A Night at the U.C.
As I’ve mentioned before, I have partial season tickets to the Bulls this year. My friend Neil and I purchased 11 games, and this is the 8th we have had tics for. So far this year, we are 0-5, and we sold the tickets to the two other games. So obviously, this investment was turned out terrific for the two of us. Neil had been prodding me to write an entry about a Bulls game, a sort of Simmons-esque running diary of the experience of watching a Bulls game this year. We figured that Friday night’s game against the Denver Nuggets would be as good game as any to write about.
**-Upon waiting for Neil to show up at Gate 2 prior to the game, I watch the people enter the U.C. I then see a guy wearing the greatest jersey of the season so far, even better than the dude wearing an authentic Bears Kordell Stewart jersey a few months ago: this cat had a Trent Tucker jersey. Yeah, thats right. Trent. Tucker.
**-Neil shows up and we make our way up to the 300 level about 15 minutes prior to game time. We get our beers and then spend the next fifteen minutes before tip walking up the stairs to our seats, intermittedly stopping to get oxygen and check our heart monitors. Our seats aren’t that bad; we’re just out of shape and somewhat fat.
**-Finally, the game is about to start. Before the game, like at many sporting events now, the Bulls show a two or three minute highlight film which showcases past great Bulls and then eventually transitions to the key players of today. This year this film has been more comedic than anything for Neil and I. It starts out great…….the movie shows some of the underrated good players of the early 70s like Norm van Lier, Bob Love, and Jerry Sloan, and then shows the guys that we all grew up idolizing (Michael, Scottie, etc.). Then, when it comes time to show the “stars” of today, the names like Duhon, Hinrich, and Sefolosha seem pretty anti-climatic.
*–The game begins, and its already obvious to Neil and I that the 15 year old kid sitting behind us is going to provide us with an immense amount of entertainment. He’s probably watched about 6 NBA games in his life, yet he’s discussing strategies like he’s James Naismith. At one point, the Bulls get a technical foul for illegal defense, and the Nugs send Carmelo Anthony to the line to shoot the free throw. Probably a good call; he’s shooting 81 percent from the line this year. “Why do they have Carmelo shooting the free throw? A.I. is a much better shooter,” proclaims little Naismith. (By the way, Iverson is also shooting 81 percent–but is a career 76 percent free throw shooter compared to Anthony’s 82 percent).
**-A very entertaining first quarter is highlighted by the Bulls opening up a 33-21 lead, a few nice dunks, some very athletic blocked shots by Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah, and the teenage white trash couple in the two seats in front of us realizing they have made a grave mistake. By about the 4 minute mark of the 1st quarter, they realize our stupid heckling and inane comments, peppered with ‘fuck’ and ‘cocksucker’, don’t make for the best date atmosphere. The girl was pretty hot though.
**-Which brings me to another point: I never knew that Bulls games were such an attraction for underage ass. You would think Cubs games would be the go-to sporting events for jailbait in this town, and you’re probably right. But considering the U.C. isn’t exactly on the best side of town, Neil and I have both been really surprised at how many young girls go to these games by themselves. Honestly, the only thing that surprises us more is how drunk they get when we buy them one beer. Great investment for $5.50 guys.
**-By the mid-second quarter, Neil and I are discussing–loudly–our friend’s habit of letting his parents run his life despite being 31 years old. “Why’s John being such a pussy?”, I ask. “I don’t know, motherfucker…..he’s being a bitch.” Meanwhile, little James Naismith watches as Ben Gordon penetrates and puts up a wild layup attempt, missing badly. “He should of kicked it out to Noah!”, he says. “He was wide open from 22 feet!” Yes…..thats what the Bulls need. More perimeter opportunities for Joakim Noah.
**-Speaking of Noah, during a timeout, the Bulls do a ‘get-to-know-you’ thing with Joakim on the scoreboard. One of the questions is ‘Whats your dream job?’ Noah answers, ‘I’d like to run a fruit stand.’ Really? You’re making millions of dollars a year at age 22 playing a sport for a living, and your dream job is selling peaches to tourists for 20 dollars a day? Neil and I are stunned into silence by this.
**-The half ends with a crazy Bulls run, and suddenly the potent Chitown hoops club is up 68-55 at the intermission. The crowd is stunned, as are Neil and I. Little Naismith proclaims that this is what the Bulls should of been doing all along, “Just shooting.” What an offensive mastermind. “It also helps that they’re shooting 64 percent,” I say to Neil. Little Naismith seems upset, but Neil and I are too determined to get more beer.
