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I remember where I was when…the Bulls’ full boat sank.

July 3, 2014

Forgive me for letting so much time lapse between posts…those who know me know a lot has been going on in my life, so sports has taken a back seat (yes, I actually uttered those words) to real life.  A whole lot of contemplation has taken place during this time, which brings me to this post…


There are a lot of “milepost” moments in our lives that we often use as a landmark of sorts in our memory banks.  Those are those “I remember where I was when…” reflections of memory.  For those of my parents and those notably older than me, it was always specific memories of where they were at the exact moment they heard about the John. F. Kennedy assassination.  For others at that time, it was the Martin Luther King, Jr. “I have a dream” speech, or his own assassination.

For me, and many others of a nearer generation, that “remember where, when” was during the 9/11 attacks. Others still speak of the Challenger disaster, the Oklahoma City bombing, Columbine, and other indelible events.

I also know succinctly where I was for Michael Jordan’s “The Shot”, the final out as the White Sox won the 2005 World Series, Mark Buehrle’s perfect game in 2009, and when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in both 2010 and 2013.

I also know where I was on the day when the NBA free agency period began in 2010.  Against the backdrop of the events I have just painted, NBA free agency seems very insignificant.  Yet, at that time no one knew the seismic impact the outcome of the free agent signings that season would have on the Bulls, the NBA, if not the whole of sports to some degree.

I was out in the epitome of “the sticks” in western Illinois, a stone’s throw from Iowa, visiting with my wife’s family at her aunt’s farm.  On that very day, NBA teams were first allowed to sign free agents for the season. My smartphone was not only my constant companion, but the sole target of my attention to the chagrin of my hosts and the ire of my spouse.

I was waiting for first word, breaking news, that my beloved Chicago Bulls got their man.  In this free agent season, a ridiculous number of the league’s best players were now free agents. Topping the class, none other than arguably the best player in the game, LeBron James.

The Bulls had cleared out a King’s ransom worth of salary cap space to accommodate James and his expected salary demands: the maximum permitted under the collective bargaining agreement. Never has the term “full boat” meant or has been used as much in sports vernacular since the Minnesota Vikings went on a 3-hour tour.

As we would learn, unlike the rapid opening day deals that take place in the NFL and MLB, basketball players are a contemplative lot.  James would “think about” the offers the Bulls and other teams made, before (in)famously deciding to “take (his) talents to South Beach.”  As the world would later learn, James was in cahoots with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh (both highly sought by the Bulls) to converge in Miami to form a superpower.  The Bulls sheepishly turned their full boat over to Carlos Boozer, who fared only slightly better than Gilligan and the Skipper did.

So here we are again four years later.  While on the verge of cutting Boozer’s mooring line loose, the Bulls have their eyes on a new prize, Carmelo Anthony.  Interestingly, James (along with his cohorts) has again made his talents available for relocation.  Almost as interestingly, most observers think James and company will return to Miami because no one trusts that they are truly interested in going anywhere else.  Certainly the Bulls don’t seem to want to have their hearts ripped out again while standing abandoned at the altar.

As for me, I can honestly say I have no idea where I was when this year’s free agency opened, nor will I expect I will landmark the moment the Bulls launch their next boat, whether full, dinghy, or sinking.  I’m just too busy. Now, the next Bulls championship…I might try to be somewhere memorable for that one.


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