By Johnny Askounis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
After two wins over the Detroit Pistons and one more versus the New Orleans Pelicans, the Chicago Bulls defeated the Toronto Raptors on Monday achieving a 4-0 start to the NBA Regular Season for the first time since the 1996-97 season.
Back in the day, Michael Jordan led the way alongside Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman. That season concluded with the fifth out of six NBA championships in franchise history. The next season, 1997-98, was the inspiration for the 2020 sports documentary “The Last Dance”.
As another last dance is far from likely at this point, returning to the championships ways can become a possibility with the current roster including DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine, and Lonzo Ball plus a massive European dominating the paint in the form of Nikola Vucevic off to the 4-0 start. The Montenegrin center has averaged 14.3 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.3 steals, and 1.3 blocks per match over the first four games of the new season.
“We’ve got a long way to go,” pointed out DeRozan after scoring 11 of his game-high 26 points in the fourth quarter of the win against his former team from 2009 to 2018, “We’ve got a lot more to clean up, to learn. It’s a long season. We can’t carry this record like it’s some kind of badge of honor; we’ve got to understand that the next game is going to be even harder.”
The Bulls last made the NBA Playoffs in 2017. They suffered a first-round exit at the hands of the Boston Celtics. Four years later, big summer moves were masterminded by executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas and general manager Marc Eversley. The Lithuanian and fellow front office members knew changes were necessary since being appointed in 2020 but really got to work in recent months with only three players surviving from the starting squad of 2020-21 to the current roster.
“Part of the reason why I even chose to come to Chicago was everyone was eager to be successful, to want to win,” explained DeRozan, “Everybody had that chip on their shoulder, from the city to the organization to the players that I spoke to. That was everybody’s mindset, it’s all about winning now. We’re not in a development stage, we want to win now.”
This 4-0 start is actually the first in franchise history without MJ being part of the roster. He was present on the previous four occasions. A completely different situation now but still pretty exciting times for Windy City.
“I think we have a lot of high-character guys, we all want to win and we want to win together,” noted Ball, “I think when you have a bunch of guys on the same team with the same common goal and the same mindset it makes it easier for the chemistry to click. That’s what’s going on.”
A couple of home games coming up for Billy Donovan’s side to complete the ongoing week. The New York Knicks will be visiting and also threatening the undefeated streak on Thursday and the Utah Jazz will follow at the United Center on Saturday.
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