To: LeBron James' fans
From: Rob Parker
Re: Bulls-Heat series
This is not about LeBron. Not at all.
In the past, maybe, some were guilty of rooting against ’Bron-’Bron after his over-the-top, free-agent decision upset the applecart.
In this case, however, NBA America is rooting for the Chicago Bulls – even in Detroit where the Bulls are a hated rival.
The Bulls are the life of the party because they shocked LeBron and all you fans that can’t get enough of LBJ and his Miami Heat.
When the Bulls stole Game 1 of this second-round series in Miami, fans all around the league took both notice and interest in this matchup that most experts thought would be a layup for the Heat.
Fans around the league are rooting for parity, not against LeBron.
In a league which usually only has three to four teams talented enough to win a title, many fans are turned off.
And with good reason.
Since 1991, only eight different teams have won an NBA title. Three teams have won four or more championships: Bulls (6), Lakers (5) and Spurs (4).
Worse, in the last five years, the Lakers were in the championship series three times, and Miami, the last two.
Another point of frustration for many NBA fans is that the only team to win a title without a superstar player was the 2004 Pistons. They beat the Lakers who had four potential Hall of Famers in their starting lineup that season.
Conversely, there is real parity in baseball. In the same time period, there have been 12 different MLB champions. Plus, before the Giants won in 2012, MLB had six different World Series winners in six years.
Better yet, 19 of the 30 teams have made it to the World Series.
In the NFL, championships are spread around better, as of late, after a slew a dynasties like the 49ers, Cowboys, and Steelers.
Starting with the Super Bowl in 1991, there have been 13 different organizations to win championships, including one by the Tampa Bay Bucs, a laughingstock for most of the expansion franchise’s pre-Tony Dungy existence.
Fans would love to see similar results in the NBA. Fans don’t want to invest time and money into a meaningless regular season just so that the Lakers and Heat can play every year for the championship.
Or in this case, most expected 2013 to be just like 2012, with Oklahoma City and Miami in the finals for the second straight season.
Enter the Bulls, out of nowhere.
It’s bigger than just rooting for the underdog. Nobody, other than fans in Milwaukee, rooted for the Bucks in the first round against the Heat.
No one honestly believed the Bucks could win.
Fans have a different outlook on the Bulls – even without star guard Derrick Rose (though he may be back for Game 3).
Chicago’s victory in Miami followed an impressive Game 7 victory in Brooklyn to shock the Nets and advance to the second round.
While the Bulls were fighting and winning despite illnesses and injuries, the Heat were maxing and relaxing.
After all, the Heat swept the Bucks with expected ease.
Some ill-advised sports reporters were even willing to go on the record and say the Heat weren’t going to lose a game until they got to the Finals. That LeBron and company would make their third straight trip to the Finals and win the championship for the second year in a row.
It was supposed to be a foregone conclusion…or so we thought.
But by stealing Game 1, taking homecourt from the Heat, the Bulls put the wheels in motion for a possible upset.
NBA suits, TV executives and you ’Bron-’Bron fans might not want to see the Pacers and Bulls in the Eastern Conference finals, or the Lakers out of the postseason in a four-game, first-round sweep.
A lot of fans around NBA America, though, would gladly welcome this thing called parity – for once.