A year ago today the Chicago sports fans were shocked when we lost two all-time sports icons of the city in Norm Van Lier and Johnny "Red" Kerr.
Anyone who was at the tribute on Febraury 10 to Kerr last season, that saw greats like MJ, Bob Love and Scottie Pippen come back to honor the first Bulls coach and longtime announcer knew that he was not long for this world. Over the last few years before he retired from broadcasting he started to miss road trips and then sometimes wouldn't call play by play and only would contribute before the game and at half time. To those who didn't know how sick he was it may have come as a shock to see him get rolled out onto the court in a wheelchair. But after that day everyone knew it was just a matter or time. Maybe that tribute was the one thing "Red" was waiting for.
But shockingly last year around mid afternoon the news broke that Norm Van Lier had been found dead at his home was truly shocking. I remember hearing something on the radio and started calling people to see if they heard the same thing. Norm had been still working and was working for Comcast just a few days earlier when the Bulls upset the Magic at home. Norm was only 62 years old. Sadly it took Norm's passing for him to finally be honored by the team. However they have still not decided to retire his number which now that he is gone will probably never happen.
Then later in the day maybe around 9 or 10 PM when the news of Norm's passing had finally sunk in the news broke that Kerr had passed away at home after a long battle with cancer. As Melissa Isaacson said in her article about the two, "It was, to longtime Bulls fans and so many others, a punch to the gut followed by a slap in the face,". I couldn't have said it better myself.
It was truly a very sad day for all Bulls fans as well as Chicago sports fans. I was at the Kerr tribute game last season as well as at the first home game after the two passed away and I will be there tonight when we will remember once again these two great men.