Hi Eye On Chi readers! I am introducing a new feature on Eye On Chi called "Fan Cam," an interview series with Chicago sports fans. I know this is outside of my reviews of Chicago journalism, but it's still Chicago, and I want to roll it out here.
Here's how it works: after each playoff game I will interview a Bulls fan. That Bulls fan will then put me in touch with my next interviewee, and so on down the line, telling the story of the Bulls playoffs through the eyes & voice of Chicago sports fans.
Once the hockey playoffs start, I'll be doing this for RedEye with Blackhawks fans, but I figured a good way to get used to the format would be to break it open with the Bulls.
And away we go...
BULLS FAN CAM, Game 1: Bulls 89, @ Nets 106
Christopher Cason, 28, North Lawndale
Christopher Cason is a lifetime Bulls fan who has covered the Bulls for examiner.com and now csnchicago.com since the 2009-10 season, attending practices at the Berto Center and home games at the U.C. Though he was not credentialed for Saturday’s Game 1 of the Bulls-Nets first round series, he flew to New York to attend the game as a fan with friends.
I can’t even put it into words what the crowd was like. The Barclays Center’s just this amazing building that’s right in the middle of a regular community. The houses are pretty much right down the street. There’s a lot of business there now, but there’s this whole sense of community. You just feel like one of the people there.
The game starts, and the crowd was just amazing. It’s similar to what Chicago does, but it was a different feeling because they’ve been waiting so long for something to cheer for. The players just fed off of that. The Bulls were behind the eight-ball as soon as tipoff started. Once they got behind, there was no way they could come back. Noah tried to give him all that he could. Kirk Hinrich went down. Took a knee to his left thigh, I believe.
It was tough to watch the Bulls this year. They had to earn everything. They had to fight and claw. I hate to make comparisons, but it’s so similar to those Scott Skiles teams. They have such a small margin of error. One box out here, one weak screen there, and they’re down ten points just that quick. They almost have to play perfect basketball. There’s such a high priority on execution for them because you don’t have the bodies out there who are able to sustain against a team like Brooklyn going on a run.
It was just such a great atmosphere. Even after leaving, the way the fans were still out celebrating. Brooklyn fully absorbed the New Jersey Nets to where they’re not even the “Brooklyn Nets.” They’re BROOKLYN. That’s how deep this felt. This is more than a team to them. That whole franchise, the community has embraced that. It’s pretty much rooted to these people now.
There was this one, old woman. Gray hair braided into a ponytail. She had on a Brooklyn Nets t-shirt, blue jeans, white shoes. She had to be in her 70s. The look on the lady’s face leaving the Barclays Center, the joy in her face – I mean, who knows if she watches the NBA outside of this game, but if I had to guess, I would say this woman is retired, and is working in her garden pretty much every day, and tending to nick-knacks and all – just the joy in her face… you would never expect this 70-year-old woman to be a basketball fan, let alone a Brooklyn Nets fan.
This was the first professional sports playoff there since 1956. We kind of take it a little bit for granted back in Chicago. It’s almost expected that with the Bulls’ tradition, we’re going to be in the postseason. We’re going to have a chance to win a title. And I don’t know if they’re feeling like they’re going to win the title, but just the fact that they have so many people there who have probably been there since the Brooklyn Dodgers played their last game. You might have some of those people still around. It’s an air of having something to root for again.
Game 2 Fan Cam selected by Christopher Cason: Marcus Turner, 28, Orland Park