What was it like to walk out of the United Center Sunday night fully dressed in Utah Jazz garb? Come along with Gary and Diana Watson of Magna as they exit the building following perhaps the most humiliating loss in franchise history.
Listen in as Bulls fans politely but enthusiastically rub it in as this nice Utah couple makes their way to the friendly confines of the Morris Travel tour bus.Diana is wearing a lovely Bryon Russell tank top jersey, not easily hidden from view. Gary has on more purple than Barney the dinosaur. As they begin their unenviable trek, they are alone in the attic of the House that Michael Built.
"They almost doubled the score!" one Bulls fans yells as the Watsons try to make themselves invisible, something akin to a slice of cheddar trying to sneak down the middle aisle at a mouse convention.
"You guys get home safely, all right?" another fan jokes as the Utahns slowly descend from their nosebleed seats, where they had a great view of the roof getting blown off by the thunderous Chicago crowd.
"Hey, it's Sunday and you're at the game!" a man says in mock amazement.
"You guys got the record, don't you? Hey, way to go!" offers another, referring to Utah's point total - the least scored by one team in any game in the history of the NBA.
"Bummer, aye?" says another Chicagoan, apparently a Canadian transplant.
"You have a great team. Seriously," says another man, who is not really serious at all.
"We are very, very, very, very sorry," says another man, who is not very sorry at all.
"Hey, what was the latest line, like, uh, two-for-one?" a man says, elbowing one of his buddies in the ribs.
"Can you say . . . blowout?" someone else chimes in.
"So," says another stranger, "the final was, what, 96-54!?" When they finally make it outside, the Watsons run into Bryce and Brian Simpson of American Fork, who won a trip here from a Salt Lake radio station. But the brothers, who are incognito, don't get a chance to ask the Watsons if they need help or have any last words. A large man approaches and insists on the Watsons' full attention as he serenades them.
"The fat guy is singing," croons the man, who carries a tune about as well as he carries his weight. "It's over. It's all over."
The Watsons sure made the evening for a lot of Bulls fans, and it only cost them around $2,000 to provide this important entertainment service to the people of Chicago.
"They are little raspberries, but nothing we wouldn't do there," at the Delta Center, said Gary, who makes light of the treatment now that the bus is in sight and he is relatively sure he will live to see another game, although hopefully not another one like that and maybe not another one in Chicago.
"It's all been in fun, I think."
Laurie Norseth didn't think so. She and her husband, Mark, who were among the 60 Utahns sitting in section 310 Sunday, left the game with nine minutes remaining. They were disgusted - not so much with the Jazz' performance but with the Bulls fans all around them.
"They were obnoxious, rude. They were really rubbing it in your face," Laurie said as the couple headed for a late dinner, perhaps a couple of charred steaks and Bull-ogna sandwiches. "It made it uncomfortable to sit here, I thought."
It wasn't so great in the lower bowl, either, according to "The Jazzman" himself. Mike Douros, who flew down with eight others in Paul Richards' corporate jet, was his usual bald-headed mass of verbosity. Bulls fans responded to this radical element with an equal and opposite reaction.
"Every time they turn a camera on me, they beat on me. And they're throwing ice at the back of my head," Douros said late in the third quarter. "And they're winning. I'd hate to see what they'd be like if they were losing."
But Bulls fans were not as hard to deal with as Lakers fans, said Douros, who was removed by L.A. Forum security - for his own protection - late in a Western Conference Finals game.
Other Jazz fans agreed that Chicagoans, for the most part, were civil.
"Actually, it's been a blast. The people really have been very nice,"
said Doug Price of South Jordan. "They got a little ruthless when we started losing."
Amy Gelsomino, who drove up from Peoria, was at first quite miffed that she had purchased a ticket in a Jazz cheering section.
"We almost moved, but then it got to be fine. We just yelled really loud," she said.
Some Bulls fans in section 310 didn't like the nine-foot banner made by Lisa Price, Doug's wife. It read, "Hey Chicago, look what the wind blew in - Utah Jazz fans."
"We don't like any Jazz fans. But for being down by 40 points, they're doing all right," said Mark Bousquet, who was flanked by the sign-wielding invaders.
And in the end, it was OK. The Jazzman lived to be fanatical another day. Gelsomino shook hands with the Westerners whose hearing she may have irreparably impaired. The Watsons escaped the building with only their pride impaled. And the Jazz only trail the series, 2-1.
It was still worth it to have come all the way here, for one lopsided loss, Marci Rasmussen said. She slumped low in defeat as the final seconds ticked off. But beside her, 8-year-old son Dixon was dancing in place, in a Jazz jersey two sizes too big, just thrilled to be a part of NBA history and up past his bed-time.
"Just look at my son's eyes," she said.
Maybe Dixon will live long enough to see someone break Utah's new record for futility. Maybe, one day, he will make fun of Bulls fans as they leave the Delta Center.