36-point rookie playoff debut by Derrick Rose in Game 1. Simply amazing. And despite losing Game 2 in heartbreaking fashion on a last-second three-pointer by Ray Allen, Ben Gordon hung 42 points on the defending champs and stepped up as the veteran leader the Bulls have been searching for. Hell, I'll even give Noah a pass for playing with heart and passion---something the NBA as a whole has been missing for years.
Above all, these Bulls play as a team, a rarity in the NBA. There's something about this team that seems to love the fact that they're such heavy underdogs. What they lack in size, experience and talent, they make up for with grit, determination and scrappiness. Akin to a 12 seed taking on a one seed in the NCAA tournament, you just can't help but root for this Bulls team and hope for the proverbial Disney ending.
So here's to you, Chicago Bulls. Thank you for replacing some of that dismissive sarcasm with a little hope and optimism. Thank you for playing like a team instead of a group of selfish individuals. But most of all, thank you for renewing my hatred of all sports teams from Boston.
It only took me two games to realize this Bulls team is for real. How many will it take you?