When I originally purchased the tickets to this game for me & my brother, I was pretty sure that Derrick Rose would be back & playing with the team. Up until the All Star break, the rumor on the street was that he would be back after that weekend. Well, that all changed when the now infamous interview with Derrick made it clear that he wouldn’t be back until he was 110% and that he would be okay if he missed the whole season. WHAT??!! Really?! Well, at first that news came as quite a blow, but when I saw how my favorite player, Joakim Noah, started stepping up his play, I thought, well it will just be great to see him & the rest of the guys play. Little did I know that there would be even more injuries to come. Not only did Derrick not play this game, but neither did Kirk Hinrich, Taj Gibson, or Rip Hamilton. UGH! I then finally told myself that it didn’t matter if they won or lost. I was just happy to see them play live & in person. Boy, was I lying to myself. But before I get ahead of myself anymore, let me talk about what my tickets included. I purchased a game package that allowed me to go in to the arena early and watch both teams practice. Because it was a Spurs experience, we sat court side, right in front of the Spurs players. Man, did I want to move to the side my guys were practicing on!! When we first got down to the floor Luol Deng, Jimmy Butler, & Marquis Teague were practicing on the Bulls side. And Dejuan Blair was on the Spurs side. I was so excited to see my boys. Marquis was the only one that seemed to take any interest in all of us coming down the stairs. All the other guys were focused on their shots. Marquis looks so young. I mean, he is only 19 years old. But seeing him out on that court really made him look like a little boy. His older brother, Jeff, plays for the Atlanta Hawks; they look so much alike they could be twins.
The guys seemed to take turns with practice. When Lu, Jimmy, & Marquis left the court, Ivan Radmanovic came out. And very shortly after D. Rose himself made his appearance. That definitely drew a lot of excitement from the crowd. OMG, I was so happy to see him. It is obvious that he is still not 100% comfortable. It took him awhile of flat-footed shooting before he started attempting jumpers & fall-aways. And his shot did not look as confident as it has in the past. Don’t get me wrong, it’s D. Rose, he’s awesome, but he doesn’t look like he’s quite there yet. He never dunked or drove to the basket. He just shot the whole time. Every time he missed a shot, he sort of crinkled up his face or threw his head back like “Awww man!” And he’d stay with that particular shot till he made it. Even after our Court Side experience ended at 7pm, he remained out there. In fact, he was out there longer than any of the other guys. No surprise, really, considering his work ethic. A girl who was sitting behind us during this experience and also a Rose fan, pulled out her phone and showed me a picture she had taken with Derrick the night before. She had ended up in the same restaurant with him and he was nice enough to stop and take pictures with her & her friend as he was leaving. She said he was really cool. I was so happy to hear that.
Because we were sitting closer to the Spurs players, I did get some shots of them too. I didn’t always know who all of them were, but I thought it was cool to be that close.
As we were getting up to leave from our Court Side Experience at 7pm, Derrick moved closer to us to talk to some guy from the media. So I snapped a few more shots. I really wish most of my pictures would have come out less blurry, but they were constantly in motion so it was pretty hard to get a good shot.
As we left to grab some food and then head to our seats, I mentioned how disappointed I was that Jo hadn’t come out during practice. He’s my absolute favorite player on the Bulls and I WAS wearing his jersey!! 🙁 Of course, as soon as we sat down in our seats, who was out on the court?? Yes, my boy, Joakim Noah!! DAMN!! I did not have great luck at this game. I had been so prepared for them to lose, given all their injuries, that when they came out so strong in the first half and took a 14 point lead, I was tricked into thinking they could actually pull off a win. Boy, did they fool me! After the Spurs cut into the lead, leaving the Bulls up by only 5 at the half, I thought they would have to come out very strong in the second half to win.
Unfortunately, the second half only highlighted my team’s weaknesses. Not only did they not come out strong, but they fell completely apart both offensively & defensively. It was hard to be a Bulls fan in the middle of that cheering Spurs crowd. It actually was very painful to see my team falter so much. It’s one thing to see it happen on TV and quite another to be at the game and witness it. With less than 3 minutes left in the game and the Bulls now TRAILING by 14 points, my bro & I looked at each other and said “let’s go.” So sad!! Now don’t get me wrong, my brother & I did have a GREAT time at the game. I practically lost my voice from screaming all night. Everyone that sat around us was super cool. There was even a little boy, who was a HUGE Bulls fan, sitting in front of me. We shared every great moment of the night while his dad (who was a Spurs fan) made smart remarks when our team was doing well. So while my team did lose, it was still worth the price of admission!! However, looking ahead at the last 21 games, I fear that my team is going to have a rough time making it through the remainder of the season. Right now, at the 6th spot, if all else stays the same, we’d be facing the Pacers in the playoffs. To me, that means we would be out in the first round. Obviously, a lot of things can change before the end of the season, but I have a very strong feeling that it’s only gonna get uglier before it gets any better. And I don’t really sense that Derrick will be back to help out the team before the playoffs or even during the playoffs. With the way the rest of the teams in the East drop off after the top 8 playoff seeds, I’m pretty confident the Bulls will make it in, but I don’t see them going anywhere past the first round. Maybe I’m a pessimist or maybe I am just expressing what my gut is telling me. Either way it makes me extremely sad…extremely sad!!