By Dan Bernstein-
CBSChicago.com Senior Columnist
(CBS) I like this Bulls team, the one that has outperformed itself for an entire season without its star player, overcoming multiple injuries and maintaining admirable competitiveness.
I don’t like the Bulls team we have seen lately, the one acting like undisciplined, unprofessional idiots while antagonizing officials and whining about calls.
I like their tough defense – multiple helps and recoveries during a single opponent’s possession, closing out on shooters under control, knowing screen/roll rules based on personnel, running the floor end to end, sealing off for rebounds and communicating.
I don’t like worthless post-whistle overreactions that accomplish nothing positive, merely challenging their own lack of depth with needless fouls and ejections.
I like the Joakim Noah from the last game of the opening series, who plays like every contested ball is his both above and below the rim. That guy can play at maximum effort without crossing the line, affecting a game in every area.
I don’t like the Joakim Noah who makes an ass of himself in Game 2, says he knows his behavior wasn’t very “Zen,” then goes out and picks up a stupid technical foul immediately in Game 3.
I like Nate Robinson when the shot goes in.
I don’t like Nate Robinson when he ignores score and situation to find his next chance, nor when he follows a basket with so much flexing, screaming and look-at-me preening, then doesn’t even pretend to be interested in getting back to defend his man.
I like the Nazr Mohammed who was a late-season revelation off the bench, playing important, competent minutes with enough awareness and guile to be effective. I also like the comments he made on Twitter as he apologized for losing his cool in Game 3.
I don’t like the Nazr Mohammed who inexplicably lost his cool and cost his team.
I like Bulls fans who understand that sometimes the best player in the world is on your team, but sometimes he is on the other team, and he will get more than the average share of calls. This is primarily due not to biased officiating, but to the fact that the best player in the world is some combination of faster, quicker, bigger, smarter, more skilled and more determined, which makes him difficult to stop without fouling. I like fans who root for the right things.
I don’t like the oblivious Bulls fans who were cheering after Mohammed’s ejection, chanting his name to the rafters to celebrate a bonehead move, ever unmindful that the short-term delight of seeing Lebron James’ exaggerated fall isn’t worth the consequence. And I don’t like any fan who joins in the trite, witless “Bull___t!” catcalling of referees.
I like Tom Thibodeau for the masterful job he did this season, creating a “next man up” culture of solidarity as he regularly has out-schemed his counterpart with sets and matchups, despite lesser resources. He instilled a sense of accountability that translated directly to the scoreboard in a season that could easily have spiraled downward.
I don’t like Tom Thibodeau now reduced to pushing buttons to turn his team into Dusty Baker’s Cubs. He’s setting a sour tone with baseless insinuations that everyone is out to get his Bulls. As Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski puts it, “Thibodeau will never let these Bulls run out of conspiracies to frame in these Eastern Conference semifinals. No one pitches ‘we’re getting bleeped’ better than Thibs, no one better sells it to his players in a neatly-wrapped, pretty bow package of damning disgust.”
I like what the Bulls have done to work and will their way to this point in the playoffs.
I don’t like the way they seem to want to go out.
Dan Bernstein joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995, and has been the co-host of Boers and Bernstein since 1999. Read more of Bernstein’s columns, or follow him on Twitter: @dan_bernstein.