Tony Snell Graduates from Chest Bump University!


Sometimes, players’ careers are defined by their blunders and not their achievements. For all his skill, talent and accomplishments, Chris Webber is still remembered his technical causing time-out in the 1993 NCAA Men’s Championship game against North Carolina. Billy Buckner’s 20 year baseball career included an All-Star appearance, Batting Title, and over 2,700 career hits; yet Buckner will always be remembered for his fielding error in game 6 of the 1986 World Series.

Tony Snell, the second year player for the Chicago Bulls, was in danger of leaving behind a legacy consisting solely of an ill-performed, celebratory chest bump with teammate Joakim Noah. During the Bulls’ February 28th meeting against the Dallas Mavericks, Noah headed towards the bench with excitement after putting the Bulls up 95-87 with 42 seconds left in the game. Tony Snell hopped off the bench to greet the players on the court with celebratory and welcoming high-fives. Noah saw Tony, locked eyes and jumped to celebrate with the rookie; One problem however, Snell did not commit to the celebration.

Deflated, disappointed and upset with the rookie Joakim walked to the bench with a look of disgust on his face, shaking his head and glaring back at the young Tony Snell.

This was now Tony Snell’s legend. After 3 years of NCAA basketball and a year in the league, the most memorable moment of Snell’s career is a failed chest-bump celebration. Webber was a 5x NBA All-Star and 5x All-NBA honoree, yet even with all that success Webber never lived down the time-out technical.

Is this what we will remember Snell for? Will his legacy and memory live on in the form of a failed celebration?

The road to creating a new legacy will be long and strenuous, yet hope remains for Snell. In the Bulls second pre-season game against Detroit on Tuesday night, Snell showed that his entire summer wasn’t dedicated to basketball, at least some of it went in to enhancing his celebrations.

After sinking two free throws with 1.2 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to tie the game Tony Snell headed back towards the bench after a Detroit time-out. Joakim Noah popped up off the bench and started heading towards Snell with a wide grin on his face.

Then, it was as if time slowed down; the lights dimmed around the arena with only spot lights following Noah and Snell. Both players were moving in slow motion towards one another. Over the arena’s PA system the theme song from Chariots of Fire began playing. As the two players approached one another they simultaneously leapt and spun in the air with the synchronization of two gold medal figure skaters. As they collided in celebration, fireworks shot off around the stadium and the crowd rose to their feet. It didn’t matter that it was an away game, the crowd knew they were witnessing one of the greatest redemption stories of our time and they couldn’t help but get swept up in the moment. Tom Thibodeau proved that he’s not a robot, as humanity and emotion took over with a single tear rolling down his cheek.

As the players landed Tony Snell stood up straight and walked defiantly towards the bench, the weight and burden of his previous mistake finally lifted off his shoulders. He could now begin again with a clean slate and new opportunity to re-write his legacy.

Actually it went down like this, but it was still awesome.