There's Always Next Year: My Life as a Chicago Bulls Fan

Wesley Kaminsky@@Wesley_KaminskyCorrespondent IIIMay 16, 2013

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 15: A Chicago Bulls logo is seen on the floor before a game between the Bulls and the Charlotte Bobcats at the United Center on February 15, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Bobcats 106-94. 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 Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

My name is Wesley Kaminsky, and I am a Chicago Bulls fan. 

Ever seen Fever Pitch with Jimmy Fallon? Yeah, I'm basically your modern day Ben Wrightman. 

For as long as I have appreciated sports, the Chicago Bulls have been a religion to me. I was six years old when Michael Jordan won his last championship with the Bulls in 1998, so I haven't exactly felt the glory of what it is like to win a championship.

The closest I've come is after the Bulls won Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals in 2011 against the Heat. In my dreams though, the Bulls have won countless championships.

I play basketball alone outside, simulating future epic Bulls games. In my games, Derrick Rose has hit game-winners against the Heat, Joakim Noah has made game-winning blocks on LeBron James, and LeBron has missed crucial free throws.

These are riveting games. You should watch them some time.

In all scenarios, the Bulls have won. I don't want to depress myself in my fantasies.

I interview myself when I'm driving, pretending to be Derrick Rose, Tom Thibodeau or whoever, talking about what's going on with the Bulls season. 

The mind is a powerful thing.

I've seen a lot during my tenure as a Bulls fan. I've experienced the Tim Floyd era, the busts of Eddy Curry, Tyson Chandler and Marcus Fizer, the Jay Williams motorcycle accident and countless other memories. 

I've had many favorite players as a Bulls fan, including Elton Brand, Jalen Rose, Kirk Hinrich and Derrick Rose. 

I've committed myself year in and year out to this organization as a fan. Watching a Bulls game has become more than just a hobby; it's become a homework assignment. I feel guilty not watching them. Whether it is a pointless regular-season game against the Charlotte Bobcats or playoff game against the Miami Heat, I simply have to watch this team play. 

Am I affecting the outcome by watching? Debatable. 

Will my life be any different if I miss a game? Probably not. 

Do I get extreme satisfaction over watching them win a game? Yes. Yes, yes. A million times yes.

Does it ruin my day if they lose a game? You know it. 

Every year, in October, I'm anticipating the upcoming Bulls season, praying that this could be the year. Praying that I will one day experience the joy that Ben Wrightman felt when his Red Sox won the World Series in Fever Pitch. 

I'm sure I'll be judged after you read this article. Yes, I am pathetic. Yes, I do revolve my life around a basketball team in Chicago when I live in Philadelphia. And yes, I love it.  

The last two seasons for the Bulls have been difficult ones filled with ups and downs. After a 2010- 2011 season in which the Bulls lost the Eastern Conference Finals to the Miami Heat, I went into the following season with expectations that they could actually win the championship.

I don't need to bore you with the heart break of the Bulls 2011-2012 shortened, lockout season. Screw it, I'll do it anyway.

After finishing with the best record in the NBA for the second straight season, the Bulls headed into the playoffs healthy, looking to avenge the previous season's loss to Miami.

Then everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong. Derrick Rose tore his ACL in Game 1, and two games later, Joakim Noah badly sprained his ankle, causing him to miss the series. 

I'm not even going to get into detail as to what happened in that series. Let's just say it resulted in me driving home from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia where I may or may not have broken my front mirror by punching it out of rage. 

I didn't even mention the fact that I sobbed like a little kid when Derrick Rose tore his ACL. Oops. I just did. 

Another season has passed for the Bulls, and it's time to reflect on what happened in 2012-2013. It was a season of transition for the Bulls, as all year long the anticipated return of Derrick Rose was supposed to happen.

The only problem was it never happened. I'm not bashing Rose by any means. If he wasn't ready, he wasn't ready. Everyone needs to take a step back and stop criticizing him. Only Rose knows and not the Doctors.  

That's my mini Rose rant. I don't want to get started. I won't stop.  

The hope all along this season was that if the Bulls could hold it down until Rose came back, they could make some noise in the playoffs. He didn't return, and they still made some noise in the playoffs.

Credit that to Tom Thibodeau, who is famous for his phrase, "we have more than enough to win with." This season, the Bulls took on the character of their head coach, playing with heart and pride in an injury-riddled season.

Game 4 and Game 7 in the first round of the playoffs against the Brooklyn Nets were games that made you appreciate this Bulls team.