**-While walking around the concourse during the half, a Bulls fan gets to really enjoy the wide variety of legal ass in the building. It must be the high-priced seats, but the hot soccer moms are out in full force during Friday and Saturday night games.
**-Neil decides to get in the Sweet Treats line for some halftime ice cream. “You’re gay,” I proclaim, and I leave him there to go back to our seats. As the third quarter starts, the Bulls are on fire, opening up a 20-point lead. Meanwhile, the couple sitting in front of us AND little Naismith and his family are all gone. Neil and I must have really been on our game.
**-By the time Neil comes back, the third quarter is almost over. With room to stretch out and only our friends, the fellow season ticket holders, around us, Neil and I get comfortable and loud. “This wouldn’t be happening if Fat Lever were still here,” I deadpan, loudly. “Where’s Alex English? I wanted to talk to him about his groundbreaking role in ‘Amazing Grace and Chuck!”, Neil says, exasperated. The NBA junkies sitting around us love it; others, not so much.
**-Meanwhile, the game has become the most exciting Bulls game Neil and I have been to since 1997. The Bulls are up 101-87 after three, and both teams are just running up and down the court, shooting and dunking. The guys a few rows behind us are good and drunk, and are thrilled because the Bulls have scored 100 and we now get free Big Macs. “I’m trying to get fed, fool!” and “I haven’t had a free Big Mac since that chickenhead I used to fuck was working the fryer back in 92!” are among the statements made. There really is nothing like the 300 level at a Bulls game. Neil and I are very excited that someone used the word ‘chickenhead’. Its about time that word came back.
(A “quick” story about that game in 97: the Bulls were playing the Sonics the year after they met in the Finals. The Bulls won in overtime as Michael hit two free throws after a, shall we say, suspicious foul call on Gary Payton with about a second left. It was a great game, but what made it really great were the other things that happened that night. We went with two girls, one of whom got the tickets from her dad’s work. The seats were awesome, in the 100 level just in front of the private suites. In fact, our seats were just in front of the suite used by Michael’s family, and we even got to talk to his mother. I think I thanked her for having her son. She was nice, saying “Ahhh…you’re welcome, sweetie,” and then I’m sure she called security. Also, the two girls we went with got on the big screenb during two seperate timeouts, mostly because one of them had blond hair and a huge rack. Then, after the game, Neil’s friend–who worked as a ballboy–asked us if we wanted to stand just outside the locker room and meet the players as they came out.
So we got down there, and we saw all the great players in that game come out, one by one. Payton, Shawn Kemp, Scottie, Rodman…..all of them. I shook hands with the great Luc Longley and told him ‘Great game Luc.’ I think he had about 6 points. He said “Thanks mate.” Yeah…..’mate.’ My girlfriend at the time, who we shall call ‘Hungry’, got a picture with George Karl. We saw Scottie’s woman go into the locker room and later come out with him, and needless to say she was ridiclously hot. But finally, the moment we had been waiting for…….Michael came out. My hero, three feet away. I don’t know if you’ve ever been around someone that famous, but if you’re not prepared for the experience, you swallow your tongue. You can’t say anything. Eventually, the big breasted blond yells out, in her whiter than white suburban girl voice, “Great game, buddy!” to Michael. Easily the funniest shit ever, as about 25 people then laughed and mocked her. Then, as we were leaving, we had to walk past G.P. and his family and friends, and I actually bumped into him. Remember, he was called for a bullshit foul that cost his team the game about an hour earlier. He gave me a look, and I honestly thought I was going to be on the news. ‘Idiot bumps into the Glove; gets knocked the fuck out….story at 10’. But I said “Sorry,” avoided eye contact, and just kept moving. All in all, a solid experience.)
**-Back to the Bulls-Nugs game. Even as Denver’s J.R. Smith continues to hit crazy shot after crazy shot, the Nuggets can’t get any closer than 6 down the stretch. The Bulls score over 30 in every quarter, winning 135-121. Its their highest total in a regulation game since 1998. Ben Gordon scored 37, while Thomas and Noah combined for 31 points, 21 rebounds, 5 blocks, and about 10 dunks. Melo and A.I both played well also. Easily the best game of the year for the Bulls. Good times.