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Chicago Bulls Get Assist from Mark Cuban After Plane Scare

DALLAS, TX - FEBRUARY 24:  Owner, Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center on February 24, 2013 in Dallas, Texas.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIIMarch 8, 2013

The Chicago Bulls had a midair scare while flying en route to Indianapolis this past Saturday for a road contest against the Indiana Pacers. After having to drive to the city for the eventual 97-92 loss, Tom Thibodeau's squad got some valuable help from an unlikely source—Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.

ESPN Chicago reports that Cuban allowed the Bulls to use his Mavericks team plane to fly to San Antonio on Monday to play the Spurs, provided that they return after the game on Wednesday.

Apparently, the bizarre transportation situation has not translated to success on the court for Chicago. The team lost 101-83 after being outscored by 23 points in the second half, marking their second straight defeat. 

Although he hasn't made a splash on the court since signing a 10-day contract earlier this month, Bulls forward Lou Amundson tweeted out a photo aboard Cuban's plane, giving thanks to the outspoken businessman. 

Bill Wennington, a radio analyst and former Bulls player who was part of three of the franchise's championship runs, explained the situation earlier this week. It was logged in the aforementioned ESPN Chicago report:

Apparently a compressor in engine No. 3 had some trouble, and it sounded like it exploded, but I guess it's like a jet engine backfire, which is very loud...It happened actually right after ... the captain thrusts the engines forward and it revs up and starts to go, about three seconds after that you hear a 'Boom!' 'Oh, what was that, are we stopping?' The plane keeps going down [the runway] and you're thinking, 'Oh no, why aren't we stopping?'

It was funny, because we're in the back of the plane, and the engines are right by us, and we hear it. They can't hear it [in the front of the plane]. And apparently they couldn't feel anything. And so we take off fine, and about five minutes later, two more booms, 'Boom!, Boom!,' and a couple people saw flames and sparks and stuff flying out [while looking out of] the window. We're all thinking, "Well, it's been nice."

Bulls television analyst Stacey King also gave his account of the events aboard the team plane.

I'm not going to sit up here and lie, if I had a teddy bear, I probably would have been grabbing it...It was a frightening situation. Our pilots did a good job of getting us back down. You can fly with one engine. We had an extra engine, so they had two engines left. So we weren't in any kind of danger as far as doing a nose dive. Whenever you see flames come out of an engine, that's a little bit scary.

Cuban certainly showed class by lending his plane to a team in need. After their two-game odyssey against a pair of prospective playoff teams, it goes without saying that the Bulls will be happy to return home to the United Center. 

Currently, Chicago sits at 34-27, having overcome numerous injuries throughout the 2012-13 season. However, help could soon be on the way, as Melissa Isaacson of ESPN Chicago reports that superstar point guard Derrick Rose is medically cleared to play.

As long as the Bulls can avoid any more hazardous trips, they should still figure prominently into the postseason picture. 

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