Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, rooting for the Chicago Bulls was a given. I never thought we’d lose with Michael and Scottie on our side. After the second three-peat, my Bulls fandom subsided during the Tyson Chandler / Eddy Curry and then Ben Gordon / Kirk Heinrich rebuild years, but I re-found my love for basketball when the Bulls took Derrick Rose with the number one pick in 2008. To this day, my favorite games were the 2009 Bulls vs Celtics playoff series. It was after that series that I put my name on the waiting list for season tickets, and I’m still a season ticket holder today.
Throughout all of my Bulls fandom, the thought of playing basketball on the Bulls court in the United Center never occurred to me. But then I joined Booth Basketball club, and learned about Running of the Bulls (or ROTB). ROTB is an annual basketball scrimmage between Chicago Booth and Northwestern Kellogg, played at the United Center before an actual Bulls game. I knew instantly, that this had to be a part of my Booth experience!
Before the game, nerves are high and the competitive juices begin to flow. We are led by Bulls staff to the same tunnels that players walk through, where we put on our Booth uniforms and try to stay calm by stretching out. About 30 minutes before the actual Bulls game starts, we head through the tunnel onto the court, and adrenaline kicks in. Our classmates are in the stands, decked out in Booth gear and cheering.
Setting foot on the court was an out of body experience. So much history had happened here. So many great players had shared the same court. In fact, there’s Zach Lavine in the corner now, sinking practice threes. Sitting on the benches (the very same the players will soon sit on!), I marveled at how grand the stadium looks from the court. What the heck was I doing there? But once the buzzer sounded, I quickly remembered there was a game to play.
The game in itself is a sloppy mess. With all the adrenaline, bright lights, and a real NBA ball (which is made of slick leather instead of grippy rubber like college balls), the game is more akin to a peewee basketball game played by 3rd graders rather than grown men. I myself shot two threes this year from NBA distance…and bricked both. What’s that saying again? You don’t make 100% of the shots you never take, or something like that.
Although Booth lost to Kellogg this year, it was an unforgettable and once-in-a-lifetime, unique experience. And I have no doubt we’ll get them next year!