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Trip of a lifetime: Will Gottlieb's day-by-day journal of the CHGO Bulls trip to Paris

Will Gottlieb Avatar
January 23, 2023

The CHGO Bulls trip to Paris was a huge success and an amazing time. I am grateful.

Back on American soil with some time to reflect, I’m feeling so lucky to work for CHGO and ALLCITY. On top of living out my dreams of going to games and practices, writing and podcasting about the Bulls, I have been part of a group whose goal is to build and be a part of the community of Bulls fans in Chicago and around the world.

Somehow, that took my friends and me to Paris, France for a week. I’m so happy to have shared this with Matt Peck, Big Dave Watson, Joey Spathis and Ryan Greene and gotten closer with them along the way. We have such an awesome team.

So rather than turn this into standard beat coverage of any old away game, the idea in sending the whole CHGO Bulls crew to France was to share some of that experience with that community back home, and reach out and touch some of that community abroad.

Between hanging out with Ayo Dosunmu on his birthday, recording a live show in front of our European Bulls fan friends, meeting some of the biggest podcasters in France, helping Matt meet Joakim Noah or Big Dave meet LaVar Ball, we almost didn’t need the actual basketball game for this trip to be a huge success. None of that to mention the incredible food, wine and sights we indulged on for the week.

I hope we were able to bring some of those experiences to you over social media and our show. That’s how I would define success for this trip.

Here’s a quick recap of our trip for the record books.

Departure flight from O’Hare

Big Dave, Joey, Matt, RG and I met at O’Hare Terminal 5 to hop on our 5:30 pm flight to Paris.

Matt and Dave absolutely balled out, upgrading to business class on the flight for $[REDACTED]. Flex.

Because they upgraded, they had access to the fancy lounge and were able to smuggle the plebes sitting in economy class in for some free food and drinks. What a way to start the trip.

I watched Knocked Up while I waited for the plane food to make its way to my section. Not too long after dinner, Dave came to say hello, but I was already passed out.

Day 1: Arrive in Paris

We landed in Paris at roughly 8:30 am local time, which felt to us like 1:30 am. Having gotten only a few hours of sleep on the plane, we needed to stay up the whole day to get our bodies on the right clock.

To do that, we immediately took off exploring our neighborhood. We grabbed some coffee and croissants, checked out some shops, and made our way to an incredible lunch spot: L’As du Fallafel. HIGHLY recommend.

After that, we dropped our bags at our Air BnB/podcast studio for the week and went to go meet our friend Ayo Dosunmu at the Louvre.

Despite it being his 23rd birthday, we chilled with him in the courtyard of the museum for almost an hour, talking hoops and playing “Hang it in the Louvre.”

The rest of the day was a blur. We settled back in our room for a podcast, made our way to a bistro for dinner and promptly fell asleep.

Day 2: Practice and two shows

The trend of starting off the day with coffee and croissant continued. I meandered up an alley to Boulangerie-Pâtisserie Terroirs d’Avenir for the best almond croissant of my life.

After that, RG and I split off to go to the Palais des sports Marcel-Cerdan for Bulls practice, where a hotel conference room full of international media waited to chat with Zach LaVine and the rest of the Bulls players. Luckily for us, the local media had a chance to talk with him before the rest of the media group descended.

After practice, RG and I met back up with the rest of the group. We walked from our Air BnB to Lonzo Ball’s pop up shop where Big Dave had a chance to express his respect to LaVar for his parenting qualities. Unbelievably, a few fans, Ibrahim and Ouie (I hope I spelled those names correctly), stopped us for a picture.

We had to rush back to the flat to pack up our studio and head to the One Ball gym, just outside Paris. We met some of our friends from See Red UK and Bulls France hang out with us there and watch us do our show live. As someone who is used to recording most of our shows in our West Loop studio at 11:00 pm after a Bulls game with no one around, it was surreal that people wanted to see it happen live.

We packed up again and headed back to the flat for a midnight show with Bastien and Alex from TrashTalk_FR, the biggest NBA Youtube channel in France. We had an awesome time with them on the show and hung out sipping vino and talking about how to fix the Bulls until 2:00 am. Those guys were awesome company.

Day 3: Game Day and the Joakim Noah iconic moment

Coffee. Croissant.

RG and I went to practice in the morning at the Accor Arena, where the game would take place later that night. We spoke to DeMar DeRozan and watched Goran Dragic, Nikola Vucevic and Marko Simonovic play some hilarious soccer-type game.

The coup de grâce was our trip to the NBA House where the iconic moment between Bulls legend Joakim Noah and Bulls podcasting legend Matt Peck took place.

We recapped the full story in the last segment of this podcast, and it’s worth the listen. This was an incredible moment, even just to witness. I can’t imagine how Matt felt, but he did a pretty good job expressing it on this show. One of our best shows ever.

After we got back from the NBA House, RG and I again split off to go to the game. We left at 5:45pm to try to arrive at the gym at 6:30pm for media at 7:30pm. Plenty of time. The Accor Arena was less than five miles from where we were staying, but Paris traffic is brutal, and there was a workers protest in the area that was set to make things a little slower.

Well, at 7:00pm, we were still 1.5 miles away from the arena and traffic was not letting up. RG and I got out of the Uber and power walked the rest of the way, and arrived right before Billy Donovan sat down at the podium.

After what had felt like a full week already, we finally had the Bulls-Pistons game, which I wrote about in more detail here.

After the game, RG and I got back to the Air BnB in time for the latest ever CHGO Bulls postgame show at 1:30 am. I still don’t know how I stayed up that late and was still productive.

Day 4: Sightseeing

We slept in pretty late after staying up until almost 4:00 am hanging out after our show finished up, but don’t worry, I still had time for a croissant and coffee (3x) in the AM.

Then the real touristy stuff began.

We had our big sightseeing moment after the bulk of the basketball events had finished up. We stopped at Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, continued on to the Panthéon where we were able to check out the inside and wander down to the the crypt in the basement.

Most importantly, we replicated the classic Michael Jordan Eiffel Tower picture at our next stop. The results speak for themselves.


Day 5: Sightseeing Pt. II

More coffee. More croissants.

This was our last day to check out the city, so we went to Montmartre, a neighborhood known for its art, to see the Sacre Cœur basilica, stroll around the square and eat some good food.

Then we went to the Arc de Triomphe and walked up about six million stairs up a spiral staircase to overlook the city from the rooftop.

We made our way back to the Air BnB for our final recap show of the trip before heading to our best meal at Les Arlots. The incredible wine and fancy dishes were the perfect way to cap off the trip.

Day 6: Au Revoir

After a long night of packing, we had to get up early to head to the airport. Didn’t have time to squeeze in one more trip to Boulangerie-Pâtisserie Terroirs d’Avenir, which I am regretting. But also, probably for the best.

What. a. Trip.

To Brandon, Allie, RK, Adam, Kevin, Jake, Lawrence and Kacy, a huge thank you for sending, supporting and working with us on this project. Hope we made you proud.

To Peck, Big Dave (aka Large David, aka LD), RG and Joey nicknames, it was a damn blast hanging out with you guys. Let’s start putting our proposal together for the Bulls next game aboard.

To our CHGO Bulls audience, especially the Diehards, thank you for giving us a platform to cover this team and have this experience. We’re forever grateful.

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