TELANDER: Bulls doing their best, but LeBron gives Heat edge it needs
BY RICK TELANDER email@example.com May 11, 2013 12:54AM
Coach Tom Thibodeau makes his way off the court after the Bulls’ loss Friday to the Heat in Game 3 at the United Center. |Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: June 13, 2013 6:35PM
Something about this isn’t fair.
Three of the Bulls’ starters in Game 3 on Friday against the Miami Heat — Jimmy Butler, Marco Belinelli and Nate Robinson — would be bench guys in a fair world.
Where are Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng and, as ever, Derrick Rose? All injured.
Oh, and once-counted-on scorer Richard Hamilton? Brittle, antique.
The world isn’t fair, kids. And the Bulls can’t make it fair just by being dumb-ass pseudo-thugs on the court. (Note: Those guys in the stripes are referees. They might not be right, but they will throw you out of the game, if needed. Listening, Nazr Mohammed?)
The Heat, on the other hand, has everybody it needs in a series it now leads 2-1. Everybody it planned on having, including the most valuable player.
Indeed, the crowd at the United Center booed lustily every time Heat star LeBron James touched the ball. It was symbolic stuff: Boo the guy who makes life unfair, the kid who has more toys than you.
The bowlegged, muscle-bound James is so big, for instance, that he makes Butler — who guards him and is 6-7 and 220 pounds — look like a cape. And James’ skills are such that he dominates even when he’s harassed into a mediocre shooting game (6-for-17).
Why do you think Heat players such as Chris Bosh (20 points, 19 rebounds) and Norris Cole (18 points on 6-for-7 shooting, including 3-for-3 from three-point range) did so well? It’s because James plays basketball more like a pistol quarterback than anybody ever has. He looks over the line, heads for the goal, puts his huge shoulders down and makes things happen.
‘‘Why doesn’t he do this? Why doesn’t he do that?’’ people ask.
In the end, he does it all.
And all questions should start with this: Why did Mohammed have to retaliate after running into James near midcourt? Mohammed had started it by grabbing James, then James flicked him off like a bug. Then Mohammed pushed James hard to the floor.
So not needed. James got a technical foul, and so did Mohammed. But Mohammed was ejected, and the Bulls’ bench was down one more player.
‘‘Guys jumping on Nate’s face?’’ Mohammed said as to why he got mad. ‘‘Guys tackling Marco Belinelli out of bounds?’’
True. But guess who didn’t respond wildly? James. He stayed in the game and led all scorers with 25 points. He was 11-for-11 from the free-throw line and had eight rebounds and seven assists.
This series is going to be rough. Everybody knows that.
It already is rough, with technicals flying. And the flowered circular saw that is Chris ‘‘Birdman’’ Andersen means there might be hair-shellac wounds at any moment.
But rough and smart is one thing; rough and dumb is another. Getting tossed after playing 21/2 minutes isn’t smart.
Belinelli could have posterized James with a dunk that clanged off the back of the rim in the first half. How cool would that have been to show future generations of Bolognans?
And late in the third quarter, the 5-9 Robinson actually blocked a driving layup by James. Hoo-ha, Nate!
But none of it mattered in the Heat’s 104-94 victory.
Think about how good Robinson would be off the bench? Imagine the energy. And dropping the fine-shooting Belinelli in for 20 minutes a game, instead of the 43:03 he played Friday, would be sweet. But 60 percent of the Bulls’ starting lineup are reserves.
To their credit, the Bulls won’t quit. We love that. But it’s not the refs who are losing this series.
Coach Tom Thibodeau, though, was about ready to explode at the officials.
‘‘From my end, I saw guys basically flop,’’ he snarled of the Heat. ‘‘I don’t get it. I don’t get it.’’
Was he mad at Mohammed for his needless shove?
‘‘No, no, no,’’ he said.
Repetition made the point.
The bad vibes started flowing in Game 2 in Miami, highlighted when a Palm Beach bimbo named Filomena Tobias gave the finger to Joakim Noah as he was led off court. The ugly photo went viral.
All the rest of us know is that Tobias’ wealthy hedge-fund husband, Seth, was found dead in a pool about six years ago. The New York Times had this to say in its Nov. 4, 2007, edition: ‘‘A former assistant to Seth Tobias has told the police that Filomena Tobias confessed to him that she had cajoled her husband, who was on a cocaine binge, into the water, promising him sex with a male
go-go dancer known as ‘Tiger.’ ’’
Could we make this up?
Could we make up LeBron James?
Could we make Rose, Hinrich and Deng healthy?