But realistically, I assumed the organization had a "Plan A" (sign Chris Bosh and fill some needs), or "Plan B" (sign Carlos Boozer and fill some needs). Those were reasonable, albeit slightly hopeful, expectations.
Then came the talk that the Bulls had a chance at Wade and LeBron, and even I bought into the hype. If you read BBS or follow me on twitter (@bullbearsock), then you know I am a "LeBron Hater," but even I couldn't resist the lure of potentially landing one of the best players on earth.
Turns out, we never had a shot at Wade or LeBron, and we never even had a chance to sign Bosh. The "Big 3" agreed to play together a long time before free agency started, and all of the meetings were for show (literally, as Wade and Bosh might make a documentary about the "experience").
What has been lost in all of this is just how good of a summer the Bulls have had when weighed against plans and expectations. If Miami wasn't stealing all of the attention, more people would be talking about how the Bulls have addressed some major needs and really improved.
With signing of Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver, along with signing JJ Redick to an offer sheet (that Orlando is expected to match), the Bulls have done just that. We also signed former-draft-pick Omer Asik to add some depth to the front line. We're not done, but if Redick is matched, we can go after other SG options: Ronnie Brewer or Josh Childress. We still need a backup PG, possibly Shaun Livingston or Kyle Lowry. Once we fill those needs, the Bulls will be a significantly improved team from last season.
But beyond the improvements the Bulls have made to the roster, the organization put on a great display of integrity and class. It's somewhat buried in the link above, but worth linking again and pointing out:
It was also made known to James that the Heat would take care of his friends the same way the Cavs did -- special treatment at the arena, changing practice and travel schedules to allow for money-making late-night parties in various cities, and perhaps even hiring a James associate in a high-paying position in the organization.
The Bulls' chances were diminished for two central reasons. Wade wasn't willing to go to his own hometown. And the Bulls made it clear James' friends would not be given the privileges they were given in Cleveland or the high-paying jobs.
So maybe the Bulls didn't land LeBron (or Wade or Bosh), but the organization did the right thing. Instead of getting caught up in doing or saying anything to lure a FA to Chicago, the Bulls took the high road. I'll admit it sucks to lose out on those "top tier" FAs, but I could not be prouder to be a Bulls fan this summer. I'm glad the Bulls made the difficult (but correct) choice not to pander to the needs of a prima dona punk. LeBron has won as many NBA titles as I have, and is not bigger than the game of basketball.
I realize the "3 Miam-Egos" are the early favorites to win the title, but I have some serious doubts about that. Boston won with their "big 3" a few years ago, but they weren't filling the roster with minimum salary guys. They had a good defensive center and a PG that turned out to be better than anyone expected. This Heat team is 3 players and no one else. They may be overwhelmingly more talented at 3 positions, but they will be lacking everywhere else.
Additionally, I would much rather be a fan of an organization with class and dignity. The fair-weather, front-running Heat fans can have their "best trio ever" (as Wade referred to the new Heat trio the other day ... maybe he never watched MJ/Pippen/Rodman, or even MJ/Pippen and Will Perdue). It will be fun to hate LeBron and the Heat, and even more fun to cheer for a Bulls team filled with lovable players.
Maybe the Bulls aren't the favorites to win the title after "Summer of 2010," but I could not be prouder to be a fan of this team and this organization.