My reflections of Chicago have been rather serious for the most part and there will be a few more of that nature on the way. All of which makes what was a really fun trip sound like a super somber affair. It wasn’t. So let’s break things up with a story from the tale end of the trip: seeing the Chicago Bulls take on the Boston Celtics.
Thanks to the magic of WGN on cable, I was a Chicago Bulls fan as a child. The fact that they had Michael Jordan probably didn’t hurt matters.
Sidenote #1: Here’s a story that reflects how awesome my brother and I thought Jordan was (“was” being the operative word because he’s apparently a huge tool; unbelievable basketball player though). One night, we were watching the NBA Finals and the whistle blew a play dead. Jordan had the ball, walked away from the basket, and casually tossed it over his shoulder. Swish. The ball went in. The next day, Taylor, our friend Josh, and I went to the basketball courts at White Oak Conference Center and spent a hour or two trying to replicate this—in the eyes of a bunch of kids—amazing feat. I think the two-handed backwards granny shot was the only thing that actually hit pay dirt for any of us.
I haven’t actively rooted for a NBA team since the Charlotte Hornets packed up for the Big Easy. Even still, I have a soft spot for the Bulls. When I saw that they would be playing the Celtics at home while we were in Chicago, I floated the idea to EA. I didn’t think it would go anywhere because my wife, though wonderful, is not really a big basketball fan. But the fact that it was two of the marquee teams in the NBA and that we probably wouldn’t have the opportunity again, she readily agreed.
Sidenote #2: We pulled for the Bulls; soft spot and everything. But before the game, I mentioned to EA that I didn’t really have a beef with the Celtics. When we got to the United Center, I remembered watching a Bulls-Celtics playoff game in one of those years before Chicago got over the hump and into the Finals. I watched it in my grandparents’ den and I want to say it was like a triple overtime game. Anyway, Larry Bird hit a shot at the buzzer to send it to another OT. Replays showed that he didn’t quite get the ball off in time, but there was no overturning baskets back then and Boston went on to win. I was so upset. It was a like a mini sports-related Job moment for young Chris. I think that memory helped me enjoy Chicago’s comeback victory a little more.
The game was great. Chicago, playing without reigning MVP Derrick Rose, was down 13 in the first half. But Luol Deng had an incredible second half and led the charge for a 93-86 Bulls victory. It was exciting up to the end and even the entertainment in between plays was good: dancing drumlines, acrobats, guys flying off of trampolines and dunking the ball. A good time was had. But it also introduced another member into my lineup of “People You Don’t Want to Sit Near at a Sporting Event.” I’ll start with the first two before moving on to the newest member we picked up in the Windy City.
1. The Obnoxious Opposing Fan
This did not happen at the Bulls game, but it does happen at virtually every Braves game I go to. This is the guy who is obviously pulling for the other team, but whereas some would quietly blend in and subtly cheer the team on, this guy (and it’s always a guy) acts like every positive play for his team is the greatest thing to happen in the existence of sports. Typically, this individual is a fan of frequent profanity. He is also the guy that will be heckled by drunk fans if the home team pulls it out in the end. This has happened enough that I can typically deal with it, the exception being when it happens at Furman football games. Because at Paladin Stadium, there is a home side and a visitor’s side. It’s obvious you are coming over to our side just to mock us. Poor form.
2. The Know-It-All
This is the person who—despite the fact that they obviously do not have a career playing or coaching the sport you are watching—believes they know far more about the game than anyone out on the court/field. For years, I referred to these folks as the “C’mon Bobbies” because my two favorite sports teams were coached/managed by guys named Bobby and so they would frequently yell “C’mon Bobby!” at games. The frustrating thing about these guys (again, almost always guys) is that they typically display less knowledge of the sport than the average fan. There was a Know-It-All sitting behind us at the Bulls game, but they left for better seats at halftime allowing for #3 to take the spotlight.
3. The Increasingly-Drunk, Overly-Invested, Ill-Informed Girlfriend
This individual does not know a lot about sports (this female in particular; there are many women that know a lot about sports, I’m lucky to be married to one of them), but they realize it is important to their date and so they try to take an interest. That’s not the problem. That should be saluted. The problem comes when you throw copious amounts of alcohol into the mix. Suddenly, every play becomes life and death. Missed baskets evoke language that would make a hardened sailor blush. But because the individual does not really have a handle on the game, they also fly off the handle at completely mundane things. When they are not getting unreasonably upset, they’re busy making out with their date. So you’re sitting there cringing at the profanity and uncomfortable PDA while beers continue to spill at your feet. All of this, by the way, is totally the dude’s fault because he is buying her round after round.
We had two IDOIIIGs on our row; one on each side of us. After the game, the one next to me grazed me with her elbow, which led to this exchange:
Dude: You just elbowed that guy!
IDOIIIG: I’m so sorry, guy! I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to, guy.
Me: It’s not a problem.
IDOIIIG: I’m so sorry, guy. Really guy. I’m really, really sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you guy.
Dude: Really, it’s okay. I’m fine.
IDOIIIG: Okay, good. Because I’m really, really sorry guy. I don’t know what happened. Guy, I’m so sorry.
Dude: Don’t let her off the hook like that, man.
Me: Really, it’s not a big deal.
IDOIIIG: Guy, I’m so sorry.
Hey, at least, she was apologetic. I probably should have gotten Enabling, Unchivalrous Boyfriend to apologize instead.
Even still, it was a great game. Fun times all around.