Hop on, plenty of room.
After a long hiatus from the Dong (and nervously obsessing over the Bulls the past month), I was inspired to get back to work thanks to an awesome text message and a great line from a friend at work.
First, the text message, from my friend Raanan who I haven't spoken to in over a year. He's from Cleveland.
From Raanan: 10:18am
"Please do not let that asshole make the Finals"
That was pretty awesome.
Then at work this morning, my buddy Scooter rolls in to recap the game and he says:
"This is no longer the Chicago Bulls, it's the America Bulls. Nobody in their right mind wants that egomaniac to win a title. This is the best and last chance to stop him, maybe for a long time."
Then I read Bill Simmons' article about Phil Jackson and reminisced about the Jordan days. How Jackson was able to control Jordan's intensity and obsession with winning and keep it from consuming his teammates (otherwise, he would have absolutely destroyed guys like Will Purdue, BJ Armstrong, Toni Kukoc etc, who could never live up to his expectations). Jordan was like a nuclear reaction- you could harness the energy to do incredible things, but it was dangerous.
Which leads us to tonights ECF game 1.
The Bulls have the best defense left in the playoffs, the league MVP and enough weapons to beat anyone. We've seen star-studded teams flail in the playoffs a million times. We all know it takes a full team and a cohesive strategy to win titles. We should have nothing to worry about in this series, except for the fact that LeBron James, possibly the greatest player since MJ, is on the other team. After plowing through the Celtics, he seems unstoppable (not to mention Wade/Bosh are probably the best 2/3 options in the NBA).
LeBron isn't Jordan.
LeBron has never shown that level of intensity on or off the court and hasn't been able to flip the "kill mode" switch needed to win championships. Maybe it's because he's too friendly, or maybe it's because he cares more about having a good time than winning. I don't think LeBron can carry them when it's needed (maybe Wade can) but a champion needs a true leader. At this point, I'm not convinced LeBron can be that guy.
Bulls in 6.