It's the best of sports, when the games turn into something more closely resembling crusades. And that's what the playoffs have become now for the Chicago Bulls, a referendum on toughness and resourcefulness and, yes, manhood. It's become one improbable, inexplicable victory after another, Joakim Noah's foot, Nate Robinson's lip, Kirk Hinrich's calf, even Luol Deng's spine and, always, Derrick Rose's knee.
A season that originally promised absolutely nothing great has grown strangely and unexpectedly delicious. First, the Bulls delivered the very first Game 7 road victory in franchise history, then a theft of a series opener, on the road again, from the champs, and both with a roster tailor-made for excuses and despair.
There's a long, long way between where the Bulls are now and what passes for glory in professional sports, but the 48 hours between Saturday night in Brooklyn and Monday night in Miami were undeniably exhilarating, a brief basketball nirvana, even for a team that has six NBA championship banners hanging from its ceiling.