Derrick Rose saw the talent, saw the attitude and saw no reason why this couldn't be a special season for the Chicago Bulls.
Well, 62 wins and two playoff series victories later, it's still going strong. The Bulls knocked off Atlanta on Thursday and now comes their toughest test: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals.
"We know that we have something special in front of us," Rose said.
Not since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen were wrapping up their second championship three-peat in 1998 have the Bulls advanced this far. Not that it's been easy, though.
Indiana put up a fight in the first round, before bowing out in five games. So did Atlanta, before the Bulls beat it 93-73 in Game 6 of the conference semifinals Thursday.
"This is playoff basketball," coach Tom Thibodeau said Friday. "Games are always going to be tough. They're going to be tight games. You have to be able to rely on your habits, the things you've been doing all season long."
What they did during the regular season worked quite well.
The Bulls won more regular-season games than any other team, locking up home-court advantage throughout the playoffs after a massive roster overhaul that came on the heels of back-to-back 41-win seasons and first-round playoff exits.
The moves that sparked the turnaround are well-documented, from the firing of Vinny Del Negro and hiring of Thibodeau — the Coach of the Year — to the execution of their backup plan after James, Wade and Chris Bosh wound up together in Miami.
The Bulls instead got power forward Carlos Boozer and a cast of role players that gave them one of the league's deepest rotations.
"We've been a team all season," Boozer said. "It hasn't been a one-man show. But our one man's pretty good!"
That would be Rose, the MVP who averaged 25 points and 7.7 assists.