What up, Bulls Nation. Apologies again for my absence from writing recently. Whereas the GarPax Bulls of old drove the fuel of my pen to light paper on fire, their current malaise of mediocrity has me feeling despondent and detached, devoid of hope or even rage. It’s a sad truth, but it is the truth. And whatever is going on with our beloved Bulls, I will always owe y’all the truth. You give us yours, on top of your support. Besides, I can’t remotely pretend to feel differently. If you were tuning into our show for the last month or so of the season, you saw it. I was done.
But sometimes, when a door closes … something about a window. I don’t know Bible verses. Wild read from what I hear, though.
It’s the Pecking Order.
I was cruising down the Kennedy with my buddy on Monday night, watching on my phone from the passenger seat as our CHGO Blackhawks crew did their live show during the NHL Draft Lottery. [Cruising as best we could, given the current state of that godforsaken highway. Why must we go through this Chicago construction bullshit on an endless loop? The price we pay to live in the greatest city in the world, I suppose.]
Anyway … I watched as my buddies Greg, Mario and Jay erupted in euphoria with the revealing of that Blackhawks logo tied to the #1 pick in this year’s NHL Draft. Leaps, hugs, high fives … and Mario’s red-faced screaming that made my brain say, “shit, Matt, is that how people see you behaving all the time?” Good for Mario, though. I’m never ashamed of that behavior, either. I’ve always believed that true sports fans wear their hearts on their sleeves…and through their vocal cords. The real ones know that it – whether “it” is a touchdown or a three-pointer or winning the pick to draft a franchise-changing talent – means everything. So treat it that way. Live in that moment and let it overtake every single fiber in your body. Why else are we doing this?
The joy that I saw our CHGO Blackhawks crew share together in that moment, along with our producers Lawrence and Stephen, is what it’s all about. It’s the same level of passion you saw if you watched Braggs and our CHGO Bears crew react live on air to the Texans’ miraculous last second victory over the Colts in Week 18, thus securing the No. 1 pick for Da Bears. It’s the same passion that caused me to break down into tears as Big Dave, Will, Joey and I relived my “holy shit I met Joakim” moment while we were in Paris. It’s the same passion that had Herb and Sean tearing the White Sox apart for their TLR incompetence last season, and has Cody chugging beers out of plastic bats after every Cubs win this season.
We’re all a little crazy. In some cases, a LOT crazy. But those shared moments, within our CHGO family and with our wider family of Chicago sports fans everywhere, are the truest victories we have. Win or lose, draft luck or draft suck, sweep the series or get swept, we’re in it together. And when the moment goes our way, we bask in that glory as a family. I watched Mario, Greg and Jay explode with happiness as the Hawks won the draft lottery, and I felt like I was watching my brothers thrive in a defining moment. It was awe-inspiring and beautiful.
And sure, all of us Chicago sports fans would prefer that those awe-inspiring moments had more to do with playoff wins than draft picks. It’s been pretty rough for the last six years across the board. But there’s an ebb and flow to all of it. We’ve had our fair share of greatness. The ’80s Bears. The ’90s Bulls. The ’10s Hawks. The Sox and Cubs both broke their World Series droughts. But we want more. Of course we want more.
As for the Bulls, I would love nothing more than for them to piggyback this mojo from the Bears and Hawks. Cash in on their tiny odds of jumping into the top four – or even tinier odds at the #1 overall pick – at the NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday night. Honestly, I don’t feel like that’s gonna happen. The Bears getting the #1 pick was huge, and we saw how they cashed that in with a pre-draft trade haul. The Hawks stunk on purpose for their shot at Connor Bedard, and it paid off. How could we possibly get lucky AGAIN? It just doesn’t seem like something that would happen for the Bulls.
Which brings us back to how I’m currently feeling about my Bulls fandom. Stuck. Rudderless. Frustrated, but not quite fuming yet. Just … blargh. We’re all entitled to have those lulls when, as diehard sports fans, we just don’t have that “run through a wall” feeling. For any number of reasons. And you can’t fake it. I’m not there with these Bulls right now. I just hope it comes back sometime soon.
I tell you what, though. I was ready to run through a wall when I watched our CHGO Blackhawks crew react to the team they live and die for get the #1 pick. Because while the Hawks may not mean to me quite what they mean to those guys, they definitely mean a big something. Because I love hockey. More importantly, our CHGO family and our entire Chicago sports family means all that and more.
Be happy when the people you care about are happy. Oftentimes, you’ll find it means more than what you think will make you happy. The Bulls are staring down a tough road. Summer construction on the Kennedy tough. And there aren’t any Bible verses to help with rush hour traffic. But the overall Chicago sports fan vibes are high right now with these renewed hopes for the Bears and Hawks. That’ll work for me. It should work for all of us.
Thanks for reading. See Red. Be Dard.