I hadn't known there was a game on this evening. I flipped past, then to it, delighted - the Rockets, hosting the post-trade Bulls. The same Bulls, the announcers informed me, that were now the youngest team in the league. They lost - of course they did - but they made me happy just the same; there was a certain absurdity to them, a kind of hopeful incompetency, that was in many ways exhilarating.
What struck me about the game, what made me want to sit and watch, was the Bulls' new starting lineup - Kirk and, I believe, Duh in the frontcourt, and Noah at center, Thomas at power forward, and Sefolosha at small forward. Was it real? Were they just fucking with me? I couldn't believe that they would really start Tyrus, Thabo and Joakim - especially not all at the same time. It just made too much sense to do so and, as we are all aware, a certain kind of coach is known to not see that kind of sense. But I suppose circumstances forced the hands involved, and the three most talented players played. It was, truly, a water-shed moment.
The Bulls were young and exciting last year too, as I recall. Working late, bored at my job in the evenings, I would watch whatever game was on - I even watched baseball in the summer - and I fell in love, a little bit, with those scrappy, homely Bulls. To watch them now reminds me of how it felt to watch them then, before the horrific start to the season, before the ludicrously undermet expectations, before the spreading cancer in the locker room and on the floor. No - they played, at least at the beginning, as if they were happy. As if, maybe, they enjoyed the game of basketball; as if they felt like what they were, a bunch of freakishly talented kids getting paid to play a game. The fact that their talent arises directly from their youth only exacerbates the excitement; one can feel the expectation returning.
They lost to the burning-hot Rockets. They're a young team and they made young mistakes, and no one, least of all me, expected them to win. But their play made me feel that hope may yet return in Chicago - and made me certain that my predictions will hold true. They're not world-burners, yet. They may not win anything of note, but they will be better than they are; they will even, indeed, be good. They may be great one day. Their youth inspires, and, suddenly, being a Chicago Bulls fan doesn't feel like such a humiliating proposition anymore.