Bulls feeling at home in Indianapolis


Apr 23

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Signs of the 1990s Bulls?

No, no one is going there yet, at least we hope. Sure, the Bulls were coming into Saturday’s game against the Indiana Pacers with a 3-0 series lead. But it is the first round, and Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who has some bulk as well, likely will wrestle anyone to the ground who suggests there even is a second round in these playoffs.

Still, the atmosphere here in Indianapolis before Saturday’s Game 4 was Bulls’ ’90s-like.

“It was wild,” agreed Kurt Thomas.

There were by estimates of those who travel with the Bulls perhaps 200 or more fans gathered outside the downtown Indianapolis hotel where the Bulls were staying. When the players left the hotel to board the team bus for the short ride to Conseco Fieldhouse, a huge ovation arose from the crowd and lasted for several minutes as players boarded the bus.

Traffic stopped on Washington Street in front of the hotel as drivers watched.

I asked Thomas if the ovation were for him. He laughed, shook his head and walked away.

Of course, with Indianapolis a 150-mile trip down I-65 there figured to be a reasonably large Chicago contingent in attendance. How could you know they were Bulls fans? Well, they were wearing shoes. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. It was a joke. I know. Bad one.

But there seemed a much larger group of Bulls fans attending Saturday’s afternoon game, understandably so with a 3-0 series lead. It figured to be questionable in a difficult economy to stay with your tickets with your team trailing three games to none and likely little chance to win the series. Especially when some yahoo from Chicago in a Bulls jersey and screaming, “Scalabrine!” was willing to give you triple the face value for you ticket.

The few restaurants and taverns immediately near the arena were filled with fans wearing Bulls gear several hours before the game with few Pacers’ jerseys in sight. The scalpers were doing a brisk business.

Fans with Bulls jerseys stood 10 deep near the court and the railing where the players entered the arena, screaming names as they entered.

It was a whiff of Bulls ’90s mania again.

Heck, a crew from the Oprah show was in the Bulls locker room before the game in some sort of special in which they were filming a man who who won of those wish contests—sorry, I’ve never seen the Oprah show but believe it is popular—to be a writer for a day and interview Bulls players.

I know. It is a dream job. The Bulls fans seem to be hoping, or perhaps feeling, it will be a dream season for the Bulls.

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