- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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DETROIT -- Derrick Rose may be far and away the most popular and important Bull, but the seven guys who begin the game on the bench cheering for aren't lacking for love either.
The Bulls' reserves -- specifically, Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver, C.J. Watson, Taj Gibson, Kurt Thomas and Omer Asik -- have developed a cult-like following over the past couple of months because of their solid play and unselfish attitude. And because of the fact that the aforementioned group is one of major reasons the Bulls come into Friday night's game against the Detroit Pistons with a two game lead for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
"We call our bench our second wave and our second wave, it's a monster," Bulls forward Carlos Boozer said last week. "We've got a monster second wave."
Well that is certainly true, considering the Bulls' second unit ranks among the tops in the NBA in several categories, the group's core members have a different moniker they like to go with ... one which has caught fire so rapidly that it has become a popular hashtag for Bulls fans to use on Twitter.
The Bench Mob.
How did that name come to be? The reigning "King of Bulls Twitter" Watson had a lot to do with it.
"He was talking about it [with] us," Brewer said. "You know how people are. He's on Twitter and a lot of people give different names [about] what we should be called. Booz was saying it was the wave and [Watson] was saying we're not the wave, we're the bench mob. And I was like, "Yeah, the bench mob sounds good to me." And so it stuck and I guess people have been buying into it."
Watson came up with the name, and it has stuck ever since. No matter what they're called though, their production is undeniable. As a group, the Bench Mob's confidence has gotten stronger as the season has progressed and it's clear that Boozer and the rest of the starters appreciate how much the group has improved as a whole.
"Our second wave is phenomenal," Boozer said. "Those guys come in, they have a swag about them. They play great together on offense and defense. And it's fun to watch for us because we know how hard they work. We feel like we have the best bench in the [league]. We feel like our bench vs. your bench, our bench is going to win. That's how we feel."
"They've been huge, giving us a lot of energy," Bulls point guard Derrick Rose said earlier in the month, when the group really started to hit its stride. "Taking the lead a majority of the time, just keeping us there. And we appreciate them. They've been playing hard, just ballin' out and they've been doing a great job."
Just how good has the Bench Mob been over the last couple of months? Rose has repeatedly said that the Bulls' second unit routinely beats the team's starters. A claim that Brewer didn't shy away from.
"The Bench Mob always wins," Brewers said. "We always win because we don't give up. We play hard every possession. Sometimes the starters get complacent and they look for fouls in practice. We haven't scrimmaged in a long time, but I'm pretty sure if we scrimmaged right now we'd probably beat them."
That's the kind of mentality that the team's hard-nosed coach loves to hear.
"They've put a lot into the season," Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said. "They've prepared themselves extremely well. And they've played very effectively together. They share the ball, they play great defense and they run the floor. And they've played very intelligently all year. I think they complement each other very well."
Brewer couldn't agree more. He knows that the group has developed a special bond over the year, and that is evident each time they step out on the floor together.
"We don't want to be the group that, when the starters get subbed out, we get subbed in, and we blow the lead or get blown out," Brewer said. "We want to go out there and if we're up, push the pedal down, and try to make a team give up. You can be up 10, 12 and you can extend it to 16, 18, sometimes teams give up. And that's what we try to do in the second unit. We really don't like our names in the paper, and a lot praise, we just want to go in and play hard night in and night out on both ends of the floor. So far it's been working out for us."
1dMatt Walks, ESPN.com
1dJason McCallum, ESPN Stats & Info