Basement of a Bull – Series Premiere

By: Bryan Kristov

Journal Entry – November 24th, 2017

I’m done with the Bulls. Absolutely done with them!

I’m writing this late on a Friday night, technically Saturday morning. I left the bar early so I could come home and watch the Bulls against the Golden State Warriors. I was excited to see where we stacked up against the best team since MJ’s Bulls. Even with the gap in talent, there is still a sense of pride–or at least there was in the Thibs era– whenever we lined up against a top dog.

And I knew we had no fricken chance, but I thought maybe we could catch them by surprise. Play really hard on a night when the Warriors might be taking it easy. I’ve seen the Magic beat the Cavs, I’ve seen it in college basketball, you’ll have schools I’ve never even heard of beat a North Carolina or Kentucky, so why not us? Why can’t Hoiberg pull that kind of upset off in November?

When they announced the starting lineup, I thought ok, now we might really have a chance. No Durant. No Draymond Green. We only had to face two of the Big Four.

End of first quarter, we’re up 32-29. Great. But I guess that’s all we had in the tank. Second quarter we give up 45 points. 45! We go from being up by 3 to down 74-53.

But hey, I was still optimistic. You have to be with the Bulls. Let’s find the positives. Alright, scoring fifty-three points in a half, that’s really good. Yeah, the glass is half-full.

I’ve been trying to be optimistic with the Bulls all the way back to that first year without Michael. I used to tell my friends Eddie Curry was going to be a dominant force, just you wait. When we drafted Luol Deng I said Luol is like no player the league has ever seen before. He’s going to be the best defender in NBA history. I even have two Andres Nocioni jerseys hanging in my closet; one from the Bulls, one from Argentina. I’ve had both jerseys listed on eBay for 12 years.

I heated up a frozen pizza at halftime but left the cardboard on the bottom. It was just the beginning of more disappointment. That third quarter we might as well have just stayed in the locker room. They outscored us 36-13. Thirteen points in a quarter!? I feel like Steph Curry can rack up thirteen points in the matter of a bathroom break.

We were down 110-66. What a joke. I feel like a college team would have kept it closer. And it could have been worse! What if they had Durant and Draymond? Hell, they might have put up 200!

Find the positive, find the positive. I guess we held them under 150? Woo-hoo!

I’m done. What’s the point of watching this team anymore? We are now 3-14. The season’s over and it hasn’t even been 20 games.

And the front office continues to screw us over. Thibs: Gone. Joakim Noah: Gone. Rose, yeah, granted, injuries and stuff, but he gone too.

Then the unforgivable move, trading away Jimmy Butler.

Butler was my favorite Bull since Jordan. I really mean that. When I heard he was in trade talks with Minnesota my first thought, “This can’t be true.” When I saw more and more headlines, I began to kind of accept it. But my thinking was, “We better be getting back Towns or Wiggins. And draft picks. And Shabazz Mohammed. I won’t do that deal without Shabazz Mohammed.”

Answer: none of the above. An injured Zack Lavine? Kris Dunn? A rookie named Lauren? Who?? I should have quit being a fan right there. That was the worst trade ever.

Then I looked at the Timberwolves. You got Thibs as the general barking orders on the sidelines. Jimmy Butler. Taj Gibson. They’ve even got Jamal Crawford, another one of my favorite Bulls. I was at that game when he scored 50 against the Raptors. My girlfriend at the time said that was a waste of time and money, how many times are we going to be in Toronto and you’re making us go to a Bulls game? We can do that any time back home.

I think Jamal Crawford’s 50 proved me right. But right or not, that was the last Bulls game me and Lorraine Popadopolopolous ever went to, together.

I look at this current Timberwolves roster, THEY should be my team. They are more of a true Bulls team than whatever the hell GarPax put together this season.

What’s holding me back?

The day after we went up 2-0 on the Boston Celtics in last year’s playoffs I went out and bought a massive big screen TV. I was ready to see the Rondo/Wade/Butler era in hi-def.

But then Rondo got hurt. Celtics won the next four. Wade left. Butler traded.

I haven’t thrown out the big cardboard box. “Wiley’s Electronics, Gadgets, and Bath Bombs” over on Ashland has a generous 250-day trial period, bring it back if you don’t like it, full refund, no questions asked.

Ultimately I decided to keep the TV. Mainly for watching my collection of Lost DVDs. You just can’t beat Lost in stunning 1080p.

I looked over at the box and now viewed it as a storage unit. A place to house anything representing the Chicago Bulls. I carefully wrapped up my Scottie Pippen and Brad Miller Bobbleheads. I must have gathered at least 15 Bulls t-shirts. I put in both of my Nocioni jerseys. Threw in my black and red Jordans. I debated on those ones, but probably best to put them in storage anyways, keep the value.

I rolled up two posters on my wall. One had all six trophies, a big picture of the team. The other is that iconic Jordan last second shot out in Utah. I put away the rubber ducky shaped like Benny the Bull. I put in the shoebox of trading cards, ticket stubs, a handwritten letter I got back from Luc Longley. I found the CD Space Jam soundtrack, another one on the borderline of Bulls or not. But it counts. Throw it in.

I made one last run through my bedroom, went through the drawers. At the bottom of one of my t-shirt piles was the first jersey I’ve ever owned. Bulls red. Number 23. Big block letters JORDAN on the back. I remember Christmas morning, opening that box, my mom and dad smiling, I instantly threw off my shirt, put on the jersey. Ran around the house. I found a little basketball and dunked on a little hoop. Tongue sticking out and everything.

I took it out of the drawer, held the jersey in my hands. All of those memories. Six championships! Watching games with my parents. I used to yell horrible things at John Stockton, something I still feel terrible about to this day. If I ever get the chance to meet that man in person, I just want to shake his hand, tell him I’m sorry. I was too young and too much of a Bulls fan to appreciate his greatness. Same with Karl Malone.

I was like every other kid in Chicago in the 80’s and 90’s. I wanted to be Michael Jordan. I wanted to play for the Chicago Bulls. I’d pretend I was MJ in the driveway. MJ, top of the key, three-two-one, he shoots, he scores! The crowd goes wild!!

But that jersey, that era, those happy memories, those are all a thing of the past. That is not anywhere close to what I just witnessed against Golden State.

All things must pass, right? Isn’t that a phrase?

With a heavy sigh, and yeah, I’ll admit, a tear or two, I folded the jersey up, tossed it in the box.

It was a good run, Chicago. Thank you for the memories.

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