Bulls are so 'good,' it hurts

OPINION

  • The Bulls are known for great defense. Which is not exciting at all.
The Bulls are known for great defense. Which is not exciting at all. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty…)
January 15, 2013|By Ben Johnson | For RedEye

At what price, victory? The Bulls are sitting comfortably in the middle of the playoff-contending pack in the NBA's Eastern Conference, having just held currently sixth-seeded Atlanta to the second-lowest final score in Hawks history.

The Bulls, even without Derrick Rose, are a good team. They are also horrible. They are a crime against eyeballs.

How dare you. They're winning. They're hanging in there without Rose and once he comes back, everything is going to be fine again.

OK, fine. Yes. They're winning. They're scrapping and fighting. Clawing and punching. They're playing basketball the Tom Thibodeau way, orchestrated by some highly complicated technical system whereby you act as a team to clamp down on and strangle to death every scoring option available to your opponent. On every possession. All game long. And then you win the game.

If basketball were martial arts, these guys would be doing tai chi—come at me and keep missing until you collapse. That's the plan. All well and good, until you're sitting there squinting at a Josh Smith master class in bricklaying from the $50 nosebleeds.

Better than watching from the nosebleeds as Josh Smith lights up the scoreboard.

Point taken. And the NBA is a strange league. 82 games is too long for a regular season. By that assumption, one regular-season game, with a few exciting exceptions, can't mean that much other than as a one-82nd puzzle piece to title contention. That the Bulls in some arbitrary date in mid-January are capable of shutting a team down as completely and humiliatingly as they did to the Hawks bodes well for the playoff push. Yes.

But: It is awful basketball. Unexciting basketball. The kind of basketball that bludgeons you in the head until you relent. There's no stand-up-and-cheer in the Bulls' game right now. Unless maybe Nate Robinson has a good night, and you can ask Knicks fans about the Isaiah Thomas era if that's enough to lean on.

But: Derrick Rose.

Yes. Derrick Rose. He can't get back fast enough for me.

Ben Johnson is a comedian at iO Theater in Chicago.

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