Back in 2012, the Chicago Bulls won the Eastern Conference with a 50-16 record. And while it might seem like ages ago, they really were a major contender to win the Chip that year.
In fact, according to Joakim Noah, that team would have won it had injuries not derailed their chances.
“[Thibodeau] is the best, he is a warrior. We were so close, but the injuries kind of derailed it,” Noah said.
|I look back at those years and we were right there. I’ve got nothing but love for all those guys…we were almost at the promised land and it didn’t go down. It’s easier to look back now with the injuries and talk about what didn’t go well, but the truth is we were right there, we almost got the chip if it wasn’t for the injuries.”
Of course, the team was famously led by Derrick Rose, who averaged 21 points, 7.9 assists, and 3.4 rebounds on 43% shooting.
The rest of the roster was made up of gritty, defensive players who made it a battle for opposing teams to score. Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, Jimmy Butler, and Carlos Boozer made up a pretty deep lineup of guys.
Derrick Rose, now playing for the Detroit Pistons, suffered an unfortunate ACL tear in Game 1 against the No. 8 seed Philadelphia 76ers in the 2012 playoffs. Joakim Noah, who last played for the Memphis Grizzlies in 2018-19, was also injured and the Bulls were unable to recover. They got eliminated by the Eastern Conference’s lowest seed in upset fashion.
Their biggest competition was the "Big Three" Miami Heat, who were fresh of their second season together as co-stars. Obviously, that was a pretty enormous obstacle for the Bulls.
So would they have won the Championship that season? We'll never know, but one has to think they would have been pretty hard to beat that year had the cards fell in their favor.