The Chicago Bulls dropped the first bomb in last night’s NBA draft by trading out franchise wing Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves for the No. 7 pick (which soon became Lauri Markkanen) along with Kris Dunn and Zach Levine. Moments after this occurred I was overcome by this unmovable feeling to leave the house.
Me: *staring at phone* Welp, I guess it’s time.
Wifeperson: What? Harold what are you talking about?
Me: *shows wifeperson phone*
Wifeperson: *nods knowingly*
I had heard of these meetings mostly in passing although an inebriated conversation with a Sacramento Kings fan kinda shed some light into what they are really about. Myself, with a team that made the playoffs and was arguably an injury away from pulling one of the most surprising upsets in playoffs history felt pretty superior in the moment and didn’t really pay it much mind. But I remember his muttering where they meet and that they normally keep their location private in hopes that rival fan bases can’t find and harass them but he felt that it would probably be of great help to me soon. This is how it went.
Me: Okay man, I’ll keep it in mind but I think we’ll be okay.
Kings fan: Don’t speak so soon. They won’t be able to outplay organizational dysfunction forever. We tried and the result is that Katrina, the second term of W, two terms of Obama and the election of the Tangerine Nightmare, the loss of Whitney, MJ (Michael Jackson) and Prince, and the f****n Cubs winning the World Series has occurred since we last saw the post season. Our Cubs guys f*****g ran the damn group!!! *heavily sighs* *mutters to self “praise be to Paul”*
Me: You okay dude? *turns to bartender* Let me get two whiskys please.
Bartender: You got it.
Me: *to Kings fan* cheers buddy, no one wins forever.
Kings fan: You got that s**t right.
So I pull into the location where I was told these meetings occur and sit. I glance on my phone and it is right at that moment that Adam Silver leisurely saunters to the podium and announces that the New York Knicks were taking Frank Nkilitina the young point guard out of France. I hear a loud and piercing shriek and suddenly I realize I’m in the right place. As I get out of the car and start making my way to the door I see my buddy the Kings fan storm out of the door
Me: Hey du…
Kings fan: Can’t talk right now we just took Fox, WE JUST TOOK FOX!
Me: I heard, excellent pick!
Kings fan: Yeah, thanks. So long sucker!
I took no offense, is it only one forward step after running a marathon backwards? Sure, but we all have to start somewhere right? But the important thing is that I was finally here. I open the doors to a breakout room and walk under a modest banner with “Welcome to SSOFA, S****y Sports Organization Fans Anonymous” emblazoned on it. As I continue towards the right of the two white folding tables the eyes of everyone slowly became affixed on me. Before I can fix my lips to let out a nervous something or other a tall, rail thin gentlemen in a bright orange shirt with a little brown on it stood to address the group.
Browns fan?: Hey guys, we have a newcomer. How do we address our newcomers instead of gawking at them?
Group: Welcome to SSOFA who hurt you?
Browns fan?: Hey I’m the group leader and a lifelong Cleveland Browns fan. Nice to meet you? Who’s your team?
Me: Pleasure is all mine. I’m a Bulls fan.
Browns fan: Oh wow, we’ve been waiting for y’all to show. Not being mean, but I’ve known for quite some time y’all need help.
Me: That’s what I’ve heard, Kings fan referred me.
Browns fan: *chuckles* Oh yeah, he’s quite excitable isn’t he?
Me: I saw him in the parking lot running to his car. I guess he has quite a bit to smile about.
Browns fan: Yeah, *as he let’s out a huge belly laugh* you should have seen him when they started the season hot before they fired Mike Malone!!! But look, go ahead and mingle NBA draft night is always a biggie for us.
Being naturally kinda nervous I make a beeline to the snacks. This was a primo spread y’all. Meatballs, wingettes, fresh fruit and a keg of beer (most likely Natty Light but still). I guess when the source of your deepest inescapable misery only costs you your blood pressure and every once in a while trouble sleeping you can spring for something like this. As I pour a beer and take the first, much needed sip (Natty Light as I guessed) I feel a tug at my shirt. I pull the cup from my lips to prevent any dribbling and was face to face with a diminutive lady with long, cold black hair sporting a pretty sweet New York Knicks vintage baseball 3/4 tee.
Knicks fan: Hey newbie, I heard you’re a Bulls fan.
Me: Yup, nice tee!
Knicks fan: Eyes up here mista! *struts off*
Nets fan: Excuse her, you know those Knicks fans, entitled yet self loathing. Plus, she’s pissed that they just passed on Monk.
Me: Oh, that makes sense. I take it she was the one I heard in the parking lot?
Nets fan: Yeah. But I kinda understand her pain. I mean they chose an 18 year old Frenchman to convince Kristaps to stay and to be the reason to move off of Rose? Sure, it’ll help with the money but it won’t be nearly enough to fix the culture of toxicity that they have allowed to take control over there. It’s strange to say but we’re probably the best team in New York right now. Not much to brag about but you take what you can get.
Me: I hear ya, especially after the Billy King era.
Nets fan: Excuse me?
Me Oh, I’m sorry I’m just saying that it’s taken a while but it looks like y’all are starting to make some meaningful positive moves with Marks and it’s starting to resemble a real franchise for the first time since the end of the Billy King era.
Nets fan: Did you just say this name? What in the hell is wrong with you? How DARE you say his name?!?!
