- I thought it was pretty neat how the FedEx forum was in the middle of downtown. Especially in an afternoon game, there were plenty of places to go eat/drink (special thanks to Zack of 3ShadesofBlue for the recommendations) before and after the game. I'm not sure it would work that well in Chicago, as it's colder during basketball season, and people would just bitch about the lack of parking. The arena itself is very nice, not exactly small but certainly more intimate than the cavernous UC. They had the same in-game entertainment you'll see anywhere, with a special wrinkles including an in-house band inside the arena (not the concourse), and a T-Shirt gatling gun that shot a half-dozen shirts in 4 seconds.
- Bought tickets outside from an, er, independent ticket reseller. Sat about 20 rows up diagonally from the Bulls bench. Not close enough to hear them in the huddle or anything, and the game was so boring and they were behind the whole time, so it wasn't really conducive to that much interaction. I believe Thabo had some rah-rah stuff near the end, if that adds to your opinion of him. The breakout personality of the night was Tyrus Thomas:
- He not only was practicing dunks in the layup line (at the half he went way up after being physically lifted by Aaron Gray), he even came over to the Memphis line at halftime to tip in one of their shots.
- During one of the timeouts he was excitedly chatting up the bench, none of which didn't seem to happy about it, but weren't waving him off either.
- As the team came out on the court at the end of the Boyz II Men halftime show (yes, they were the halftime show. Sweet.) Tyrus pantomimed to 'End of the Road', and when the crowd applauded the concert he acknowledged the cheers as his own.
- All of the above almost made up for his missed dunks and yet another goaltend (a recent and weird trend for him). What I did learn is that he certainly doesn't seem down on himself.
- The comments in the game thread here made it seem like the place was empty, but it was actually better attended than I expected. I'm guessing it looked bad because the season ticket holders are on the lower level, and they were a lot of no-shows in that area. But the upper decks were pretty full. Tickets were well discounted and likely given away in a lot of spots, as MLK day seems like their signature game. Had pregame and halftime acknowledgements of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bob Lanier, as well as a video tribute to Dr. King. (And did I mention Boyz II Men?)
- As suspected, Grizzlies fans do not like Pau Gasol (who they do like: Miller, Navarro, and Gay). He sure looked like crap during the game, which didn't help. One fan next to me kept saying they'd be happy to send him to Chicago, and that he earned the nickname of 'GassHole'. In the 2nd half when Pau was isolated with the ball, the fans collectively made a sound similar to what the UC sounds like when Wallace has the ball. I told Griz fans that we'd still be happy to take him, as he seems to have all the characteristics needed to be considered a Bull.
- As far as in game observations, Deng just didn't look right, and it seems that hurt or not, he never recognizes that in the worst starting lineup in the league, he's one of the few viable scoring options. As a group (per usual) the team missed way too many gimmees. In the first half the only good performance was Hinrich's first stint, and in general he seemed happy to be actually guarded by someone much smaller than him (Conley). Nocioni was abysmal in the first half, and I used his hot shooting in the 4th as evidence to try and sell Griz fans on his awesomeness. Between him and Gordon, the team was actually hitting plenty of shots in the 2nd half, but the defense fell apart. Like the Bulls, I was watching the ball during the many lob-dunks they gave up, so I'm not sure who exactly to blame. Just another collective suckfest, but at least I saw it a new place, or something.