Last night, I was fortunate enough to attend the Chicago Bulls versus Brooklyn Nets game at the United Center. It was the first time I had gone to a game in eight years, the second game in my life. As both teams had similar records in a closely competitive Eastern Conference, it was almost a guarantee to experience an exciting game. And it truly was, but it was more than just because of the game. It was exciting because of who I have become.
For as long as I can remember, I have had some sort of interest in basketball. As time went on, that interest only increased, developed into a love, and turned into a passion. I would now consider myself a die hard Bulls fan, and it because of this that being able to experience the Bulls-Nets game live at the Madhouse was so great.
I did not have the best seats for the match-up as I sat in the 300 level a couple of rows from the last row. Even so, the view was still great, and it was easy to get the full effect of it all. To just see the hardwood of the UC in person left me speechless. I could not believe that I was truly there. I have seen the court on television hundreds of times, so it just felt surreal to see what it really looked like. The colors on the court. The shininess. The sidelines. The baselines. They were all how they appeared on TV, but somehow, it was different, but in a good way. And the same goes for the atmosphere.
All of the lights, the sounds, the people: they all contribute to the overall event. The Bulls’ starting lineup announcements are great, even by just experiencing it through a TV broadcast, but it is even better in person. Benny the Bull is standing at center court waving around that big ol’ Bulls flag while the starting lineup video plays on the JumboTron. Lights and Bulls logo graphics are projected onto the court moving around. Tommy Edwards introduces each starter. The crowd roars, and the team huddles together before their pursuit to victory. It all comes together. Everything at once all in one large, darkened sports venue. It introduces and sets the tone for the actual game.
The start of the game was not very good for Chicago, but despite that, it was interesting to go through. You knew that you were not alone. The Nets would score while the Bulls would struggle. Not only would you find it upsetting, but you could hear the crowd respond as well. Everyone else was on your side, going through what you were. It brought everyone together. And it would remain that way when things got better. Everyone is just as mesmerized by the game as you, cheering along with you, rooting for the same purpose. There is also that one guy yelling for the chance of getting a free Big Mac, rooting for any Bull to score for the sake of satisfying their appetite for a fast food burger. You just are not going to find that everyday.
As for the game itself, it is even more exhilarating than experiencing it in any other way for the sole reason that you are apart of the moment. Up close and personal, you see it with your own eyes, hear it with your own ears. To see Tom Thibodeau walk up and down the sideline and never sit down, Luol Deng bring his defense, Joakim Noah viciously block Gerald Wallace’s shot, Carlos Boozer bury a fadeaway jumper, Nate Robinson knock down a three, Jimmy Butler throw down an alley-oop, Kirk Hinrich hitting a three just seconds after yelling out, “Hinrich Maneuver,” there is nothing like that, because it is all apart of your own experience. Your presence is in the same arena as them. There is nothing in the way of it.
Being at the United Center to watch the Bulls play allows you to experience every single aspect of the game. Your own eyes see professional basketball players do what they do best. You see the reactions and gestures they make. You hear the whistles and voices with your own ears. You smell the stench of beer from surrounding fans rooting for the same thing you are. It all comes together. Chicago’s fans, the passion the Bulls play with, the antics during breaks, all go on at the United Center, an the fact that you actually get to be apart of it all is what makes going to watch games live unforgettable. Someday, I hope to go back and re-experience it all over again, and I suggest everyone else do so too.