This Is Just a Billy Donovan Appreciation Post

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This Is Just a Billy Donovan Appreciation Post

Chicago Bulls

After the Chicago Bulls started the second half of the season with a 127-105 dud to a Philadelphia 76ers team that didn’t have Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons, I wanted to punt a teddy bear off my balcony.

I know it can take a second to get back in a groove after the All-Star break, especially when two important players re-entered the picture after a month+ hiatus, but that was still an enragingly lackluster performance. After all, Philly dealt with the same break, and instead of adding two starting-caliber players, they lost them.

What I think really drove the knife into my gut, however, was the fact that I’d seen that game before. The Bulls team we saw last night was the same Bulls team we’ve watched over the past several seasons. They were a team that failed to recognize an opportunity, lacked chemistry, hung their head when the going got tough, and flat-out didn’t show up. The entire first-half was about ridding themselves of those bad habits, and their 8-5 record over their 13 games before the All-Star break demonstrated they were doing just that. Sure, they were still struggling to beat playoff opponents, but they were finally taking care of the games they were supposed to. That’s the first step toward better days.

Anyway, while the game forced me to have horrible flashbacks, the postgame media availability pulled me back in. Head coach Billy Donovan sat in front of reporters and didn’t dodge a single question. He explained what went wrong, respectfully called-out his team, and made it clear that what all Bulls fans watched was flat-out unacceptable.

“To be quite honest, and direct and clear as I can be, we didn’t deserve to win the game. And we didn’t deserve to be in the game. Just putting it plan. Just sitting over there watching, we just didn’t. We didn’t do anything that was at a high enough standard in terms of what winning requires. There was nothing.”

Moments like these demonstrate why Donovan is the right man for the job just as much as the on-court improvements we have seen thus far. He has made it absolutely clear that there is a new bar set in Chicago, and he simply isn’t afraid to tell his team when they take “a major step backward” (his words, not mine).

In the past, all we could look at to feel even somewhat comfortable about the trajectory of this franchise is what happened on the court. And while that is still the most important area to show progress, it’s nice that after a disheartening loss, I can look somewhere else for solace. The Bulls are a work in progress, people, but they’re going to be all right.

Give Billy Donovan’s postgame press conference a watch as a pallet cleanser before tonight’s matchup with the Heat:

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Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.