As Chicago tries to return to normal, the Bulls are trying to do the opposite.
While missing the playoffs yet again was not the ideal way to start the Arturas Karnisovas and Billy Donovan era, the 2020-21 season still offered fans a glimpse at a much brighter tomorrow. For the first time in quite some time, we not only heard about a much healthier environment behind the scenes, but we saw it established on the court. Sure, the Bulls had their ups and downs, but the lack of LaVine eye-rolls and embarrassing coach quotes alone felt like sitting in front of a fan with your tongue out after a hot summer run. Combine that with promising words about the direction of the Bulls’ new organization from veterans like Thaddeus Young and Garrett Temple, and it’s hard not to feel a sense of confidence in Year 2 of the revamped regime.
• Of course, it also only adds to the good vibes when a team’s rising star and head coach are caught on a playoff basketball date.
Chicago Bulls HC Billy Donovan and Patrick Williams are at the Bucks vs Nets game.
(Video via humzaabbasi/Instagram) pic.twitter.com/MWHXKei1Rc
— Daniel Greenberg (@ChiSportUpdates) June 13, 2021
• I was also at this game, so I’m ticked Billy and I didn’t run into each other in the bathroom and start yucking it up about Joakim’s college days. More importantly, however, it is very encouraging to see these two spending quality time together in this way. There is no question coach-player bonding like this happens all the time throughout the offseason (remember when Boylen jumped off a boat in Finland with Lauri Markkanen? *shivers*), but the choice in activity makes this specific moment all the better. The scouting, learning, and fuel-building that attending an Eastern Conference Round 2 matchup can bring is nothing but positive.
• Plus, I think this probably demonstrates one of Donovan’s better qualities. Coming from an immensely successful couple of decades in college, the guy knows how to connect to young talent and pick the proper teaching moments. I do not doubt that attending this game with Williams was a calculated choice. Also, I really hope Donovan said something along the lines of, “Soak it in Patrick, because this should be the last time you’re sitting on your ass in the stands during a Round 2.” That’d be savage.
• So this is a pretty good day in Bulls history, huh?
🗓 June 14, 1998: Jordan wins his 6th title.
In the last minute, he had 6 points (2/2 FG, 2/2 FT), 1 steal, 1 game-winner.
Iconic. 🎞 pic.twitter.com/HogrVUxTEK
— Timeless Sports (@timelesssports_) June 14, 2021
Our first back-to-back.
29 years ago today: 💍💍 pic.twitter.com/wa4VirVHsh
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) June 14, 2021
• I’m not quite sure the last minute of the 1998 Finals could have been written any better for Jordan’s last game as a Bull. Perhaps a true buzzer-beater would have been the sweetest icing on the cake, but a six-point final minute with a game-winning play on both ends of the floor is *chefs kiss.* The ease in which he single-handedly finished out the game was peak GOAT.
• As I said, I was at the Nets-Bucks game yesterday, and this Kyrie Irving injury looked REAL bad up close. Fortunately, it appears there is no ligament damage, but I’d be surprised if he plays in either of the next two games.
I’m told Kyrie was in a walking boot and using crutches after spraining his ankle during today’s Nets-Bucks Game 4. Steve Nash says that x-rays on the ankle were negative and that Kyrie will undergo further testing/evaluation tomorrow.
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) June 13, 2021
• Meanwhile, out west, Cameron Payne’s Phoenix Suns are heading to the Western Conference Finals.
PHOENIX I LOVE YOU 🤞🏿 pic.twitter.com/VODAQISjzg
— Deandre Ayton (@DeandreAyton) June 14, 2021