No flare: Chicago Bulls' Luol Deng and Joakim Noah. (AP)
When you transplant players from the Chicago Bulls to the All-Star game, prepare to be un-wowed.
They will not shower you with acrobatic dunks, childish horsing around, a player trying to play another position, going on cruise control until the fourth quarter rolls around and other glitzy stuff. They play basketball games to win, folks, and not to entertain. Just like old man Tim Duncan and the rest of the San Antonio Spurs.
Last Sunday’s ASG is a testament to that. Tom Thibodeau’s wards only know one way to play: hard. You can say it’s much of a one-trick pony, but these guys, like their current All-Stars Joakim Noah and Luol Deng are pretty much dead serious about basketball and not fond of horsing around.
They are coached to play hard each possession, 110% every game.
Case in point, after scoring a putback inside a crowded lane, Joakim Noah let out a feral scream and ran back on defense to swat some shots and even accidentally elbowed Chris Paul in a rebound scuffle. That’s how Noah plays game in and game out. People might not like it but the reality is that Noah isn’t Dwight Howard who clowns around and cost his team wins (ooops).
You can’t stay away from your DNA. And Jo, while very deserving of his All-Star status, is just staying true to the style of play that made him an All-Star in the first place.
And then, there’s Luol Deng. If there’s an integral part in the Bulls system outside of Rose and Noah, it’s Deng, the glue guy.
He’s not the strongest small forward in the NBA it is LeBron James of the Miami Heat. Neither is he the smoothest, which would be the Thunder’s Kevin Durant. But the consistency with which he brings to the Bulls is something you cannot take for granted. True, they have an emerging Jimmy Butler, but most of the time, Deng is the ultimate workhorse of Tom Thibodeau. He won’t be flashy like the other stars he lined up with last Sunday in Houston.
Well it figures.
The Bulls aren’t your flashiest team.
Their All-Stars won’t wow you with acrobatic dunks, dizzying crossovers, dribbling exhibitions, or show-stopping bounce passes. They’ll wow you instead with consistency, an eagerness to perform, toughness, willingness to get down and dirty, to scrap for loose balls.
In a way, they mirror the San Antonio Spurs in not so flashy, but consistent winning basketball even with their occasional offensive droughts.
But there’s more to it than that. They don’t aspire or give thought much about neither the All-Star accolades nor the individual hardware. Noah, Deng and the currently injured Derrick Rose have one thing in mind: The Larry O’Brien trophy. They want to bring it back to the Madhouse on Madison.
They’re in it to win it.
Follow @PioStark for more.