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Why I’m a fan of the Chicago Bulls: it started long before Doug McDermott

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In celebration of SBNation’s site refresh, let’s get to our roots

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“Doug McDermott, right?”

Christ, I’ve never shuttered more after hearing a question.

For the past two and a half years that was the question posed to me when people discovered I was a Bulls fan and blogger. If you’ve lived in Omaha and experienced the Dougie, it would seem to be the most logical reason for such fandom.

But alas, that’s not where my Bulls fandom originated. Rather it begun nearly 27 years ago, many moons before Doug was even being held as a baby in his parents arms. Creighton basketball not nearly being the program that it turned into during the new millennium.

You see, growing up in Nebraska especially during the 1990’s, there was only one thing to care about; the Nebraska Cornhuskers, the college football juggernaut who ruled the era. In Nebraska, there are no professional sports it teams if you’re not familiar with the state. To us, their football program is our professional sports team.

Nebraska football to others, was not the same for me. Sure I wore my Husker red on Saturday’s with the family, but my sole attention in this period of my life was on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.

Why would this be the case knowing what I just told you? I’d like to chalk it up to my father giving me Jordan’s as my first pair of baby shoes.

First pair of Jordan’s.

Ok, that may not be entirely the case, I’d like to think so though. But you see, growing up in the 90’s there was only one thing, and that was Jordan and the Bulls. They ruled the sports world, and I was completely, and utterly infatuated with them.

Once they captured their first three-peat, there was pennant hanging on my wall, which I still have to this day. The pennant had the jerseys with their numbers on them and by four or five I remember being able to go through each of them and name the player.

In 1996 I vividly remember watching Jordan collapse to the floor cradling the ball after they won their fourth title on Father’s Day.

I threw up a double fist pump as Jordan did after he hit Steve Kerr just below the top of the key for the go ahead bucket in 1997. And I jumped out of my bed as Scottie Pippen dove on the floor, stealing the inbounds pass on the ensuing possession, pushing it ahead to Toni Kukoc to secure their fifth title.

On my eighth birthday my father surprised me with tickets to see the Bulls and Jordan in what was presumed his final season. We traveled to Chicago for the game, of course stopping at Jordan’s own restaurant prior. The food there was shit, that I do remember.

At Michael Jordan’s restaurant.

They played the Wizards that night, and I had made a sign on red poster paper hoping to be seen. I bought a program from the game, and of course grabbed a foam finger which I still have to this day. I don’t remember specifics of the game, but I’ll be damned if I don’t remember Sirius by The Alan Parsons Project blaring during pregame intros, the running of the Bulls video and the names of the starting lineup being displayed on the court in neon lights.

And I sat the edge of my bed, crying hysterically as I watched Jordan crossover Byron Russell at the free throw, holding his follow-through ever so perfectly after hitting his final shot as a Chicago Bull, with Bob Costas narrating.

The Chicago Bulls completely consumed my life growing up. Reading the box scores after school from the night prior. Watching the Bulls on WGN and NBA on TNT during weeknights with my father, then the NBA on NBC on the weekends.

When the band broke up following the sixth title, I still remained infatuated with the organization in the years following. I had experienced so much to that point being fan, absolutely spoiled to witness the championships and talent. I guess I had hoped, and well, still hope, that someday I’ll be able to experience that thrill of watching the Bulls hoist another trophy, raise a banner in the Madhouse on Madison. Maybe even attend the parade down Michigan Ave, and watch the players address the crowd in Grant Park.

That seems extremely bleak these days, but hey, at least I can revert back to the feeling I had as a kid growing up in the 90’s.

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