E’Twaun Moore

Sunday was one for the books at the United Center as the Chicago Bulls hosted Kobe Bryant for the very final time. Earlier this season Kobe announced his retirement and the Bulls made sure the correct homage was paid to the NBA superstar in his final visit to the Mad House – with the exception of a win, viagra the Bulls went ahead and took the 126-115 W over the Lakers. Sorry to spoil the special moment Kobe.

The Black Mamba has been consistently compared to Chicago’s Michael Jordan as a candidate for ‘Greatest Player of All Time.’ From his style of play, to his competitive drive, to his championship pedigree, even down to his tongue-wagging ways, many say Bryant is the closest thing to Jordan since Jordan (definitely a compliment). Kobe even passed MJ on the all-time scoring list, but won 5 Championships, one fewer NBA title than the Goat. I’d like to give a shout-out to Phil Jackson, who coached both legendary players during their prime-time domination years.

Did you know Kobe almost even played for the Bulls back in 2007 after Chicago and LA tried to negotiate a big fat trade between the Lakers, Bulls and Kings? Fun fact right? It obviously didn’t work out and would have completely changed the landscape of the Bulls (they would have never had a high enough draft pick to snag Derrick Rose in 2008 with Kobe on the team). Bryant did say, that Chicago had been his top destination aside from his Lakers.

The night started with PJ Rose grabbing a quick fist bump with one of the greatest players to ever play the game of basketball. Despite PJ’s overwhelming cuteness, Pau Gasol really stole the show giving his former teammate and friend quite the tribute. Gasol introduced Kobe Bryant in the starting lineup with a personal video that had the fans on their feet. Truly humbling kind of moment between two former teammates feeling all the love and respect for one another.

Kobe put up 22 points in his final game in Chicago and was provided plenty of hugs and admiration. Other than a loss for the Lakers, Bulls fans gave the former NBA MVP an honorable send-off. With 45 seconds left in the game, Bryant checked in at the UC for the final time and fans gave the guy a standing ovation, I’m talking lots of applause here. It was a beautiful thing.

The Bulls actually put on a good show Sunday night, which is unusual as of late. E’Twaun Moore and Derrick Rose led the Bulls with 24 points each. Gasol was right behind with 21 points and Bobby Portis and Doug McDermott combined for 33 points off the bench. The Lakers aren’t currently the best team in basketball, but it’s always nice to see your team play well after some rough games.

Farewell Kobe Bryant. It was an honor to watch one of the greatest of all time play the game. The Lakers will never be the same without you.

 

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The Bulls moved to 3-1 Tuesday night as they rallied late in the second half to defeat Orlando 99-93 at the United Center (just one point off from giving the crowd Big Macs!). The Bulls and Magic are two teams who find themselves in similar identity crises early on this season. The Bulls are Rose-less and have worked to restructure their offense to revolve around the entire team rather than just their star player and the Magic are learning exactly who they are without superstar powerhouse Dwight Howard (he took a fat paycheck from the Lakers and headed west this offseason). In a game that could have gone either way, the Bulls fought off the pesky Magic and pulled off a win at home.

What You Need to Know: 

  • Joakim Noah unleashed his jumpshot that he worked so diligently on during the off season. It may not be pretty, but that baby goes in the hoop and that’s all we care about. Noah finished with 20 points and 9 rebounds.
  • Luol Deng led the Bulls with 23 points hitting some clutch outside shots late in the fourth quarter because “Deng He Good.” 15 of his 23 points were scored in the second half alone!
  • It was a team effort tonight, as the Magic led by seven points in the third quarter, when Deng, Noah, nasty Nate Robinson and Taj Gibson took the court by storm. Robinson and Gibson came out hot off the bench. Robinson had 11 points and six assists while Gibson had 12 points, 5 rebounds and a huge dunk with 39 seconds to spare.
  • The Magic came out guns blazing at the UC. They were led by Arron Afflalo’s 28 points and E’Twaun Moore added a career-high 17 points. Orlando gave a valiant fight without some key players in Jameer Nelson, Al Harrington and Hedo Turkoglu.  These guys just would not quit, but in the end the Bulls handed the Magic their first loss of the season.

Take Away Piece: 

A win is a win no matter how pretty it is. The Bulls are fighters and they’re going to battle hard every game while running their fast-paced offense. Each game will be tough and gritty, but I think we’ll be pleasantly surprised with the outcomes in 2013 as long as they continue to deliver a collective team effort. Keep on BULLieving!

What’s Next: 

Things are about to get real as the Oklahoma City Thunder roll into town on Thursday. You won’t want to miss it as Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook strut their stuff at the UC. OKC is the first real test for the Bulls this season as they’re the only team in the schedule thus far that made the playoffs last spring. Be sure to tune into the showdown at 7 PM on TNT.

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