Bulls: Jimmy Butler named finalist for Team USA's 2016 Olympic basketball roster


Bulls: Jimmy Butler named finalist for Team USA's 2016 Olympic basketball roster

Jimmy Butler has been named one of the 30 finalists for Team USA's Olympic men's basketball roster, which will eventually be cut to 12 players this summer.

Butler, the league's most improved player a year ago, has taken his game to another level in his fifth NBA season, averaging 22.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.2 assists in a league-high 38.2 minutes per game.

[RELATED: Butler makes big impression in front of USA's Colangelo]

Butler joined Team USA's basketball camp in Las Vegas this past summer after signing a five-year max deal with the Bulls.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

Butler is the only member of the Bulls named a finalist. Derrick Rose played for Team USA in the 2014 FIBA World Championships but was not named a finalist.

Former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is an assistant for the team under Duke's Mike Krzyzewski. The 2016 Olympic Games begin Aug. 5 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The Bulls have not had a player compete for Team USA in the Olympics since Scottie Pippen in 1996.

In the 2012 Olympics the Bulls had Luol Deng (Great Britain) compete.

Pau Gasol will compete for Spain's national team in Rio, though he is likely to opt out of his Bulls contract after this season.

The finalists, along with Butler, are: LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, LaMarcus Aldridge, Harrison Barnes, Bradley Beal, Mike Conley, DeMarcus Cousins, Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, DeMar DeRozan, Andre Drummond, Kevin Durant, Kenneth Faried, Rudy Gay, Paul George, Draymond Green, Blake Griffin, James Harden, Gordon Hayward, Dwight Howard, Andre Iguodala, Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Love, Chris Paul, Klay Thompson, John Wall and Russell Westbrook.

Seven years ago today LeBron James slammed the Bulls' championship window shut


Seven years ago today LeBron James slammed the Bulls' championship window shut

The Bulls couldn't have known it at the time, but when LeBron James blocked a Derrick Rose 3-point attempt in the final seconds of Game 5 in the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals, it was the closest those Bulls would ever get to the promised land.

It happened on May 26, 2011, seven long, long, long years ago today.

The game was an ugly one and certainly a fourth quarter the Bulls would love to have back. They took a 12-point lead on a Ronnie Brewer 3-pointer with 3:53 remaining. The Heat closed the game on a 19-4 run, with James' emphatic block on Rose the lasting image of the series.

James finished with a game-high 28 points and 11 rebounds, and added six assists, three steals and two blocks in 46 minutes.

Rose went just 9-for-29, finishing the series shooting 35 percent from the field after being named league MVP over James.

It's probably unfair to say James and James alone shut the Bulls' championship window. Rose's ACL tear the following postseason realistically was the biggest culprit. But these Bulls had won 62 games, had homecourt advantage, had the MVP, the Coach of the Year and all the momentum. And still they couldn't get it done against James.

That win also sent James to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2007. He's been there every year since, though that could change as he faces the Celtics on Sunday in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Anyone who lived through the Michael Jordan Bulls remembers those games when he was putting up tons of points, but the Bulls were still struggling overall.

Steve Kerr referenced one of those games to give advice to Kevin Durant during Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. The TNT broadcast caught the conversation and aired it late in the third quarter.

"When MJ was with the Bulls, we had a playoff game," Kerr began the story. "He kept trying to score and he was scoring, but we weren't getting anything going. Phil Jackson said 'Who's open?' He said, 'John Paxson.'"

Paxson scored 10 of 12 points for the Bulls during a fourth quarter run in Game 5 of the 1991 NBA Finals, the series clincher, and famously hit the game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals to clinch that series. Kerr, who later hit his own championship-winning shot on an assist from Jordan in 1997, was trying to get to get his teammates involved.

"I want to trust your teammates early," Kerr said. "What you're doing is you're getting to the rim and then you're trying to hit him. I want you to trust the first guy and then move. Still attack, still look to score, but trust these guys, OK?"

Watch the video above to see the interaction.

Durant scored 29 points in Game 5 to lead the Warriors, but Houston took a 3-2 series lead with a 98-94 win.