I found this at Docksquad Sports. Now, I don’t usually go for over-the-top sports melodrama, but the following video gave me chills. Even during a second viewing. And I’m not a “chills on the second viewing” kind of guy.
I know, right?
You know why this video gets to me? Because it’s another reminder (as if I needed one) of how connected I feel to this particular Bulls team. Derrick Rose’s superstar-level play combined with his unassuming (and practically unprecedented) humility. Joakim Noah’s defense, rebounding, and burning desire. Luol Deng’s quiet dependability. Carlos Boozer’s scoring punch in the paint. The bench. The defense. Coach Tom Thibodeau’s fist pumps.
If you’re a Bulls fan, I’m willing to bet you’re in love with this team. And I’m also willing to bet they’re in love with the game. And each other.
I’m not kidding.
TrueHoop’s Henry Abbott recently published a post called “The heart of sports.” If you haven’t read it, you should. To sum it up: The key to success in sports is to love the game, trust your teammates, and maintain a desire to improve (read that: practice) even in the face of the day-to-day drudgery of a long season. Or even a long career.
Look, I have to be completely honest. I don’t think these Bulls are the most talented team in the league. But they’re one of the best. It would be easy to say it’s because Rose is playing like an MVP (although that particular debate rages on without cessation). Or you could point to the bench, or the coaching, or the defense, or the combination of all these factors.
But that would be overlooking the chemistry. These players like each other. Trust each other. There’s a festival of man love after almost every Bulls game. Rose deflects praise onto his teammates. His teammates redirect the praise back at him. The players give it up for Noah. They credit Deng. They thank Boozer. They boost the bench. They talk about loyalty to their coach and a desire to keep getting better.
Love of the game, man.
I know, I know. Players all over the league regularly praise their teammates and coaches. All the time. But I’m telling you, this is a little different. I root for multiple teams for various reasons, and I spent years following the Jazz, mostly because I loved Jerry Sloan’s style. At any rate, I read countless pull quotes from Boozer about his former teammate (and All-Star) Deron Williams.
Now, Williams is an awesome player, and Boozer scored many points off D-Will’s pinpoint passes. But I can’t remember Boozer talking about Williams the way he talks about Rose. Boozington offers glowing praise for Rose. He offers it regularly and willingly. And, to my eyes and ears, it never seems fake or contrived.
And all these guys talk about each other that way. They have each other’s backs, every game, every night.
The Bulls, I believe, have become the official “greater than the sum of their parts” team. Their offense is average. There are teams with more talent. But I can’t think of many teams that support and trust each other as much as they do.
Right now, that, more than anything else, is what has helped them reach Elite Team status. Will it be enough come playoff time? Or will their faults — that average offense, the lack of shooters, Keith Bogans starting at the shooting guard position — be exposed and exploited by more talented teams.
I don’t know. I really don’t. But even if it does, I’m always going to have fond memories of this team, these players and their love of the game.