Chicago Bulls

Talk About an NBA Disconnect: Good Sportsmanship Bad for Fans?

16 Jun 1996:  Commentators Marv Albert and Matt Goukas for NBC Sports speak to each other during a playoff game between the Seattle Supersonics and the Chicago Bulls at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.  The Bulls won the game 87-75. Mandatory Credi
Dan HoehneContributor IMarch 25, 2009

 

I literally just got done watching the telecast of the Bulls-Pistons game on TNT and was immediately moved to start typing.

No, that's not my normal Tuesday night.

Sure, I was glad that the Chicago Five continued their tradition of late-season runs to reach the playoffs—the best we can hope for as Bulls fans the last ten years or so.

And yes, especially satisfying that it was against the Pistons, the age-old nemesis and measuring stick of the team's status.  Though, considering the Detroit squad's current state and stature, it doesn't ring as soundly as it once did, though as a measuring stick, it obviously still holds water—considering the Bulls' current state and stature.

But what I really want to discuss is the statement that commentator Marv Albert made as the final seconds ticked off—as well as to what was leading to that statement.

We know that at any sporting event you go to, with the abhorrent ticket prices added to the 'airport pricing' of anything bought within the confines of your chosen stadium, there are gimmicks and to somehow make you feel at ease with the money you've parted with to be there.

In our current economic times, all the more so.

Raised in the suburbs of Chicago, and a lifelong Bulls fan who has had the great fortune to attend quite a few games, I know the long-held staple 'gimmick' of going to a game is that if the Bulls score above a certain number of points, the tickets in your hand that granted you admittance would now be worth a free piece of food.

Whether a Big Mac, in more prosperous times, or a White Castle Slider, or a Taco Bell Taco—the end result wasn't the point, it was that you actually got something extra for your "fandom."  That your support of your team, in any regard, could somehow be rewarded.

The prize items have changed, as has the standard, over the years, but the innate feeling that the accomplishment brings about has always remained the same.

Which brings us to tonight.

I'm still not sure what the food item to be won was, but I figured out that the magic number of Bulls points that would turn the entry passes of the ticket buyers a free snack at sometime in the near future was 100.

With just over one minute to play, the home team had 98 points and Kirk Hinrich stood at the free-throw line.

The overabundance of crowd noise only emphasized the fact that these points were crucial—despite the fact that the Bulls held a double-digit lead.

After making the first, the applause was of excited relief.

When he shorted the second one off the front of the rim, the expected, en-masse "Awww..." was heard throughout the stadium—but it wasn't too dire.  There was still time, and only one point needed to be scored.

In these economic times, where the disconnect between million-dollar athletes and the at-risk fans who swallow hard and buy tickets to see them play is at an all-time high, the focus should be on A) winning for said supporters and B) connecting with them in any way, shape or form.

There really are no other aspects or options.

As a trade of possessions took place, and the final seconds ticked off with the Bulls regaining the ball with time left to score, the players packed it in and Marv Albert suggested that this was a good thing, that the players were considering the situation, knowing they had the game won and there was no need to push for a meaningless score.

Meaningless, in the sense that the Pistons would be offended?

Pointless in that, they didn't need a player extending an extra effort of any sort?

To Marv Albert, as well as to the players—the fact that the game was decided should have made it all the more sensible, all the more meaningful, that you push for that score, that you extend that effort to get your fans that extra bonus.

As minor, as slight, as trivial as that ticket serving as a free pass for an extra treat is - A little something extra is what we could all use right now.

As trivial as it might be to some.

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