Saturday, 19 March 2011


Where you at? The whole city behind them!

By Tim David Harvey

Our 'Contender' series gets into full swing looking at a real playoff promise.

Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer takes a free throw during the first quarter against the Orlando Magic at the United Center in Chicago on December 1, 2010. UPI/Brian Kersey Photo via Newscom

The Chicago Bulls are the untouchables. The star gangs of the East may make the headlines like Al Capone, but the by the book-like Elliott Ness-Chicago Bulls are about to capture their bounty. These former contention refugees are our sleeper pick for the contender series. That is if you haven't already woken up and smelt the Eastern conference top spot. At 49 and 19, Chicago are one away from 50 like Lloyd Banks, next time they'll be even closer to the money like '95. Chicago are cooking, establishing the balance in the central division pole position. With a playoff berth and a division already clinched this team is stone cold and that's the bottom line. Other Eastern Conference teams may be wrestling with storied reputations and superstar status symbols, but right now the number one Chicago Bulls have the belt. Time to smarten up.

Sure Miami may have the talents of LeBron, Wade and Bosh and New York and Amar'e may have been Carmelo's final decision, but in this 'who wants to buy a millionaire' league the only thing touching these Chi-town Bulls is the Boston Celtics, the other complete, team based unit of stars. With these two popular and most recognisable franchises ruling and sharing the roost, (there's little between them, especially now that the Bulls eight game win streak has been snapped) it feels like somewhere between the 80's and the 90's again right now in the second decade of the new millennium.

Sure, everything goes through the reigning Eastern Conference champs, but these Baby Bulls are all grown up but still have the youth and the speed to keep up with the Rondo led band of Boston Celtics. Speaking of Rajon, Chicago have their own 'move- aside D-Will and CP3', association best point in Derrick Rose. Sure the one time underrated Rajon Rondo may now be the critics pick, but that doesn't mean that the mild-mannered Rose is right there with him in everybody's conscience and confidence. Besides Rose is in bloom and can shoot, score, muscle, bench-press and eat Rondo under the table on his best night. Or any player for that matter, as the MVP is always the best, right? This former Windy City number one draft pick is number one in the NBA, point proved. Just check D-Rose's thorn in Boston's side, two-handed emphatic flush that left many Celtic defenders in the toilet early this season. That two points was as passionate as any Kevin Garnett jersey tug or chest thump, with all it's elastic breaking heart.

Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah reacts after scoring against the Los Angeles Lakers during the third quarter at the United Center in Chicago on December 10, 2010. The Bulls won 88-84. UPI/Brian Kersey Photo via Newscom

When Rose brings the ball up court he's got more then his own shot to deal with however and this is why the multi-talented, versatile Chicago Bulls are leading the charge in an Eastern Conference full of promise. If you want to talk about heart then leading the stampede is Joakim Noah, the teams most vital organ and vocal leader. This guy has more heart then anybody, but as Jesus is my witness, believe me, he's got game like Ray Allen. A mental and physical presence, Joakim gifts the Bulls with size, hustle and hard-work. Noah's arc of talent also extends to the range on his shot. Still however, it's his energy plays, born from his impenetrable passion that gives his team the x-factor of heart that can only be matched by Boston and Garnett.

Chicago's other two co-captains anchor this ship too. Luol Deng, the former franchise man and top jersey seller is still on top of his game, Rose's or injury pricks aside. Deng is a pure scorer and prototype basketball player. The kind of guy that would have complimented Mike and Scottie like free peanuts. This guy could still see championships and plays still go through him however. He's that good, don't forget the Chicago Bulls version of Paul Pierce is the truth too. Get your facts straight, there's no need for debate.

Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng (L) looks to drive as Orlando Magic forward Quentin Richardson defends during the third quarter at the United Center in Chicago on December 1, 2010. The Magic won 107-78. UPI/Brian Kersey Photo via Newscom

In the biggest, most ludicrous Summer of free-agent signings the Bulls big acquisition seemed as a minor statistic, but in reality the move was just as important as the Knicks acquisition of Amar'e Stoudemire. Sure Carlos' contract may not have made news like that of fellow ex-Cavalier-turned villain LeBron James. Still, it was still a chess move that gave the Bulls that extra space on the board, putting them ahead of their opponents. Checkmate. Game, set and match, Boozer is serving up the fundamentals. Now everyone outside the state of Illinois will have to deal with the hangover like Bradley Cooper, Booze's skill set with the pill is limitless and NBA approved. You seeing clearly?

The rest of the Bulls flock are more then Michael Rapaport and Ashton Kutcher look-a-likes. From the hard work and hustle of Brian Scalabrine to the 3-balls of Kyle Korver, these Chicago Bulls are deep. How deep? Deep enough to send their opponents to the abyss. Bogans has the buckets, Thomas the toughness (and that sweet, signature, regular like clockwork baseline J) and Rasul Butler is at your service, lining this team with his silver, shining multi-talents. That's not to forget serious, sophomore, success story Taj Gibson or Ronnie Brewer and the rest of this kettle of talent. Just like Scottie, the next time this franchise unveils a statue they may have to immortalise the whole team in bronze. Just ask iron Mike Jordan, he see's six more titles in the works for these new hard-mettle, next generation Bulls.

Mar. 25, 2010 - Chicago, ILLINOIS, UNITED STATES - epa02092908 Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson (C) is fouled by Miami Heat forward Udonis Haslem (L) as he tries to shoot over Miami Heat center Joel Anthon in the second quarter of their NBA basketball game at the United Center in Chicago Illinois, USA, 25 March 2010.

Sure the San Antonio Spurs are the best team in the league right now and the reigning champion Lakers are finally looking like the Lakers again, but in the East it's wide open like Central Park. No longer least, this beast of a conference has the green and the trees to best the West. Still amongst all the movers and shakers the Chicago Bulls are still here once again, as unified as their typical, trademark jerseys. Sure New Jersey are only going to get better, Boston are right there and nothing looks as good as the Heat and the Knicks right now, but the Bulls have substance and that's always worth more then style, shine or gloss. These Windy City storm troopers have the ability to breeze past opponents not just this year, but for seasons to come. No matter how many times the Orlando Magic learn new tricks. No matter how more fresher and more mature those former raw, young Atlanta Hawks get. From the ATL to the heaven and hell of the playoffs the Bulls will be clawing away with their hooves firmly in the game.

It may be time to play Alan Parson's 'Sirius' again during player introductions as this Tom Thibodeau project (great work by the way T.T.) sound like championship contenders more and more each day and game. Look for the Heat and Knicks rivalries to reboil and more as this team look to make their opponents see green when they play them and I'm not just talking on St. Patrick's Day. This team could assimilate the Boston Irish, just ask Scalabrine. This hot team is seeing red and have smelt the blood of their rivals, it's time to dead the competition. Now which matador dares to take this herd by the horns? You have been warned. This bulls-eye is targeting a championship. As this contender takes aim and charges, you better run for cover.

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