With Luol Deng laid up in a hospital bed fighting some mysterious illness, Kirk Hinrich sitting out with an injured calf and Derrick Rose dressed up in a suit on the bench looking all too cozy in his de facto role as assistant coach/cheerleader, the Chicago Bulls needed everything they could muster up to grind out a Game 1 victory against the defending champion Miami Heat.
The shocking victory required everything the depleted team had left including heart, hustle, muscle and testicular fortitude. However, as Bulls’ guard Marco Belinelli learned after the Game 7 win over the Brooklyn Nets, the NBA frowns upon a player eluding to said fortitude as Belinelli did after nailing a fourth quarter 3-pointer.
Belinelli was fined $15,000 for “making an obscene gesture” in the Bulls’ Game 7 victory.
With just under five minute remaining in the fourth quarter, he sank a 3-pointer, putting the Bulls up by 10 points against the Nets. The Bulls’ guard celebrated by doing the Sam Cassell-inspired “Big Balls Dance”, placing his hands down near his waist as if he was holding the Belinelli family jewels.
The fifth-year shooting guard, who came over to the Bulls from the New Orleans Hornets during the offseason, has showed up big time in the playoffs so far. With Hinrich nursing the last remaining body part that can possibly be injured this season, Belinelli has averaged 11.5 points per game in the postseason. Against the Heat in Game 1, he put up 10 points and seven rebounds.
While the Bulls stockpile enough injuries to fill up an emergency room, the team has not surrendered despite the glaring lack of starters able to suit up and play. Many other teams in the league would have called it a day after losing their MVP for the season, not to mention the majority of their starting lineup and bench for long stretches throughout the year.
Yet the Bulls have battled back with second thought players like Belinelli and Nate Robinson stepping up to make sure they don’t entertain any ideas of summer vacations just yet.
In a league where success is determined by how many All-Stars are on a roster, the Bulls’ refusal to go home is reason enough to applaud this team, who keep coming up big despite the locker room losses.
Yes, the Bulls have a lot to celebrate. But remember Marco, keep those celebrations above the waist.
Eric Kaplan is a Chicago Bulls writer for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter: Emk14k