WARR producer and Blackhawks reporter Sid “The Kid” is a reliable source of information when it comes to Chicago sports throughout the ages. Now every #throwbackthursday Sid gives you some of the top moments to remember for each week forward.
By Sidney Brown (@sidkid80)
Last week we started this weekly feature with the beginning of arguably the best Chicago Bulls playoff series outside the Jordan era — the epic Bulls-Boston Celtics seven-game brawl in the opening round of the 2009 playoffs.
A lot of what made that series legendary came right away with Derrick Rose’s 36-point performance in the Game 1 105-103 upset win at Boston, which we featured last week. As the series extended through five games the Bulls and Celtics treated fans to an instant classic set of games featuring many clutch performances from Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Rose and Ben Gordon as a record four overtime games unfolded in one seven-game series.
Things opened up even more in that fourth OT game, Game 6 from the United Center on April 30th, with the Bulls fighting off elimination this contest turned into a desperate 3-OT scrap for the ages.
After trading baskets, lead changes and countless clutch plays, the Bulls found a way to defeat the defending champs 128-127 thanks to a memorable steal and dunk by Joakim Noah that caused Celtics star Paul Pierce to foul out.
Allen finished with a game-high of 51 points while John Salmons tallied a team high 35 for Chicago. Without Kevin Garnett the Celtics would win the series in seven games before being eliminated in the next round by the eventual Eastern Conference champion Orlando Magic while the Bulls suffered another opening round loss, the franchise’s fourth time in five years.
Why Derrick? Why?
In winning the MVP in 2011 while carrying the Bulls to the Eastern Conference Finals, Derrick Rose was primed to take the next step in his career in delivering his hometown team a world championship. After leading Chicago to 50 wins in a lockout-shortened 66 game season, the Bulls drew the upstart Philadelphia 76ers lead by former Bull Elton Brand and hometown prodigy Evan Turner.
Game 1 of the 2012 playoffs from April 28th should have been just an easy series-opening win, late in the fourth quarter it turned into a game that shook up the entire trajectory of the franchise and sunk the hopes of an entire city rallying behind one of its cherished own.
With the game in hand, Rose drove towards the lane and turned his knee awkwardly, suffering a torn ACL on the play and beginning a process of injury and attempted recovery that led Rose off his hometown team by 2016 and the Bulls still without a championship post-Jordan. We’ll save an embed of the replay and leave it here if you feel like feeling the pain again.
Philadelphia would go on to win the series in six games, upsetting the East’s top seed who had nothing left to give without its dynamic floor leader, a theme that continued after Rose missed the entire 2012-13 season and tore an MCL early in the ’13-14 season, ruining that season as well.
Bears Risk It All For Mitch
Objectively, the NFL Draft is a pretty simple endeavor, its an opportunity for teams to improve their roster along with adding depth to key positions.
But breaking down picks individually is so often a chore and it can bring out the worst in folks, even when what should be focused on is a dream being made for a hard-working athlete.
On April 27th, 2017, dreams were made for the first round picks in that year’s NFL Draft, among them Mitchell Trubisky who was transferring from quarterback of the University of North Carolina to the entire focus of Chicago Bears Nation, as starved a franchise and fan base as there is regarding elite quarterback play.
A lot of discussion to this day exists regarding why the Bears, and then-new general manager Ryan Pace, made the move they did to get Trubisky and why it was done to get him. In a high-profile draft class of quarterbacks Trubisky was seen as a first-rounder but not as a No. 2 overall pick, and not even as a No. 3 overall, which is where the Bears were sitting before trading with the San Francisco 49ers to move up the one spot. In the process, the Bears also gave up their No. 67 overall pick and their No. 111 pick in that draft along with a 2018 third-round pick.
Given what the Bears gave up in the moment and the fact that Trubisky was a disputed pick with a small college sample size (only 13 starts at NC), the immediate response was not welcoming.
In spite of so much of the particular Bears brand of fatalism shown to the Trubisky pick it seems that in “Money Makin’ Mitch” the may have a franchise QB again.
Trubisky finished his rookie year with 7 TD passes and 7 interceptions in only 12 games while the Bears suffered another losing season with a mark of 5-11. With new head coach Matt Nagy rejuvenating the offense in 2018, Trubisky led the Bears to a 12-4 record along with a division title for the first time since 2010, tallying 24 touchdown passes with 12 interceptions along the way.
The past year saw for the first time in a while a great showing promise for a Bears offense with better weapons and all-together young weapons including Allen Robinson, Tarik Cohen, Taylor Gabriel and Trey Burton and those guys are all trying to get the ball from an official Pro Bowl QB in Trubisky.
Will Mitch take further steps forward in 2019 and lead Chicago to their first Super Bowl since 1985? The immediate future lays in the hands of their QB — ask Bears fans their feelings on that today and you’ll get a much different answer than you would in 2017.
Sidney Brown is WARR's resident Chicago sports historian