Growing up, I tried to be disdainful of promotional handouts at sporting events, because my dad was disdainful of promotional handouts, and because my age prevented me from getting any of the beer company-sponsored giveaways.
But while the worst thing about being an adult is that I'm not a kid anymore, the best thing about being an adult is that I'm not a kid anymore.
No longer must I bite my lip and scoff at promotional giveaways. No longer must I act like I wouldn't get to a game two hours early to get a free souvenir. Because, let's face it, I would. I did. I do.
Monday was the first bobblehead night for the Bulls this season, and I had to be there. My friend Alex and I made plans earlier in the season—maybe even before the season—maybe in the very beginning, when our fates were first decided—to attend every bobblehead night of the year. Of course, at that point we thought the Bulls would be giving away maybe two bobbleheads for the year. As it turns out, there are five this year.
I think we can truly trace Monday’s event back to 2007. When I was a freshman in Hyde Park, my roommate Jordan taught me the value of the bobblehead. (Value of the average bobblehead: Bupkis. Getting a free bobblehead: Priceless.) So, we tried to go to every bobblehead night that season (of which there were two) but were late by a heartbreakingly few seconds for the first of them.
That was Luol Deng bobblehead night, 2007.
Monday was Luol Deng bobblehead night, 2013.
I made plans to meet Alex (along with my girlfriend Kristen, a.k.a. Music Jesus, codename Margot, and my friend Robbie, a.k.a. RGIII, a.k.a. Jimmy G. Buckets, a.k.a. the Smartest Man I Know) at the game, and we got there early this time. Even 5:45 p.m. (an hour and 15 minutes before tip-off) was cutting it close, but by golly, we got those bobbleheads.
It’s a quality bobble and a good pose, as big-head Lu is taking a helpless defender off the dribble while sporting the Bulls’ all-red away uniform. Lieutenant Deng, indeed.
The pregame warm-ups treated us to a Derrick Rose sighting. We saw him run through some repetitions cutting to the basket, and then he shot some threes. One of the highlights of the night was seeing him make six straight threes to finish his workout.
As for the game, well, I wasn’t really paying attention. Luol Deng’s enormous, bobbling head was in the way.
Actually, it looked like a pretty typical Bulls performance. Play a bad team way too close for a lot of the game, struggle a bit on offense, bring Nate Robinson in for a spark off the bench, and get a good-enough game from the front court to make it a clean win. Joakim looks like an All-Star, and I would have appreciated Boozer’s game more if Alex and I hadn’t spent the whole game waiting for him to yell “AND ONE.” And: Jimmy Gets Buckets.
After the game, we hopped onto a packed Damen bus, Bobblehead No. 1 in hand. A couple of people made offers, but Alex would just shake his head. It’s going to take a lot more of that dedication to the cause if we’re going to make through four more bobblehead nights.
(Those of you paying particular attention to my life’s stories, a couple of things. First, stop. It’s really not worth it. Second, you’re probably wondering what happened on the second bobblehead night of the 2007-2008 season.
It was one of the best nights of college. Having watched the Bulls blow a 16-point lead to the Warriors two nights prior (from front-row seats, no less), I went with Jordan to watch the Bulls face the Pistons, who had been the team’s biggest rivals for a number of seasons. It was the kind of cold that makes your eyes water and your nose hairs freeze. We got our bobbleheads and then watched the Bulls beat the Pistons, the first time I saw them win that year, having gone to six games before that. Then we walked up to the KFC by the stadium and got chicken sandwiches.
That was Ben Gordon bobblehead night, 2008. The KFC is closed now. Gordon’s final stat line for Monday night’s game: 18 points on 7-for-15 shooting in 28 minutes. And I saw him make 17 straight threes in warm-ups. No joke. I miss you, Ben. Your bobblehead is still in my room.)