Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Co. are ready to turn up the heat on the Bulls. Jordan's going so far as to suggest these Bulls could pull out another half-dozen championships.
Young teams rarely rise to the level of expectations. The successful ones come out of nowhere and have an "us against the world" mentality. Consider the Pistons of 2004. Everyone expected the Lakers to sweep them. The Pistons had no pressure, and they prevailed.
Now, consider the Cavaliers last year. Relatively young team, monster expectations. Self-destruction in the playoffs.
These Bulls are younger than those Cavs. Derrick Rose is in just his third season. He's probably the front-runner for MVP. And this attention is not what the Bulls need right now.
Watch how a team plays when the Lakers or Heat roll into town. Those teams pull out all the stops to beat the all-star-laden rosters. It's a matter of pride. You don't see the same effort against the Kings, Wizards or Timberwolves.
As the playoffs roll around, the Bulls may need to steal a game in enemy territory to advance. That's easier to do when an opponent takes them lightly. And no one takes an MVP lightly. Opposing teams pay attention when Michael Jordan polishes a new crown and prepares to plop it on the head of a young superstar.
Hope is great. Expectation can be a killer. We know the Bulls have the physical talent, but do they have the mental toughness? That's usually born out of disappointment and perseverance.
Sure, the Bulls may be ready for a championship. But we'll have an easier time getting it if we sneak up and grab it. Let's save the boasting for a victory parade, shall we?