By: Jeffrey Newholm
Between lucky socks, UFO sightings, and alleged Grizz wins, people believe in some pretty strange things. A great parody of such beliefs comes from the TV special “It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown”. Charlie’s friend Linus stays in a pumpkin patch waiting for the great pumpkin to show up to bring toys. Nothing ever happens, and to make matters worse the pumpkin patch is rather cold and lonely. Silly boy! But with the Chicago Bulls 24-45, are Chicago fans fundamentally different than Linus? Is the Bulls dynasty just a grainy VCR myth, of equal likelihood as bigfoot?
The United Center is a far cry from even the best pumpkin patch. It is a hollowed cathedral of basketball, with light effects, deeply voiced PR inflections, and illuminated banners sure to send a chill down any fan’s spine. But the Bulls are now a hodgepodge of odd names, with the team facing discipline for not playing the skilled players it does have. Bulls fans are very intelligent, oohing and ahhing five seconds in advance of a open shot. But this knowledge seems more a reflection of strong memory than sharp eyes. Banner ads trump the 1991 champs, while one fan bemoaned he couldn’t remember the Cavs-Bulls playoff series. Fans distort tales of the sort, like the child’s game of telephone. They’re passed down from father to son to grandson until only Google can resolve disputes in the facts.
Saturday night a majority pro-Cavs crowd cheered on LeBron’s 70th triple double. The usual LeBron vs. MJ argument seems extremely one-sided in favor of Jordan. He was, after all, six of six in the finals with all six MVPs. But one fan’s putdown that the Cavs “could only win by four with the world’s best player!” offered little solace. The past and future don’t exist without being filtered through the lens of the present. By now sights of Jordan’s bulls have faded to pale pink, while fans are seeing plenty of red looking up at the standings.
But thankfully for Bulls fans, there’s no final horn on a hoops-mad city. With the Lakers already eyeing big moves to return to relevancy, surely Chicago isn’t far behind. Once the team becomes a contender again, those banners will become a yoke of history intimidating opposing teams. The great pumpkin, sadly, is but a figment of the imagination. But man’s future isn’t quite an illusion–it’s a shade of a constantly fluxing reality. The Bulls’ struggles today will be quickly forgotten once the team morphs back into a contender. Then the city that practically trademarked “wait ’till next year” will understand that a vision of success is timeless.