When I attended Indiana University, I encountered many people from Chicago. As far as sports fans in general and Bulls fans in particular, I didn't think much of them. Part of it was that I was cranky about having to watch the Colts and Bears every Sunday during NFL season and never got to see my Giants. Part of it was that I was a Knicks fan, and as such hated the Bulls with a passion and also came to believe that their fans were spoiled brats. (And not the kind you eat, although I hoped that they would eat some spoiled brats.)
Hey, if the Knicks had Michael Jordan, they would've won six championships, too. That was my attitude. (Plus, New York was better, so there.)
I went to a game at Wrigley Field with some college buddies one summer. This was when the Knicks were playing the Bulls in the second round and while Michael Jordan was trying to hit a curveball. We left the Cubs game early to watch the end of the Knicks-Bulls at the Cubby Bear. The Knicks won the game -- I believe it was the one with the awful call on Scottie Pippen resulting in the Hubert Davis free throws -- and I came pretty close to getting my head handed to me on a platter at the Cubby Bear. This is a favorite pastime of wise guys from Long Island; just ask Prisco.
So a couple of things: First, let this dispel the myth once and for all that I am some sort of Celtics fan. Never. As I've said, the only bad thing about being a sports writer is that you can't be a fan. You write what happens, write your opinion, and the only thing you root for is a good story. My laptop runneth over in this series, and so doth my newfound appreciaion of Chicago sports fans.
It's not just the loudness of the United Center; the Gah-den is every bit as loud, maybe louder. But from my press seat in section 115 -- great seats, by the way -- I noticed that Bulls fans aren't a bunch of drunken rowdies (although there was some of that.) They knew basketball. They were asking the writers about how many timeouts each team had left, why certain substitutions were being made, why a certain play was drawn up for this player as opposed to that one. When Rajon Rondo swiped Kirk Hinrich's layup off the rim and no goaltending call was made, a fan made eye contact with me and made the goaltending gesture. Yes, I nodded. Goaltending. He frowned.
So before I get on a plane and head home to repack my suitcase for Boston, where who-knows-what will happen next in this delicious display of basketball, I just wanted to give you Bulls fans a shout. You, you're much better than I thought.