The Chicago Bulls may not have set any actual basketball records this season, but they’re unique in this way: perhaps no team has ever had as much of its fan base root against them to make the playoffs.
Welp, the Bulls made it. Whoopty-freaking-do. Congrats on at least two nights of playoff ticket revenue, Jerry Reinsdorf.
Even though we know better, Bulls fans will root for the 8-1 upset over the Celtics. We’ve suffered through an 82-game slog of Michael Carter-Williams board balls, Bobby Portis “heat checks” when he’s lukewarm at best, and Fred Hoiberg doing his best Marc Trestman impersonation to get to this point.
Outside of the TNT Bulls, nothing about this season has been fun. If the Celtics are as vulnerable as they seem, Jimmy Butler really is the best player in the series, and Chicago continues its tradition of winning stupid games it has no business winning, there may be some (false) joy in being a Bulls fan for a week or two. Andres Nocioni demolishing the Wizards and Joakim Noah going bonkers against the Nets may not have meant anything in the grand scheme of things, but man, those were fun times to be a Bulls fan.
But of course, there’s a flip side: the GarPax regime has long insulted Bulls fans’ collective intelligence. Or maybe they just know making the playoffs and selling out every game will keep their jobs safe; they’re not willing to take a step back to take two steps forward because status quo has them employed. Bulls fans are miserable… until Butler hits a game-winner in Game 4 to tie the series at two. It’s fun for all involved. Then, the Celtics win the series in six, GarPax is armed with “we were just a few inches away from beating the 1-seed in a playoff series” nonsense, and nothing changes. Keep in mind — the Celtics are good, but they’re the weakest 1-seed we’ve seen in a long time. Same song and dance next year.
That’s why, as a Bulls fan, I’m rooting for two outcomes.
First: the Bulls get embarrassed in a four-game sweep. Rajon Rondo has a meltdown and takes his frustrations to Instagram. Dwyane Wade chews out his teammates in the postgame presser for not getting back on defense after spending 75 percent of the game complaining to the refs while the Celtics rain transition 3s. Hoiberg, after Game 4, reveals that he’s literally a robot, and vows the Bulls will have a great practice and shoot-around in the coming days. Maybe all of this would get Reinsdorf’s attention.
Outcome two: the Bulls win the damn thing. Butler makes those who left him off All-NBA ballots look silly. Rondo plays like he’s back in a Celtics uniform. Wade proves he was just hibernating for the playoffs.
Most likely outcome: A watered-down version of scenario two, where Chicago is competitive but ultimately lose.
This is the most likely result; it’s also the worst result if you’re a Bulls fan. We’d hear the same spin from management and ownership as usual. Wade may leave for a contender in free agency, but he’s be replaced by a veteran who’s just as irrelevant to any future winning. Chicago reaches and drafts Josh Hart in the middle of the first round because he was good in college.
Spare me. Win this series, or don’t, decisively. In typical Bulls fashion, they’ll likely leave us in somewhere in between.