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LeBron James Owns the Chicago Bulls

I still remember Game 3 of the Chicago Bulls’ first-round series against the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2010 like it was yesterday. The Bulls beat LeBron James‘s Cavaliers that day, with Derrick Rose going straight at LeBron in the fourth quarter and finishing with 31 points. Kirk Hinrich, back when he was good, had 27 points. It was a thrilling experience to be at the United Center that day, but little did I know that five years later, the Bulls would only notch two more postseason wins at the United Center against LeBron James, and four overall.

LeBron James owns the Chicago Bulls.

A year after that rousing victory in 2010, I was back at the United Center for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals. LeBron James was also back in the arena that day, this time in a different uniform as a member of the Miami Heat. The Bulls had just destroyed the Heat in Game 1 of the series and had a chance to take a commanding 2-0 series lead. The game hung in the balance in the fourth quarter, but the Bulls couldn’t score and LeBron scored nine points down the stretch to secure the victory. Miami won the next three games and went to the NBA Finals.

A wounded Bulls team met LeBron again in the postseason in 2013. There were little to no expectations in this series with no Rose, no Luol Deng and a hobbled Joakim Noah. Nate Robinson pulled off a miracle Game 1 victory in Miami, but most knew that was fool’s gold and the Heat ultimately won in five games once again.

The hope was that this year would be different. And this year it looked like things were breaking the Bulls’ way. Kevin Love was out. J.R. Smith was suspended for two games. Kyrie Irving was hobbled throughout much of the series. LeBron wasn’t at his best.

And yet, LeBron James still owned the Chicago Bulls.

The way LeBron owned the Bulls was a bit different this time around, though. For some portions of this series, LeBron was an iso-heavy mess who bricked jumper after jumper. He shot under 40 percent for the series and 11 percent from three. I can’t remember ever watching him shoot so poorly. Ever.

And yet, LeBron James still owned the Chicago Bulls.

In Game 2, LeBron promised to be more aggressive after a passive Game 1 loss. He scored 33 points in an easy victory. In Game 4, LeBron answered Rose’s buzzer-beater with a buzzer-beater of his own, on one of those tough jumpers he had been missing all series:

In Game 5, LeBron executed one of his trademark chasedown blocks on Rose as the Bulls point guard drove in for a potential game-tying basket:


LeBron finished that game with 38 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, three blocks, three steals and zero turnovers.

And in Game 6, with his jumper as broke as ever, LeBron controlled the game with Irving sidelined for most of it. LeBron shot 7-of-23, but he had 15 points, 11 assists, nine rebounds and two blocks. The Cavaliers killed the Bulls with LeBron-Matthew Dellavedova pick-and-rolls. Seriously:

And another:

With this latest dismantling, LeBron is now 16-5 in his postseason career against the Bulls with a spotless 4-0 series record. The Bulls as a franchise should know all about this type of domination, as Michael Jordan owned plenty of great players and great teams during his reign, whether it was the New York Knicks or the Utah Jazz or countless others.

But now, it’s the Chicago Bulls who are being owned by the best player of his generation:


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