The Chicago Bulls have lost three of their last four. Derrick Rose was off his game in his return to the lineup Sunday. Things have been better.
But before we get too fixated on the momentary ups and downs that even the best NBA franchises go through, let's look back a moment and recognize one of the most impressive feats by a team—to be precise, by its bench—in league history.
The Bulls are Rose's team. Yet somehow, it hasn't mattered that he has been out for over a third of this season. While pundits and Bulls fans obsess about the status of Rose's toe, back and groin—injuries have benched him for 22 games so far—his teammates have helped power Chicago to a 43-14 record, best in the NBA.
With the playoffs starting later this month, this intensive focus on Rose is understandable. He almost single-handedly carried the Bulls to last year's Eastern Conference finals, where the Miami Heat dismissed them in five games.
But that's just the point. While last season's team was reliant on Rose—ultimately to its detriment—this year's edition isn't. What Chicago's backups and supporting cast have done in Rose's absence this season is arguably unprecedented in league history.