Over the last couple weeks, I’ve thought a lot about writing something about how this trend of stars teaming up is not good for the NBA. How I missed the old days when the best players wanted to play AGAINST each other. And we felt the same way as fans. I wanted to see MJ vs. Magic, not with Magic. Thats what the Dream Team was for. Players were competitors, who didn’t become friends until long after their playing days were over. Now they’re all friends. I started to think as a Bulls fan, well, if you can’t beat em, join em. Lets not choose between Melo and Love, lets get BOTH Melo and Love. Super teams are apparently the only way to win now.
And then I watched this year’s NBA Finals, which concluded with the Spurs completing a 4-1 series win last night over the Heat. The Spurs are the anthesis of the new age super team. They are a team with a core built from the ground up through the draft, with role players from free agency filling gaps. They are not flashy, you won’t see them in commercials, but you will see them play fundamental basketball the way it was meant to be played. So to see them beat the Big 3 so handily helped restore my faith in the NBA. I wasn’t just happy that the Heat lost, but I was thrilled that the Spurs were the team that did it. I’ve always been a fan of the way they play and the way they run their organization, from the days of David Robinson to the present. Tim Duncan is my favorite non-Bulls NBA player of all time. But just look at the team they’ve put together. They are filled with late first round or second round draft picks, free agents picked off the slush pile, and international players. No big stars teaming up, no max contracts, no celebrity status. And it doesn’t escape me that the Spurs won because their defense just flat out shut down the Heat.
So this brings me back to the Bulls, and the thought that they should be modeling their team after the Spurs, not the Heat. They have the smart, defensive minded head coach. They have a solid core of home grown players. So what is missing that will put this team over the edge? They need to be able to score. They aren’t just missing one players – they need more of a “pick your poison” team. Players like Danny Green, and Patty Mills need to fill out their bench. Guys that are a threat with the ball. Doesn’t have to be a star, doesn’t have to average 30 points a game. Just needs to be a guy that scares you if he’s open. The current Bulls don’t have that guy. Rose is the closest thing they have but who knows what he’ll be when/if he comes back for a full season. Maybe that player is Carmelo Anthony or Kevin Love, or maybe its someone we haven’t talked about yet. But the Bulls aren’t as far from elite as we think. They need to stay healthy, and Tom Thibodeau needs to take a page out of Pop’s book and learn how to evenly distribute his minutes and allow his players to be at their best come playoff time. These are potentially easy fixes, and watching the Spurs in this finals has me off my thought that the Bulls needed to just clean house and find stars. NBA Championships can still be won the right away. The Spurs proved it, and the Bulls can too.