Even as it was peculiar to see Dwyane Wade in a Bulls jersey, you know him. Even as he looked like he was in a costume, you remember him. Despite how ingrained his image was in a Heat jersey, Dwyane Wade is not a stranger. But let’s be real, Wade in Bulls gear is a different look. Not to downplay the sentimental angle, I get all the homecoming talk that follows Wade everywhere, but on the court it was just Wade trying to win game one for the Bulls. In the process, he did some very un-Wade things.
Out at the three point line, just chilling and waiting for the ball. What? Where was Flash. Where was driving to the cup? Where was falling down 7 times getting up 8? Wade looked like he was getting used to…well everything. But if this is the new Wade, this perimeter shooting two guard because the Bulls are desperate for that, then it is working. He was 4-6 from three, 66%. None bigger than the killer three with 23 seconds left. And on the next play, Wade created a turnover, a deflection off of Gerald Green.
“Enough said”, Wade screamed. Was that for Riley? Was that for the diss to not even show up in negotiations? Was that for low balling a Hall of Famer who deserved his Kobe like exit when the time comes? Was that for the headline writers who called this team AARP?
Jimmy Butler seems to be cool with all the Wade theater. The beauty of Wade is he lets players be themselves. He doesn’t need to make it all about him. He is generous. So Butler was Jimmy Butler, the Bulls best player, but not the Bulls clutch player. It was Butler who fumbled the ball that allowed for Wade to get and make the three. Butler was able to be rich while allowing Wade to be extravagant. Butler and Wade don’t get in each other’s way. He and Wade don’t have great chemistry yet but it’s not like him and D-Rose.
This is a team that is based on all the parts working together and the straw that stirs the Bulls drink is Rondo.
Rondo was his ball cupping, penetrating and dishing best, the magician finding shots for everyone on the floor (9 assists). Of course Rondo’s shooting was pathetic. It always is. But Rondo’s presence takes the pressure off of Butler and Wade to create. It’s a nice template for Michael Carter-Williams who comes in off the bench (where he belongs) to see how to be a point guard.
As startling as Wade in a Bulls jersey was at first glance, it was way overdue. It was never supposed to be like this. And it was exactly supposed to be like this. Dwyane Wade is six years in the process. Gestation takes forever sometimes.
In the summer of 2010, Wade and Chris Bosh came to Chicago on a free agent tour. It was a crazy few days of publicity and meetings and the possibility that the Bulls were going to get richer. LeBron James was going to come too though James never made a Chicago trip, entertaining the Bulls brass on his home turf of Cleveland. After James chose Miami, and James was villain #1, it was reported that the Bulls had been in the running but sabotaged their chances when management laid down the law. No LeBron entourage on the plane. No special perks. LeBron wasn’t going to get royal treatment just because he was LeBron James. That was the rumor. The irony was Pat Riley was more dictatorial than the Bulls could ever be and it broke up the big 3. LeBron returned to Cleveland. Wade fell into Chicago’s lap after a Riley screwup. And Chris Bosh is persona non grata.
No one thinks the Bulls are playoff contenders. No one trusts Fred Hoiberg. No one thinks their offense is suited for this modern era of space the court and three. But Wade worked on his perimeter jumper, that’s obvious. The Bulls drained some threes (11-25, 44%) They beat the Celtics who are the glamour team in the east. The Bulls are more of the lunch pail crowd. Hard working. Serious. And with a closer.
But. Derrick Rose this isn’t. No speed to the rim. No one’s is beating two defenders to get to the cup. No blur on the floor, close your eyes and you’ll miss it. The Bulls had that. They used it all up until they had squeezed it dry, like a lemon wrung empty of its bitter juice. This may not be as pretty but it may be more worthwhile. Solid. Dependable. Everyone on the same page. The Bulls have a Jordan-esque player out of his prime but still good enough at the end of games to get the job done. To win.
That is what heroes do.
photo via llananba