Bull market is raring to go: Chicago looks primed for big season

The Chicago Bulls finished the 20th century by winning six NBA Championships over eight years during the 1990s, but all good things must come to an end-at least for a while.

From 1999 to nine games into the 2004-2005 season, the Bulls seemed to be cursed.

It seemed that Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson used up all of the good fortune during their decade of glory, and no matter what the Bulls executives did, bad luck was an eminent nuisance.

Over those years, the fans in the Windy City saw their once unbeatable team struggle to win 20 games in a season, even with players like Elton Brand, Ron Artest, Jamal Crawford, Jalen Rose and Dikembe Mutombo.

Even the return of Scottie Pippen couldn’t bring the Bulls back into contention.

They brought in Jay Williams from Duke with their second pick of the 2002 draft, and after a decent and promising rookie season, the curse struck again as Williams nearly lost his life in a motorcycle accident.

Then came the 2004-2005 season. After an incredible draft, it seemed like the Bulls finally had the pieces to put together a winning season and bring respect back to Chicago.

They still had a young team, but Eddy Curry, Tyson Chandler and Kirk Hinrich had a few years under their belts, and the additions of Ben Gordon, Luol Deng, Chris Duhon and Andres Nocioni seemed like a recipe for success. Then it happened again. The Bulls started the year 0-9, and it looked as though youth was not the answer for winning games in Chicago.

But then something happened on Nov. 24 against the Utah Jazz: The Bulls won a game.

And from that point on, they won more games-a lot more.

They went on to finish the season by going 47-26 after their 0-9 start, which was good enough for a third place finish in the Eastern Conference.

But misfortune continued to strike the Bulls toward the end of the regular season, as Eddy Curry was found to have a heart problem that was detrimental to his career.

Since he was unwilling to take DNA tests to determine the severity of his heart problem, the Bulls were forced to trade Curry away Sept. 30 to the New York Knicks.

In just a few weeks, we’ll see how this setback affects the “Baby Bulls,” but in this case, I think the quote “what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger” is applicable.

Although they’re still one of the youngest teams in the league, they will bring one of the deepest lineups into this upcoming season.

Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng, Ben Gordon, Tyson Chandler, Chris Duhon and Andres Nocioni, along with newly acquired Tim Thomas and Michael Sweetney, bring eight quality players who can make significant contributions in every game.

Last year, Ben Gordon won the Sixth Man of the Year award; with a bench as deep as the Bulls’ this season, the whole second team may win the sixth man award.

They’ve had their struggles over the last few years, but it appears the dark days in Chicago are behind them, even if they’ve had some bizarre misfortunes. Look out. The Baby Bulls are starting to grow up.

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