Last season, the Chicago Bulls were labeled as one of the grittiest teams in the NBA for the way they played all year long without superstar Derrick Rose. Constantly battling every night, no matter the opponent, Chicago just plain earned every win they got.
One of the biggest assets to the team in 2012 was shooting guard Marco Belinelli, who signed as a free agent last season after playing for the New Orleans Hornets — now Pelicans. Belinelli recently signed a deal to join the San Antonio Spurs and Bulls fans everywhere should feel a little upset.
Belinelli was known for his shooting, which is the primary reason Chicago brought him on, and boy did he provide. The Bulls would have lost a handful of games if it wasn’t for Belinelli single-handedly pulling off some unbelievable shots. Some were from beyond the arc, and surprisingly enough, some were off an awkward drive to the hoop falling away from the basket.
One game in particular solidified Belinelli’s heroism to me. On a Friday night in January against the Boston Celtics away from home, Belinelli was the difference between the Bulls’ performance being labeled somewhat pathetic, to them pulling off an amazing overtime victory.
He only wound up with 10 points in the game, but with just three seconds left in the 4th quarter Belinelli made an off-balanced fade away shot to send the game into overtime. This shot came after the Bulls blew a lead late in the game, making it look as though the Celtics were going to steal one.
The Bulls went on to win the game in overtime by just a single point, and Belinelli’s performance seemed to give him the confidence to take those big shots over the course of the rest of the season.
Chicago attempted to sign another shooter this offseason in Mike Dunleavy Jr., who will definitely help the team in the area of scoring. But, Belinelli’s presence on the floor will be sorely missed. He brought a fun, exciting and sometimes head-scratching aspect to the game for the Bulls that ultimately left fans adoration time and again.