Me: Whoa! I apologize, I mean look I like Russell trade.
Nets fan: WE HAD TO TAKE THE MOZGOV CONTRACT! Man, Magic fan is right. Elfrid Payton is a good point guard and you ARE an A*****E! *storms off*
Having pissed off New York City and drawing even more eyes I figure I may as well go all in. A spot a perfect opportunity as I see Timberwolves fan and Magic fan. This strikes me as a perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. Congratulate T’Wolvws fan on the trade and tell him that I really dig their team, love Thibs and to take care of my dude Jimmy out there and figure out why I’m an a*****e according to Magic fan. So I down my Natty and walk over to the pair.
Me: Hey guys! How bout’ this draft?
T’Wolves fan: Hell yeah! Welcome to the group!!! Feel like you’ll soon be taking my place.
Me: *with the biggest fake smile on my face I say through my teeth* Let’s not speak too soon.
T’Wolves fan: Oh, I’m just fooling. It could be worse. I could be this guy *slaps Magic fan on the back*
Me: *turning to Magic fan transitioning from smiley to stone face as I do so* Yeah why so glum? I mean, y’all got Jonathan Isaac. He can play in the post and could make a damn good partner for Aaron Gordon.
T’Wolves fan: That’s what I’ve been telling him.
Magic fan: *fighting to make eye contact with me* Look man, I saw you talking with Nets fan and I know he told you. I didn’t mean it man, I was just mad in the moment
Me: That’s cool and all but how does that make me an a*****e?
Magic fan: I knew you looked familiar then it came to me. You write for basketballandbs.com. You had us taking Dennis Smith, Jr. and I just though why tease us like this? Was just upset I didn’t mean anything by it.
Me: Man that’s between you and your team’s management. But I understand. Also, thanks for checking out the site.
T’Wolves fan: See, there we go. We’re all friends now. I’m gonna get us a beer.
Me: Sounds like a plan man.
Magic fan: I’d like that, thank you.
Pacers fan walks by then backs up to take a look at my shirt. She adjusts herself leans down a bit as she is a good 5 to 6 inches taller than me, gets really close to my face then proceeds to yell-sing R.E.M’s “End of the World” at me. It happen so fast that I couldn’t react, add to that the sheer embarrassment and my feet are concrete. She belts out the complete song word for word, choruses and all. After she finishes, she lays the biggest hug on me and whispers in my ear “the West may be best but there’s no peace in the East” before walking away sobbing.
T’Wolves fan: Here dude, have mine too.
Me: Normally I wouldn’t but good God thank you.
I take a sip, then a gulp and for some reasons I will probably never understand I ask for the floor. Browns fan mutes the draft and asks for everyone’s attention. I guess this is a good time to tell you folks that I grew up in the Catholic church. We do modesty and guilt not so much testifying and soul bearing. Needless to say as Browns fan works to gain everyone’s attention I am stricken with extreme anxiety. As much as I like to talk especially about basketball the very idea of doing so in front of a crowd of people is terrifying to me. But that’s the thing. This about more than basketball, this is about my fandom and how it is attacked far too often by inept management and with this I have common ground with all of these folks.
Me: Hey SSOFA, I’m Bulls fan.
SSOFA in unison: Hi Bulls fan.
Me: This is my first time here and quite honestly I never though that I would ever have a need for this. For so long we’ve been regarded as one of the most respected teams in the league in spite on injuries and most importantly in spite of our s****y management. But I imagine that you all could say the same. I don’t know I guess it’s just that for years no matter what we came up against we always found a way to not only be competitive, but make the post-season in most cases. But now, now we’ve finally confirmed what has been suspected by everyone for years. We have no plan. We just gave up a top 15 player in the league along with the 16th pick for a one-dimensional shooting guard coming off of an ACL injury, a rookie point guard coming off of a season so underwhelming that he………well was a piece of this trade and the 7th pick in which we get another one dimensional player who’s one dimension may not translate over. It took them a while but they did it, they finally did it. They broke us, we survived through Rose’s injury riddled tenure, we survived the Luol Deng debacle that didn’t have to be if we didn’t have a terrible medical staff, we survived a year of 2016 – 2017 Rajon Rondo and Dwayne Wade. But this we can’t shoulder, this we can’t soldier on from. They willingly gutted our team for what? FOR WHAT?!?!?! SO WE CAN TROT OUT A FINISHING LINEUP OF ZIPSER – MARKKANEN – LOPEZ – DUNN AND LEVINE?!?!?!?! GIVE US THE RINGS NOW!!! MOVE OVER LEBRON WE HAVE ZACH LEVINE! I’m sorry folks, I can’t stand when people speak in all caps so I shouldn’t do the same. But just thinking about all the times we could have *starts to break down*……….all we had to do was………….PRAISE BE TO THIBS!!!!!!!
SSOFA in unison: And praise be onto the Bulls.
In the back Pelicans fan is holding up a lighter but I suspect it is because they found a way into the draft.
Kings fan: Damn it, damn it, DAMN IT! They traded back! They traded the 10th pick for the 15th and 20th.
Pelicans fan: Who’d y’all get?
Kings fan: Justin Jackson from UNC and Harry Giles from Duke who has the knees of an octogenarian!!!! Oh well, no wins forever.
Me: You got that shit right.