FLASHBACK FRIDAY: A fun night at a Bulls game

Note: Once again, I am late with this feature! I had computer problems yesterday, so here is Flashback Friday on Saturday!

In 1991, the Chicago Bulls were at their peak. That year began a three-year winning streak, known as the first “three-peat”, with an all-star team including Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippin. Michael Jordan was becoming one of the most famous people in the world. It was said his name was known even in remote villages in underdeveloped areas of the world.

The Bulls, 1990-1991
                                                                                    The Chicago Bulls, 1990-1991

I had been living in the Chicago metropolitan area for two years and I was infected with “Bulls fever” along with everyone else, even though I wasn’t particularly a sports fan. I had always liked basketball, but not enough to watch an entire game on TV.
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At that time in my life, I was in transition. I had filed for divorce from my first husband a couple of months earlier, but he still lived with me – temporarily, while he looked for a job to support himself and an apartment to live in. It was a very awkward situation because I was looking at the future as full of possibilities and opportunities. A time to cast off old prejudices and resentments and to try things that were new and different.
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A woman at my job was trying to set me up with a friend of hers, twice divorced and fighting a bitter custody battle for his two-year-old son. Stan (all the names of non-famous people have been changed) was the opposite of me: a sports fanatic, he enjoyed fishing, fixing things, country music, playing the guitar and writing songs. He was not intellectual, but was crazy and fun-loving. Fun was what I sorely lacked and needed more than anything. And I was drawn to Stan because we were both vulnerable. Probably not the best basis for a relationship.
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My first Bulls game was on April 5, 1991. Stan and I double dated with my friend from work, Lisa, and her husband, Joe. They didn’t actually have tickets to the game, which were prohibitively expensive. Plenty of people with limited resources relied upon “scalped” tickets. If you got to Chicago Stadium early enough and cased the parking lot, there were plenty of scalpers around who would sell you tickets for a reasonable price.
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Lisa and I waited in her car while Stan and Joe went to look for “the brothers”, apparently a couple of well-known scalpers. While waiting for the guys to come back, we gossiped about people at work – entertaining, but I began to get antsy. Where were they? I was worried the game was going to start before we got in! When they returned, they explained Joe looked like a cop known to “the brothers”, so they were scared off, and they had only managed to acquire two tickets in the upper balcony, seats one in front of the other. Doing the gentlemanly thing, they gave the tickets to Lisa and me, while they stood in the back. In spite of not having tickets, it was apparently easy to get into the stadium if you got in by 7:45. During half-time, Stan bought us hot dogs and cokes, while the two of them drank beer.
chicago_stadium
We had missed the first part of the game waiting to get tickets, but it was worth it. Watching Michael Jordan play from our view in the balcony was amazing – he was like a dancer weaving his way across the court, sidestepping the opposing team’s players. It was something I would never have noticed had I watched the game on TV. Slam dunks are highlight moments, and cool to watch wherever you are, but the subtleties of the game are easily missed without being close to the action. And there is always the atmosphere at the game, excited fans all around, shouting, waving banners and red & black pom-poms, the noise of the buzzers, the squeaking of the players’ shoes on the floor, and even the smell – indoor sports events have a particular smell, a combination of sweat, stale indoor air, beer – even the ball, the net and the floor exude their own odor.
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The game got exciting toward the end, as the Bulls closed in on San Antonio’s nearly 20-point lead. Jordan was superb to watch and so was No. 14 (Craig Hodges), who threw several long shots (3 points each). However, San Antonio won the game 110-107. I didn’t care – it was close, exciting – FUN.
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chicago-bulls-logoThe Bulls won their first championship title that year, with 61 wins and 21 losses in the regular season, 15-2 in the playoffs. It was their first NBA championship in their 25 year history, and they were the first team to go on to win 3 in a row – TWICE. Michael Jordan was voted NBA’s Most Valuable Player for the second year in a row and won his fifth consecutive top-scoring title, reaching the 15,000 point mark.
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When we left, we passed by a souvenir stand and Lisa said, “Oh, look, Katy, they have the T-shirts you wanted.”
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“Don’t be silly, I can’t afford a T-shirt,” I said and we kept walking.
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As we crossed the street, I noticed Stan was no longer with us – he was back at the souvenir stand!
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He came running up with 2 pennants, one for himself & one for me. From a guy like him, that was like receiving a bouquet of flowers! Stan was the type to never allow a woman to pay for anything on a date, and I realized he had spent $50 on me that day! I put the pennant up in my bedroom, and whenever I looked at it, I remembered that evening as one of the first days that I’d had fun in a long time.

1990s_Chicago_Bulls_PennantTo read up on this amazing basketball team, I recommend:

The History of the Chicago Bulls - a book by Roland Lazenby
The History of the Chicago Bulls – a book by Roland Lazenby

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