As my ears delight to the electronic styling of Van Halen’s Summer Nights, I am filled with joy knowing my beloved Bulls, got it right this year. This wasn’t the wasteful drafting of players like Mark Randall or James Johnson, this was the birth of a future legend in Chicago Bulls basketball. Although, his actual birth happened in 1992, on a frigid January day in Ames, Iowa, last night’s draft was the introduction of our newest Bull, Dougie “McBuckets”. He grew up in a modest household not unlike me, and in his driveway he began to hone his skills as a basketball player. The son of a coach, young Doug was born into basketball, and in a mid-western town is where he was kept secret from the world, and perfected his ability of putting a orange ball into an iron ring. Such is the familiar background for legends from Clark Kent to Larry Joe, modesty usually proceeds greatness.
However, he wasn’t the only skillful hoopster from Ames, that title belonged to Golden State Warrior, Harrison Barnes. A young Barnes and McDermott lead Ames High to consecutive state championships, with McDermott playing second fiddle to his all-American friend and team mate. After graduation Barnes would take his talents to Chapel Hill and McDermott would play for his father at Creighton. As a Bluejay, Doug walked on campus making buckets, earning him the nickname ‘McBuckets’. His accolades in college are as seemingly endless as his string of made baskets.
However, my interest in McDermott started two years ago off a hunch. It was during the pre-draft camp at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. After reading a short article about GM Gar Forman sitting down to officially interview then draft prospect Harrison Barnes, I was intrigued. As that year the Bulls were selecting at 29 and Barnes had been predicted to be gone before pick 10. So the media was a buzz with speculation that Chicago was trading veteran Luol Deng to move up and draft Barnes. There could be no other reason they would waste their time interviewing him if he wasn’t a player they had interest in drafting. Or could there? So I then looked into their private workouts at the Berto Center, and noticed Barnes never worked out out for the Bulls. Now I smelled a rat, something didn’t jive here. My suspicion was validated when the Warriors drafted Barnes with the 7th selection. There was no Loul Deng trade, and now I wanted to know why.
The linked background of McDermott & Barnes wasn’t aware to me just yet. Until I was watching a random game one night and saw this amazing college player. I was reminded of the days back when the Bulls ruled the roost of the NBA. Each night opponents knew Michael Jordan was getting the ball, and no matter how they defended, Jordan still got his, and that’s how it was, everyone knew McDermott was getting the ball, and no matter what they tried to stop him, he scored. Then one of the commentators referenced McDermott’s relationship with Barnes, and instantly I knew, I knew just like me, somewhere the Bulls were also watching with amazement. The time that preceded for me was a series of web searches for links to the Bulls organization, from seeing a glimpse of John Paxson in the stands at Doug’s games or following Gar Forman’s travel itinerary to see if McDermott was also playing in town that night. Like a slothful detective the story began to unravel. I was hot on the trail of a future Bull, and grew more of a fan along the ride.
Now all of Chicago will have the pleasure to watch Dougie McBuckets and I hope he puts on a show for them every night like he did for me. So this year Bulls, you got it right, and I know from the games I have watched him play since, and from the years you have scouted him, that the homework has paid off. Hopefully the city embraces him, and some hot Summer Night in the not too distant future, he repays us back with an NBA championship.
Van Halen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPUb4Wsi9kI