Bulls fans return to United Center

Bulls fans return to United Center

Chicago Bulls fans get their e-tickets ready to show staff at Gate 3 of the United Center Friday night. It was the first time fans could attend a Bulls home game in person this season. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Chris and Karen Fisher traveled from St. Louis to the United Center to see the Bulls-Celtics game in person. Chris Fisher may be a lifelong Celtics fan, but he still holds a soft spot for Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.

Sam Glavas and Joe Frantik were excited last year when they became Chicago Bulls season ticket holders for the first time.

But that excitement, like the rest of the state, was shut down by the coronavirus pandemic and the statewide lockdown, which kicked in just two weeks after they bought those tickets.

“We were only able to go to some like family-intro event [for season ticket holders] and that was like it,” Glavas said. “So this whole time we’ve been seeing other markets getting games back and when we were able to finally get games back here, and we were like, ‘Hell yeah, let’s go.’”

The two were among hundreds who lined up Friday night to file into the United Center to watch a struggling Bulls team play the Boston Celtics — the first time fans could attend a Bulls home game in-person since the coronavirus pandemic forced the city to ban mass gatherings, including at sporting events, over a year ago.

Glavas and Frantik agree it doesn’t matter that the Bulls sit in 11th place in the Eastern Conference standings, or that the team has a losing record. What does matter, they say, is sitting in the stands with a cold beer cheering on the team with other like-minded fans.

“I went to the last Blackhawks game at the United Center just before they shut everything down,” Frantik said. “For me, I kind of just want to bookend it here since I started the pandemic here and I think this was a good place to end the pandemic.”

Chicago Bulls fans wait outside the United Center Friday night, May 7, 2021. It was the first home game at which fans had been allowed since last year. Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times
Chicago Bulls fans wait outside the United Center Friday night.

Nick Damayo and D’Angelo Banda have their own idea of a good place; before each home game, they like to look back on the success the Bulls had over two decades ago.

“We always stop at the trophy case before the game starts. That’s our tradition,” Banda said.

“And not just the trophies,” Damayo said. “We just walk around and soak everything in just before.”

Chris Fisher and Karen Fisher traveled from St. Louis to the United Center to see the game in person. Chris Fisher, despite being a life-long Celtics fan, has a soft spot for Michael Jordan and the Bulls.

“We are just ready to celebrate and get out the house since we are both vaccinated,” Karen Fisher said. “I couldn’t think of a better way to do it than be here.”

For Chris Fisher, it was surreal being in the place where the Bulls, led by Michael Jordan, beat his Celtics time and time again.

“This is my first time here and I just want to see everything,” said Chris Fisher, decked out in Celtics gear. “Do you know where the Michael Jordan statue is at?”

Boston Celtics fans, Chris Fisher, left, and Karen Fisher, pose together outside the United Center, during the first home game allowing fans to spectate between the Bulls and Boston Celtics. Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times
Boston Celtics fans Chris (left) and Karen Fisher, outside the United Center before Friday’s game. They made the trip from St. Louis to see the Bulls play their team, the Boston Celtics. It was the first home game at which spectators were allowed in the United Center this season.

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