If you’ve never been to a Bulls game at the United Center, know that regardless of the on court product, it’s almost always an entertaining experience. Benny the Bull’s crowd gimmicks are hilarious, the timeout and halftime performers are consistently on point, and you truly haven’t become a Bulls fan until you’ve screamed out in support of Biggie Bagel during the Dunkin’ Donuts Race.
The icing on the cake, however, is that every now and then you’ll walk through the doors of the United Center and someone on staff will grant you with a free Bulls-themed present to take home. Some of these over the years have been fantastic, others have not. However, free stuff is free stuff; so to help the Bulls faithful identify which souvenirs are the best, I have compiled a “power rankings” of all the promotional opportunities the Bulls will have for their home games this season. Read on to find out which games are can’t miss matchups, if only for the party favors you’ll get to bring back with you after the contest:
18. Bud Light Giveaway (vs. Detroit, 03/22/2017)
No word yet on what this giveaway is actually going to be, so the lack of clarity places this one squarely at the back of the list. Bud Light will make four other appearances on this list anyway, so I think they can stomach residing at the rear of the rankings for now.
17. Comcast SportsNet Rajon Rondo Bobblehead (vs. Oklahoma City, 01/09/2017)
This one gets the penultimate spot on the list because it seems like a total waste of what I’m sure was one of the more expensive promotions on this list to generate. Why? Well, I imagine long-time Bulls fans are going to enjoy smashing this poor bobblehead with a sledgehammer when they get home after watching Russell Westbrook waltz his way through Rondo’s gamble-heavy defense to a triple-double. Maybe some will place it on the mantle next to their Kirk Hinrich bobblehead for comedy’s sake, but I can’t fathom anyone going home happy with one of these.
16. Blue Cross Blue Shield of IL Sunglasses and Case (vs. Cleveland, 12/02/2016)
Timing is an important factor to consider with these promotions, and this one has perhaps the worst coordination of the bunch. Who wears sunglasses in Chicago during December? The sky is stuck grey until at least March, and the snowfalls are guaranteed to water up the lenses. But hey, at least you get a case to keep them safe until you start wearing them after the regular season ends!
15. Mariano’s Cup (vs. Atlanta, 01/25/2017)
Not sure if this is going to be a coffee cup mug with the Mariano’s logo or a literal cup of sauce from one of their in-grocery-store restaurants. Either way, questionable decision to say the least.
14. United Schedule Magnet (vs. Indiana, 10/29/2016)
The most basic of all sports team promotion giveaways. Unfortunately, schedule magnets have lost considerable practical value in the 21st century thanks to instantaneous Internet access to all NBA schedules. My bet is this one will more than likely get relegated to your garage fridge.
13. Bud Light Red Light Glasses (vs. Boston, 10/27/2016)
These are cool in the moment for when the lights dim during the intro and you hear The Alan Parsons Project serenade your eardrums, but are you really going to wear these outside of the United Center? Maybe for your New Year’s Eve party if it’s in Chicago and you don’t want to invest in even crummier and less-practical glasses.
12. Athletico Youth Practice Jersey (vs. Dallas, 01/17/2017)
Giving away youth jerseys would be one thing, but practice jerseys? I would imagine there would be a plethora of adults that enjoy wearing these to pickup basketball games, but none of them will be able to fit into these given the youth size. And have you ever seen a kid get excited over a practice jersey? This one looks good on paper but in practice will probably be disappointing.
11. ZTE Headphones (vs. Los Angeles Clippers, 03/04/2017)
Look, I am all about earbuds. Especially free earbuds. My family has a cat that I love dearly but during his lifetime has probably chewed through ten pairs of them, so I can never get enough. But when I went searching on Amazon, I found the cheapest pair ZTE retails is $3.99. That’s a price that indicates quality comparable to the complimentary headphones you get on airline flights. I can’t imagine these hard-plastic nightmares are going to result in any sort of comfortable listening experience. Also, I just want to remind everyone that the Bulls gave ZTE a #1 Jersey a little over two months before they traded Derrick Rose.
10. BMO Hat Series Giveaway (six unique dates during the season)
Okay, here’s where the good free stuff starts. There will be six different games during the season that feature a hat giveaway, and one of them already happened versus the Knicks earlier in November. While we still don’t know what to expect from subsequent giveaways (other than the one Lopez is modeling above), here’s a picture of the first hat given out:
Hopefully, the Bulls will be smart and hand out winter hats rather than dad-caps during the cold months, otherwise the practicality of this promotion given the season suffers a significant hit.
9. Bud Light Cowboy Hat (vs. Houston, 03/10/2017)
This one could either be really great or really not great. If this ends up being one of those beer box cowboy hats made from recycled cases, then this instantly becomes a fun promotion and one worth keeping around for when drinking at home with your friends. However, if this is merely a plastic cowboy hat with the Bud Light logo splattered on it that looks like something a five-year-old wears to a birthday party, then this is doomed to be a failed promo given that it’s only available for fans 21 and older. Besides, when was the last time you saw a Chicagoan wearing a cowboy hat?