Leading 2-1 in the series, the Bulls faced a 109-95 deficit against the Nets with 3:45 seconds left in the game. Then, Nate Robinson happened.

Robinson, who the Bulls brought in to replace C.J Watson, erupted for 23 fourth-quarter points, just missing Michael Jordan's record by one point. Kirk Hinrich, who the Bulls signed to replace Derrick Rose, played 59:36 seconds, finishing with 18 points and 14 assists. Little did anyone know, but that would be the last game Kirk Hinrich would play in these playoffs.

In one of the best games in NBA playoff history, the Bulls shocked the Nets in triple overtime, winning 142-134 to take a 3-1 series lead. 

Three games later, in the blink of an eye, it was Game 7, and the Bulls had given away a 3-1 series lead. Playing without Hinrich to a calf injury and Luol Deng to a spinal tap, the Bulls were badly short handed and had to travel to Brooklyn.

This looked to be the end of the road. I guess someone should have told Tom Thibodeau and Joakim Noah that.

Noah guided the Bulls to an emotional Game 7 win, pouring in 24 points, 14 rebounds and 6 blocked shots. It was the best game of Noah's career, given the circumstances. 

"I'll remember this for the rest of my life," Noah said afterwards. 

I couldn't have been any prouder of this Bulls team after that Game 7 victory. I don't care if it was round one or that the Bulls still had no chance to win the championship. I wanted this game. I wanted a shot at Miami in the next round.

I think I underestimated my hate for the Heat. I think I underestimated how frustrated I would get in the second round. I'm surprised there isn't a crack in my TV screen by now. 

After stealing Game 1 in Miami, the Bulls, just like in 2011, proceded to lose the next four games.

Did I mention how much I hate the Heat?

How come LeBron has never committed a foul in his entire career?

OK, I'll stop. For now.  

There were some highs in the series against the Heat, such as when Nate Robinson took over Game 1 or when Nazr Mohammed pushed LeBron to the floor.

As Nate Robinson pointed out, "You see LeBron in a lot of commercials. A lot of good acting." 

Game 4, the Bulls looked like a team that was worn out, undermanned and beaten. Shooting 19-of-74 from the field, the Bulls got trounced at home against the Heat, 88-65. Nate Robinson, who had saved the Bulls so many times in the postseason, was scoreless, shooting 0-of-12 from the field.

I was so worn out from the loss that I couldn't even imagine the Bulls coming back and winning the series. I tried to play basketball outside, but I didn't have the drive. They just weren't good enough to do it, even in my fantasies. The team was too beat up and had expended so much energy being so undermanned.  

In Game 5, I went in expecting a loss. The Bulls surprised me yet again, playing with so much heart, overcoming a 22-4 first-quarter lead. I should have known they would.

Leading 77-69 at the end of the third quarter, the Bulls got outscored 25 to 14, ending their magical ride on a Jimmy Butler missed three-pointer. Surprisingly, I didn't tear up. Not yet at least.   

As I sit on my couch hidden in my Kirk Hinrich jersey, I reflect on all that happened this season with the Bulls. They showed grit and toughness, winning Game 7 in Brooklyn without two of their leaders, Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng. Two days later, they did the same thing, but in South Beach. 

They showed heart, snapping the Heat's 27-game win streak on March 27, 2013 without Joakim Noah.

My highlight of the season was when Kirk Hinrich ripped the ball out of the hands of Chris Bosh during that Miami game, summarizing the Bulls' character in one play. 

I'm so proud of this team. They left it all out there. I left it all out there with them, losing my voice game after game, whether it was cheering for Nate Robinson, booing LeBron James or screaming at Carlos Boozer to play defense.

If I offended you during this Bulls season, it's nothing personal. I have a duty to stick up for my team and defend them. I've got your back, Derrick Rose. Trust me. 

Next season, who knows what this Bulls team will be like. With Derrick Rose returning and Kirk Hinrich and Marquis Teague still on the team, it's hard to believe Nate Robinson will be back. It'll be interesting to see what the Bulls do with Marco Belinelli too, who is also a free agent.

You hear rumblings of Kevin Love coming to Chicago, and with the emergence of Jimmy Butler, does that make Luol Deng expendable? Have Bulls fans reached the tipping point with Carlos Boozer after another poor showing in the playoffs against Miami? 

Regardless of what happens, the one constant is that I'll be watching this team play. I'll be glued to my TV, computer screen or phone every single Bulls game.

I'll be screaming at the team as if they can hear me and jumping up and down like Tom Thibodeau over a bad call.

"It's not crazy. It's sports." 


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