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We’re Back, For Real This Time: Reflections on Fandom & Derrick Rose [With Some Hyperbole for Good Measure]

April 25, 2013

If you’ve been following Hard Hat Lunch Pail lately, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the lack of consistent updates from us within the last year or so. I’ve been reflecting a lot on why this happened and frankly, at least for myself as the younger Yin Seeester, I chalk it up to three different reasons:

Going through the early stages of fandom. As we’ve mentioned a few times on this blog, Jocelyn has been a self declared fan of the Bulls and the NBA for much longer than I have. My obsession only recently started a few years ago and I don’t know about y’all but when I find something new to obsess over, I dive in headfirst and don’t look back. In those first few years of basketball fandom, I consumed everything I could when it came to the NBA. I lived and breathed the Bulls. Every morning I’d read updates from blogs while eating my oatmeal, listen to podcasts to and from my way to work, watch games while preparing dinner when I got home, and talk basketball 24/7 with anyone who was willing to listen; it kind of took over my life and I didn’t leave room for much else.

But as I grew accustomed to life as an NBA fan, I realized that I could still claim fan credibility without letting it dominate other areas of my life. Obvious? Perhaps. But it still took me a good long while to reach that conclusion. It wasn’t the end of the world if I chose to go out to eat with a friend and dared to miss a few games during the season. Life would go on if I wasn’t compulsively checking the NBA twitterverse all the time. It was kind of a liberating feeling; to remember that there were other things that mattered besides basketball. So while I was still following up on my beloved Bulls, I made it a point to, you know, have a life again.

Speaking of having a life again, I also moved to DC and started a new job. So. There was that.

The Derrick Rose injuries that began in the 2011-2012 season [or really, if you want to be technical, started during his rookie year] snowballed into an epic fail of which we shall not speak of. Like most of the world, or at least those with souls, I remember being completely and utterly shell-shocked when I heard that Rose would be out for the rest of the playoffs and into the ensuring year. I remember checking my twitter feed because I couldn’t watch game 1 live and then just seeing the subsequent ‘oh god’ tweets just made me want to vomit. Then, once the Bulls were rudely and unceremoniously ousted from round 1, I was devastated [but not altogether super surprised]. I felt as if my poor basketball-loving heart had been ripped from my chest and spit on by evil 76er fans. Hyperbole? Sure, maybe. But basketball and I needed to take a break.

Fast forward to free agency and well, if you’re a Bulls fan, you know how that all turned out. Once the front office let Omer walk, I became even more bitter, a little despondent, and honestly? Feeling a little indifferent. Don’t get me wrong. I still felt fierce love for the Bulls squad but knowing that Rose was going to be out for most of the season and with multiple bloggers and analysts saying that the 2012-2013 season wasn’t really going to amount to much, I was ambivalent.

Now, I’ve grown fond of this current Bulls incarnation. Jimmeh’s grown into a solid player and is a much-needed spark who encapsulates everything I love about Bulls basketball [plus the man can actually catch alley-oops!] and the guys have certainly stepped up in Rose’s absence [n8 rob, anyone?]. But something still doesn’t feel right.

At the end of the day, Derrick Rose is the leader of this team and as much as we fans might try to convince ourselves otherwise, the Bulls won’t get far without him and this truth has lingered over me all season, only giving firepower to the thought: “why bother watching?”

Now the playoffs have finally begun and as I was mentioning to Joce the other day, I made sure to mentally prepare myself by setting my expectations very, very low – reminding myself that the Bulls overachieved by most people’s standards by even being the 5th seed. A first round exit, especially with a hobbled Joakim Noah, was entirely possible if not expected. This is the kind of season it’s been; one of tempered expectations. [which is hard to do when the Bulls have epic – in both the best and ugliest way possible – defensive efforts like they did against the Nets in Game 2 this past Monday]

I guess this is part of what it means to be a sports fan. The ultimate euphoric highs, downtrodden dispirited lows, and everything in between. After spending time feeling on top of the world when Rose was the Most Valuable Player in the league, I feel like I’ve regressed to the mean. Which, honestly, is probably for the best [and good for my blood pressure]. And while it’s always disappointing when you realize your team isn’t going far in a season, at least one can comfort themselves with the notion that they’re not the Charlotte Bobcats.

All of this is to say that I/The Yin Seeesters haven’t gone anywhere. My fandom may have evolved but I will always love the Bulls no matter how cheap the front office gets and despite how much Thibs almost maniacally runs guys into the ground. It’s the fucking Bulls for chrissakes. How can you not love these guys?


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