8. Advocare Health Care Breast Cancer Awareness T-Shirt (vs. Charlotte, 10/17/2016)
Are you peeved that you never can manage to catch one of those shirts that the giant Benny the Bull Blimp parachutes down from the rafters every game? Here’s your chance to go home happy with a shirt you can use for all sorts of casual purposes. Plus, who doesn’t support wearing breast cancer awareness garb?
7. Bud Light Bottle Opener Coaster (vs. Indiana, 10/08/2016)
If this was just a coaster, it would be nothing to shake a stick at. But slot a bottle opener on the coaster’s corner? Now we’re cooking with gas! I use this thing to crack open bottled beer for almost every Bulls game I don’t have to write a recap for, and I will hold on to it for the rest of my life. Low value, but a terrific promo regardless.
6. Constellation Go Green Jersey Tote Bag (vs. Orlando, 04/10/2017)
Reduce, reuse, recycle! Tote bags are always practical, and this is sure to be a hit with the Wrigleyville crowd that will undoubtedly frequent the Whole Foods on Halsted with it. Plus, the timing is great, as this is the last promo of the year before the start of summer, which means it can also be taken to a Lake Michigan beach or shopping around the city.
5. Bud Light St. Patrick’s Day Scarf (vs. Memphis, 03/15/2017)
I wanted to rank this one higher, but scarves lose some of their practicality when obtained after the worst of winter has already passed. That being said, scarves are still awesome, and this St. Patrick’s themed one comes two days before the holiday itself. Given the widespread festivities of Chicago on March 17th, this is a fantastic promotion gift that fans can wear with pride as they watch the green dye wreak its lovely havoc on the Chicago River.
4. Luvabulls Poster (vs. Minnesota, 12/13/2016)
Long live the Luvabulls. Are scantily-dressed cheerleaders a somewhat outdated commodity in a society where anyone right now can watch Kanye’s wife make the two-backed beast with Brandy’s brother? Probably. That being said, Chicago teams that have sworn off cheerleaders entirely aren’t exactly doing too great (I’m looking at you, Bears #BringBackTheHoneyBears), and the Luvabulls are just flat out stupendous dancers. Don’t believe me? Just watch:
If you’ve never seen team captain Ariana dance in person, you are depriving yourself of a privilege. Furthermore, if you don’t approve of the Luvabull Chicago Flag uniforms, then you are beyond saving. Regardless, fans are going to need something to lift their spirits after Thibs returns to the United Center and proceeds to wipe the floor with his old team. I think a Luvabulls poster will do just that.
3. TransUnion Dwyane Wade Bobblehead (vs. Philadelphia, 03/24/2017)
Who doesn’t love bobbleheads? Wade will forever be known primarily as a Miami Heat player and his Bulls career is barely a month old at his point, but it’s hard to turn down a free figure of one of the five best players at his position ever. Factor in that Wade is having his most prolific and efficient season from three point range in fourteen years, and you’ve got one hell of a gift to take home from this one. Let’s hope by the time this game rolls around that Father Prime has plenty of gas left in the tank for a playoff run.
2. Jewel Osco Jimmy Butler Bobblehead (vs. Toronto, 01/07/2017)
So what’s better than a bobblehead of a top five shooting guard in NBA history? How about a bobblehead of a top five player in the association right now. In case you haven’t quite been paying attention, Jimmy Butler and his magical football are currently hotter than the sun. If he can up his shooting on his two-pointers and hold steady from beyond the arc, Butler is going to be flirting with joining the 50/40/90 club at the end of the season. What’s most impressive is he’ll be teetering on such a remarkable offensive accomplishment while still remaining one of the NBA’s premier perimeter defenders. Jimmy Buckets will probably drop 30+ on the Raptors while holding DeMar DeRozan to 5-20 shooting from the field, and everyone in attendance will go home and place their complimentary bobblehead on the center of their sports memorabilia mantle.
1. Nikola Mirotic Chia Pet (vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 11/30/2016)
This is, by far, the funniest and greatest promotion item the Bulls are offering this season, possibly ever. Regardless of how you feel about Nikola Mirotic as a basketball player, it simply cannot be denied that the man has possessed a magnificent set of facial hair from the moment he stepped onto an NBA floor. Countless fans have watched him flaunt his beautiful beard with great admiration and jealousy, but now those latter feelings can finally be laid to rest. Fans of all ages, creeds and colors will be able to go home and grow their very own Mirotic beards. I look forward to watering this chia pet with my relentless tears of joy after Mirotic hits a game-winning three from thirty feet against the Lakers on Wednesday.