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Bulls showing their support during Blackhawks run
by Adam Fluck
Posted on Jun 21
It may be the offseason for the Chicago Bulls, but that hasn’t stopped numerous prominent members of the organization from showing up at the United Center on game nights.
From former and current players to coaches and executive staff, several with Bulls ties have come to support their neighbors across the hall, the Chicago Blackhawks, as they make a run at the franchise’s fifth Stanley Cup.
Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen, who serves as Special Advisor to the President and COO, has been on hand for games against the Red Wings, Kings and Bruins this postseason, including the decisive meeting against Detroit, a 2-1 overtime victory on May 29.
“Game 7 against Detroit was about as thrilling as it can get for a second round game,” said Pippen, who attended the game with family and friends. “To face your rival in a do or die situation and beat them in your home arena says it all.”
When the Blackhawks won their last Stanley Cup in 2010, Pippen was transitioning back to Chicago full-time and in the process of re-joining the Bulls front office. So he wasn’t able to attend any of those games, but kept tabs on the team and enjoyed seeing the celebration unfold.
“There’s no doubt it is a very special time to be in the building as a Chicago team goes for another championship,” said Pippen. “It definitely brings back a lot of great memories for me.”
Like every other Hawks fan, Pippen was relieved to see the Hawks take back control of home court advantage with a Game 4 overtime win in Boston on Wednesday. With Game 5 on Saturday at the United Center and a potential Game 7 also back in Chicago, he likes the Hawks’ chances.
“Obviously it’s a team that possesses a lot of talent with players like Kane, Crawford, Toews and Keith, but just as importantly, it’s a group of competitors who never quit,” said Pippen. “Their stars have that championship experience, which goes a long way this time of year. But of course Boston won recently too, so these last few games will a fight till the end.”
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau attended Game 1 of Chicago’s finals series against the Boston Bruins, as did President and COO Michael Reinsdorf with his wife, Nancy, and their two sons.
Reinsdorf joked that his family looked forward to attending something other than a Bulls game at the United Center in part so he could enjoy the night with a more relaxed state of mind. Their first stop at the arena that evening was the team store, so the boys could grab some Blackhawks gear. They also made sure they were seated with time to spare before the National Anthem, an unforgettable experience at Hawks games.
As for the game itself, Chicago outlasted Boston in a 4-3 triple overtime win that has set the tone for the series with three of the four meetings have needing extra time.
“It was an amazing experience,” said Reinsdorf. “Being at a finals game, whether it is basketball or hockey, the energy in the building was just incredible. It seemed like the whole game I was standing. There were a lot of ups and downs and none of us expected triple overtime, but it all worked out in the end.”
Many Blackhawks fans were dragging the next morning after such a late night – Game 1 didn’t end until midnight – and Reinsdorf, who had a board meeting at 7:30 a.m., was no different.
“It was amazing; you could see how tired everyone was in the room,” laughed Reinsdorf. “You knew exactly who did and who did not watch the game. Half the room went to the game and the other half watched it. Almost everyone was invested in it in some way. It’s fun to see and experience.”
Though Bulls basketball and White Sox baseball occupy many of Reinsdorf’s evenings throughout the year, he’s always stayed up to date on the Blackhawks. And he’s no stranger to hockey, having owned the Stockton Thunder, one of the premier franchises of the ECHL professional hockey league, for five years.
Not only does he recognize the plethora of talent on the Hawks roster, but he loves the confidence that helped them come back from the 3-1 deficit they faced in the second round against their rival Red Wings and hopes that will translate to two more wins against Boston.
“It’s not often a team wins a championship,” said Reinsdorf. “So when you have these opportunities, fans get so excited because they appreciate what’s going on in the moment. And it brings the city together. Everywhere I go, people are talking about the Chicago Blackhawks, similar to how when we were in the playoffs everyone talked about the hard efforts our players put forth against Brooklyn and Miami.”
Aside from Pippen, Reinsdorf and Thibodeau, other Bulls to take in the scene at the United Center during the Blackhawks run have included Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, Kirk Hinrich, Ed Pinckney and Bill Wennington. Needless to say, they’ll all be happy to make room for one more banner in the building if the Blackhawks can finish off the Bruins.