Bulls prove worthy of attention

By Mike Rodriguez

As my last order of business before I relinquish my position as columnist for one as sports editor yet again, I have decided to leave you sports fans with some words of advice.

Throughout the semester I have filled the space of this column with my opinions on topics around the sports world, ranging from the Chicago Bulls trade possibilities, the Bulls’ potential as a threat in the Eastern Conference and even the Bulls’ likeability in relation to the Illini’s likeability. So for this one last go around I have decided to brush aside the usual Bulls banter for a completely different topic.

How about those Chicago Bulls!

That’s right folks, I am talking about the fifth seed in the East and a team that has won seven of their last 10 games, including three in a row.

I would be dazzling you with vivid descriptions of their comeback victory over the Philadelphia 76ers Wednesday night, including a moment-by-moment version of Kirk Hinrich’s game-winning shot, but unfortunately we don’t get WGN all the way down here.

Thankfully, the next time the Bulls are on TV I’ll be back in Chicago, where I can enjoy the fever surrounding the team with true Bulls fans. I can’t wait to don my personalized Nocioni jersey that finally arrived two-months late from NBA.com.

Anyway, back to the point I was trying to make. The Bulls are currently eleven games above .500 at 39-28 and their schedule for the rest of the season is a complete joke. Rather than running through the entire rest of the season game-by-game to show how easy it is, here is a summary of the Bulls’ remaining 15 games.

Seven of the next 15 games will be played at the United Center, where the Bulls boast a 25-8 record for the season.

Eight of the 15 teams the Bulls will face have losing records, including the New Jersey Nets, who the Bulls play twice.

The average winning percentage for the Bulls’ remaining opponents is .410. The remaining schedule is so bad that this winning percentage is not skewed by the inclusion of the fact that the Bulls have to play Cleveland, Toronto and Washington once, as well as Detroit twice.

Bulls forward Luol Deng predicted last week that the team could win their last 17 games of the season.

After just two games, Luol’s prediction is holding true. I think if the Bulls keep playing with the fire and intensity that they have been recently, they can win at least 12 of their next 15 games and finish strong with 51 total victories.

The last time a Chicago Bulls team finished with a record of 50 wins or better was the 1997-98 season when the Bulls went 62-20. That memorable season was the last year the Bulls won the NBA Finals and also capped their second of two 3-peats.

Although I secretly believe it, I am not going to proclaim the Bulls’ NBA Champions with 15 games left in the regular season. The playoffs are the real season in the NBA; everybody knows that’s when the players actually start trying. Everyone except the Bulls – they’ve been working hard game in and game out this year. They are ready to make it past the first round and show everyone that they are a serious contender in the Eastern Conference.

With the emergence of Tyrus Thomas as an offensive weapon (and absolute athletic freak) and Ben Wallace’s increased offensive potential, teams won’t simply focus on the perimeter players. I can’t wait for Ben Gordon to show everyone why he was a top-10 pick and for Luol Deng to show that he’s among the league’s elite small forwards. Combine those two scoring threats with Captain Kirk and the intangibles of Adrian Griffin, Andres Nocioni and Chris Duhon and the Bulls have all the tools to succeed in the playoffs.

After the Western Conference teams get done beating each other senseless in grueling seven-game series’, let’s hope it’s the Bulls who are waiting to challenge either Dallas or San Antonio in the NBA Finals.

If everything goes as planned, I’ll be in the United Center wearing my Nocioni jersey with pride, rooting on Chicago’s most exciting sports team.

Mike Rodriguez is a senior in LAS. He can be reached at [email protected]