The difficulty of being a Bulls fan

If you’re reading this, it’s because I’m dead.

Not really. Fortunately, I’m still breathing, but you could say my undying loyalty to the Chicago Bulls is on life support. I doubt I’m alone in this thought. How can I be when the Bulls have truly embraced their own self-inflicted dive into mediocrity?

The Bulls have become arguably the worst shooting team in the NBA, during a period of the games’ history when shooting is so revered. The defense has slipped from the halcyon days, and the offense is in the bottom third of the league. Overall, with a negative net rating and being several games under .500, the Bulls find themselves on the outside looking in on this season’s playoff race.

The team isn’t good. They were never going to be. There are no prospects on the roster that project to be anything more than role players. Jimmy Butler is a lone star that will likely have his career season end without playoff berth. Sure, the Bulls will have cap space to spend in the offseason. Management’s endless endeavor to remain cap “flexible” will ensure the team will be buyers come July. Unfortunately, they won’t have enough space to fill in all the leaks in this sinking ship.

It’s a dire situation with limited scope for upside. But all hope isn’t lost. Not for a fan with the ability to disengage.

There’s one of two ways Bulls fans can choose to view the current predicament: as a thankless exercise of devotion to a team that won’t get better until fundamental changes are made in the front office, or an opportunity to break free and explore other interests.

The latter has an appeal unlike ever before. More and more, as leads are blown and second half implosions become more frequent, the notion of using my time in a more productive way becomes more prevalent. “Why am I wasting my time with this shit?” Don’t tell me you haven’t thought something similar.

We all love the game of basketball. The Bulls play a huge part in that connection to the game. But why must we sit through a poor product and torture ourselves with mediocrity? As fans, why do we subject ourselves to this? Clearly, a deep, burning passion for a ball club exists. Being part of something larger than yourself is what we do in life. Surely there can be other avenues to embrace such a feeling, though?

I’m slowly coming to this realisation. As someone who has shaped their personal life around a team I’ve supported from afar, getting up to watch games in different time zones and sacrificing time spent with family, friends, and other interests, maybe this current iteration of Chicago Bulls isn’t worth that effort?

I have other things I’d like to pursue: As a resident “indoorsman”, getting out and about and trying new things would be a welcomed experience. Learning some new skills would be beneficial. Embracing my manhood and using my supple, unscathed hands to do some manual labour has it benefits. Instead of buying Ikea flat-packs and feeling a sense of accomplishment when putting together a prefabricated furniture piece, I could try building my own. Maybe after I’ve put in ten thousand hours of practice, I could start my own YouTube channel showing people the right way to play Stairway To Heaven. I may not have the patience for golf, but beating a white ball off a driving range tee seems like actual fun regular folk have.

Hell, as risky as it sounds for an introverted fella that spends way too much time online, I could even try experiencing communication with actual, visible people, not just with folks from other countries via Twitter — OK, that seems excessive.

These are just some ideas. What I’m trying to say is we have alternatives. It doesn’t have to be all about the Bulls, as it is now. I also don’t have to walk away from basketball completely. After all, there are 29 other teams playing the same game, often doing so in a more enjoyable fashion. For this reason, I envy the casual fan who has no undying allegiance to a squad. The ability to flick through League Pass, watching and supporting a range of teams is a foreign concept to die-hard who has immersed their soul into one team. I once shunned such an idea, but maybe I was wrong?

Is it really a bad thing to prefer watching LeBron James throwing down a one-handed hammer on two players or Stephen Curry hitting a routine 30-footer, over seeing countless Bulls players brick wide-open threes? You tell me, would you rather watch this…

Or this?

Yeah, easy decision.

Time is precious. Just because the Bulls exist, it doesn’t mean we have to exist around them. We have choices. Maybe now is the time to explore them.

It’s a noble thought. It’s also a hilarious one. I say this knowing full well that I don’t have the will power to breakaway. I’m in too deep. I’ve come too far to suddenly back away. I don’t know how to disengage. I’m a fiend, living for that one moment, sitting through endless hours of crap just to taste it when it finally appears. No matter how hard you try to talk yourself into a new existence, you know damn well it’s misguided.

As unnerving as Rajon Rondo’s jump shot is, Jimmy Butler’s individual heroics keep you going. Dwyane Wade may have zero interest in getting back on defense, but his connection with Cristiano Felicio on an alley-oop play is a highlight. Fred Hoiberg can stupidly give minutes to 12 players in the first half, but it compares little to a fourth quarter takeover by Butler.

These positive moments outweigh all the negativity, even if the balance isn’t fair. You tell yourself you’re out, but you know you’re not.

Being a sports fan is being in a marriage in the 1950s. The Bulls have me, for better or worse. In sickness and in health, I’m married to this team. Divorce isn’t option. I’ll say I love you, but I don’t mean it. We’ll grow old together, resenting every minute spent in each others company. But hey, at least we’ll have each other, ’til death do us part.

Fuck.

4 Comments

  1. You mean you’re not excited about Cameron Payne? That’s the starting PG of the future and the new face of the franchise. lol.

    I think we all share your frustrations and apathy.

Leave a Reply