They've been stepped on, sat on, fallen on and kicked.
They've been heckled by fans, pelted with coins and even thrown off the United Center floor halfway through a game.They've worked long hours for minimum wage. They've even had to buy their own meals, which don't come cheap in the Windy City.
If it were any other occupation, Chris Packer, Daniel Shimensky and Preston Truman might have handed in their resignations by now.
But being a ball boy for the Utah Jazz in the NBA Finals isn't a job. It's a dream come true.
"I'm just here for the fun of it," said Truman, a 20-year-old Weber State University student who paid for his own plane ticket to Chicago and didn't know until Friday that he'd be paid for the hours he's worked here this week.
"So what if it is ($5.15 an hour), we get $1,000 seats for the game," Truman said.
"Or even $10,000 for tonight because it could be Michael's last game," Packer added, referring to the price some scalpers were demanding for tickets to Friday's Game 5. "We see everything. We hear everything that's going on."
This year, for the first time, the Jazz have sent at least two senior ball boys to each of their road playoff games.
Packer, a 20-year-old Salt Lake Community College student, and Shimensky, the 18-year-old son of Jazz trainer Mike Shimensky, traveled on the team's charter flight. Truman, who drove to Los Angeles to work the Western Conference finals, found his own way to Chicago and slept on an extra bed in Packer and Shimensky's room in the team hotel.
"It's kind of a reward for them after a long season," said Jazz director of media relations Kim Turner. Turner's 18-year-old son, Jason, also served as a ball boy for the first two games in Chicago before returning to Utah Thursday.
"They've had a lot of fun. It's a big experience for these guys."
Perhaps the most unusual event of their weeklong stay happened Wednesday during halftime of Game 4. The Jazz ball boys were told to go back to the team's locker room and stay there until the game ended. They watched the third and fourth quarters on a TV monitor while wondering what, if anything, they'd done wrong.
"We thought maybe we'd gotten in the way of the cameras, of NBA Entertainment," Packer said.
As it turned out, the boys' only crime was wearing their official Jazz ball boy shirts, made by Champion Athletic. The NBA has a contract with Nike. NBA officials realized the large "C" on the boys' shirts could be seen by the television audience, not to mention Nike.
Friday, the boys found out what all the fuss was about. They were instructed to buy Nike golf shirts, which they found in downtown Chicago for $41 apiece, if they wanted to work Friday night's game.
One of the Bulls' ball boys said he could get Bulls uniforms for them. The Jazz ball boys politely declined that offer.
The only other real difficulty has been dealing with Utah's losses here, particularly Sunday's blowout.
"It's so frustrating because the players make you feel like a part of the team, so when they lose I guess we lose, too," Shimensky said. "It's pretty depressing. Then you've got to hear about it on the road from all the fans. The players say they block it out, but it's easier for them because they're used to it."
The setbacks haven't stopped the ball boys from having fun. They've done a little sightseeing, a lot of shopping and a fair amount of hobnobbing with some of the best professional athletes in the world. Adam Keefe even bought them lunch.
Truman had his picture taken with Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and other Bulls and Jazz players. Jordan even asked him how he was doing in school, he said.
"I've been a ball boy for two years, and I've been to the Finals for two years. I've been really lucky," said Truman, who wasn't sure where he was going to sleep Friday night before catching a 6 a.m. flight home Saturday.
"It's just an unbelievable experience."