2011 in review: Top 5 Bulls stories

December, 30, 2011
12/30/11
10:11
AM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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Derrick RoseAP Photo/M. Spencer GreenAt 22, Derrick Rose became the youngest MVP in NBA history after averaging 25 points, 7.7 assists and 4.1 rebounds.
1. Rose becomes youngest MVP ever: Derrick Rose was dominant all season, but what I'll remember most is the speech he gave after being named the youngest MVP in NBA history. It was emotional, it was raw, and it was something Bulls fans will remember for a long time.

2. Bulls advance to East finals with NBA's best record: Nobody predicted Bulls would finish with the NBA's best record at 62-20. By March, many believed the Bulls were going to win a title. The Bulls, led by Rose, became as popular as they have since the Jordan years.

[+] EnlargeCarlos Boozer and Joel Anthony
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty ImagesCarlos Boozer had an inconsistent first season with the Bulls and struggled in the playoffs.
3. Bulls start rivalry with Miami: Like most fans, some of the Bulls didn't like the way the Heat came together. Joakim Noah famously said after Miami won four straight games to beat the Bulls in the Eastern Conference finals that the Heat were, "Hollywood as hell." Their matchups last season kicked off a great new rivalry between two teams who will be in an arms race to see who gets a ring first.

4. Thibodeau wins Coach of the Year in first season: Longtime assistant coach Tom Thibodeau deserved all the credit that came his way in his first season as an NBA head coach. He pushed the Bulls to 62 wins and maximized their potential. His players developed a respect for him because of his relentless work ethic.

5. Boozer underwhelms in first season: Carlos Boozer signed a five-year, $80 million deal in the summer to be the second offensive option next to Rose. Instead, he became a punching bag for Chicago fans because of inconsistencies throughout the year, his struggles on defense and in the postseason. There is not a player on the Bulls roster with more pressure on his shoulders this season.

Nick Friedell | email

Chicago Bulls beat reporter
Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Derrick Rose
PTS AST STL MIN
15.9 4.3 0.5 31.1
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Noah 11.3
AssistsJ. Noah 5.4
StealsJ. Butler 1.9
BlocksJ. Noah 1.5