The Chicago Bulls are the best team in the NBA. Wait. What? I know, I just confused you. I might have even triggered more than a few of you enough to take your rage to Twitter. Put the keyboard down. Breathe.
No, the Bulls aren’t winning a championship this year. They didn’t even make it out of the first round of the playoffs even though they were the best team in the Eastern Conference for much of the season. So, how on earth could I proclaim them to be the best team?
That’s easy. It’s because of you.
According to Larry Hawley of WGN 9, “the Bulls averaged 20,881 fans per game over 41 contests at the United Center this season, which was the highest in the NBA.” You might say the United Center has the highest seating capacity in the NBA, and you would be correct.
However, you can go over to ESPN and see the team-by-team breakdown and notice just how well Bulls fans travel, as well as how scattered they are throughout the country. Hawley also says in his article that “it’s the first time the Bulls have led the NBA in road attendance since their last championship season of 1997-1998, which was the final one of the Michael Jordan-led dynasty.”
To me, it’s simple. The Bulls are the best team because they have the largest and most dedicated fan base. We saw red all over the country despite the MJ days being far in the rearview with plenty of losing seasons characterizing recent years. Why? Is it because Demar DeRozan chose Chicago?
At the end of the day, Bulls fans have a passion and dedication most fan bases, and it’s contagious! I have lived in Atlanta most of my life, but, with my father being from Chicago, he raised me to love the Bulls. Michael Jordan’s era and the many Saturday Night Live sketches sure did help in making this franchise so attractive, but what sold me was the fans’ passion.
Bulls fans aren’t a casual bunch. They read, research, and obviously watch and attend games. Even when they’re wrong, they at least know enough to sound like they’re right. Bulls fans are relentless with their passion and bold about how brazenly they flaunt it.
Let me give you a couple of examples as to just how deep and far reaching this fan base is. In Atlanta, I have found at least three restaurants or bars where Bulls fans congregate, and the games are played with volume! How many Hawks bars are in Chicago? Also, any time the Bulls are in Atlanta, the arena is packed with opposing fans. I went to see the Bulls play Game 6 of the Eastern Semifinals in 2011, which was held in Atlanta. It was a closeout game on the road, and Bulls fans literally drowned out the voices of Hawks fans throughout the game, but especially with chants of “MVP!” whenever Derrick Rose touched the ball. Bulls fans so regularly attend games in Atlanta, we often refer to the city as the South Southside of Chicago.
Want a more recent example? The Milwaukee Bucks are the defending NBA champs with the defending NBA MVP on their roster, and you could easily and clearly hear boos from the robust Bulls crowd who consistently makes the short trip up 94 to represent.
The Bulls didn’t win the championship this year and probably disappointed many. They might not win next year, either. But the thing the Bulls will do every year is be the best represented team in the NBA. And we have plenty of fellow fans who not only agree, but show up to prove it.