The Bulls haven’t finished a regular season like this one since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen where working their way into becoming one of the sports finest duos.
With a 97-92 win over the New Jersey Nets, the Chicago Bulls have just taken the No.1 seed in the Eastern Conference; finished an extraordinary 62-20 regular season, collecting the best record in the league; secured home team advantage throughout the Playoffs; and know hold the best regular season record since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen lead the Bulls to their last title. Yes, that was back in 1998, but the truth is that Derrick Rose and company could very well be working their way back into the franchise 7th appearance in the NBA Finals.
Should they managed to reach the finals, there is a very high chance that they might as well just win the whole thing. The Bulls have reached the finals in 6 different occasions. They haven’t failed to return to Chicago with the National Title in their hands. Sure, Derrick Rose is not Michael Jordan and sure enough Tom Thibodeau is not Phil Jackson either, but one can’t help but to draw in some preliminary thoughts and some perhaps useless but yet entertaining comparisons.
It has been a while since we’ve seen anything like this in Chicago, that’s for sure. 1998 was the Bulls’ last Finals appearance. After the championship, what we could call, the Chicago Bulls dynasty broke up. Phil Jackson left the franchise after he was declined a contract extension. He would clinch a job with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1999. He didn’t take too long before he transfer his potential and leadership to the Lakers winning five NBA titles in two separate stints with the club.
The talented and problematic Dennis Rodman and Scottie Pippen were both traded during the off-season; Rodman to the Lakers, Pippen to the Rockets. As if that was not enough, in January 1999, Michael Jordan announced his retirement for the second time; he would come out of retirement for the second and final time in 2001 with the Washington Wizards, but he didn’t have nearly as much success. Without its key personnel from the 1998 season’s championship team, the Bulls missed the playoffs in the lockout-shortened 1999 season, winning just 13 of 50 games. The Bulls would not make the postseason again until 2005, win a playoff series until 2007, and win the Central Division title until the current NBA season.
So, one way or another, this is a big deal for the Chicago Bulls. No one expected them to finish as the top team in the nation. The expectations are high, but they just have to stay calm and play their game. There is certainly a lot of competition on the Eastern Conference. The Miami Heat is starting to look like a team that could actually win the Championship and the Boston Celtics, despite their most recent flaws, are always a menace once the season kicks in. If you add into that equation the Orlando Magic and on a lesser degree the New York Knicks, you have one heck of a postseason that’s just about to start.
The Chicago Bulls can now focus solely on their playoffs series against the Indiana Pacers. The postseason kicks in on Saturday. As of press time the Bulls are an 11-point favorite against the spread for the first game of the series. The game will be played at 3pm Eastern Time at Chicago.