Bulls with a Green Thumb (In the Garden): Opening Night Preview

The NBA knows how to schedule games, and the Bulls v. Knicks on opening night in New York has everyone’s attention.

Here’s the entangled storyline for this one – let’s see if you can unravel it: Hall-of-Fame inductee Phil Jackson is the new President of the New York Knicks. Phil, of course, was the head coach of the Bulls through the Bulls’ Championship years – snagging six championship rings with Jordan and Pippen. The Zen Master will have Derek Fisher, new head coach and former champion under Phil, leading PJ’s touted Triangle Offense, with which he enjoyed much success in Chicago and LA.

Phil was also the victor in the free agent market by persuading Carmelo Anthony to stay in New York, whom the Bulls sought aggressively this off-season, but failed to secure. Instead, the Bulls did manage to land the other prize of free agency, Pau Gasol, who won championships under Phil with the Lakers. New York and Chicago are two incredible basketball cities and experienced an intense rivalry in the last years of the 80’s and into the 90’s – the Bulls routinely dominating that rivalry.

If that’s not enough of a storyline for intrigue, let’s not forget what happened last year: Derrick Rose hit the game winning shot to stun the Knicks in their home opener.

Will Phil’s Zen-like mentality trickle down to the players? Will it be enough to overcome the lack of talent? Will Derrick Rose be too much? Will Melo regret his decision to stay with New York, opting to take more money in lieu of immediate championship dreams? How will the Bulls do without Jimmy Butler (ruled out indefinitely)? Will the Bulls’ reserves start to get it going? Will Pau and Noah figure out their roles? Will the rookies on Chicago have opening night jitters? Will Phil and Thibs get into a staring contest, winner-take-Melo? Okay, probably not the last one…

It’s a great way to kick off the season.

My prediction? I’m confident that the Bulls will pull this one out after getting behind early.

Stay tuned.