Epic video and love of the game

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.

19 Responses to Epic video and love of the game

  1. prosper.guard@gmail.com'
    MadKing March 9, 2011 at 3:52 pm #

    I love this team.

  2. gosieg@umich.edu'
    Gordon March 9, 2011 at 4:20 pm #

    I’m completely with you on being in love with this team. I’m a Bulls fan living in Austin, Texas, and all of my friends are sick of me talking about the Bulls.

    Last summer I made various bold claims about this team and LeBron’s decision. I bet a friend of mine a trip to Vegas that the Heat will win less than 2 championships in the next 5 years, I stated that D-Rose would be better than D-Wade within 2 years (of last summer), and I said I wasn’t sure the Heat would be better than the Bulls even this year.

    These were all things I felt were true, but I couldn’t help but have some nervousness that they’d blow up in my face. Instead, the Bulls are everything I could have hoped and more. This has been one of the most fun sports seasons I can remember, regardless of the outcome. I’m hoping for a repeat of Bulls-Celtics from a couple years back, except in the Eastern Conference Finals and with a different outcome…

  3. Inception March 9, 2011 at 4:52 pm #

    ditto – nice read.

  4. bodybagsteven@gmail.com'
    BFD March 9, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

    I think the only teams that are more talented than us at this point are the Celtics and the Lakers, so I think we will be elevated into “elite team” status this year.

  5. kuwabarra@mail.ru'
    Mr Bull March 9, 2011 at 5:21 pm #

    anyway I hate this Scip Bayless guy from that ESPN Show.I really think he doesn’t know anything about basketball.He says that the Knicks are better than Bulls,Rose isnt even close to mvp and other stupid things.I really want to punch him in the face.

  6. bullsbythehorns@gmail.com'
    Matt McHale March 9, 2011 at 5:26 pm #

    “anyway I hate this Scip Bayless guy from that ESPN Show.I really think he doesn’t know anything about basketball.He says that the Knicks are better than Bulls,Rose isnt even close to mvp and other stupid things.I really want to punch him in the face.”

    I would gladly let you borrow my fist for that face-punching.

  7. kuwabarra@mail.ru'
    Mr Bull March 9, 2011 at 5:29 pm #

    Matt McHale
    Yeah and the other 2 from that show are not better either.

  8. gosieg@umich.edu'
    Gordon March 9, 2011 at 5:41 pm #

    On the Skip Bayless note, the biggest NBA fan (and Celtics fan) there is – Bill Simmons – thinks the Bulls are a very scary team. And he doesn’t just throw out controversial opinions to get people riled up like Bayless does.

  9. enigmatik.inviktus@gmail.com'
    Enigmatik March 9, 2011 at 5:48 pm #

    Great post, Matt.

    @Gordon – I know how you feel. I’m out in Houston and all my friends know how passionate I am about the Bulls and now suddenly they’re starting to see that maybe the Bulls aren’t that bad after all.

    In regards to Skip Bayless, let him keep disregarding the Bulls. Let all the talking heads keep disregarding this team. They have a funny way of revising history later on down the line.

  10. daniel.kenealy@gmail.com'
    Dan March 9, 2011 at 7:08 pm #

    There are not many things on the face of this Earth that I can think of that are better than “a festival of man love”.

  11. Inception March 9, 2011 at 7:09 pm #

    Bayless is an act just crying for attention…dbag…you have to wonder how much of what he says is truly sincere.

  12. njcamporese@yahoo.com'
    Nicky C March 9, 2011 at 8:49 pm #

    Matt – Great post. Sick video. Chills 2x through, indeed.

    Help me out though, guys, because I’m starting to worry that our Bullies might start to suffer from Bill Simmons’s patented “they were so underrated that they became overrated” theory…

    People (players, coaches, teams, media, fans, etc.) have been sleeping on the Bulls throughout the entire season, but they aren’t anymore. They can’t afford to. Now our beloved team’s outstanding play isn’t just a pleasant surprise…it’s expected, and not just by us, the fan base of the Chicago Bulls. It’s expected by everyone. How will the guys handle this, especially if the wheels start to come off a little bit? What will happen if they aren’t deemed as just an above-average, up-and-coming underdog team with no real shot at winning the Title, as they were viewed up until this point in the year? What if they can’t live up to the hype descended upon them by…all of us?

    Granted, their record and recent play speaks for itself, but if the Bulls don’t finish strong and/or fizzle out quickly in the playoffs, I think we are all going to be mighty disappointed. We might have to talk some people down from the ledge. Of course, we are obviously in a position to be a great team for years to come, but we’ve talked this team up so much…and we’ve invested ourselves so much in this particular team…in this particular year…that I feel like we are right in the same category with the Lakers and Heat in regards to “NBA Champions or this year is a failure.” Anything less at this point will be somewhat heartbreaking considering the narrative of the season (the spurn from all three top tier FA’s, the injuries to Boozington & Noah, the ascent of Derrick Rose to superstar from pre-season / self-proclaimed MVP).

    I’m totally with all of you: I freakin’ love this team. More than I’ve loved a team – in any sport – since the Jordan days, and I love them for all the reasons you outline here in your post. The hustle. The dedication. The brotherhood. I’m giddily excited for every minute these guys are on the court together…but I’m hesitant, wary, and guarded that we (and the players) are going to be let down after getting our hopes up so high, especially considering the fact that we don’t really have any sort of all-around experience come playoff time.

