I do not claim to be a basketball fan. In fact far from it. Growing up in India in the '90s meant I did come across the occasional basketball game on TV every now and then, but quickly moved to the next channel hoping against hope of having cheerleaders in our game of cricket one day. In hindsight it seems Lalit Modi was silently listening to my prayers. But that's not the point of this post.
To me basketball was Chicago Bulls. It was this large man, sticking out his tongue and wearing the prime number 23 jersey and scoring points, winning games and helping me win points in quiz sports rounds. Later on I Wikipedia-ed him several times to understand the magnitude of his contribution to James Naismith's hoop and ball sport and. But even then I can by no means call myself a basketball fan.
However, given that fact that we're in Chicago and the Bulls were playing a game at United Center, and there was a pre-game between Kellogg & Chicago's Booth School, almost the entire school descended upon the stadium, with me and my wife in attendance. The tickets were affordable, and we got purple coloured Kellogg # 1 t-shirts to cheer our school!
To me sports is cricket and all comparisons usually begin and end with Eden Gardens and Ferozeshah Kotla (the only 2 stadiums I have watched the sport in - Tests, ODI & T20s) and the Bull's United Center at first was much more of a luxurious multiplex than a sports stadium.
Entering the court-side takes you by surprise because of the intimidating size of the indoor stadium and the extravagant, glamourous paraphernalia. We went mainly for the atmosphere and of course to cheer for Kellogg and were richly treated to a solid performance by the Kellogg team, destroying the Booth team 15-8 in the pre-match! So, now I have friends who have played in the United Center:)
|Kellogg beating Booth|
The Bulls V Bucks game was a heady concoction of sports + entertainment and kept us on our feet (also literally because we had standing tickets!) for the 2.5 odd hours it went on for. The scoreline was 107-100 in favour of the home team, and this also meant the entire stadium could go and ask for their free Big Mac! McDonald's had promised a big mac to everyone if the Bulls scored more than 100 points and won the game.
|The match underway in the massive United Center|
It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, shared with friends, for whom this was the first time at an NBA game as well. The moment of the evening for me was just before the match started, when they dimmed the lights in the stadium and started off proceedings by introducing the Bulls. The most glamorous live sports event I've seen till date. Shot a video with my phone camera which I'm sharing below, forgive the quality.