    Bottom line: Whether we want to admit it or not, everything we’re witnessing and experiencing as Bulls fans is gravy right now because it isn’t what we expected from them. We didn’t expect them to come this far this quickly at the beginning of the season. We had no idea Derrick Rose was going to will himself to be the MVP this year. We knew this team was going to be a project (hopefully a short term one), and we knew we were setting ourselves up for the near future…not for the immediate present. What we have here this season is glorious: they play ball the way it was meant to be played, and they love the game as much as we love to watch them play the game. But they are still unproven, inexperienced, and young…all of which spells for disaster come playoff time. I’m not sure our time is now. It’s coming, it’s definitely coming. It’s on the horizon. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel that we were forced in to by Jerry Krause, Tim Floyd, Marcus Fizer, Tracy McGrady, Jay Williams, Eddy Curry, Eddie Robinson, Ben Gordon, Vinny Del Negro, the Miami Cheat, and so on. But that light is still a-ways away. Let’s appreciate this team for what they are right now, and let’s get jacked for what they are bound to become in the future, and let’s cheer them on as they take on every opponent in their way…and…

    …and I don’t know how to end this. I’ve rewritten six different conclusions. Every time I’ve come up with some Debbie Downer uber-crap like, “Let’s just not get our hopes up too high because it’s more than likely the Bulls’ season will end prematurely, causing ‘everyone’ (mass media members and stat cronies) to chirp ignorant I-told-you-so’s all over the Internet, causing the confidence of the players to irreplaceably and irreversibly shatter, causing the expectations of DRose to be too impossibly high next year, causing the start of the end of something fantastic that never really happened in the first place.” But you know what? In writing this, and in not allowing myself to post this negative bullshit as my conclusion, I have realized something: These Bulls HAVE made a believer out of me.

    So ‘eff it. Bulls over Lakers in 7.

  13. inkybreath@gmail.com'
    inkybreath March 9, 2011 at 9:11 pm #

    We have been a back-against-the-wall team for years and it is going to take some getting used to being the team that is doing the bullying.

    Our perspectives have shifted quite a bit through this year of injuries and achievements.

    One thing we know is that Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah have stepped up in the big games against the big boys. Now, they have the support team to back them up.

    We have every reason, as Bulls fans, to expect to win the Eastern Conference Finals. The reason we didn’t trade Taj and/or Asik? Boston – clear and simple. The whole idea is to get past Boston. Beyond that, I can’t say …

  14. inkybreath@gmail.com'
    inkybreath March 9, 2011 at 9:19 pm #

    (okay, with a mild shout out to Orlando, as well)

  15. bullsblogger@gmail.com'
    your friendly BullsBlogger March 9, 2011 at 9:39 pm #

    Don’t make me get the hose, McHale :)

    I’m with you on that sum>parts aspect of this team, and Thibodeau has been simply amazing in being able to get a whole roster to buy-in to his defensive commitment for his first season, the roster itself getting credit for being willing students, too. The man-love is palpable and enjoyable to see.

    I’m not sure how uniquely extraordinary it is, though. They’re a very good team and usually those teams get along.

    I don’t like how this video is framed in the context of LeBron, as if the Bulls wouldn’t have succeeded if he came to Chicago and we’re somehow ‘better off’? I’m fine with being simply ‘well off’ without him, and glad his team has his own problems (though the music doesn’t seem like it aligns properly with such a slight difference in the standings…), but I can’t jump to that conclusion.

    I remember reading a lot of stuff about the ’09-’10 Cavs and the great chemistry they had. Heck, I don’t see any pre-game choreography from the Bulls, they may be slacking! They didn’t win in the playoffs, and all of a sudden that camaraderie didn’t matter as much. Heed Derrick’s words: it’s about winning.

  16. bullsblogger@gmail.com'
    your friendly BullsBlogger March 9, 2011 at 9:45 pm #

    My bad on what ‘the mistake’ meant, it’s more about LeBron would’ve won more if he came to the Bulls, not that the Bulls have won more because he didn’t. See, this is why you don’t include him at all so it can’t confuse simple people like me.

  17. oneredstone@gmail.com'
    RT March 9, 2011 at 10:36 pm #

    Great video, and yes, I’m in love with these Bulls. After suffering through every game of that rebuilding period (admittedly there were a few good moments), I had forgotten what it felt like to have such confidence in the team. This year every game seems winnable, the impossible seems possible, and I think it has everything to do with a certain kid from Chicago making up his mind that he’s going to work his way up to being the best player in the league this year.

  18. bullsbythehorns@gmail.com'
    Matt McHale March 10, 2011 at 4:45 pm #

    Regarding the LeBron aspect of the video: Honestly, that wasn’t what drew me to the video. The section that was showing Bulls highlights and playing epic music is what got me fired up. I guess I could have edited out the LeBron-themed parts, but, really, I didn’t want to take the time.

    For the record, it’s way too early to tell whether LeBron made a “mistake” choosing Miami. And, actually, we’ll never really know. Maybe he’ll win nine championships with the Heat. Maybe he could have won 10 with the Bulls. There’s no way, nor will there ever be a way, to know, with certainty, what his theoretical “best decision” should have been.

    So, to sum up, phooey to the LeBron portion of the video. All I cared about were the Bulls highlights.

  19. m_nazabal@yahoo.com'
    Max March 11, 2011 at 1:34 am #

    I love this Bulls team. I was one who was praying that Lebron would come to Chicago. I was bitter for a week when he didn’t. I don’t hate him now but I don’t want him to win either. I think the media spun it that he was coming to Chicago. Not him. So I can’t hate him for not coming. I am very happy with the team we have and would love to see Rose win his first MVP. This kid is making me forget all those miserable years I spent watching Ron Mercer and company stink up the UC. I hope they win it all this year but if not I have a feeling they will make the next 5-6 years very exciting for Bulls fans.

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